Adam Buyers Beware

As I sit watching David Silva come on for James Milner in the last 30 minutes of the Liverpool blowout of City today, I had a thought. We've seen Roy Hodgson rediscover both his mojo and his "proper depth" in the Premier League over the last two months. We've seen Milner (and Barry) struggle to justify their prices at a "big club" over the months since they came over from Villa. We've seen Scott Parker rediscover himself at West Ham. You get the idea.

What's my point? Some players (and managers) are meant to be big fish in little ponds while others are prepared to move on to bigger stages. The mere fact of being very good in the Premier League for a modest club is not enough to imply that you are likely to be ready for a step up.

This brings us to the case of Charlie Adam. First things first, I really like watching Adam play and I like it even more because he's been a rock for my fantasy team for most of the season at a very reasonable price. This isn't a diatribe against Charlie Adam. My worry for him is that he's not really big club material.

Why do I say that? His game will change if he moves up a few steps in the same sort of way that Uncle Woy's job changed when he moved from Fulham to Liverpool. Technically the job description is the same but that's only until you get to the fine print.

Say Adam moves to Liverpool, Spurs, or United (the three most frequently mentioned options), here's how his value will diminish:
  • Free Kicks - much of Adam's value to Blackpool is on set pieces - he takes really good ones that lead to much needed goals.  At the clubs mentioned above you can't really see him taking kicks over Bale, Modric, Nani, Giggs, Gerrard, Meireles, or Suarez can you? 
  • Possession/Creativity - Another major part of Adam's value is that he has a lot of the ball in the middle of the park for Blackpool and makes the incisive passes that often lead to the goals that have kept Blackpool at least alive and kicking for staying up.  At the clubs above - specifically Liverpool and Spurs - there are midfielders in Modric and Meireles who already do an excellent job in that role.  Again, Adam would be a nice back-up plan but would hardly be worth the money.
  • Penalties -  Adam gets a bunch of his goals for Blackpool from the spot so while the total of 9 goals from a midfielder looks nice the fact that six of them are from the spot means that his value is based in great part on the fact that he'd be the main taker.  As above, it seems unlikely that Adam would be the choice at United/Spurs/Liverpool over the current cast of characters.  3 goals and 6 assists don't look quite as good as 9 goals and 6 assists, huh?
  • Position - My sense is that Adam's best position is as a poor man's Alonso from the best days of Rafa's Liverpool.  He isn't a "Scholes-type" tucked in behind the forwards and he isn't a Makelele/Keane-like holding destroyer.  The best comparison might be Michael Carrick who was good for adequate Spurs teams but has similarly struggled with the move up in competition.
So there you have it, is Charlie Adam the next Michael Carrick?  Big transfer fee but unable to cut it at a top club? What say you?


  1. Liverbird10:25 AM

    I've had the same thought about Adam as I'm a Liverpool supporter. He's not going to knock Miereles, Lucas or Gerrard out of a spot but I also think that top clubs are able to rotate in way that mid-table clubs can't. So having Adam as cover for injury, fixture congestion and plain old rotation for a team like Liverpool makes sense over Spearing and Jonjo. The only real issue is how much would he cost. If he's in the 10 mil pound range then fine but if he climbs to the 15+ then no. So Villa, Blackpool and W Ham need to go down so we can poach Young, Parker and Adam at wholesale prices. And there's Alberto.

  2. Anonymous10:35 AM

    Neal, a positive comment on Luka Modric? Praise the lord!

    I actually fully agree with your post dude - Adam is talented but I think he'd be better off going to a club like Everton/Fulham/Bolton/Sunderland than one of the big five clubs. Whether any of the mid-table teams have the money is a different matter altogether.

  3. People are to quick to jump on Carrick, he has pretty much kept his place in the Utd midfield since he joined, and they won the league on his first season after the draught.
    He is far from spectacular (bar his ball to giggs last Wednesday!) but does a good job for Utd.

  4. I'm another Liverpool supporter, and I wouldn't want Adams. He doesn't meet our biggest need: natural wingers. We need AYoung, ALennon, SWP - people like that, great crossers with pace to serve up the blooming partnership of Carroll/Suarez. I'd also shore up our defense before adding another central midfielder (our back line is brittle for a 4-fronted challenge next year, Europa, Carling, FA, and Prem).

