Stoke struggling to find a place for Charlie Adam

Posted by James Whittaker

Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesCharlie Adam has recently expressed frustration about his lack of playing time at Stoke.

It is international week and therefore time for the enigma that is Charlie Adam to hit the press and talk about his disappointment of not being selected for club and country.

One such interview was as the guest for the Fantasy Football show on SKY where he proclaimed that he wished he had stayed at Liverpool. This wasn't a particularly bright thing to say from a player who has yet to win over the fans of his current club Stoke, let alone fulfil even a margin of the promise he had at Blackpool.

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2011 was a big year for both Adam and Stoke City; arguably, it was the last time either of them peaked: the Potters with their two trips to Wembley and Adam shining as the brightest of Blackpool's lights. His was the name on everyone's lips, carrying Blackpool almost single-handedly through their maiden Premier League campaign, one ending with him being nominated for PFA League Player of the Year courtesy of his fellow professionals.

His arrival in the Potteries via an ill-fated spell in Liverpool was therefore met with significant enthusiasm from fans who had grown weary of Tony Pulis' rigid ways of working. In many respects, Adam was the antithesis of Pulisball, a system that demanded fitness and discipline above all else. For some, it was hard to see where he would fit in, but fans were buoyed nonetheless following a poor season of regimented failure. In fact, flair -- any flair -- was welcomed with open arms, despite the obvious reservations. Pulis had remarked on how the side were changing, that the three year plan was over and many saw Adam's arrival as being key to a more pleasing style, a player who the manager could build his new side around, much like Ian Holloway (Pulis' close friend) had done at Blackpool.

Sadly, like other flair players before him, Adam was shoe-horned into Pulis' rigid system and played out of position to his, and the team's detriment. It was hard to see just how he could shine under Pulis, so there was renewed optimism with the arrival of Mark Hughes who said he was looking to bring more attacking impetus to the side. Adam got his chance, but again showed little sign of being the creative force he once was with Hughes switching the Scotsman around the midfield positions trying to find a platform for him to shine.

He was played deep in midfield but struggled with the defensive side that the role dictates. His tackling stats are some of the worse seen at the Britannia; he's certainly no defensive midfielder, though I'm not sure that comes as much of a surprise. The manager then seemed to allow him a degree of freedom, staying up-field and uninvolved when on the back foot (to keep him out of trouble) but allowing him to drop deep when the side pushed up field to start attacks. While his Hollywood passes were a trademark of his time at Blackpool, I can count on one hand the number of them that have connected at Stoke, and I'd need the fingers of the other 25,000 fans to count the ones that went into touch.

The final option for Hughes was to play him in the middle of the three behind the striker, much like he did under Pulis, but with a lot more support; a final throw of the dice to try and accommodate him but one that would also see him struggle. All too often he would pick up the ball and not spot the runs of his colleagues before losing possession, his decision making at the business end of the final third was letting him down and he was wandering around the pitch offering little support to the front man. It would be left to a half-fit Stephen Ireland to show Adam how to play in this position, and once he got his foot in the door, there was no looking back for the manager or the Irishman.

I'm struggling to see how and where Adam fits in, and given the manager's experiments and the fact that the player now finds himself on the bench seemingly behind almost every other option, it would appear Hughes is equally as perplexed. Adam said he wished he had stayed at Liverpool, and having seen what he can offer first hand, I'm starting to think the same.

Vis Unita Fortior


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