Under-fire Plymouth boss Derek Adams hits back
Creative Commons License: Geograph/Roger Cornfoot.
Outrage and adulation are never too far apart in football.
This was certainly the case at Plymouth Argyle this week when a tumultuous few days saw a storm of indignation rip through Home Park before giving way to brighter skies.
The tempest which had been brewing for a number of weeks hit land on Saturday when Derek Adams’s side, bottom of League One going into the game, squandered the lead twice in a 3-2 defeat at home to Burton Albion.
The defeat came at the end of a week in which Argyle’s Graham Carey had implored fans to stand by the team.
For many the defeat to Nigel Clough’s Brewers was the final straw. The team was booed off the pitch with the loudest jeers saved for the manager.
‘Adams out’ was trending worldwide by 5pm with the ‘enough is enough’ brigade on the brink of spontaneous combustion.
Meanwhile, when asked about the reaction of supporters by Radio Devon, Argyle’s under siege boss decided to return fire by referring to some sections of the support as ‘yobs’.
A risky PR move which inevitably back-fired.
Much has been made of the comments from a man who has a reputation for being divisive.
The clamour for Adams’s head reached boiling point and once again Twitter was awash with abusive name-calling. Whilst the Scot’s ‘yob’ comments were not particularly wise I stand by his right to make them and fail to understand the outrage of fans who for weeks have been labelling the manager arrogant, a dickhead, a narcissist, and a Scottish prick.
Does Adams deserve this kind of treatment? One could argue not. Argyle’s performances have been poor this season and their current league position is far from ideal but the manager has credit in the bank.
In the previous three seasons, he has lead Argyle to a play-off final, promotion and a top-half finish in our first season back in League One.
There are also mitigating circumstances to this season’s poor start; namely a huge injury list and a supposed lack of financial support.
The board’s perceived lack of willingness to loosen the purse strings saw Sonny Bradley and Oscar Threlkeld, two key players from last season, turn down new deals in the summer.
It is thought that the club was unable to offer the pair sufficient financial incentive to stay, something which has angered many fans who view the construction of a new Grandstand as frivolous in comparison to the importance of keeping hold of key assets.
But as is often the case in football, the vast majority of fans’ anger is being directed at the manager.
Finding the correct balance between anger and abuse is difficult for football fans, especially when the team is playing so poorly and they are perfectly within their rights to voice their displeasure, but doing so in such a vulgar manner is, well, yobbish.
Sometimes football supporters seem to think they are immune, that whatever they say should be absorbed and labelled as opinion regardless of how abusive it is. Why? Because they are fans and, as we know, football would be nothing without the fans.
The club tried to quell the storm surrounding Adams by releasing a statement asking fans to refrain from abusive language whilst, at the same time, encouraging them to express their views in a constructive and appropriate manner.
Cue more outrage as some sections of the Green Army turned on the club for siding with the manager. Imagine that, an employer supporting its employee.
The statement, Adams’s post-Burton comments and the club's desperation for a win ensured that Argyle’s match against Gillingham on Tuesday evening was a played out in front of a riled up Home Park crowd.
But whatever alienation or disillusionment fans felt with the manager and the club was put aside for the sake of the team. A crowd of almost 9000 – not bad for a side bottom of League One on a Tuesday night – turned up to support their team.
It was win or bust for Adams.
The performance on the pitch reflected the electricity in the stands as the players set about righting the wrongs of previous weeks.
Argyle dominated throughout and won 3-1 thanks, in part, to two goals from in-form striker Freddie Ladapo who now has four in his last two games.
After the final whistle the storm that had battered the South West and caused a divide between fans and their club subsided.
It was a night where the football was the main talking point and the yobs in the stands finally got the value they deserve for their hard earned money.
The credit for that much needed win should be shared around. The fans who came in their numbers and shook the stands deserve praise, as do the players who stepped up to the plate and put Gillingham to the sword.
The board who refrained from knee-jerk reactions after the Burton match should be applauded, too.
And of course the biggest pat on the back should go to Derek Adams, the man who battled through the furore of his own making and masterminded the win that keeps him in a job.