  5. "Unable to cut it"??? Neal, do you intentionally try to goad United supporters with these type of comments? Carrick has started between 33 and 48 matches all 5 years at Man U... during which the club has won FOUR titles (not to mention the Champions League and 2 League Cups).
    SAF is the undisputed best manager in the Premiership, so if he's choosing to start Carrick this much, then I'd certainly say he can "cut it" at a top club. Do I think he's a world class player? Of course not. But he's obviously filling the role Ferguson has asked of him.
    Speaking as a fellow Gooner, you've got blinders on when it comes to the United midfield.

  6. Anonymous2:15 PM

    Roy's problem was the team itself, Torres is a team cancer (after he left teamates/coaches/owners were saying locker room morale was much better) As soon as Torres left the Liverpool turn around began, not when Roy left...

    Let Roy sell off Torres and bring in his guys and Liverpool would be singing an entirely different tune

  7. Anonymous2:23 PM

    He would be a perfect fit at Fulham me thinks....Murphy/Gera and a lot of those guys are getting old. He'd get playing time because its not an overly big club, but the club has money its willing to spend on reasonable players and he'd be able to still take some kicks and do all the things you mentioned above.

    If he goes to Man U, Liverpool, or a big club hes just going to get among others at a big club

  8. FlyingHamster6:10 PM

    As a Man U fan, I'd very much prefer Adam over Anderson; at least the former could shoot on target. I think Adam is better compare to Scholes than Carrick; just look at the number of yellow cards he gets. If it's the new Scholes, then I think he gives SAF more options, for instance, playing the popular 4-2-3-1, instead of 4-4-2. Adam is more effective when Vaughan is beside him, but both of them are left-footed, so they have a biase with their passes. With Carrick it would be a more balanced holding 2. Better than Anderson and Scholes could finally retire in peace, I think Adam is a good deal.

  9. Anonymous12:35 AM

    Hey so I understand this isn't a source of income, but I always look forward to hearing your analysis on the matches from the weekend in your Monday Morning Manager. However it seems life has gotten in the way of our humble little fantasy world here, just wondering if your planning on continuing? The last 6 games of the season seem pretty important to stick with. Lots of big questions still to be asked especially now that Liverpool trounced Citeh to allow Spurs a clear sight of 4th with a game on Citeh and still to play them.

    Just saying, loyal follower

  10. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Carrick unable to cut it?

    Carrick averages 40 games a season for United, during a span that has brought 4 league titles and a CL trophy. He just had another good shift last night for the club as United marched to the semifinals of the CL.

    Lets all forgive Neal, as a gooner, he doesnt like any midfielder who is not 5"2, 100 pounds, a good dribbler, who also cant defend or keep from getting abused by players with any physicality.

    Arsenal could use a few more Carrick and Fletcher's and few less Rosicky and Arshavin's, assuming of course you want to win a title this decade.

    Which brings up an interesting factoid, Carrick will retire with more titles than any current Arsenal player.

  11. Anonymous2:58 PM

    Guys - Neal is viewing Carrick from a "Fantasy Perspective" and he is right on with the comparison to Adam. Adam gets big Fantasy Points now, but move him to a bigger club and he is nothing more than a Michael Carrick "Enabler" as far as Fantasy Points go.

  12. Anonymous10:15 PM

    Neal said "unable to cut it at a big club", not "a poor fanatasy player"

    Carrick has most certainly cut it at a big club.

    We are all fantasy minded people, but lets not blur the line between fantasy and the actual game, where a player can "cut it" without being a fantasy stud.

  13. Anything is better than that triple-o Gerard (ever overrated, overhyped and over the hill).


  14. Anonymous7:32 AM

    Carrick is excellent in the role he plays, don't agree with your assessment of him.

    I do however agree with your assessment of Adam. He's better off being the big fish in the small pond where he can express himself without recourse to more talented colleagues. As an example, check out Adam's passing chalkboard from the Blackpool vs Arsenal game (link below to zonal marking). 54 passes, 25 unsuccessful, predominantly because he's got the freedom to ping those long diagonal passes every time he gets the ball as part of Blackpools strategy. He will not get the same freedom to be as wasteful in possession at the top clubs. He's also not as defensively reliable as so-called 'lesser lights' like Carrick.