x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Charlie Adam's renaissance has begun at Blackpool

After a slack early in his career, the midfielder has gained plenty of new admirers this season with his form at Blackpool.

Exiled by Rangers, ignored by nearly all clubs, Charlie has been shown faith by Blackpool.
Exiled by Rangers, ignored by nearly all clubs, Charlie has been shown faith by Blackpool.

It was not the normal reception granted to a player who has submitted a transfer request.

His name was cheered longest and loudest before he was serenaded in song during the game. Then again, Charlie Adam is not a normal player.

Slow, overweight and with a wand of a left foot, he seems something of a throwback.

But his exploits appear to come from another age. Promoted clubs are supposed to defend and go down quietly, not attack fearlessly.

Blackpool are the anomalies and Adam, their coveted captain, is the personification of an expansive style of play.

A 60-yard, cross-field, outside-of-the-boot, inch-perfect pass to DJ Campbell in the game at West Bromwich Albion may have been the ball of the season.

Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, has suggested Adam is the passer Liverpool have lacked since Xabi Alonso left.

In 18 months as a Blackpool player, he has established himself as the best player to grace the Fylde Coast since Jimmy Armfield, who retired in 1971.

"He has helped put us where we should not be," Holloway said. "Charlie will go down in folk history and I might even start carving a statue of him myself. Someone give me a penknife and some wood."

It was a typically colourful offer as part of an increasingly desperate bid to keep Adam. His request to leave was made on Monday and, some 30 hours later, the Bloomfield Road faithful showed their enduring appreciation for his talents.

Both Aston Villa and Liverpool have had £4 million (Dh23.4m) bids rejected - "if he's only worth £4m then I'm a Scotsman called McTavish," his manager said. "Who can I replace him with that kind of money?"

Holloway has cited the £46m cost of relegation and £14m as more accurate valuations.

"He is lighting up the world," he said. "You show me a passer who is better than that. Everybody in the world knows how good he is going to be. But no one rates him as highly as I do."

Plenty of others esteem him, however. Tuesday's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United was, for an hour, a match controlled by Adam.

Paul Scholes, the United midfielder, endured the unusual experience of appearing the lesser playmaker on show and Sir Alex Ferguson said: "In the first half we couldn't stop Charlie Adam."

Many have tried this season, without disrupting his ability to dictate the game. Adam operates in front of the back four, spreading play from the centre circle with mastery. Blackpool's gung-ho tactics have a logic: he can pick out far-flung attackers with enviable precision.

His rise has been as swift as theirs and as improbable. His debut was particularly inauspicious: in February 2009, he was dismissed for stamping on Doncaster Rovers' Richie Wellens in a Championship match.

Exiled from Rangers, the Scottish giants from Glasgow, on loan, the only other bid came from Barnsley when Blackpool bought him for a club record £500,000 that summer.

Born in Dundee, he comes from a footballing family: Charlie Adam Snr played for six Scottish clubs in an unremarkable career. His son, capped six times by his country, has responded to responsibility. "I think having the captain's armband has helped me and matured me in a way," he said.

"You've got to think about your performances a lot more and I'm really honoured to be captain at this club."

After being elevated from the ranks, he led them to promotion, his 19 goals including a free kick at Wembley in the play-off final.

The tally is all the more admirable as Adam began in an advanced midfield role at Bloomfield Road before dropping back to become the deep-lying distributor.

It is a position that has its perils: Adam is not a conventional holding midfielder and it was noticeable that he failed to track Kieran Richardson when the latter scored for Sunderland on Saturday.

And yet he believes his future could incorporate more defensive duties. "I've always wanted to play in centre midfield but I also enjoy playing at centre-half," he said.

"Not a lot of people know that but I honestly think I could play there because I did it when I was younger. A lot of people, especially my dad, think I'll end up playing as a left-sided centre-half."

 

sports@thenational.a