Steve Canavan: The new Molby? No, Charlie Adam is fitter, faster and slimmer – but has the same skill
Thursday 07 July 2011
Charlie Adam is being labelled Liverpool's new Jan Molby. Is he? In a word, no.
It's understandable why a few pundits are saying so. Both are carrying what might politely be described as some timber. But the difference is that Adam has a turn of pace which Molby didn't, and it is the reason he has excelled in the hectic, fit-as-a-butcher's-dog modern-day Premier League.
In Molby's day the game was slower. Great player though he was, he had the time and the space to take a good look before zipping a 60-yard pass to John Barnes.
Adam is fitter – he has a big build, like his football-playing dad, but isn't overweight – and stronger. And while his passing range is every inch as good as Molby's, he can drive forward and beat opponents.
He is also in possession of what must be, David Silva aside, one of the best left foots in the Premier League. If Liverpool land Stewart Downing from Aston Villa as well, they will rip opponents to shreds on the left.
I've watched Adam since he first arrived at Blackpool on loan two-and-a-half years ago. Astonishingly he was damaged goods back then. Rangers could not wait to get rid, but no one wanted him. Blackpool only stepped in because then manager Simon Grayson had just quit, the club had lost seven loan players and they desperately needed reinforcements.
They took a gamble on Adam which seemed to have backfired when the Scot became the first Blackpool player sent off on his debut since the 1970s for stamping on an opponent. But he soon won the fans over by scoring the winner against arch-rivals Preston and the club broke the bank – by their standards – when they spent a record £500,000 to sign Adam on a permanent basis in the summer. Barnsley were the only other club to express a vague interest; Adam was still an outcast.
He has gone from zero to hero since, almost single-handedly dragging Blackpool to the Premier League (19 goals from the centre of midfield), then coming within a whisker of keeping them there.
There's an argument that he excels at being a big fish in a small pond, the reason he has been outstanding at Blackpool but failed at Rangers. If that is the case, Liverpool might have a nasty shock in store.
But I don't think so. Adam will succeed. He is a class act, 25-years-old and entering the best years of his career. Playing alongside the likes of world class stars like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez can only improve his game.
Aware a move to a top-flight club would happen this summer, Adam has been preparing for the moment. He has spent the close-season not on the beach but in the boxing ring, working with a Blackpool middleweight champion to ensure he's in perfect nick for the new season.
The last midfielder to join Liverpool from Blackpool, in 1967, was a promising young lad by the name of Emlyn Hughes. Adam might not be in that class, but he isn't far behind.
Steve Canavan is the chief football writer for the 'Blackpool Evening Gazette'
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