Charlie Adam – Great Expectations

CHARLIE ADAM. It’s been a funny old start, hasn’t it?

When he signed, and in the weeks shortly after that point, we saw references ranging from “the Scottish Redondo” to “Xarlie Adamso” over the length and breadth of the Red web. But since, while many have taken to the fella, we’ve also seen a few less complimentary references. He’s marmite, it seems. Fans either seem to love him or loathe him.

For me, both extremes are symptomatic of Liverpool fans being preoccupied with what’s going on behind their eyes, rather than what they’re seeing in front of them (myself very much included by the way, before you think I’m stood on any kind of moral high ground here).

On reflection, it seems we’ve seen the player we ordered. Good and bad.

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”
– Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

We saw the blueprints before we ordered, didn’t we?

In June last year, illustrious Blackpool blogger “Tangerine Dreaming” (AKA John Kane) penned as comprehensive a profile of the player Liverpool were about to sign as was possible. It told us everything we needed to know about the player, albeit with appropriate contextual caveats. Blackpool played their distinctive system, and Blackpool had their own peculiar crosses to bear. Blackpool, while swashbuckling at times, weren’t Liverpool, despite having bossed them both at Anfield and Bloomfield Road.

A good six months on, it’s enlightening to revisit that piece. The original article’s here:
Charlie Adam – An Honest Appraisal – By Tangerine Dreaming.

John was kind enough to give up some time to help me revisit the content of his article from last summer, and to comment on how Charlie might fit into the Liverpool midfield through to the end of the season and beyond. Before we go any further, and as you’ll no doubt know we tend to have players on loan at Blackpool, get on his blog. It’s one of the very best football blogs out there and I highly recommend it.

Note: the numbers presented below are based on league appearances, and are taken from Guardian Unlimited’s excellent “Chalkboards” facility. They live here:

So – to Adam’s half-term appraisal…

While outlining the level he’s capable of, and his periodic ability to delight with his vision, John in June clearly stated the downside.

His first time passing (without looking up) can be sublime and well disguised, however, these carry a high tariff and don’t always work. If intercepted early enough then he can compromise his own team’s shape in the defensive phase…

He does… need time on the ball in order to pick his pass and if a team puts him under pressure, he can be caught in possession by an astute opponent. If his awareness allows him to sense danger he will surge forward to create space to release the pass. However, his accuracy can suffer in these situations as his focus tends to be disturbed.

…his pass completion fluctuated throughout the season from a high of 81% to a low of 45%.

He then illustrated that point with a nice clear graph. What jumped out at you was that when he made a lot of passes, his pass completion (as a rule) increased. (The thicker the line in the graph, the more passes he made.)

Charlie Adam pass completion numbers

Now, on further investigation, that also seems to be true of other midfielders – more on that at a later date – but what was clear was that Charlie’s graph fluctuated more than the others measured in the sample.

So is the same true of his numbers this season? (Note that save for Spurs, Everton, and more recently Blackburn and Newcastle, he’s played the full 90 in every league game.) Here’s the graph.

Charlie Adam pass completion numbers

When Charlie makes more passes, those passes are more accurate. When he makes fewer passes, as a rule they’re less accurate. But compared to some (Parker, Barry, Carrick, and so forth) he makes far fewer, and they’re far less accurate.

Charlie’s form, both last season and this, shows swings from great to poor, but you won’t see it sat at ‘Steady Eddy’ levels for the duration of a season. At times, he’s sublime, but often he’s limited. So it’s useful to get the calipers out and recalibrate our expectations in light of that knowledge. Using passing stats is limited in illustrating his creative form, granted, but we’ve seen ample evidence of his fluctuating form thus far, and we’re pretty certain we know why it happens in each case, aren’t we?

Before moving on, here are Parker’s passing numbers for the current season by way of contrast.

Parker's stats

Charlie’s max/min stats (ignoring the Spurs aberration): pass completion – worst of 66%, best of 88.7%, difference of 22.7%; passes attempted – worst of 36, best of 86, difference of 50.

Parker’s max/min stats: pass completion – worst of 81.5%, best of 95.7%, difference of 14.2%; passes attempted: worst of 53, best of 88, difference of 35.

