Charlie Adam: 5 Areas Liverpool Midfielder Must Improve Next Season

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

Charlie Adam: 5 Areas Liverpool Midfielder Must Improve Next Season

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    New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is keen to put his stamp on the first team squad at the club as soon as possible, with midfield arrivals seeming likely after Clint Dempsey and Joe Allen were both linked with transfers to the club.

    With the likes of Steven Gerrard, Alberto Aquilani, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson also all fighting for a central midfield role, that will quickly become one area of the pitch where competition for places is fierce.

    Charlie Adam will be hoping that he can do enough to suggest to the new manager that he can be a key player for him in a midfield triumvirate, but to do that Adam needs to improve a few key areas where he let himself down on the pitch at times last season.

    A new mentality and playing style will have an impact on who Rogers thinks should start the majority of games for Liverpool. Here are five things Adam needs to improve to be included in the Reds' plans going forward.

Ball Retention

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    Ask a Liverpool fan to describe Charlie Adam's passes in just a word or two and they'll likely respond to you with "Hollywood" in there somewhere.

    A little bit of an unfair assertion, though there is no doubting that Adam last season tried the spectacular too often when the simple would have not only sufficed but resulted in Liverpool retaining possession.

    For sure, Adam has great vision and the confidence to make a longer pass over the top of a defence, but sometimes he was lacking the execution.

    His pass completion percentage as a whole was not overly impressive, weighing in at 80 percent—the lowest of any midfielder in the Reds' squad. When looking at long balls only, that figure decreases worryingly to 66 percent—in other words, one of every three long balls Adam attempted was gifting the ball straight back to the opposition.

    The sheer number of long balls as well (206) is another sign of Adam needing to alter his game. Nobody in Red made more long passes than Adam, other than Skrtel and Reina.

    In the final third, Adam completed a measly one-third of his passes. Compare this to, for example, Andy Carroll (50%), Luis Suarez (57%), Stewart Downing (41%) and Steven Gerrard (39%).

    Under Brendan Rodgers, with ball retention being prized more than looking to quickly open up a defence with a riskier lofted ball, Adam will have to curb his penchant for the spectacular and play a more progressive game on the deck.

    Stats courtesy of EPLindex.com

Defensive Discipline

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    No two ways about this one. In terms of tracking back, making tackles 30 yards from goal or closer and in positioning himself off the ball, Charlie Adam was somewhere between average and woeful last season for Liverpool.

    Playing as a more advanced midfielder in a 4-3-3 or similar, Adam might be excused for some of his defensive efforts in his own third that would save Liverpool from conceding unnecessary free kicks in dangerous situations.

    He would still be expected to press hard and win the ball back further up the field of course, but in terms of Adam last season it's generally better to keep him as far from the goal as possible.

    Headless-chicken style chasing won't help him though; players are expected to look after their own zones on the pitch, and Adam can't rely on people behind him filling in if he charges off to hunt down the ball.

Set Pieces

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    Rumour has it that the penalty in this particular photo has yet to land.

    Charlie Adam enjoyed notoriety with Blackpool due to his prowess at dead-ball situations, claiming several assists and goals with the Tangerines from free kicks and corners.

    At Liverpool he did not have quite the same effect, as a series of free kicks sailed over the bar and corners failed to clear the first man.

    Not all of his efforts came to nothing of course. Adam did score a penalty before this missed one against Wigan Athletic and also claimed an assist off a free kick against QPR.

    In general, though, his delivery was way below the level expected of him.

Decision-Making on the Ball

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    Adam loves to get the ball out of his feet and dribble for the box with the ultimate aim of shooting from 20-25 yards.

    Trouble is he's not naturally blessed with crazy skill, doesn't have the technique to beat a defender one-on-one and often runs with his head down, ignoring teammates available to receive a pass.

    Adam's dribbling technique is largely based around quick acceleration into space followed by an extended run. Too often last season it was at the expense of overrunning the ball, losing control and making a poor end-pass or shot.

    That has to stop this year.

    In addition, as mentioned in the previous slide, he has to be prepared to look for the more simple and quicker short pass to keep the ball moving rather than looking for a cross-field ball or a hopeful chip over the defence.

    These are all decision-making instances in which Adam needs to significantly improve.

Impact from the Bench

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    Until he was injured, Charlie Adam was almost always in the starting XI for Liverpool in the Premier League.

    This season, with a change in manager and tactics and the possibility of more players pushing for a starting spot in the centre of midfield, he may have to get used to being a substitute more often than not.

    In that case, his importance to the team is no less diminished; anyone coming off the bench these days needs to come on to have an impact in a positive way, not just to see out 20 minutes a week at a light jog.

    Bench players are, by and large, brought on for a reason, and Adam needs to ensure his mentality is spot on to enter the game and bring about a better outcome for the Reds. In addition, if he does so, he is more likely to force his way back into the starting XI.