Adams not bitter

Friday 26 April 2002

When Fulham fans say farewell to Craven Cottage tomorrow they will do so in the company of club greats such as Johnny Haynes, Alan Mullery and George Cohen.

The game against Leicester is scheduled to be the last before their home of 105 years undergoes a £70million redevelopment.

An extensive "end of an era" programme of events has been organised to take place before Jean Tigana's team leave to groundshare with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road for two seasons.

But one of the former Fulham people the fans would most like to see at Craven Cottage tomorrow will be there anyway. Micky Adams, courtesy of one of those happy accidents the fixture computer occasionally throws up, will be at the game in charge of relegated Leicester.

He may not have the football fame of some other Fulham legends who will parade before the game, but the club's former manager is a modern hero at Craven Cottage. Adams is the man credited with starting the revival which resulted in a return to the top flight last season after a 33-year absence.

Although he was only in charge for a year from August 1996, he took the team from just above the Football League exit door to promotion to the Second Division.

Shortly afterwards Mohamed Fayed bought the club and Kevin Keegan replaced Adams, but the Leicester manager is not bitter.

"I am looking forward to going back to Fulham because I have a terrific rapport with the fans," he said. "I still get letters now from supporters and I think I am well remembered, so that will do me.

"If you can leave a club in a better position than when you joined, you have done your job and I think I did that at Fulham. I have nothing to be bitter about.

"Fayed left us in no doubt he wanted a Premiership club and so the sack for me was inevitable from the minute he came in.

"He wanted a big name and I can see why. At the time, leaving hurt like hell but looking back now it was the correct decision to get Keegan in and big-name players."

Like many supporters, Adams has fond memories of the days when Fulham was still a ramshackle family affair.

He said: "It started to become more professional when Fayed came in. But when you have worked with no money you don't necessarily know how to improve things when you are given £ 1million to spend.

"When I first arrived at Craven Cottage we had next to nothing and there was no manager's office. The treatment room was in a Portakabin, we trained on rugby pitches from time to time and we all took our own kit home and washed it.

"Because money was tight we used to have a scheme which involved taking up to six people on the team coach on Fridays if we had an overnight stay and an away game the next day.

"We had several regulars who more or less paid for our away travel.

"They got to go on the team bus, had a meal with me, a few drinks, a seat at the ground, fish and chips on the way home and a couple of cans of lager. We built on team spirit and I brought in decent players on free transfers who have gone on to have good careers. What we did on the budget we had was special."

Adams's management style at Fulham involved turning a blindeye to post-training trips to the pub and using a siege mentality.

Familiarity with fans was considered a good thing. Adams added: "It was a real family club and everyone knew everyone. Maybe that is why I am looking forward to going back. There will still be the same faces I know, although they might be drinking champagne these days.

"I think it is special for me, too, that it will be the last game at Craven Cottage before they rebuild. It is already a newish ground compared to the one we played in when the seats from the edges of the main stand were missing because they had to be moved to replace damaged ones in the centre.

"I have been back once with Brentford in 1997 but it will be nice to see it again because it holds fond memories for me."

While Fulham have moved from the Second Division to the Premiership, Adams has gone via Swansea, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Brighton to Leicester, where he took over from Dave Bassett two games ago.