Charlie Adam is looking to get his Premier League career back on track. His transfer deadline day move to Stoke City may work out for both him and manager Tony Pulis.
After having a memorable season during Blackpool’s stint in the Premiership scoring 12 goals, Adam earned himself a £6.75 million move to join Kenny Dalglish’s second Anfield revolution. Unfortunately for both Adam and Dalglish, last season proved to be disappointing and now neither are at Anfield. At the Britannia, the Scotland international has the opportunity to resurrect his Premier League career and give Pulis the central playmaker that Stoke has sorely needed.
Stoke had a relatively disappointing campaign last season finishing 14th on 45 points. Though they finished comfortably enough away from the relegation zone, nine points to be precise, last season’s position was Stoke’s lowest finish since their promotion to the Premier League in 2008.
Tony Pulis’ team has been tagged as a direct outfit, spectacularly demonstrated by Peter Crouch’s goal against Manchester City, and this style has suited Stoke’s purpose well. They reached the FA Cup final in 2011 and had a respectable run in last season’s Europa League.
After establishing Stoke as a Premier League outfit, Pulis has recognised the need to evolve Stoke’s style of play. It’s unfair to suggest that Stoke are simply a long ball team. The Potters are capable of playing good football when the mood suits them but Pulis’ dilemma is this: how to add more guile to his team whilst retaining their intensity. He has successfully integrated skillful wingers such as Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant into his set-up but has yet to find the right person to provide a creative spark in more central areas of the pitch. Experiments with Tuncay Sanli and Eidur Gudjohnsen didn’t yield the desired results and arguably they didn’t really fit the profile of a Stoke player.
Standing at 6’1 Charlie Adam is big and sturdy enough to fit Stoke City’s player profile but it’s his range of passing that could set himself apart from his teammates providing the Potters with the tactical flexibility that they previously lacked. That and his ability as a dead ball specialist could prove to be a boon for Stoke.
Stoke usually play 4-4-2 with two hard working central midfielders and two big strikers up front. Generally, the creative burden is placed on their wingers but with Adam in the set-up Pulis has the opportunity to vary his tactics and formation.
Adam’s range of passing can be used in a deep lying playmaker position in the framework of a 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, at the base of the diamond in a modified 4-4-2 or just in front of the defense in a 4-1-4-1. In this position Adam can act as Stoke’s creative pivot, launching attacks and counter attacks from deep with long accurate passes to the wingers, strikers or over the top hitting the channels. Consequently the opposition would be forced into playing deeper in their half to counter the threat thus allowing Stoke to move-up as a unit to exert more pressure higher up the pitch. That in turn will allow Adam’s long range shooting to come into play and becoming an added goal threat from central areas.
Additionally Pulis has the option of utilising Adam’s shooting prowess in a more advanced midfield position should Stoke be in the mood to attack. The thought of Adam’s left peg sweetly connecting with a Crouch or Walters knockdown could be a mouth-watering prospect for Stoke fans.
In signing Adam, Pulis has found a genuine goal threat from the centre of midfield. As mentioned before Adam scored 12 goals for Blackpool though he scored only two times for Liverpool last season. One of the keys for Adam’s good return for the Seasiders was that he was the creative fulcrum and was the go-to man. Adam was the star player of Ian Holloway’s side and his strength’s were harnessed to great effect at Blackpool.
For this to be a truly fruitful piece of business though Pulis must go against his instinct and develop a framework to allow Adam to creatively blossom within the team. One gets the feeling that he didn’t fully trust creative players like Tuncay or Gudjohnsen. Adam’s ability to quickly turn an opposition’s defense with his passing will appeal to Pulis though so the latter may feel it’s worth tinkering with Stoke’s system to accommodate the former.
From Adam’s point of view he must take the responsibility of being the creative hub of the team. Unlike at Blackpool he can’t expect the team to be built around him. Tony Pulis will only go so far in tinkering with Stoke’s tactics to free up Adam but will not build a system to specifically accommodate the Scotsman. Adam will have to search for the ball and make himself the creative funnel of the Stoke side. He will also need to find his shooting boots to boost Stoke’s goal return from central midfield something he’s capable of doing. Adam is not the quickest player about and his pace or lack thereof could see the game bypass him if he’s not careful. Finally, though Stoke are known for being a physical side, Pulis may need to have a word with the Scotsman about his tackling. Last season, according to CastrolEDGEFootball stats, Adam attempted 62 tackles and gave away 58 fouls. He will either need to improve his tackling, to say the least, or learn to read the game better so that he won’t be forced into making needless tackles in the first place.
If Pulis can successfully integrate Charlie Adam into the Stoke team there’s no reason why they shouldn’t aim on matching if not surpassing their best ever Premiership finish, 11th in the 09/10 season, and take that elusive step forward to the next level.
And if Charlie hits his stride he’ll get the Britannia singing ‘Delilah’ in no time!