Liverpool’s restructuring under Kenny Dalglish continued last week, with the signing of Blackpool’s Charlie Adam being heralded by many as one of the missing pieces in the Anfield midfield, a quality passer with a pin-point final ball. However some have questioned his class, saying that he is a one-trick pony who can hit a good freekick but not much else.
With all respect to the Blackpool team that Adam formed a key part of last season, one of the reasons behind the confusion over his quality is due to the unpredictable nature of the Tangerines over the last year. Playing Blackpool last season was similar to playing Russian Roulette; you simply had no idea whether they would be firing on all cylinders or shooting blanks.
So let’s look past the team and just focus on Adam. While his goalscoring record was impressive last season, scoring more in the league than Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney with his total of 12 goals, it is important to note that only 2 of those came from open play. 8 were penalties, for which he will be behind Steven Gerrard and probably Dirk Kuyt in the pecking order at Anfield, and 2 were from freekicks. But goals are not what he is here to score, but instead provide.
One area that Liverpool have been lacking in is a left-footed set piece taker, with the unfortunate Fabio Aurelio injured more often than not. This gives the Reds a more reliable variation when it comes to freekicks and corners. Last season Adam put 196 balls into the box, and although less than 1 in 4 found an orange shirt, you have to think that Andy Carroll will be a more combative target man than the likes of DJ Campbell, so that figure will increase. Further encouragement for the likes of Carroll comes from the news that he created a total of 80 chances last season, of which only 8 were taken by his Blackpool team mates. A more prolific goalscorer will surely feast on the chances created by the Scot, and if he at least works the goalkeeper there is always the chance that Luis Suarez will be in the area fast enough to tuck away the rebound.
A lot has been made at Liverpool about the failure to replace Xabi Alonso following his move to Real Madrid two years ago, and some see the arrival of Charlie Adam as a step towards putting that right. The Spaniard, made famous for his long-range passing (and shooting), has been sorely missed by the Merseyside club, and comparisons between new and old players are always bound to arise. Adam’s passing ability is one of the key aspects of his game, and last season he proved that by making an accurate long or chipped pass every 7.5 minutes per game. His forward-looking game is also something that will benefit the team, making 63% of his passes upfield and only 27% backwards or to either side. This positive approach is something that will benefit the Liverpool side as a whole.
For many fans, the signing of Andy Carroll was a turning point under the new owners, a sign of genuine ambition and a new focal point for the faltering Liverpool attack. But in footballing terms, it was just the beginning of a new wave. And this new wave needs players that have the ability to create chances. Charlie Adam is arguably one of these players. As is Stewart Downing, touted by many to be soon following the former Blackpool midfielder through the doors at Anfield. Downing may not have the star power of an Alexis Sanchez, but he offers what Dalglish is looking for; young, British and with ability. All that Adam needs is some discipline in order to stop his sometimes sloppy ball-retention, and he will be free to fuel the Anfield strikeforce.
Totally agree? Entirely disagree? Shout at me on twitter, it’s where I hear clearest: