The phrase ‘living legend’ is brandished around all too easily, but perhaps Tony Adams deserves such an accolade in the eyes of the Arsenal faithful. At the tender age of 21 the English leviathan was decorated with the club’s captaincy, an armband that would remain firmly in place throughout 669 appearances, which saw him lift 10 major trophies. With his beloved club currently yearning for a return to those glory days, maybe the time is right for Adams to return ‘home’ as Wenger’s right hand man.
Arsenal’s current assistant manager Pat Rice looks increasing set to relinquish his seat in the dugout, after over 40 remarkable years in North London as both a player and a coach. Wenger and Rice have become a time-honoured pairing on the touchline, having developed a fantastic working relationship that the Frenchman will struggle to instantly replicate. There seems to be a growing consensus that Wenger will appoint someone with a strong affiliation to the club, which is why Adams has seen his name propelled to the top of list by the nations tabloids.
The club have somewhat of a penchant for bringing familiar faces back to the Emirates, perhaps as a continued attempt to repeat their former success. In the past decade alone we’ve witnessed the return of such cult figures as Jens Lehmann and Sol Campbell, whilst this season saw the celebrated homecoming of Thierry Henry. Each example conjured a resounding approval from the fans, but it remains to be seen whether a return for Adams, in such a high-profile capacity, would induce the same reaction.
Former Arsenal stalwart Ray Parlour has made no secret of his desire to see Adams installed in this post. In his recent Daily Star column Parlour insists that his ‘mate’ has all the requirements to help the club continue their recent revival.
“He is a leader of men, a motivator and knows Wenger’s methods to a fault. I believe he has what it takes to make a big impact at The Emirates”
There is no questioning Adams’ impact as a player at the club, which would certainly serve as an inspiration for the likes of boyhood fans Jack Wilshere and Carl Jenkinson. His defensive qualities would benefit an Arsenal defence that still appears fragile at times, although I don’t think Per Mertesacker will cope well with the high line of the George Graham years. Adams appears determined to prove himself in the Premier League once again after a stint in Azerbaijan and will have undoubtedly benefited from serving under the revered figures of Glenn Hoddle and Sir Bobby Robson during his illustrious playing career.
However, his managerial record contains more black spots than a breakout of the bubonic plague. He is hardly the poster boy for the ‘beautiful football’ Arsene is so desperate to promote and whilst his presence may serve as an inspiration, Adams can scarcely claim to be the most articulate and inspirational of speakers. There will also be reservations regarding his past indiscretions, and as the Telegraph’s Paul Hayward points out “If the public put a tag on you, a chainsaw will not cut it off.”
The other candidates include Steve Bould, a ‘clean cut’ version of Adams and Neil Banfield, who would represent the logical choice by promoting him from his current role as reserve team head coach. According to these potential applicants it would appear as though Wenger is keen make an internal appointment, but a quick glance at the forums will reveal another name fans have been touting, who may be able to tick all the boxes.
Dennis Bergkamp has recently helped steer Ajax to their 31st Eredivisie title as the assistant manager to Frank de Boer. His reputation as one of the most gifted attacking players in Premier League history will perhaps mean he would surpass even the likes of Adams as an inspirational figure. His time at the Dutch giants could enable him to revitalise the club with a range of new ideas inspired by installing success in a predominantly young side.
There is a broad unanimity that making a decision with your heart rather than your head will inevitably backfire. There are very few success stories in the Premier League concerning former greats returning to install success at a managerial level. Alan Shearer endured a disastrous stint as Newcastle boss whilst Gianluca Vialli and Ruud Gullit achieved a degree of success at Chelsea before it all ended in tears. Roberto Di Matteo and Kenny Dalglish are currently defying the odds this season, but despite their achievements a question mark remains over both their futures.
Whilst Adams appointment sounds ideal in theory, I fear that despite owning the required ingredients, the reality will be a recipe for disaster.
Join me on Twitter @theunusedsub where I still can’t get my head around the fact Adams scored 48 goals for Arsenal!