“He’s just norra Liverpool player” said Terry from Tranmere, or Paul from Prestatyn. “I wasn’t at the match, but listening to your coverage, he’s terrible. He’s norra Libpool player, I’m telling yer”
They’d be talking on a football phone-in, on the radio, or sometimes on the television, they would be speaking about Alberto Aquilani, Emiliano Insua, or Lucas Leiva, and I’d laugh at them. They were being ridiculous, slating a young player with obvious talent, and using a lazy one-liner to basically say “I don’t like him very much, and that loss to Wigan needs a scapegoat.”
It went on for seasons, a never ending queue of morons, willing to slate a player without having any concrete reasons why he shouldn’t be pulling on a Liverpool shirt every weekend.
Paul Konchesky took a great deal of the abuse during Hodgson’s reign, and to be honest I was willing to overlook it on those occasions, because I really hated that useless b*****d, but when other players were criticised in this manner I would cringe, curl up into a ball and hum Poor Scouser Tommy until they moved onto another caller.
Recently it disappeared.. When Dalglish took over as interim manager last season, these people changed tack. Talking about footballers ‘not being a Liverpool player’ was pushed back on the agenda, and they got all dewy-eyed and emotional about ‘King Kenny’ instead. It was out of my life, no longer would I have to hear those words… Or so I thought…
Watching Liverpool vs Queens Park Rangers last week was a painful experience for any red, whether you were one of the brave souls who trekked to Loftus Road to watch us snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, or you wrangled with an internet stream for nearly an hour, trying to make out Dirk Kuyt’s first touch amongst the giant pixels, it was horrific.
For me though, it was worse.
Early in the first half, as Charlie Adam shuffled his gargantuan frame sideways, and failed in another rudimentary task I clasped my hands to my face. Typical of his season, Adam was doing nothing well.
With a shake of my head, I muttered “He’s just not a Liverpool player.”
I prayed for one of his hilarious, lung-busting runs, which usually cover approximately six yards and end in an embarrassing tumble, just to cheer me up. It didn’t come. His £10 million corners were absent again, and his tackles were the only part of his game that reminded me of a decent midfielder. Sadly that decent midfielder was Paul Scholes.
On the 46th minute though, when he was substituted, I did something that I will never forget. With a shake of my head, I muttered “He’s just not a Liverpool player.”
A cold shiver went down my spine, and I looked around. I was alone in the house, streaming a game online and claiming that a Liverpool player wasn’t in fact a Liverpool player. What a tool.
Once I stopped crying, I had a good think about what I’d said.
Is the issue that Charlie Adam is ‘norra Libpool player’? Or is it just that he isn’t the player for Liverpool now? Is he just ‘norra good player’? Or is it a little bit of both?
The generous conclusion I came to, is that Charlie Adam will never work in the current Liverpool set up. Looking beyond his chronic inability to place a pass, and the fact that he moves like the Costa Concordia, I decided that maybe the odds are stacked against poor Charles.
For Blackpool he was a dynamic, exciting goalscorer. He took the free-kicks, the penalties, led the charge for the Tangerine army whilst they had their day in the sun, but now he is essentially acting as a back up for Lucas Leiva.
When Steven Gerrard is in the side, the captain is the thoroughfare for almost all of Liverpool’s midfield play, and has been for some time. Lucas Leiva, despite a jittery start to his Anfield career, has learned to cope with this. Before him Javier Mascherano was similarly happy to pick up the scraps, get on with the dirty jobs whilst Gerrard burst forward and created chances. In his cameos in the starting lineup Jay Spearing is also seemingly comfortable to fill this role.
The player who Adam would be wisest to mimic is Xabi Alonso, whose defence splitting passes and casually taken wonder strikes allowed Gerrard the freedom to play his own attacking game. However, with Liverpool seemingly intent on using their wingers more, as well as the aforementioned fact that Charlie Adam couldn’t pick his nose, never mind a pass to the level Alonso, this is very, very unlikely.
So where does this leave Adam? He IS a Liverpool player, whether we like it or not, but as soon as Lucas Leiva comes back I’d like to think his opportunities will become limited, in favour of the Brazillian and Gerrard, a pairing which can get the best out of the skipper’s twilight days at Anfield.
If Leiva, on his return from injury, can hold the form that he has fallen into in the last twelve months, and Gerrard can stay injury free, then Liverpool can do without Adam. Whilst Jordan Henderson can be given the benefit of the doubt on account of his age, Adam can’t be afforded the same time to ‘develop’ as a player. With Liverpool reportedly looking to go shopping again in the summer, a move away from Anfield may be best for both parties, and the reds could look to invest more astutely in young, technically gifted players, to avoid another disastrous transfer window.
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