Parker. It’s a shame that Tottenham got Parker. But while he’s played at a significantly higher level for much of the season, when Charlie’s been good, he’s been just as good. The question is, is it fair in his current context to expect him to be that good on a consistent basis? And if so, what needs to be in place for it to happen?

(Note that the passing numbers include corners and crosses, both of which are by their nature less accurate. It’d be interesting to recalculate the figures excluding them – Charlie’s numbers would look significantly better if they were factored out. In fact, in future posts, we’ll explore the nature of these stats further… but hopefully not so far that the will to live completely deserts you.)

John had this to say in June about Charlie’s engine.

He has pace, a common misconception is that he isn’t quick. He’s certainly not a hundred metre runner, however, his pace over the first few metres is enough to take him away from most opponents especially given his upper body strength and ability to fend off tacklers (he has a take on success rate of 49%). However, this pace cannot be sustained over distance and will look to a drag of the ball or a nutmeg to beat his man rather than engage in a foot race.

…Physically he looks strongly built, if anything he may be carrying too much body fat which would improve given the right circumstances as Blackpool’s approach to fitness conditioning isn’t comparable to an established Premier League team.

This particular Topic has been deep fried, hasn’t it? He still looks no stranger to a fish supper, and while most would concede he’s improved a little here, he’s not bionic. He’s never going to be bionic. Don’t expect him to be.

Tangerine Dreaming commented here that “his stamina doesn’t appear to be an issue”, but I’d argue that’s part of his profile that’s subject to context. He played in a system that was more forgiving of his nature at the time. John expands on this on reflection. “For me, the two things that stand out above all the playing attributes are his fitness and mentality. For instance, I felt that Liverpool would pull him into shape. I think he looks fitter, although he does look like he’s still carrying a few bags of very heavy sugar around with him. Obviously the fitness coaches will know the true data re body fat and so forth, but I’d say that he’s still carrying at least half a stone too much and hasn’t quite shaped up into the top shape that I’d expect to see at a top club.”

Strength and resilience to injury
John on Charlie’s strength and resilience to injury, from June.

He is strong in head to heads, tough in the tackle, a decent leap is met with a good sense of timing and a strong neck gives him above average aerial power which he utilises more in his own box rather than the attacking one, more due to his positioning and role within the Blackpool team. He doesn’t appear to be overly susceptible to injury, tends to pick up very occasional knocks as opposed to serious injuries either by overuse or accident.

We’ve not seen anything to contradict those words.

Set piece delivery
Now – another hot potato. His set piece delivery.

He is excellent at delivering set pieces. Wide free kicks are better delivered from wide on the right hand side and generally hits them just above head height swinging inwards. His free kick delivery from wide left have a tendency to be hit low towards feet and behind the defensive line, swinging away from goal. He generally takes the majority of his corners from the right side, in-swinging, although has a tendency to over hit the ball. His striking of the corner can be inconsistent with a scuffed low and running corner being the key fault.

That’s interpreted as ‘excellent’ from a Blackpool fan’s perspective. From the collective Red perspective, having seen pretty much what Tangerine Dreaming described over the first half of the season, it’s interpreted as ‘shite’. But season to date, he’s been credited with 8 assists, including some very decent delivery from set pieces and corners. Again, you wonder if this is a ‘between the ears’ issue on our part. We want our footbal accompanied by a string quartet.

John expands on this from the present-day perspective. “His corners – I may be wrong with this, but a corner delivery can only be as good as the attacker that gets on the end of it or as bad as the defenders defending it. Charlie’s delivery from corners are still good, but corners are such as tricky thing to get right – there are so many variables. (No wonder Barcelona have taken a stand against them.) Sometimes corners just don’t come off. I really like the way that Charlie strikes his corners, but if the myriad of possibilties don’t combine to allow one of his team to score, the stats start to rack up. Ferguson made the comment about his corners after the Man U game last season, but Blackpool hadn’t scored consistently from corners last season – we had bursts, as teams do. A few of the corners we scored weren’t even delivered by Adam but by Elliott Grandin. If you look at the Man U corners we scored from, Ferguson (I think) deflected criticism from his team’s poor defending by saying Adam’s corners were worth £10m. I think a lot of people’s ears pricked up when that comment was made, and it could be misleading. Adam delivered tons of quality corners which we didn’t score from and he stuck in some ropey ones too, one of which he scored from against West Ham. Odd. I’d wager that if he persists in taking corners that he’ll have a burst again.”

