The Blackpool squad of 2009-2010 will be one that goes down in history with supporters of the north-west based club. It was the season in which Blackpool achieved the impossible. Their dramatic climb up the football league, from League Two to the Premiership in ten years, culminated with a Championship play-off final victory against Cardiff City. The success of the club was mostly credited to manager Ian Holloway, a charismatic manager who had somehow managed to turn relegation candidates into an outfit fit for the Premier League. Holloway had provided the basis for the clubs promotion; a wonderfully attacking 4-3-3 formation, some very good players brought in on small transfer fees and, most importantly, an unrivalled sense of team unity. However, if there is one individual who can claim parity in how important their role was in the ‘Seasider’s’ promotion it is Charlie Adam.
Charlie Adam was brought in by Ian Holloway in August 2009 from Rangers. The fee was 500k, not a huge fee when compared to the spending of the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City, but for Blackpool, a club which had the second lowest average attendance in the Championship; this was the biggest amount they had ever spent on a player. Fortunately Blackpool already knew the talent the Scottish midfielder possessed after his loan spell at the club in February the season before; it was a gamble but not such a vast one as paying for a player that is an unknown entity. Even after seeing Adam’s potential in his loan spell though his performances throughout Blackpool’s season still came as a surprise to most supporters.
When Adam signed for the club he immediately became captain. He was instantly put into the first team, playing a friendly against Everton just hours after signing a contract with ‘the Tangerines’. It was a signal of things to come, Holloway expected him to become the clubs star. Adam could have done little more, everything that Blackpool stood for in their glorious season – passion, commitment, effort – was reflected in their centre midfielder. His goal-scoring record was phenomenal too, 18 goals in Blackpool’s campaign meant that he was the top scoring central midfield player in the division and this provided the foundations for Blackpool’s success.
His role in Holloway’s formation was also crucial; a 4-3-3 which required the midfielders to close down quickly and break with pace. Keith Southern, one of his regular midfield partners, was generally the defensive minded player of the trio with David Vaughan being the most attacking of the three. Adam was there to perform both in an attacking and defensive sense. He did both expertly, providing a link between the strike-force and the midfield and being a wall between the midfield and the defence.
It wasn’t just in the League campaign where Adam was pivotal but his role in the play-offs was equally important. He scored the winning goal against Nottingham Forest, in the first leg, from the penalty spot – a win which set Blackpool on their way to a play-off final at Wembley. At Wembley he also didn’t disappoint, scoring a brilliant free-kick in ‘The Seasider’s’ 3-2 victory against Welsh opponents, Cardiff City.
After Blackpool’s promotion rumours circulated that Adam could leave to join a higher profile Premier League rival but it seems now that he will stay with The Tangerine’s at least until January. His increased reputation had put him in the spotlight and meant that he was one of the hottest-properties in the Championship. If he can continue this form into the Premier League then he will surely be even more heavily rumoured with a move away from Bloomfield Road.
It is yet to be seen how Blackpool will perform in the Premier League. Holloway hasn’t made any new signings and the club look a certainty for relegation. However, they looked a certainty for relegation last season and performed to an extent few would have predicted. The small, unattractive, club could well once again be the surprise package in England but to do so they will need their catalyst, Charlie Adam, to produce his best form every week. Blackpool certainly won’t be fancied by many but with their distinctive tangerine coloured shirts, a barmy yet brilliant manager and a tenacious midfielder Blackpool may well be lit up all year round this season.
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