Charlie Adam: Life in the old dog yet

For a short period, Charlie Adam was one of the most highly regarded midfielders in English football. The Scot was instrumental in Blackpool’s unlikely run to Premier League promotion in 2010, dictating play from the middle of the park, and scoring a fine free-kick to give the Tangerines the lead in the play-off final at Wembley.

After impressing in the Premier League the following season despite Blackpool’s relegation, Adam earned a transfer to Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool, completing a meteoric rise for a player who represented the earthiest qualities of British football married with effortless skill and technique.

Sadly, Adam never really got going at Anfield in a season where Liverpool struggled, finishing eighth in the Premier League. That poor showing cost Dalglish his job, and after the arrival of Brendan Rodgers, Adam was soon deemed surplus to requirements, moving to Stoke City in the summer of 2012.

After several seasons at Stoke where Adam flitted in and out of the starting 11, he now finds himself at Reading, where he has played an important role in the Royals’ midfield. A recent photo of Adam celebrating a goal against Fulham in the Championship left Twitter users gasping at his aged, wizened appearance, but despite time’s cruel advances the midfielder is proving to be a popular player at the Madejski Stadium.

At 34, Adam is no spring chicken, but he still possesses the silky touch that made him so revered at Blackpool. His vision and eye for a pass, as well as the ability to strike from distance, make him a valuable squad player for any Championship side. Reading may not be automatic favourites each week in English Championship betting odds, but with the league table looking incredibly tight, who knows where a good run of form could take Adam and his teammates.

Squandered potential?

It has always seemed a shame that Adam’s spell at Liverpool did not yield more success on an individual level. He arrived during a summer of major upheaval at the club, and was one of a wave of new arrivals which also included Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, José Enrique and Craig Bellamy. It always looked likely that it would take the squad time to gel, and despite Liverpool winning the League Cup and reaching the FA Cup final, Dalglish paid the price for a league campaign defined by inconsistency.

Adam also came in for a lot of flak from pundits, journalists and supporters alike. He has since said that the incoming Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers simply “didn’t fancy” him as a player, a judgement for which Adam bears no grudges against the Northern Irishman. Despite his undoubted qualities, Adam was cast upon the scrapheap at Anfield, and was forced to move away to seek regular football.

Some have questioned Adam’s fitness and work ethic, stating that more concerted effort and commitment would have seen him achieve more success at Anfield.

But such accusations are born from a misunderstanding of the kind of player Adam is and always has been. He has never been a Henderson-style ‘bust a gut’ kind of player. He is a deep-lying dictator of play, and it was simply a case of not being the right fit for Liverpool at the time that cost him in the end.

The Scot has still enjoyed a fine career. Despite struggling to get in the team near the end of his Stoke days, Adam still enjoyed some great moments with the Potters. He scored that remarkable goal from inside his own half against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and even exacted some personal revenge on Liverpool by scoring in Stoke’s 6-1 hammering of the Reds on the final day of the 2014-15 season.

Adam continues to plug away for Reading in his own inimitable style, which may not be the most barnstorming and energetic, but occasionally he’ll provide a stark reminder of the kind of quality he possesses, proving that age is just a number after all.

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