(All this is subject to further investigation into our own Andy Heaton’s theory that it’s all down to the tightness of the park at Anfield.) ;)

I don’t think anyone’s taken issue with his attitude, other than the complete Interweb ‘wallopers’ that is, but some would cite indiscipline as having been an issue. He’s had three yellers and a prominent indelible stain of a red. How did he fare at Blackpool?

His disciplinary record is marked by his persistent collecting of yellow cards (11 this season), however, it is rare that he loses his temper, even though he was sent off on his Blackpool for a stamp on an opponent. He does appear to have moments of passion where his focus is lost and can lead him in to the occasional rash challenge.

Expanding on this point this week, John makes an interesting comment. Mentally, he hasn’t developed. By this I mean I think he could do with working on his reaction to mistakes. Now I’ve not had a great chance to scrutinize this in more detail, but for me he’s made two mistakes that I feel in his eyes he will have berated himself for and potentially is still holding on to. First is the penalty miss against Wigan. I think that will have shaken him. He took the ball from Suarez, and his domineering body language (to me) suggested he may have been thinking, ‘This is mine, I’m here to step up under pressure to bury these spot kicks’. Missing it will have shaken his self belief, which I think is projected as very strong, but may in reality be very thin and liable to crumble. The second was the own goal against Blackburn. Not much he could have done, but he will have been rollicking himself inside. In that respect he’s far from being top class. I feel top class players have a great attitude to mistakes and forget them in an instant. Adam hangs on to them for too long and I think it impacts on his game. It happened a few times at Blackpool and you could see his head drop. Added to that, he’s not ‘top dog’ at Liverpool – you only have to see his face when Bellamy grabs the ball for a free kick to see that he is adjusting to not being top of the class, and needs time to settle in his role in the pack.

I think John has a compelling point.

Tactical awareness and positioning
The last roasted spud on the baking tray is his tactical awareness and positional play. Again, John was about as comprehensive on our behalf as he could have been in June.

Within Blackpool’s 4-2-3-1 formation, he forms a part of the deeper two midfielders, but is more progressive than his partner and acts as a link from holding midfielder to the man at the tip of the midfield triangle. When Blackpool play their flatter 4-3-3 he will normally gravitate towards the centre left of the midfield three.

Seems fair comment to me. When Liverpool have set up with a ‘busier’ midfield (4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 type set ups) he’s looked comfortable, and he’s put in his best showings.

To the nub of the matter.

Should he be employed in a 4-4-2 then he can be exposed against the opposition central midfield pair, should they work hard to pressurise him and to cut off the link from his midfield partner. It would be unwise to utilise him in this formation given his propensity for needing more time on the ball. A midfield three gives him support and passing options as well as cover for when he breaks forward.

We all read the blog at the time and interpreted it positively, didn’t we? We were hopeful. But what were we hopeful of? That he’d slot in without too much manifestation of the downside? That we’d set up tactically in ways that compensated for his limitations? That he’d operate as strictly a Gerrard backup and squad filler?

Some expected a lot more I think. John made some interesting points on this front when I asked his opinion.

“I think any player who signs for an illustrious club is always subject to massive amounts of scrutiny and comparisons to great players, and Liverpool have had so many that new player A is always going to be compared to old player B. I guess it’s all a part of being a fan of a club; however, to paraphrase a corny saying, he is the only Charlie Adam. He really should be viewed for what he is. The point about his deployment in the team is key. At Liverpool, he is never going to be the focal point. At Blackpool he was. He also had a cracker of a runner and tackler alongside him in David Vaughan. I’d be interested in how Adam’s deployment has flexed since the injury to Lucas.

There’s no doubt in my mind that, if deployed correctly, Adam and Gerrard could play together, but without a doubt they need a third man. They both need the security of someone who will sit and work for them. Adam acting as the link and tempo man with some creative license, and Gerrard as the creator/attacker/runner into the box type midfielder which he thrives as. It’s such a shame that Lucas got injured, as that three in midfield would be a delight to see, and I’d argue as strong if not stronger than anything on show in the Premier League right now.

