Adams admits relegation almost inevitable for freefalling Granada

By Richard Martin
Former Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams smiles after being presented as the new head coach of Spanish first division soccer club Granada in Granada, Spain April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Pepe Marin

By Richard Martin

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Relegation is almost inevitable for struggling Granada, head coach Tony Adams admitted on Friday after just three games in charge of the La Liga club.

"I think unfortunately we are almost in the Segunda Division," the former Arsenal and England captain, who watched the side suffer their third straight defeat under his leadership on Tuesday, told a news conference.

"This week has been a relief, we've felt a bit of freedom because we were under a lot of pressure, especially the young players who are not very experienced.

"It's been a very tough situation, especially for these players. It's important for me to now focus on the players who are going to be here next season."

Granada, who are second from bottom and 10 points from safety, appointed former Real Madrid player John Metgod as an assistant coach on Friday to help Adams in the remaining four games.

They must win at Real Sociedad on Saturday to prevent immediate relegation although even an unlikely first victory in 10 games might only delay their fate until Sunday, when 17th-placed Leganes play Eibar.

The Andalusian club, who have spent the past six seasons in La Liga, were seven points shy of safety when Adams succeeded the sacked Lucas Alcaraz on April 10 saying he would try to "liven up the team as we try to achieve a miracle".

Yet far from galvanise the ailing team, whose squad is made up of players from 20 nationalities, most of them on loan, the former England defender has had the effect of accelerating their downfall.

Granada have lost all three games under him, conceding seven goals and scoring none.


Tuesday's disheartening 2-0 loss at home to Malaga left them on the brink of relegation and Sandro Ramirez's second goal for the visitors provoked a mass walkout from supporters, while some players were in tears at the final whistle.

Adams deflected blame from himself for the defeat to Malaga and highlighted the players' "technical deficiencies" and lack of experience. He has also left local and national reporters bemused by his happy demeanour after each defeat.

Leading television presenter Josep Pedrerol began his 'Jugones' programme on Wednesday by lambasting Adams for passing the blame on to the players and calling for him to show more respect for the club's supporters.

Adams was the backbone of Arsenal for almost two decades but his coaching career has been poor in comparison to his achievements as a player. He witnessed relegation to England's League Two with Wycombe Wanderers in 2004 and was sacked within four months of taking charge of Portsmouth in 2009.

He also spent a year in Azerbaijan in charge of Gabala between 2010 and 2011, returning to the club as sporting director.

It was in Azerbaijan that he met Jiang Lizhang, who became president of Granada in 2016 after purchasing the club from the Pozzo family and hired Adams last November in an advisory role in addition to his job with Lizhang's firm DDMC Football Club Management Company.

Adams's presence at Granada went largely unnoticed until March and he has said that he never intended to coach the club until Lizhang asked him to.

His unexpected appointment has been likened to the time when Valencia owner Peter Lim hired Adams's former England team mate Gary Neville as coach in December 2015 with similarly dismal consequences.

Neville, who like Adams does not speak Spanish, was sacked by Valencia little more than three months later with the worst record in the club's history.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)