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Blackpool's Charlie Adam goes with the flow but keen to make a splash
Ewan Murray - 3 years ago

It would be quite something to supersede the Tower, the funfair and a raft of ageing crooners as the first thing people associate with Blackpool, yet Charlie Adam finds himself on a fast track towards achieving that feat in his first Premier League season.

The Scot upstaged the illustrious names opposite him for long spells as he controlled the midfield during Manchester City's visit to Blackpool last month, bringing his abilities to the wider attention of a TV audience. With the club captain also having starred in a shock win at Anfield earlier in October and only a week ago sent a 50-yard effort just over Robert Green's bar at West Ham such form has, inevitably, prompted overtures from larger clubs, Liverpool and Everton among them.

Adam, though, either has award-worthy acting attributes, or he really does regard himself as just an ordinary 24-year-old from Dundee. Adulation does not sit comfortably on his broad shoulders. "I get recognised in the street, but that's more from all the Scottish people who are down in Blackpool on their holidays," Adam says, only partly in jest. "I play with 24 other good players who have got to know each other really well. I play beside one of the unsung heroes in David Vaughan. It's a privilege to play with him, he is breathtaking at times."

Whatever Adam says, his signing from Rangers for only £500,000 in August 2009 represents an outstanding bit of business. The then Blackpool chairman, Karl Oyston, was reckoned to be more influential in completing a permanent deal than Ian Holloway, who had only just been appointed as the manager and had not been present for the midfielder's earlier successful loan at Bloomfield Road.

"I think he [Holloway] looked at DVDs and heard from the fans what I had done there during the loan spell, which was nice, because I had a good time in those first four months," Adam says. "Fortunately enough the club paid a [then] record amount of money to get me.

"They were favourites to be relegated from the Championship when I joined. I hoped, when I went there, to improve the team. Hopefully I have done that, and I know I have improved as a player. I have matured. When I make mistakes, I just get on with it. I don't try to impress with that killer pass to make sure everybody notices me."

Adam regards Holloway's influence at Blackpool as more significant than his own. The manager jigged to Ghanaian gospel music – supplied by the goalkeeper Richard Kingson – in the dressing room at Upton Park last Saturday, living up to his madcap persona. "He is nuts but he is good at the right things," Adam says of Holloway. "He always helps the lads if they have any problems. If you need a day off here or there, away from it, then he will give you that.

"He knows everything. Tactically he is very good. He always goes on about José Mourinho. I think he plans in the next month or so to go and see José in Madrid, watch his training and have a chat, which would be some meeting to listen in to.

"He just wants to become a better manager and learn from the best. He is a top manager and a great person to work for. It would be sad for Blackpool to lose that kind of person, that icon, because of how well he has done."

The fabric of the club remains largely unchanged from the time of Adam's arrival. Blackpool's players still wash their own kits and there is no expansive backroom team. Their captain still attends Manchester United games when time permits, in a bid to pick up playing tips.

"We are a small club parachuted into a massive league," Adam says. "We have nothing like the staff of the other clubs. We have one physio to work with the first team and another who only comes along on a Saturday. We have an assistant manager and a coach, who had just retired from playing last year, and that's it."

It would be unwise, though, to regard the small-time team as a soft touch. Premier League opponents have already discovered that. Yet the aspirations of Blackpool are, publicly at least, basic. "I wouldn't say we want to be 17th but we will be happy to stay in the Premier League, simple as that," Adam insists. "But it is wrong that people have been surprised by our start. We showed last year that we were capable of performing well in big games."

And the attacking tactics adopted by Adam and his team-mates? "That comes from the manager. He said we would attack the Premier League and we have done that. I think we have been rewarded so far for that, because some of the performances have been terrific. It's great being able to walk out every week in the Premier League with a smile on my face."

In Scotland, Adam used to wear a frown. The widely held theory there is that he was one of a clutch of players unable to cope with the pressure-cooker intensity of life at the Old Firm. Others have also flourished away from Glasgow, but none in as immediate or striking a fashion as Adam. The Scotland international is not entirely convinced that a simple change of scene precipitated his stunning form, however.

"That's what comes with the Old Firm and being there," he says. "When things are going well at Rangers or Celtic it's great, but when you suffer a couple of defeats it becomes hard. But it's hard at any club. At Blackpool I have put an onus on us that we expect to win every game no matter who we play."

It is impossible to understate the turmoil the young Adam endured at Rangers. His talent was seldom in question, as a sublime Champions League goal against Stuttgart and an impudent free-kick effort in a meeting with Celtic proved, but he was not trusted by managers on a regular basis. Nor was he embraced by the unforgiving Rangers support, who barracked Adam to such an extent that his father reportedly stopped going to matches. The player's rotund shape, which hardly seems much different today, was often at the root of the derision.

There were loan trips to St Mirren and Ross County before one Rangers manager, Paul Le Guen, bestowed faith in Adam during his brief and ill-fated tenure. Adam later conceded "salads" were the crucial item to which the Frenchman introduced him. "I just wanted an opportunity to play at Rangers and it didn't come regularly enough. People say I didn't play as well as I can, but that's what happens. I didn't play regularly enough to go and show what I was capable of, playing in the right position.

"Of course I had a point to prove when I came here, but I always feel that from week to week anyway. I was low when I didn't play against Aston Villa recently. The manager said he was resting me [and nine others] and I was disappointed because I want to play every week."

His father had been a professional with Dundee United among other clubs but was regarded as erratic. Adam's younger brother, Grant, is Rangers' third-choice goalkeeper. Charlie can afford to harbour loftier ambitions than the rest of his footballing family. He will not admit it, but it has become a question of when, not if, Adam is coaxed towards bigger things.

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

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