The Barclays (BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD EVER!!!!) Premier League kicked off at the weekend. There were many new acquisitions on show, brought to England from the four corners of the globe, from the bargain basement to the eye wateringly indulgent. In amongst them all though was the worlds’ oldest looking 25 year old, a slightly rotund individual hailing from the far flung shores of Dundee, Charlie Adam took his place in the Liverpool midfield as the Anfield crowd welcomed in the new season.
His debut went well, he was one of Liverpool’s better players providing an assist for Luis Suarez to open the scoring. The Kop were appreciative of his efforts and already some feel his presence may be key to Liverpool’s fortunes this season.
Rewind 3 years to when Adam was still at his boyhood club Rangers. Anyone professing the opinion that Adam would one day play for one of England’s most iconic clubs would have been in danger of being sectioned under the mental health act. These days when Adam looks up and prepares to launch one of his trademark 60 yard passes, a ripple of excitement and anticipation flows through the crowd, back in his Rangers days the imminent execution of a similar pass would more often than not be greeted by groans from the Iborx faithful.
Adam’s confidence was shot in his final months at Ibrox. The pressure of playing for one of the Glasgow giants had proven too much (he is of course not alone in suffering this affliction). Often in these cases the player slides down the Scottish football ladder never coming close to fulfilling their potential. Adam though took a chance on a move to Blackpool with their ‘love him or hate him’ manager Ian Holloway. Holloway believed in him, embraced his talents and accepted his limitations. The decision to join Blackpool has of course eventually led to his place in the Liverpool midfield via a nomination for player of the year in the aforementioned BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD EVER!!!
Adam is now a regular in the Scotland squad, Derek Riordan is not, neither is Kris Boyd, Garry O’Conner may one day force his way back in but at this moment his tally of caps is paltry. There are many, many more examples of players having failed to hit the heights their talents could have facilitated. Sometimes it is due to bad luck, sometimes the players’ attitude means they think they have made it when they still have much to learn (I’m looking at you Gary O’Conner). More often than not though, potential is wasted by bad decisions.
It seems that two youngsters, Gregg Wylde from Rangers and Islam Feruz from Celtic may be on their way south to the land of milk and honey that is the EPL. Whether these moves work out or not is anyone’s guess. However any player with a decision to make should consider the case of Adam who made the right move, (despite its lack of glamour) and is now playing at the highest level, then contrast it with the likes of Derek Riordan who now plays in China or Kris Boyd now plying his trade in a Turkish league riddled with corruption. It’s difficult, but young footballers would be well advised to consider the effects tomorrow, of the career choices they make today.
There was plenty of action in the SPL this weekend. Rangers secured victory in Inverness in a game they dominated but required two penalties to see off the Highlanders.” It’s a conspiracy” cry some in the Celtic support, and while at least one of the awards was clearly incorrect, Rangers did have a goal harshly ruled out earlier in the game. Incompetence is more a more plausible explanation than favouritism. Celtic were impressive, but slightly flattered by the 5-1 win over Dundee United who showed signs they should be able to cope with a raft of summer departures. Dunfermline picked up their first 3 point haul of the season with a 1-0 win over St Johnstone. Motherwell’s title charge continued with a last minute winner at St Mirren. The tabloids will be dusting off the ‘three horse race’ headlines not used since George Burley’s reign at Hearts, especially if ‘Well can continue their impressive start when the Champions visit at the weekend. Hearts continued their impressive start under their new manager with a comfortable 3-0 win over Aberdeen, Craig Browns men are sticking manfully to their plan of refusing to engage the opposition goalkeeper in any way shape or form. They may come to regret this. Kenny Sheils won his first game as Kilmarnock manager since taking charge at the back end of last season, the game shown live on ESPN was an absolute cracker and a brilliant advert for Scottish football, the 4-1 win over Hibs was by far the best game shown on British telly over the weekend until Real Madrid and Barcelona, who seemed to have taken inspiration from the Ayrshire sides passing out from the back strategy, provided some competition for that award.
Three SPL clubs are competing in Europe on Thursday, so next week’s column may be less cheery than usual.