Adams stands on the brink of another success
Derek Adams will lead his Plymouth Argyle side to Wembley tomorrow to contest the League 2 Play-Off Final with AFC Wimbledon. In the unforgiving world of football management it is yet another achievement to add to the CV of the under-rated Scottish manager. Cast your mind back 12 months and few could blame the Argyle faithful for questioning the appointment of Adams. Having spent the majority of his coaching career operating 500 miles away in rural Dingwall in the far north of Scotland, internet search engines were awash with Plymouth followers seeking information on the man tasked with guiding their club back up the English football ladder.
Their research would have given them confidence as Adams is a serial achiever in gaining promotion and his managerial credentials are frankly, extremely impressive. Entering the world of football management as player-manager with Ross County in 2007, he led his team to the Second Division title in 2008. By the age of 33 he had gained his UEFA Pro Licence before leading his team out at Hampden to face Dundee United in the 2010 Scottish Cup Final as a First Division side, having conquered Celtic in the semi-final. This was a no mean feat for a club with an average home gate of around 3,00 supporters and modest resources. Perhaps believing he had taken the club as far as possible, Adams joined Hibernian as an assistant to Colin Calderwood before a hankering to return to being the boss saw him return to the Staggies in 2011. His return to the club is a case study in dispelling the myth that "you should never go back". Under his guidance, the team went on a 34 game unbeaten run which saw them stroll to the First Division Championship by a margin of 24 points, an incredible achievement given the competitive and attritional nature of the division. One only needs to look at Rangers this season to understand quite how impressive that achievement was. Individual plaudits came his way as he was voted PFA Scotland Manager of the Year and an unbeaten start to County's maiden season in the top-flight finally saw their invincible run end at game 40. Finishing the season 5th, one point from a European place, was another fine success as he made his name as a promising young manager. The following season was more challenging, with the Dingwall outfit finishing a respectable 7th, but at the start of the following campaign he departed the club as manager for a second time.
Given the sustained success he had achieved, it was surprising that the 40 year old Scotsman remained out of the managerial game until joining the Pilgrims in June last year and without being disparaging to Plymouth, he may have expected a call from a club further up the football pyramid. Prior to occupying the Home Park dugout, Adams was linked with the vacancies at St Mirren and former club Motherwell but was overlooked for both. How they must regret that now. Adams spoke publicly during his spell out of the game about the challenges he had faced in securing a return to work. Despite his relentless success, Adams is not one of the media darlings of the Scottish game and this was to his detriment in terms of being pushed into the public eye when vacancies arose. More recently a fallen giant of the Scottish game Dundee United went on the hunt for a manager to lead them out of the Championship next season and with his unparalled credentials in that division in recent times, you may have expected Adams name to be in the mix. Alas, it was not.
And so the path led to Home Park where the board looked at his track record in managing football teams and not providing soundbytes to appease the media. He may not be lauded by the Scottish press but success tomorrow will see him gain the adulation of the 40,00+ Pilgrims heading down Wembley Way and the chance to test himself at a higher level next season. You never know, he may even get some recognition back in his native Scotland. After all, they do say football is a funny old game.