The Guardian

GUARDIAN – Charlie Adam finds his scoring boots again after period in wilderness

Stoke midfielder has dealt with personal problems and has Mark Hughes to thank for resurrecting his careerGiven that Charlie Adam has made a name for himself as a creative midfielder, it may seem curious to hear him state with complete conviction: “I am at my best when I am scoring goals.”Goals are the very thing which have endorsed Adam’s return to prominence. This, his finest spell of football since he was virtually winning matches single-handedly for Blackpool, has been most notable for goals against Liverpool and Manchester United.It was in July 2011 that Adam’s brilliance at Blackpool deemed him worthy of a £7m move to Liverpool. Just 13 months later, the Scot had departed Anfield for Stoke City. That may have been a brief stint on Merseyside but Adam still raised eyebrows with his lack of celebration in front of Liverpool’s supporters when scoring for Stoke against his former club in mid-January.”I have a fantastic respect for Liverpool the city, club and the fans, from the time I spent there,” Adam explains. “That respect will always be there. The fans were fantastic to me, the facilities we had and players I played alongside were amazing. It doesn’t make any sense for me to be celebrating in front of those fans. I had an amazing time at Liverpool; of course I was delighted to score that goal but I still wanted to show some respect.”It is unsurprising, then, that Adam expresses no regrets whatsoever about his time as a Liverpool player. There is only a minimal one concerning the time of his departure. “I went there and played with some of the best players in the country,” he says. “You only have to look at how well Liverpool are doing – and Luis Suárez in particular – this season to see that. I experienced life at a massive club and enjoyed it. I learned from it as well, as a person and a player.”The reaction to defeats is different, I hate getting beaten anyway but at big clubs it is a crisis. At Stoke, maybe there would be a tendency to just look towards the next game after losing but I enjoyed the pressure of having to win every single week and it’s something we have tried to create here, too.”It is to Adam’s credit that he left Liverpool, high wages and a potentially comfortable position of collecting them for little exertion, to take on the reality of mid-table or relegation struggles at Stoke. Others might have adopted a different approach.”Playing at big clubs is what you want to do,” he adds. “In my case, it was just that I felt I had to be playing regularly. I could have stayed there and just seen what happened but I had a chat with [the manager] Brendan Rodgers and he told me I wasn’t going to play as much as I wanted to. From there, it made sense for me to move. Maybe it was a year too early to leave, when you look at what Liverpool have done since, but it felt like the right choice at the time and hopefully that proves the case.”Adam became the latest player to pile misery on David Moyes at the start of this month. And the United manager’s brother Kenny, ironically, is the agent who presided over Adam’s move to Liverpool. Two Adam goals – he has the good grace to admit the first had a huge chunk of fortune attached – saw off United in Stoke. Like Liverpool, the Premier League champions had been reminded of the recurring dangers of affording Adam a shooting opportunity even outside of the penalty area.”I’m not so sure about the first but the second is up there, certainly, with the best moments in my career,” Adam admits. “People have said a lot about where they are just now but this was Manchester United, they are one of the biggest clubs in the world, and for our club to beat them was a massive achievement. Rooney, Van Persie and Mata all played that day. It was the first time we had beaten them in 30 years and the first time in the Premier League, which tells you how big it was.”At home we feel we can beat anybody but United still have some of the best players in the world. It was a great testament to how well we played that day that we managed to win and, of course, as a kid it is one of the things you dream of – scoring the winner against Manchester United.”Adam has spoken in moving terms before about the impact the loss of the main influence from those childhood years had on him. His father, Charlie Sr, died in December 2012 at the age of just 50; Adam’s form unsurprisingly dipped in the aftermath of that, with Stoke also affording him compassionate leave.”It affected me, of course it did,” he recalls. “I’m not over it yet but I know what I am doing now. I am getting my form back. When you are happy and playing regular football, that can make life a lot easier.”It would also be folly to ignore the part Stoke City’s manager, Mark Hughes, has played in that. Adam’s usefulness to a team which is less back-to-front in style than in previous seasons should come as no coincidence.”The manager has given me a freedom to play my game, which I appreciate,” says Adam. “He has let me do what I am good at. He has helped me in terms of what I should and shouldn’t be doing on the pitch. The manager has played at the highest level and won trophies at the highest level. I have respected every manager I have played under but if you can’t learn from someone like Mark Hughes, it is going to be hard for you.”Adam’s wider ambition concerns the return to a Scotland side in which he has been reduced to a bit-part role under Gordon Strachan. The national team’s improvement has played a part in that, as did Adam’s lack of first-team action during the early months of Strachan’s tenure.”I want to get back in there but I know I needed to be playing regularly at my club,” says the 28-year-old. “My next cap will be my 25th and that will mean an awful lot to me. It would be amazing to finally qualify for something with Scotland. A dream.”Stoke’s more immediate task could hardly be more stern. A team with just a solitary away league victory to their name this season travel to Manchester City, who have rattled in 42 goals during 11 home fixtures. Stoke lie just three points above the relegation zone, albeit in 14th place and just one point off 10th.”We are in the [relegation] mix,” says Adam. “We are in that situation where we know a couple of wins would be huge in terms of taking us up the league but a couple of defeats could leave us in trouble. Our away results haven’t been good enough and that’s something we need to pick up.”You just have to look at City’s home results, averaging almost four goals a game, to see how tough it will be. But we will go there and try to keep it as tight as we can. Anything can happen in this league, results over the last few years have shown that. There is no point going to these places without hope.”There is still plenty time for Adam to return to one of English football’s elite; but for the time being, he is revelling in scoring against them.Stoke CityMark HughesScotlandRangersBlackpoolLiverpoolEwan Murraytheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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TI – Time for Steel City to show mettle