I may be wrong here, but those limitations of his were the reason why [Blackpool] picked him up on the cheap. I think Rangers fans at the time we signed him called him ‘fat sulky boy’ or something along those lines, and to be entirely brutal, elements of that haven’t gone away. His game developed superbly in the time he was with Blackpool and on his day when he sees tons of the ball and his passes come, off he’s a joy; but there’s a reason we picked him up for £500K and he was picked up by a prestigious club at a ‘good value’ £7m or something in the region of that. To me the fee we got for him seems unreal – it’s huge compared to what we receive normally – but for Liverpool I’d imagine £7m is about an average spend on a player.

Essentially, what I was starting to say is that ‘he is what he is’. If he was anything more, that is, more consistent, potent, fit and so forth, then he would never have joined Blackpool and then gone on to Liverpool. He’d have excelled consistently in the SPL and never traipsed down to rebuild himself by the seaside.”

It’s a thought-provoking read that, isn’t it? We all cried out for Moneyball signings on the installation of our baseball wizard owners after all, didn’t we? What does that involve? Overlooking limitations in players in favour of what we feel they add to our squad, and to our team. But when following that kind of approach, you need to have a clear idea of the process (or processes) you’re going to follow. The ways you’re going to play. But thus far this season, we’ve already set up many different ways, and not just in terms of formation and overall balance and approach. We’ve played deep and hit on the counter attack away from home with tremendous results. Equally, we’ve done the same and suffered less compelling results; the difference often turning on small details (Chelsea away contrasted with Manchester City away, for example). In some (if not most) games, we’ve dominated possession and territory, but shown a frightening inability to put the ball in the next.

But most of all, we’ve seen key changes in personnel imposed by injury. With Lucas at his side, the willing runner and tackler John refers to above, and playing at a frightening level against sides of all standards, Adam was beginning to look a real player. Looking at the graph again, Adam’s second ‘fall off’ in passing performance followed the Fulham away game (in which he actually played pretty well alongside Spearing), which coincidentally followed the Chelsea away when Lucas was sadly injured. Three consecutive games without Lucas or Spearing… and his quality suffered markedly. So what of his other ‘dip’ following the Spurs away game? Lucas remained in the side until the Norwich game – game 9 listed in the graph. Well, it’s maybe simpler in this case – confidence, and the nature of the contest. Wolves, Everton and Man United – I think most were pretty happy with his showing in those games, his passing numbers notwithstanding.

All that maybe calls the nature of the passing stats into question, but again, that’s for a later post – or possibly many later posts.

Conclusion – or lack of it
Charlie Adam is a player who divides opinion as often as he divides an opposing defensive line. I wouldn’t suggest this article presents anything conclusive, but hopefully it at least provides some food for thought and acceptance of our beefy Dundonian. Other beefy Dundonians demand he gets a fair hearing, after all. Ahem.

Other than the Spurs red card, he’d played all 90 minutes of each league game this season until Gerrard returned to fitness. Since then, he’s come off around the hour mark (69, 58 and 56 minutes) three league games in a row. Surely that’s getting closer to his natural place in the pecking order, given his and Jordan Henderson’s current form.

I suppose this will read like a criticism of Kenny – guilty as charged – but there’s nothing wrong with a standard 4-4-2 if you’ve got the right players and system to do it. I just don’t like a meat-and-potatoes 4-4-2 unless you’ve got truly badass players in the middle on the top of their game. Lucas was that man week-in, week-out, but a freak collision with Juan Mata deprived him of a functioning ACL, so we are where we are.

When we’ve seen him in a more densely packed midfield, or alongside the monstrous Lucas, he’s fared far better. Sure, sometimes his first touch isn’t true, and the ball bounces off him. A certain type of football fan will wince whenever they see that, myself very much included. “Oh for fuck’s sake Charlie!”. And sometimes he’ll drive beyond a marker with the ball at his feet and take one too many touches, ending up in a heap down a blind alley.

He’s Charlie Adam. Embrace it.

He’s not Lucas. He never will be. Lucas is a special player.

He’s not Gerrard. He never will be. Gerrard is a special player.

But he *is* Charlie Adam – that’s a limited player who offers genuine positives to his manager and a big potential upside (still) for a man who cost in the region of £6 or £7 million. We didn’t buy a Rolls Royce. We bought a Millenium Falcon. Capable of doing the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, but held together with paper clips and old bits of chewing gum.

