Tony Adams has nurtured an eclectic management career

Arsenal legend now finds himself at Granada but it's only the latest spot that has taken him from Azerbaijan to China

BY Raf Diallo 16:00 Monday 10 April 2017, 16:00 10 Apr 2017

Tony Adams leaves Portsmouth's Training Ground in Eastleigh, Southampton. Chris Ison/PA Archive/PA Images

"No one recognises me, I've got my anonymity back and it's marvelous."

Those are the words of Tony Adams back in October 2010 when he was in the midst of his time in Azerbaijan.

The Arsenal legend had relocated to Gabala to manage the local club which is near the border with Russia.

It wasn't an adventure that would last long but it was still significant that the former Gunners skipper had decided to try his hand at management far from English football.

Personal reasons brought the curtain down on his time with FK Gabala at the end of 2011, although he would again return to Azerbaijan briefly the following year as director of football.

Given his leadership ability as a player, management seemed to be the natural step for the Arsenal one club man back after he retired at Highbury in the summer of 2002.

And he did get some opportunities at the start of his coaching career in England, beginning with Wycombe.

In charge for a full calendar year from November 2003 in the fourth tier, Adams would only taste victory 10 times (including one FA Cup tie) and things would end a tad acrimoniously, with the chairman clearly displeased with how it transpired.

But even then as Adams left Wycombe, he hinted at the globe-trotting future that was to come, musing: "Maybe when my time is up here I may have to go into Europe because you do more coaching in those countries.''

But before then, he would become assistant manager to Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth from 2006, having already squeezed some work with Arsenal and a short six month stint in the Netherlands with Feyenoord's under-19s team.

The way he spoke prior to starting that latter experience, highlighted a real willingness to "pick up a feel of the Dutch youth programme and the structure of Feyenoord" - in essence, an eagerness to broaden his horizons.

He also spoke highly of his time in the Netherlands after completing his time there and he did receive an opportunity back in England in the 2008-09 season when he was promoted to the top job.

Like the Wycombe experience, wins came hard to come by at a club beginning a rapid decline following the departure of Redknapp to Spurs.

Just four wins would follow in 21 matches, including a win each in the Europa League and FA Cup.

And it's seldom that a young manager gets more than a couple of opportunities in England. It was after that point that Adams upped sticks and gave Azerbaijan a chance, precipitating a period of globe trotting for the 50 year old.

In 2016, he was off to China to become sporting director at Chongqing Lifan in the same summer that Spanish La Liga club Granada also came under Chinese ownership, after a period when they had ownership ties to Udinese in Italy and Watford in the Premier League. 

Businessman and Chonqing owner Jiang Lizhang is the man at the helm at Granada, having purchased both clubs in quick succession.

Last month, Granada appointed Adams in a similar sporting director role to the one he had been fulfilling at Chonqing.

But with Granada now in real relegation trouble as they sit seven points from safety with little left of the season, the surprise news broke today that he will take on the management role with the first team until the end of the campaign.

The chances of Adams staging a great escape are slim given how far back they are but it's another sign of his willingness to broaden his management horizons.


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