News: Charlie Adam on Covid-19, Blackpool and the future

utmp listened to Charlie Adam’s Facebook Live with The Dean Wallace Show to see what he’s been up to during the coronavirus outbreak and what potentially could be next when his contract ends next month, as well as hearing a few tales from his time with the Pool.

It’s amazing to think that it’s 10 years since Charlie Adam left Blackpool for Liverpool following our relegation from the Premier League. It feels more recent, and that may be partly down to the fact he’s still in the area locally, clearly taking an interest in both the club, and the town itself. Charlie spoke to fellow Scot Dean Wallace on Facebook live, giving an insight into what he’s been up to in recent weeks.

Keeping fit during Covid

Charlie has resumed the season with Reading, making two sub appearances since the return to take his total games to 27 for the season. Interestingly, his contract is up at the end of the month, sparking rumours that he may be back in tangerine before long.

Speaking before the return from the enforced break, the now 34-year-old explained that he was keen to make up for lost time and make the most of the remainder of the season, training with Poulton-based Dave Mendonca on Cottam Hall.

“Before the lockdown, I was ill and I hadn’t played for a few games, so I used it as a preseason for the remaining 7-8 games. I used it for fitness to come back feeling fit. It’s paid off hopefully. I’ve done a lot of work with a Dave Mendonca who I know from Blackpool. I’ve done a couple of preseasons with him. He does the runs with me as well – when you’ve got somebody there who can keep you going and encourage you it’s great.”

Judging by his lack of game time at Reading since the return – two sub appearances totalling 29 minutes in total – it’s surely unlikely that he’ll sign a new deal and surely the annual campaign to bring him home will rightly start. To whet the appetite, let’s take a trip back down memory lane to remember his previous spell.

Going back to 2009

As you may remember, Charlie initially joined us on loan in January 2009 after Simon Grayson had abruptly left us for Leeds, in addition to half of the squad who had departed after their short-term loans. Tony Parkes and Steve Thompson were thrown in at the deep end to assemble a squad to keep us in the Championship, and managed to secure two crucial signings on loan in DJ Campbell and Charlie Adam.

“I wasn’t playing at Rangers. I can still remember it now, calling my mum and dad, telling them they want me to go on loan to Blackpool. I wasn’t sure about it, I was absolutely crying my eyes out. Absolutely gutted. I though ‘This is my Rangers career over’. It was tough to take. But I went down there and it was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

It didn’t exactly start well – at least from a professional standpoint – as Charlie was sent off on his debut, receiving a three-game ban for a stamp on a certain Richie Wellens. He could’ve done worse in Pool fans’ eyes, many of whom had wished for such an occurrence for the years between Wellens’ departure to Oldham in 2005 and that incident!

“The fans took to me straight away after that! And then I started to play well and scored a few goals. At the time we were struggling in the league but we stayed up and I went back to Rangers for preseason.”

Valeri’s intervention

What happened in that summer has gone down in tangerine folklore. At one point, it certainly didn’t look like it wouldn’t happen.

“They said to me I could go for £500k if I wanted to go. I’d just signed a five-year contract and I was thinking, ‘I want to go back to Blackpool’, but I knew at the time they had no money, the club wouldn’t spend any money. A couple of other clubs wanted me, Norwich and Preston. Preston wanted me but they could only pay £400k.”

By this point, Ian Holloway was trying his best – not only to tempt Charlie back to the Fylde Coast, but also surely in a certain Latvian’s ear to tempt him into parting with half a million quid.

“Ollie phoned me and said how I’d played last season was brilliant and he needed me for how he was going to play. He said I’d be the main man in the team and that he’ll get me in the Premier League. I was thinking, ‘Who’s this guy?’ But he just filled me with confidence and made me feel like the main man. I thought ‘I’ll have a bit of this’, but I was thinking they weren’t going to pay the money.

It was then that Valeri Belokon stepped in to make possibly the most crucial investment in the club’s recent history, stumping up the £500k required to bring Charlie in permanently.

“Then I had a decision to make, do I leave Rangers and get a few games? It was similar contracts in terms of money, and it was an opportunity to go and play first team football regularly again – taking that step back in leaving Rangers to potentially take two steps forwards.”

With that, the deal was done. Pool fans knew we’d secured a top player at Championship, but it did seem to go under the radar somewhat for other clubs in the division. Most fans at the time felt confident we could make midtable and be more comfortable than we’d been for the last few seasons, and that maybe we’d have a stab at a top-half finish.

Learning the Blackpool way

Of course, as with anything to do with Blackpool under the previous regime, the club was unique in its handling of day-to-day affairs. Putting it into perspective, Charlie explains the limitations of the club at the time.

