BASKING in the glow of a marvellous Steven Gerrard inspired Derby victory there was one startling omission to the Reds line-up, Charlie Adam was struggling with a hip injury paving the way for a Gerrard - Jay Spearing midfield axis. The way in which our opponents were swept aside, and the way in which we dominated the middle third was damning of Adam’s recent poor form.
The Scotsman’s form has been comparative to a dodgy shower, wavering from hot, to tepid, to cold in recent months. Without sounding like the Daily Mail who persistently bore on about why certain players can’t seem to perform well in tandem, Adam’s best games have been without the presence of his captain beside him. With Gerrard co-habiting the centre he seems to downplay his qualities which are his vision for a pass and his intuition for space. I believe Adam needs to feel that he is the top boy in the midfield like he was at Blackpool where he was the fulcrum for the team and had yet to suffer from the penalty kick malaise which has descended on the club!
The former Rangers youngster’s rise was less than rapid having gone on loan at various clubs before making his mark in the blue side of Glasgow, he has dealt with managers who fancied him and others less so, this has given him the fighting spirit which will be invaluable during his current rocky spell at the club. From plying his trade at varying levels during his Scottish apprenticeship he has developed the tools to succeed at a higher level. His “generally” sharp and effective recycling of the ball and his lack of pace are akin to a noughties version of Jan Molby – but he has a lot to do to emulate the Dane.
The League Cup Final was to be his platform to show everyone how far he has come, but his lack of pace and understanding with Gerrard were alarming, with Cardiff’s counter attacks exposing gaps the width of the apparent division of quality between the sides on the energy sapping Wembley turf. Great players pull others who are struggling through games while performing masterfully themselves, but Gerrard was uncharacteristically off-colour that day, having rescued the side on countless occasions. With his captain somewhat out of sorts by his world-class standards, it was Adam’s big opportunity to be the main man. Instead of this he summed up his erratic form, his radar was off when searching out attacks and he was unable to put a stop the blue shirts which kept whizzing past him, not to mention the penalty in which the ball may well be circling orbit as we speak!
When Adam joined the club last summer, we had a midfield packed to the brim with talent, a captain who was incorrectly rumoured to have been finished as a top class player due to injury, we had Raul Meireles who had to leave after reportedly undermining the manager in training, a want-away Alberto Aquilani who never made his mark, the ever-present and ever-improving Lucas Leiva acting as the vital tributary between defence and midfield, a fast developing Spearing and a player who should be given more opportunities; Jonjo Shelvey. To have arrived at a club with such quality in his chosen position, King Kenny has shown huge faith in the former Blackpool star. It is up to Adam whether or not he will continue to do so. Can he make the step up to become a consistent Kop hero and live up someway close to the midfield general’s gone by? I have my doubts.