The Joy of Charlie Adam (and how he helped me understand Nietzsche).

Charlie Adam may not be worth £14 Million (although Liverpool got twice that amount for Xabi Alonso, and Adam is at least half as good as him), but he did single-handedly justify the €20 I spent on my ticket to Scotland v. Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin last Wednesday evening. He is an absolutely brilliant passer of the ball who makes average players look, actually, pretty good. Juan Riquelme used to be referred to as a quarterback, but the analogy befits Blackpool’s Dundonian* maestro better. He drops deep behind a squabbling ruck before spinning passes over their heads and through them into space for his runners to collect. Adam didn’t just look relatively good, better than the other 30 odd players who turned out. He looked properly, objectively good. He makes a game exciting to watch. And he can score from corners.

The problem with Adam, of course, is that he’s quite fat and pretty lazy. But maybe that’s ok. Ian Holloway certainly doesn’t seem to mind and why would he? Blackpool’s upturn in fortune coincides exactly with their record signing.

He is a tangerine superman.

Friedrich Nietzsche: Original Ubermensch

Superman is a famous philosophical figure thanks to Friedrich Nietzsche. Throughout his writings, the frankly mental German philosopher gives three examples of Ubermensch – which translates as Over Men or Higher Men not Super Men. These (Goethe, Beethoven and himself) are selected for their creativity. In The Will to Power, Nietzsche writes, ‘the men of great creativity’ are ‘the really great men according to my understanding. The Ubermensch are the cornerstone of Nietzsche’s moral philosophy. Morality, as conceived by Nietzsche is little more than the rules by which the Ubermensch right to flourish is protected. The rest of us, says Nietzsche, exist only to be used by the Ubermensch, we are the instruments of his creativity.

That must be, pretty much, how DJ Campbell, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and David Vaughan** feel. Every time Adam is shown jogging back into defence in a half-hearted attempt to win the ball back the shot is streaked with orange as his teammates fly backwards to try and help out. Likewise, when Adam looks up from his acres of space (his lack of pace doesn’t seem to be a problem when he’s looking for the ball) the same players streak wide looking for space, and he finds them.

That’s the thing, that’s what’s missing from most accounts of Nietzsche’s morality. He wasn’t a fascist. We weren’t supposed to bend over and let greatness have its way with us. It’s actually in our interests that we let the Ubermensch flourish. He makes us look good too. As DJ Campbell will probably find out next season, he makes us better than we can actually make ourselves.

The only Ubermensch in Blackpool (image courtesy of Jon Candy; see below for attribution)

Photo of Charlie Adam by Jon Candy.

*Note: This post originally claimed Charlie Adam for the city of Glasgow. Although a product of the Rangers youth system, Adam is actually from Dundee – see comment below. The post has been changed accordingly.

**Note: This post originally referred here to Michael Vaughan (who is of course the former captain of the England cricket team) thanks to the intervention of Blackpool expert OneDaveBamber – below – it has been corrected.

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12 Responses to The Joy of Charlie Adam (and how he helped me understand Nietzsche).

  1. Nice article. He’s a great player but is he one of those who flourishes at a small club but would disappear at a big one? Seems like he enjoys being a big fish. Has he got the fitness or tactical discipline to make it at a club like Liverpool? I’m not so sure.

  2. Calum says:

    Graham thinks he would struggle – Ambition and Loyalty. I used to agree, but having seen him live recently I am not so sure. I appreciate that he likely wouldn’t make players who are already at a higher level look as much better as he currently does the journeymen at Blackpool. For the same reason, though, given that players like Suarez, Mereiles, Gerrard etc. are less likely to give the ball away of their own accord he is also less likely to be exposed as out of position.
    It would definitely be a gamble, for him as well as Liverpool, but one with massive potential benefits for both sides (benefits, which I think are potentially overlooked in the Sidwell/Parker comparisons). Adam is an excellent passer of the ball and it’s hard to see how a team already setup for passes of that type (Gerrard is, I think, a less reliable exponent of those passes, he also doesn’t play them as quickly) would not benefit, at least in an attacking/counter-attacking aspect from having Adam.
    As to his tactical reliability, I think that remains to be seen. At Blackpool he is indulged, and that wouldn’t happen at Liverpool (at least while Gerrard’s around in any case), so his biggest challenge would be proving that he doesn’t need to be and can put in the work without the ball. As I said, at the moment there is really no meaningful evidence either way on that one. Although when he was at St. Mirren as a youngster, he did used to get stuck in.