“I wasn’t driving at the time, so I was living in the Hilton hotel on the Prom. I’d get picked up by the assistant manager (Tommo), go to the stadium to pick the boards, bibs and markers up, then we’d drive to the training ground. The training ground was never safe, people were always stealing things so that’s why we had to wash our own kit.

“We went to Devon during preseason and it was absolutely shambolic. We were split up in three different hotels and we had to meet up in one. We’d eat at one hotel and it was like living on a caravan site for ten days. We were training on public parks with dogs running everywhere; scooping up dog poo before training.

“We only had 17-18 players at the time, so the manager and the staff would have a few pints in the pub in the evening to wind down and the players would be playing darts and things like that. One day this lad turns up in his kit and some boots, and everyone’s thinking ‘Who’s this guy?’ So he comes over, and says ‘I work behind the bar at the pub and I’ve told the manager I’m a good player so he’s invited me down for a trial.’ He was hopeless. The story of that whole season was incredible, it will never happen again.”

The promotion season

Casting his mind back to the now infamous 2009-10 Championship season, most Pool fans felt we had a steady start with four draws – starting with the opening day visit to QPR – but Charlie explained that the players were a little unsure at the time in terms of how the season was going to go.

“We drew the first four games and the players were thinking ‘this isn’t going to be great’, but the gaffer was adamant. Saying how we wanted to play out from the back, play the diagonals, squeeze the game and if the ball’s coming down the left hand side, the player on the right stays up and we play cat and mouse with them. We were so gung-ho and open. We started to get a few wins together and play some good stuff.”

It wasn’t just talent that saw the Class of 2010 over the line. There was also a unique bond between the squad which was evident to see from the stands. Charlie explained how that helped get them over the line.

“After the long drive back from away games, the lads would be straight off the bus and into the pub. That was going on through the whole season with 10-12 lads. Not every Saturday but once or twice a month after a game. It was a great group of lads and that’s what got us there. Obviously we had some half-decent players as well, but the team spirit was brilliant.”

Playing under Ollie

Charlie then gave a valuable insight into what it was like – not only to play under Holloway – but to have the privilege of leading the Seasiders out as captain, something which clearly meant a lot to him.

“So many things happened. After 2-3 games, we turned up at the training ground and we started at 11am. He came in one day and told us that his kids were deaf. They were down south and his kids were living down south for the schools. It affected him a lot because him and his wife were living up north, and there were no schools suitable for the kids. He found it hard and he was an emotional guy. We came in one day, and he went on a rampage talking about his life and what it means to his kids. At 12.30 we were still sat there, he was ranting on for two-and-a-half hours!

“I remember the day that he made me captain, that was it. I felt like I had the responsibility and I felt like I needed to drag the team to another level. I couldn’t sit in my comfort zone, and what I could do on the ball was important for the team. I thrived on it and I loved it.”

£5m and a fry up

As was well-documented at the time, it wasn’t just the allure of the Premier League which was motivating the players to get over the line when within touching distance of the play-offs. Valeri had very cleverly offered a £5m pot as a bonus if Pool could miraculously win promotion to the promised land. Charlie explained how that made such a difference during the run-in.

“The players who’d played regularly could get ~£400k – obviously taxed, but it was life-changing. We won a few more points and knew we had a chance. Every time we won a game, the lads were saying they were going to be buying Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bentleys! That’s what got us through the games.

“We played Nottingham Forest on the Saturday. On the Friday, he said ‘Right lads, no training today.’ The lads wanted to play, but he said ‘No we’re going to the caf’. So we used to go to the cafe with the workmen and we were having sausage, bacon and egg. The lads were tucking in. Then we’d go to the stadium to get the bus and there’d be a McDonalds. Because the food was so bad at the training ground, the lads wouldn’t eat it so we’d take our own food. So instead of sandwiches and soup, it was Maccies on the bus and pizzas on a Friday before a game.”

As you may remember, Blackpool won the game 1-0 at the City Ground, with Charlie bagging the only goal of the game.

Read about Charlie’s freekick at Wembley on 22nd May in our recent article.

The Premier League

We all remember the 2010-11 Premier League season like the back of our hand, from the highs of Wigan, Liverpool and Tottenham to the lows of Blackburn, Bolton and Beattie’s backpass at Fulham. And the blatant penalties and calamity goalkeeping in between. So what was it like for our captain at the time?

“First game, we won 4-0 at Wigan and we were top of the league. Next week, we got battered 6-0 by Arsenal which was a reality check. We had 25 points at Christmas and it was a huge blow when we got relegated.

