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How Tony Adams’ dancing antics inspired the most unlikely La Liga leaders

You all remember it.

Something straight out of a David Brent show reelonly this was Tony Adams prancing around sunny southern Spain.

Adams was appointed Granada manager back in April 2017 and his interesting training ground drills became an instant meme.


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They were relegated and Adams duly sacked having lost all seven of his league games in charge.

Two-and-a-half years on, newly-promoted Granada are bucking all trends to sit top of La Liga after the first 10 games of the season, the doom and gloom of the Adams era well behind them.

Make no mistake; this is without doubt the story of the season so far.

Yep, that’s where Roberto Soldado is

EPA
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Yep, that’s where Roberto Soldado is

It is a team consisting mainly of Segunda level players or even lower, complemented by a few seasoned veterans – like Roberto Soldado and Maxime Gonalons – who have instantly adapted to their new challenge.

Their starting line up in the 1-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday was valued at around €7m, their salary cap estimated at 18 times lower than Barcelona’s.

They’ve never finished higher than eighth in the Spanish top flight, while their 20 points has already equalled the total they managed that season they went down under Adams.

In Diego Martinez, their eccentric, designer-brand donning boss, they boast the youngest manager in the division at 38-years-old.

Miracle worker

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Miracle worker

On a personal side note, I backed Granada to go down as part of my pre-season, multi European league relegation accumulator. Which shows how valuable that 30 seconds of research was, right?

So it would be easy to assume they were glad to see the back of Adams and that they’d learned from their mistakes appointing him.

In actual fact, while his managerial record was indisputably dire, the Arsenal legend helped lay the foundations for what Granada have become today.

Adams preparing his next wacky shape

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Adams preparing his next wacky shape

Adams inherited a shambles when he arrived, a squad made up of 28 players with 20 different nationalities.

At one point he named a starting line up with 11 different nationalities.

The distinct lack of Spanish influence was proving damaging and the fans were growing increasingly disillusioned with their beloved club.

During his very brief stint at the Estadio de Los Cármenes, Adams pleaded with the club’s Chinese owner John Jiang for an injection of Spanish culture from top to bottom.

A 1-0 win over Betis catapulted them to the top of La Liga

EPA
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A 1-0 win over Betis catapulted them to the top of La Liga

“Adams couldn’t perform miracles during his managerial stint, but he made some important recommendations to the club’s owner John Jiang,” Heath Chesters, an English journalist based in Granada, told the BBC.

“He insisted that Jiang should restructure the club with a focus on Spaniards – in the boardroom, in the sports directive, in the dugout, and on the pitch.”

Jiang listened, appointing Fran Sanchez as technical director and Antonio Cordon as transfer policy supervisor.

At squad level, not only did their recruitment drive now feel decidedly Spanish, they focused specifically on players with roots in the Andalusian region.

The emphasis on local identity paid off, finishing 10th in their first season back in Segunda before securing automatic promotion last term.

Beating Barca earlier this season

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Beating Barca earlier this season

They’re now flying high at the summit of the Spanish game having kept six clean sheets in 10 games and beaten Barcelona.

Current boss Martinez – who claims he isn’t even looking at the league table – has been a revelation, but it was Adams’ insistence of going went back to basics that instigated the whirlwind journey in the first place.

Keep dancing like nobody’s watching, Tony.

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