    Long response, should’ve just written a longer post.

    • Graham says:

      I think part of the problem of having someone like Adam in your team, who will not put in the defensive work and even if he was inclined is neither quick enough or positionally astute enough to be able to press as most top teams tend to, is that as you say the rest of the team has to cover and make up for it. That’s ok at a team like Blackpool where the benefits outweigh the disadvantages but I’m not sure that would be the case if you stepped up the level. It’s very difficult to press as a team if one of your players (and certainly a central midfielder) on takes a bit part role in it. I think he would be better where he is but then I’m not the one being offered the chance to double (perhaps more?) my wages. Maybe he would become fitter if the squad around him was more prestigious and the opportunities greater? Difficult to say.

      • Calum says:

        I don’t know that there is enough evidence yet to say that Adam lacks positional astuteness. For Scotland on Wednesday night he sat deep and broke up play effectively. Might part of the problem be that at Blackpool he has to involve himself higher up the pitch and in more stages of the move, thus finding himself out of position when it breaks down and lacking the fitness/drive (although given how much work he has to put in going forward, I think it’s fair enough that he’s knackered and struggles to go the other way) to get back.

  3. David Vaughan, not Michael.

    Other than that, an interesting twist on the importance of Adam to Blackpool!

    • Calum says:

      Ah Crap – thanks! It would probably be beyond even Charlie’s skill to make Michael Vaughan look like a premiership level footballer. Changed.

  4. John Fraser says:

    I have watched Blackpool since 1966 and seen a fair few good players – Emlyn Hughes; Jimmy Armfield etc. but there are some that stand out. Trevor Sinclair used to when we were down in the bottom divisions. In the top division the only ones I have ever see clearly stand out from the rest of the team are Tony Green (in the 1970s – Trever Brooking put him in his top 100 players) and now Charlie. Charlie is special; he is a great dead ball kicker and passer. A Beckham. He also can mix it and take it. His tackling needs sorting out – he gets too many cards; but some of those he takes for the team. He is and will be a very exciting player – he often chips the goalie from the half way line or shapes to cross and takes a shot. They don’t always work but we all enjoy it. He has responded well to the system that Ollie makes Blackpool play but so have all the other players for example the traditional English centre back – Ian Evatt – now keeps balls in; controls them; looks for a pass; moves – in the past it was a percentage game – hoof it out. But Charlie steps up and up – once he moves to a club like Liverpool or Man. Utd the coaches; the fitness team; the players around him will lift him higher and higher. His tackling will get better. They will improve his stamina and he will learn from players who can help him improve his exciting play. Ollie says that he believes that Charlie will play for a top four club and will captain Scotland. I think he is right. But whatever happens to him no-one can take away the pride and self-respect he has helped to bring back to our club.

    • Calum says:

      Great comment John – thanks.

      I agree, apart from anything else, and I tried to allude to this in the article, Adam is an exciting player. He lifts games, like the Scotland one last week, out of rainy mediocrity and makes you glad you paid your money. There aren’t enough players like him in the premiership (possibly hasn’t been one since Le Tissier?).

      • Graham says:

        I think that’s all certainly true and a large part of the reason that Blackpool have accumulated so many points so far this season is because of him, which is a reason in itself for clubs like Liverpool to come sniffing around. I would love to see him rise to the top level. British passing players like him are few and far between but I think he will have to have the drive and hunger to get fitter and work on his defensive game.

  5. Charlie Adam says:

    I’m a dundonian, not glasweigan.

  6. Pingback: My Premier League team of the season 2010-2011 | Good Feet for a Big Man

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