Following in the footsteps of many former sports personalities and cherished celebrities, Arsenal icon Tony Adams has been strutting his stuff on Strictly Come Dancing, the hit British TV show. But what really caught the eye was his choice of routine, accompanied by dance partner Katya Jones, as they performed their very own unique tango style.
Tony Adams has just recreated his famous Granada training session on Strictly. Hero. pic.twitter.com/dC0NDp9Alg
— Olly Allen (@OllyAllen_) September 24, 2022
Adams decided to recreate something he did that went viral in 2017, after becoming the interim head coach of Spanish side Granada CF. During one of his very first training sessions with the team, the former England centre-back attempted to give some visual emphasis while instructing the players, producing what ultimately turned into a hilarious video meme on social networks.
In the end, Granada would lose all seven of their games with Adams as manager, as the team concluded the 2016-17 by suffering relegation to the second tier of Spanish football. But far beyond his dubious influence on the training pitch or in the managerial dugout, Adams was actually the catalyst for what became the most impressive period in the club’s history.
The man who changed everything
At the start of the 2016-17 season, a Chinese consortium had assumed control of Granada CF, bringing the habitually struggling club a renewed sense of optimism. They appointed Pere Guardiola (brother of Man City boss Pep) to oversee an ambitious new project, who in turn hired Paco Jemez as head coach, a man who was considered one of the most popular managers in Spanish football at the time.
However, the whole project was an absolute disaster from the start. Guardiola promised Jemez a squad of players built entirely around his tactical preferences, although just one of more than 20 transfer targets actually arrived. This led to Granada hastily assembling a squad of ill-suited players, the bulk of which were signed just before the summer transfer deadline.
Jemez inevitably complained very publicly and after 6 games without a win, he was quickly fired. Local man Lucas Alcaraz was hired for his third stint as manager, yet even his calming influence didn’t help, given the problems with a squad that contained 19 different nationalities. Indeed, one match featured a starting 11 with players from 11 different nationalities, the first and only time this has ever happened in Spain’s LaLiga.
Alcaraz eventually walked away with Granada practically doomed to relegation, and already hired as a consultant to replace Guardiola, it was Tony Adams who took responsibility for leading the team. In fairness, the Englishman was brave enough to accept the challenge, albeit fully aware he was never going to save the team from their fate.
Nevertheless, after being considered a figure of fun on social networks, largely because of that viral video of his “dance” in training, plus his rather interesting choice of suits, Adams actually went on to play a hugely influential role at Granada. This was later highlighted retrospectively by the BBC and expatriate English journalist Heath Chesters, who pointed out that Adams actually sowed the seeds for success at Granada, which came shortly afterwards.
Essentially, it was Adams who advised Granada to have a complete rethink of their strategy, insisting the club needed to rebuild entirely with Spanish coaching staff and players. By the time Adams had left the club, they had followed his sage advice to the letter, and with Diego Martinez as manager, won promotion back to LaLiga and qualified for Europe in consecutive seasons. Indeed, none of this would have been possible without Adams.
Genuine context really matters
What this interesting story about Tony Adams highlights is that context in football is everything. We may still chuckle about his viral training video at Granada, yet behind the scenes, he accomplished very serious and important changes at the club. It also underlines that we should never take anything at face value, which includes our wagering activities associated with the beautiful game.
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There’s a good chance that for Adams, his brief coaching stint in Spain was the last managerial tango for the legendary former Arsenal player. But in the meantime, he still manages to entertain and impress us in different ways, never forgetting his past and even willing to laugh at himself. That is always the sign of a sincere and honest personality, unafraid of putting themselves in the spotlight.