As John Kane rightly says, Charlie has no choice but to up his game in 2012 if he’s to retain his first team slot. “It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Charlie settles as Gerrard is reintegrated back in to the first team. Kenny Dalglish certainly gave Charlie a good run at the start of the season but perhaps gave him a little bit of an easy ride in to the first team, and he’ll now need to work hard to prove his worth.”

But I’d back him to rise to the challenge and grow. Just expect a bumpy ride a long the way.


  1. Very nice rundown and revisit of the original Blackpool fan’s Adam appraisal. The second from last paragraph is a perfect summation, he cost £7m and should never be seen as a first choice regular. For me he’s a great addition to our squad for morale and his ability to deliver but he certainly hasn’t proven himself to be a first team regular in a team wanting Champions League football.

    I am still one of those Reds that would have loved to have Aquilani here alongside a fit Gerrard with Lucas sitting, and very little I’ve seen this season has made me think otherwise.

    Remember those days of Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard? Wouldn’t it be great to still have that spine!

  2. As a rule i dont like critisising players who wear the shirt.I read the blog last season and it did worry me a little,however We were in the market for players who we hoped would get us into the top 4 this season.I knew we were not signing a world class midfielder.I have to say though that i have been disappointed,especially with his dead balls.I think when Gerrard came on against Newcastle it showed a few players up that night.I would say Charlie is of very similar ability to Danny murphy who used to get the stick….”Jesus beat the first man”.Good luck to him though as he will know he can improve.

  3. remember reading the blog in the summer and he pretty much was spot on with all his observations on adam! Not sure about the comparison with scott parker though as i think he plays more of the lucas role for spurs with VDV almost making it a 3 most of the time in the middle. Parker seems to win it back and give it simple (and is great at it!) whereas Adam seems to try a lot more risky/long passes which would account for the lower completion rate but also his 35 shot assists which i think would be a lot higher than parkers.

    My personal view on adam is that he has definately struggled for form since lucas has been missing. i think he struggles slightly to see the space behind him when defending and sometimes is guilty of failing to screen the striker or leaves a player who is ‘between the lines’. Going forward he can definately see a pass and also attacks space really well when in possession. Definately a goal threat with his shooting as well. Will be really interesting to see how he plays with gerrard. Overall considering its his first 6 months i think he has done well.

  4. Now we’re talking Anthony. That’s exactly my point on wanting to revisit what passing stats mean in future posts. Spurs have a consistent shape this season, and a consistency of personnel. Parker does make a lot of forays forward and plays precise balls into the forwards though, which either means he’s more precise, or their forward players are finding space better and moving it on to runners, or some combination of the three. And in Spurs’ case, that’s generally been true on all three fronts, hasn’t it? Parker has options when he gets the ball.

    Liverpool, meanwhile, have sometimes pegged themselves back away from home. But notwithstanding that, in some games in that mould, such as Arsenal away, Adam was very effective, albeit he faded late in the game.

    The passing stats are possibly a red herring – they’re just an indicator in any case – but they’re entirely dependent on the system and balance adopted – the case in point being the numbers for the Swansea team.

    Are we that sort of side? I personally think we’ve always mixed it up in terms of our balance and how much we look to dominate games. We change from game to game, and within games. We don’t play one single way. It’s maybe symptomatic of where we are in our progression as you could level the same at the current Chelsea side I think.

    Anyway, against that backdrop Adam’s role surely has to change depending on the set-up we’ve gone with. In that light, he becomes a squad option, doesn’t he?

  5. After reading 5000 words about Charlie Adam, I have only one question for Roy Henderson…is that your real hair? Impressive.

  6. Of course it is Purify!

  7. At still only 26 (still find that remarkable given his bake), I still believe Adam will mature into a very, very good midfielder for Liverpool Football Club, and can become an excellent foil for a Gerrard infused midfield unit. The likes of those quoted, Parker, Carrick and Barry et al are 30+ centre midfielders with considerable Premier League experience, and its no wonder their maturity is reflected in their pass accuracy stats. Personally, I still prefer an extrovert passing midfielder ala Adam, someone who has the “full range” of passing, and who has the balls to play a Hollywood pass once or twice a game. To often these style of midfielders are subdued by the fear of failure, some go on to refine their game to simple, 90% passing stat games, other simply shrivel up and disappear. Under Kenny’s tutelage I have no doubt Adam can strike the balance he needs, and become an LFC midfield stalwart for many years to come.