“It was naivety from the players and the manager; we tried to play the same way in the Premier League as we did in the Championship. At times, we were still playing out from the back against Chelsea and Arsenal instead of maybe sometimes putting them under pressure. We beat Liverpool twice and were 2-0 up against Man United at home, 2-0 up at Bolton and Blackburn so if we’d put ourselves in a great position.

“We’d lost our goalie Matt Gilks which was a blow for us, and never recovered from that. I was devastated when we got relegated. Even though on the selfish side I knew I was probably going to Liverpool, I was just gutted for the fans and the lads.”

Move to Merseyside

At the age of 24 and coming into the peak of his career, it was highly unlikely that Charlie was going to stick around at Bloomfield Road at the end of that season. Not many fans begrudge him of that opportunity, given he dragged us up to the Premier League, playing out of his skin week-in-week-out.

“I only had a year left on my contract. When we got relegated, I knew my agent was still talking to Liverpool and they were confident that they could take me there.

“When the January window came and we’d beaten Liverpool, there was a lot of talk. I didn’t do the right thing – on the last day of the window I didn’t train and I went to the training ground, the lads were all for me going to Liverpool – it was life changing for me and the lads knew that. They said I needed to try and force the move and 5-10 minutes into training I just walked off and went to the chairman’s office. It’s not the right thing to do, but I felt that if I did that it would’ve happened. I got there at 11.20am and I was still there at 9pm trying to force it. I can see both sides of the story. If they lost me they had less chance of staying up and they could get another £90m. Looking back now I understand that.

“Fortunately the next game I scored and I went a bit mental. It was great for me to repay the fans and it was a great journey, I’m just gutted it ended the way it did. People like me and I still live there now, it’s my home for me, my wife and my kids.”

Did Charlie deserve more caps for Scotland?

With the large Scottish contingent in and around the town, it’s always been an argument as to whether Charlie should’ve had more caps for Scotland. For those of a tangerine persuasion, it’s a no-brainer than he should’ve had more than 26 caps, whereas many Rangers fans don’t agree. It seems that Blackpool got the best out of him by building the team around him and making him feel like the ‘main man’ in his words – a luxury he wasn’t afforded in the national setup,

“I should’ve had more caps. It’s tough and hugely frustrating. That’s a big disappointment. Of course, to have one cap for Scotland is a dream, but if I’d had some more I would’ve loved it. It is what it is – some managers take to you and some don’t. I got told one day that I wouldn’t be in the squad because he wanted to look at younger players, and when the squad came out there were hardly any young players in my position, so it was hard to take.

“It’s frustrating because I always back my ability, and I felt I was better than some of the players in the squad. I believed I warranted being in the squad of 25 players at least. It wasn’t to be, and it’s been a number of years now since I was last in the squad. I had some good times, some bad times, but it’s an honour to have played for my country and it was great to be part of it.”

Life now and the future

Looking to the future, there’s surely an outside chance that Charlie may come home – though let’s whisper it quietly given what happened last summer. His contract is up at the end of his season, his family is based in the area and under Simon Sadler, anything is possible – right? Of course, the Scotsman isn’t likely to give anything away just yet.

“It’s tough because my family is up north and I’m in London. It was a decision I had to make last summer, my contract was up at Stoke and I had one or two things that were there, and Mark Bowen phoned me up. We had a young dressing room so he wanted me to come in with a winning mentality and try and change the mentality of the squad. I feel I’ve done that and scored a few goals, played my part on and off the pitch. We’ll see what happens. I still feel I’ve got a few years to go and plenty to offer.

“It extends to when these 9 games finish and we’re in the middle of this crisis. Things are going to change in football quickly with clubs, players and contracts so if you do get a contract next season you’re going to have to earn it. I still feel I can play at a very good level and I still feel fit, so I’m looking forward to what the next few years bring.”

Coaching

If Charlie does come home, it will likely be in some form of coaching capacity. That’s something he values highly at this stage in his career and is clearly something he wants to get into when the time is right.

“I’ve done the B license, I need to do the assessment for the A license. I try and get out once a week to watch a game, just to see what’s out there and learn, watching YouTube and reading books to try and gain knowledge. It’s not the same as getting out on the grass and coaching. If I do get an opportunity then it will stand me in good stead. That’s definitely something I want to get into.”

Blackpool next season

To finish, Charlie was asked a fan question in how he thought Blackpool would do next season. Typically ambitious, but again clearly keen not to give too much away, he explained that he expected us to be towards the top.

“If they can get 6-7 good players with experience, some good loans from Liverpool, they’ll have a good chance. The owner will be spending some money, so they could be the dark horse from League One. If they can get some good players in and some top loans, they’ll be up there next season.”

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Published by Tom Johnson

Seaside exile living in Leeds. Been watching the Pool home and away since 2001

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