Facing the press in the pavilion at Sheffield United’s windswept Shirecliffe training ground on Friday, in what turned out to be his final act as the club’s manager, David Weir was asked about the similarities between the Steel City and two other places he knew well as an Everton and Rangers player, Liverpool and Glasgow. “It’s two football clubs in one city, both desperate to do well,” he replied and sadly for Weir, his dismissal in a phonecall soon after underlined just how desperate they are in Sheffield right now.

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TAO – Liverpool 1-0 Queens Park Rangers: Jamie Carragher bows out with win

Jamie Carragher’s final game in a Liverpool shirt ended in victory on Sunday as the Reds walked away one goal winners against Queens Park Rangers. It was Philippe Coutinho, the Reds standout performer of 2013, who scored the only goal of the game, firing a drilled shot from distance midway through the first-half of a game which the hosts dominated. Coutinho will feel aggrieved that he hadn’t had a goal earlier in the game, with the referee deciding, incorrectly that a close range effort from the Brazilian hadn’t crossed the line. The narrow margin was complimentary to the visitors, with Liverpool having 27 shots in total, 20 of which were on target, with Robert Green putting in a solid display for the Hoops. Carragher nearly got in on the act himself in the early stages of the second-period, firing a thunderbolt of a shot from distance off the post. The defender was lighthearted about his near miss at the end of the fixture, stating: “I scored on my debut and it would have been nice if my shot [which hit the post] had gone in.” “I’m just getting the hang of shooting in my final game. It’s a bit late!!”

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TAO – LFC Scout Report: Queens Park Rangers

By Ben Hardy Jamie Carragher will say farewell when Liverpool take on Queens Park Rangers at Anfield as the Premier League wraps up for another season on Sunday evening. Carragher will captain the team and a guard of honour is expected to welcome the veteran defender onto the pitch as his 16 year tenure with Liverpool comes to an end. During his time on Merseyside, Carragher won such as honours the FA Cup (2), The League Cup (3), FA Community Shield (2), UEFA Cup (1), UEFA Super Cup (2) and the Champions League in 2005. He also amassed over 500 appearences for the Reds and 38 England caps, firmly placing his name into Liverpool history. Facing Carragher and co. is QPR who have had little to shout about all season. They will finish bottom of the league if they fail to win on Sunday, having only achieved four wins so far in a season to forget. Currently on a run of no wins from their last eight matches, QPR’s strategy of buying high profile, experienced players has failed and Harry Redknapp will no doubt have to reduce the wage bill in the summer as they prepare for life in the Championship. The reverse fixture saw Liverpool comfortably win at Loftus Road after three first half goals gave them maximum points in December. Since then, Liverpool have added quality players such as Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge and despite a seventh place finish this season, Brenden Rogers and the Liverpool supporters can be quietly optimistic about next season. Now unbeaten in seven matches, Liverpool have finished the season well with Daniel Sturridge stepping up to fill the void left by Luis Suarez as he serves his ban, which all bodes well for next season. Team News: QPR are expected to be without Loic Remy after his arrest this week following allegation of rape and goalkeeper Julio Cesar could miss out once again leaving Rob Green to come in. Adel Taarabt, Shaun Wright-Phillips and DJ Campbell all remain out for Rangers. Liverpool are without Captain Steven Gerrard as he undergoes a shoulder operation whilst Luis Suarez will serve the fourth of his ten match ban. Martin Kelly, Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling all remain unavailable. The Anfield Opinion will keep you up to date with all the latest post match action as well all the transfer news and gossip in the summer.

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