  8. Amazing to read all these analyses and stats, but…

    Why do we change the team so much in order to adapt to the way other teams play? Why don’t we boss the situation more and impose our game on our opponents? If we did that we wouldn’t need so many different “types” of midfielder or styles of play.

    Or am I being naive?

    I just don’t get why we don’t find a style of play and stick to it, like Barcelona do….it’s what the great Liverpool teams of the 70’s and 80’s did, after all!
    I just think sometimes all the stats just hide what is right in front of your face, and vastly over-complicates what is a fairly simple game….

    • In an ideal world I think we would have our own system and style of play that could take on all comers, but if we’re being realistic, we’re far from capable of it at present. Barcelona are almost an anomaly in the way they play, very few, if any, teams can play in that manner week in week out regardless of opposition. Look at United, Ferguson changes his side/system week in week out and will often change formations and personnel for big games, particularly away from home. I think eventually, Kenny will have the ability to pretty much play our way in every game, but we must remember that this is a work in progress and we can’t become a great side over night, bearing in mind just how far we’d fallen. In saying this, drastically changing formation against Stoke at home does leave us open to criticism,

      Brilliant article on Adam. Another point i’d make is how spoilt we’ve been for CM’s in recent years, Adam IS a £7m player, he isn’t Alonso, Mascherano, Lucas or Gerrard, who is the best midfielder the country has seen in the past 20 years let alone just at Liverpool. I think this sometimes clouds our judgement on Adam and even Henderson to an extent, expecting them to be players that their experience and quality do not add up to.

  9. That is a top class article and it’s such a shame that Tangerine fella isn’t a red.

    Passing stats should improve markedly now that Gerrard has returned. Adam never lasted beyond 55-60 minutes a game anyway, and his stats will have suffered in the latter parts of matches as tiredness and sloppiness set in. Now Gerrard is back, I expect we’ll continue to see Adam taken off around the hour.

    There is certainly quality there for all to see and it would have been nice to have a fit Gerrard and Lucas to team him up with. I reckon Kenny originally envisaged those three as the starters with Henderson to bring on energy and ability in the latter part of games (with an eye on Henderson as Gerrard’s replacement in the future).

    He’s due a goal or two which should give him the boost in confidence he clearly needs to get back at his best. He’s a fighter, though, so I expect he’ll have a big part to play in the future.

  10. Good read Roy. Thanks for your hard work preparing it. I have a question and Andy’s suggestion on the width of Anfield. Don’t you think the trainning ground at Melwood would have the same dimensions?
    On a different note, I would love to see a midfield 3 of Adam, Lucas, Gerrard in action.

  11. nice piece big man. the essence of a team based game is making the unit greater than the sum of its parts. its for kenny to judge how best to deploy charlie but there is no doubt that he – and the team – have suffered greatly with lucas being out.

    i thought we might be aiming to play more 4-3-3 this season and we still might after this transfer window. i expect the big money to go on a midfielder who can sit as well as go and then it will be interesting to see how charlie does on the left of the central three.

  12. Paul Edwards

    Really good read, and sums up sensibly his strengths and weaknesses. Adam as you say can be good but he can also be really bad. He had improved dramatically but the last few weeks have seen him slip back again. It will need careful management to know when to leave him in and when to take him out the firing line. One thing is for certain is that Charlie Adam won’t be a first choice player for us if we have dreams of winning leagues again!

  13. Parsecs are a measure of distance not speed – a distance of 3.26 light years.

    The parsec is equal to the length of the adjacent side of an imaginary right triangle in space. The two dimensions on which this triangle is based are the angle (which is defined as 1 arcsecond), and the opposite side (which is defined as 1 Astronomical Unit, which is the distance from the Earth to the sun). Using these two measurements, along with the rules of trigonometry, the length of the adjacent side (the parsec) can be found.

    I’ve no idea where George Lucas was going with that. Perhaps he should have done as much research as you did in this excellent piece.

    Nice work, Roy.

