AS some will have seen already (and if you haven’t please search out and read!), I have started to write season reviews for our squad initially with the latest arrivals, and next up is Charlie Adam.
This is a transfer that dragged itself out from the previous January one way or another, and a signing I had mixed feelings about during our pursuit. For sure he was doing well for Blackpool at the time and clearly thriving as a lynchpin in Ian Holloway’s ‘no fear’ approach to Premier League football, and his performances were certainly turning heads.
Now I have a friend who is a big Aberdeen fan and a font of knowledge in all things SPL and Scottish football generally, and his attitude to Adam in general has never been overly flattering, consistently pointing to him never starring at Rangers and having to seek a move elsewhere, and whilst he admitted that Adam was playing well for Blackpool and the positive effect that could have on the national team, as soon as the links to Liverpool gathered pace he was (and still is) of the opinion that Adam would not cut it at Anfield.
My friend certainly believes that Adam is a big fish small pond type player out of his depth in deeper waters. So with this in mind I must admit our interest seemed underwhelming to start with but felt that a different option being added to the squad would certainly help us and may even free Gerrard to link better with Torres akin to the Alonso days. It wasn’t until the very realistic possibility of Spurs stealing in for him at the last minute did I feel put out and really gear up for him to make his way to Melwood. Was this a case of although I’m not too fussed nobody else is allowed him? I can’t say for sure, but after the Spurs bid failed to materialise I accepted that he was probably destined for a red shirt and if I’m honest I was probably surprised it took so long in the summer for him to sign, but sign he did, and from the moment he completed his signature on that LFC contract he gained my full support and a large amount of patience as any new arrival on or off the pitch at Anfield should have from the fans.
I think it is best that we assess his attributes and what he brings to the squad to gain an understanding as to why he was pinpointed by the club. It has been painfully obvious for anyone to see that as a side we have seriously struggled since losing Alonso. A lack of anybody to play in that ‘Quarterback’ role disrupted not only our midfield but also our offensive threat. Yes, Stevie could play that role but that meant we lost his partnership with Torres who also struggled as a result. If Stevie remained higher up the pitch we would often seem him dropping back (just like the cup final this year) to get involved as playing two holding midfielders who lack the distribution Alonso brought, meant the gap between midfield and attack grew ever wider.
Whilst not being in the same league as Alonso, Charlie Adam is very much a rough diamond quite capable hitting Alonso-esque passes, lacked the composure and consistency of the Spaniard. However, considering the position the club found themselves in, in terms of no European football and a club finally starting to make headway into picking itself up following the cowboys as well as competition from other parties (Spurs mainly), his signature was quite a coup. Of course it doesn’t compare to the likes of Aguero or Mata for example, but Liverpool were not in position to attract that level of player.
The abilities that Adam has are clear to see, he has that ability to pick a pass and the creativity to dictate a game and make chances. His delivery at dead ball situations for Blackpool was second to none and although less well recognised he is also skilled at carrying the ball forward, and whilst this will not look as majestic or beautiful as some of his counterparts it can nonetheless be as effective. Now where does all this fit in with Liverpool?
Well as discussed, we were crying out for that ‘Quarterback’ and Adam certainly has the ability to fill that role, especially if his rough ages can be smoothed out by the LFC coaches. Dead ball delivery has been a real pet hate for me with Liverpool for a number of years, and I am never confident of our ability to convert corners or free kicks. It is not as if we don’t have the personnel with the likes of Kuyt, Skrtel and Agger, also now joined by Carroll, to really worry defences and cause problems. Also with the responsibility of delivery taken off the shoulders of Gerrard he can either lurk on the edge of the area or even get in the mix as I have always been impressed with his aerial ability.
So as we can see Charlie ticked a lot of boxes prior to his arrival, but as everyone knows it is not as simple as that. Things started reasonably well as our goal against Sunderland was as a result of his delivery, but in all I felt he took a while to settle, which is understandable as the expectations and requirements a club like Liverpool has on its players is a million miles from those from a club like Blackpool, and this burden has played an effect as even the staple of his game, set-pieces, were not of a standard he would have been happy with.
It will have been a big culture shock which can be argued will affect the majority of new signings at big clubs. To his credit though he never shirked his responsibility at any point and if I’m honest I think his biggest failing to date in a Liverpool shirt is for trying too hard to impress, too hard to shed the shackles and accusations made against him by certain sections of support and the media. There were numerous occasions this season when he had the opportunity, or created the opportunity himself, to make a killer pass or other such telling contribution, but instead he more often than not chose the wrong option, an option which if it had come off would have result in a more personal glory.
To be clear, I am in no way shape or form calling him a selfish player, or a glory hunter, just a man trying too hard to prove himself, when playing it simply would have been much more effective. It is this decision making that has caused the problem, whether it be him choosing to shoot after driving forward with the ball and beating players despite others being in a better position or trying the Hollywood pass when again playing it simply would have been much more effective. Whilst this remains a problem it’s not a disaster as he has shown in glimpses his ability and what he can bring to the party, the decision making aspect can be worked upon, it’s not as if you are trying to teach an old horse new tricks. In all fairness to Charlie though, I felt that November/December time he and Lucas were building up an understanding and starting to gel as a pair, which was beneficial to the team and crucial in driving forward, and just as Adam was getting better and better Lucas got crocked at Stamford Bridge, coinciding with Adam and the team losing a lot of confidence and suffering a deterioration in performance, and for all Spearing’s qualities, he isn’t Lucas, so Adam couldn’t regain the same level until ultimately his season was cut short.
So in conclusion what does this all mean? Well, as with any player I think it is particularly cruel and unjust to judge them on a season particularly if that player has made a step up like Adam made. I do believe that he has shown in patches that he can deliver for Liverpool but in order for him to stay and be a success at the club, especially with new management coming in to play he really needs to find a level of consistency and improve on his decision making, especially in the final third.
If he can regain that partnership with Lucas and really build on it there is every chance he can be a success story in a red shirt, but that really falls at his feet. It will be tough for Adam next season as the people who brought him to the club are no longer in place and this is his second season so there will be an increased expectation for him to hit the ground running and really deliver, and pull the strings offensively while Lucas does what Lucas does.
Does Adam deserve more time? Of course he does, but that window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller and he doesn’t have youth or investment that Carroll and Henderson have had so he needs to make a strong start to the next season or he could struggle.
Love to chat footie and meet fellow reds so get in touch on twitter @timdibs
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