Why we should be saluting Captain Bonkers Tony Adams for his Azerbaijan adventure, not laughing at him
Listen to the whispers of boardroom butterflies, and Tony Adams is not so much off the radar, but on a different planet.
He’s Captain Bonkers, Lord Gaga. A football man condemned as a fruit loop for daring to be different.
Tony’s Excellent Adventure has taken him to Gabala, an ancient provincial town in Azerbaijan set in 500-year-old chestnut forests.
No sniggering at the back. He’s heard the nut-job jokes before. He has unlimited funds to build a football club. It is in the middle of nowhere, but is taking shape, in his image
Returning to English football, during the winter break in the Azeri Supreme League, has been an out of body experience.
Even at 44, Adams could have played centre-half in the Arsenal team smothered by Manchester City in midweek. He is a master of the art of defending, but also saw an absence of ambition. A showpiece game had the entertainment value. Four Premier League managers ended that night on death row, their fates shaped by absentee landlords and anonymous abusers.
Adams was amongst friends at The Emirates.
He summoned a single statistic: 46 managers had been sacked in England since he joined FC Gabala last May. Roy Hodgson became No.47 while Avram Grant’s number is next up.
It is the silly season. The game is drunk on a cocktail of anger, apprehension, guilt, greed and pure panic. Times are desperate. Everyone assumes mourners at a manager’s funeral are grave robbers in disguise.
Management has degenerated into a series of show trials, staged in cyberspace by the ignorant, for the supposedly oppressed. TV sports news might as well be transmitted on the QVC channel. Agents hawk players through drones with iPads, who report rumour as unimpeachable fact.
And before you ask, yes, we in the popular prints do our bit to turn the volume up to 11. It’s fantasy football, featuring club owners with a parallel agenda who know nothing of their club’s culture.
Take Balaji Rao. I wish someone would.
He’s a cross between a Bollywood villain and a porn star, complete with chest wig, earrings and a ponytail that plunges to his waist.
He’s Managing Director of Venky’s, the Indian chicken conglomerate which intruded into our consciousness by buying Blackburn Rovers.
He got what he wanted out of Ronaldinho, who has begun a secondary career as a beach bum.
Cheap column inches and a chance to use his new glove puppet, Steve Kean.
And we’re supposed to believe Adams’ initiative is insane? The Premier League is a Supernova. When it implodes – and it must, eventually – it will suck the game into a black hole.
Managers are given no time to work. Directors have no strategy beyond slavery to the League table.
Of course, it is easy to mock Adams, to turn FC Gabala into Borat FC. He has had to shoo cows off the training pitch. Ganja is a rival club, not something smoked by clients of his Sporting Chance charity for athletes with addictive personalities.
Adams has rejected the island mentality, which results in no substantial English player plying his trade abroad. The alternative to educating himself is sending begging letters to chairmen, who will pre-judge him on short term failure at Wycombe and Portsmouth.
The average life expectancy of a manager in England is 16 months.
A first-time boss can expect to lose his job within a year.
Adams may have taken the road less travelled, but it is those he left behind who have lost their way.
The Poison Dwarf is on the rampage. I suspect Sepp Blatter knew Qatar would stage a winter World Cup, all along.
Blatter is determined to challenge the supremacy of club football.
He’s also in vengeful mood.
New-found friends in Asia have engineered the downfall of major rival Chung Moon Jong.
Septic responded by highlighting the special status of the Home Nations in FIFA.
If we don’t fight back, we’re doomed.