  14. Troutbeck Red

    Twelve months ago we still had Hodgeson and Torres. In a short space of time Kenny has done very very well and changed a lot of things, but we are a long way off being the finished team and YET apart from a couple of games we could have won them all and this is without Gerrard, Torres and Carroll being the bulldog forward that we bought.

    Against Fulham away last year we played quick intelligent football with Kuyt, Suarez and Maxi, greater intelligence was added wih Bellamy in the summer but with the age of Kuyt, Maxi and Bellamy that can only be a short term solution.

    Under Rafa we played 4231 with goals from Gerrard and Torres and others chipping in, under Kenny we have had to play lots of different formations due to Torres going and injuries to Gerrard, Carroll and now Lucas.

    We have a very settled defence, that for the first time in a decade does not involve Carragher and we have young players in Henderson, Shelvey and Spearing that are still learning. Amidst all this transition Adam has been a constant in midfield and has done a job, he is no Souness, but he never hides and provides a bit of grit and composure, he will look better with better players around him but he has his limitations. However, its a big leap from Blackpool to Liverpool and in many ways he has been thrown in the deep end and not drowned.

    Although in his mid twenties this is only his second season in the premiership. He can see and deliver a pass and with Gerrard back to give a general air of confidence to everyone and if Carroll can score a few with his head then there will hopefully be more to come and at 7 million Charlie represents good value.

  15. The biggest problem I have with Adam is the effect he has on how we play as a team.

    Play him – certainly without Lucas – and you are required to play a three in the midfield as Charlie is going to get exposed in a two. In a two with lucas he just about gets away with it. But only just.

    Therefore Adam’s inclusion invariably leads to playing one man up front or sacrificing a second striker for another midfielder.

    He’s a short term buy for me. not enough quality long term, He’d get found out at a higher level. That said I don’t not like him. I just think he’s limited in ability and blighted by tactical indiscipline on the pitch.

    You do wonder whether the future for Liverpool is Lucas/Henderson, not Adam.

  16. Nice article mate. Adam’s open play pass completion not including free kicks, corners etc. Leaving out the madness of the Spurs game. High of 96% (Norwich) – Low of 68% (Newcastle) difference of 28%. Accurate passes – high of 61 (Swansea) – low of 21 (Newcastle) difference 40. Newcastle game seems to a bit of an aberration also. Next worst pass completion ratio is 73%. He seems to flutter between 73% and 88% pass completion for games. Stats via

  17. Peter Murray

    Start with the arse kissing . Great article to go with the great mullet !

    The point that hit home with me was the one about confidence and mentaity. I think he looked visibly shaken after the penalty miss against Wigan, and to me hasn’t fully recovered from that yet. But i thought he showed signs of recovery after coming on as sub tonight. Showed some composure with the ball, strength in tackles and even wound up Mad Mario !

    I’m in his corner, and once he get’s his head around the expectation, i think he’ll be alright.

    And of course, Lucas will be back then !!!

  18. Thanks for that SteMc – that’s exactly what I want to analyse. Do EPL Index already provide those figures?

  19. Great article, Roy.
    Love the stats and analysis, a great read! :D

    But I can’t help but still think that Charlie Adam is a really clumsy central midfielder despite his ability.

  20. Nae bother Roy. EPLIndex have all the figures. Subscription based. Talk to the guys on twitter through @anfieldindex The same lads who run EPLIndex also run the AnfieldIndex website. They’re Liverpool supporters and nice guys. They have access to all the OPTA stats. I’m sure they can get any info you want for ye

  21. Excellent read Roy (and to John Kane too for his accurate observations/predictions about Charlie).

    He misses Lucas – who wouldn’t? If Agger gets injured at the weekend the old doubts about Skrtel would rear up again. It’s the same thing.

    I agree – as probably we all do – that Adam can play well in a three-man central midfield, but not a two-man unit. He’s relatively poor when the other team have the ball. For me as well he hits long too often. The 40-yarder can be a great pass (especially if you have players with pace on the flanks), but Charlie almost uses it as a stock pass. Rather than taking two or three opponents out the game (as intended) it often takes two or three of his teammates out instead.

    And there’s a reason why Bellamy is top dog when it comes to corners and set pieces. He’s got better technique.

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