Charles, Charlie and Carlos. Three variations of the same name, three performances worthy of mention after another intriguing weekend of Premier League football.
It was Charles ‘Insomnia’ – or N’Zogbia to give him his respected title – who almost caused many a sleepless night on Tyneside, and whilst it was Carlos Tevez’s double that kept Ian Holloway staring at the bedroom ceiling, A
Billed as the paupers versus the princes, this was arguably the Premier League’s biggest financial mismatch since its inception. Blackpool – built on barely a budget – gave City’s billionaires the run around for the majority of yesterday’s tussle, with Scottish midfielder Adam delivering a regal performance which shone above any of his more lucrative counterparts.
The Seasiders’ top flight adventure is gaining admirers with every passing week. Last time out they humbled Liverpool at Anfield, and there would have been few arguments had they added Mancini’s millionaires to their list of scalps.
From the off Blackpool were faster and more furtive to the ball, but unlike many promoted sides, Holloway’s ragamuffin gathering appreciate the ball, moving it about with a confidence and conviction which belittles their pre-season status as the league’s whipping boys.
Paramount to this ethos is former Rangers man Adam, who is the lynchpin of the side, and the catalyst for others to play. Decked out in their tangerine strip, there is almost a 1970s Dutch chic about the way Blackpool play, and the way Adam in particular goes about his business. All dropped shoulders, shimmies and feints, combined with a deft touch, a varied range of passing, and blessed with a left foot that could sculpt statues, Adam is a throwback to the golden age of the game where finesse overrode fitness as the fundamental of a footballer’s arsenal.
“Get me an athlete and I’ll give you a footballer” was how Ian Holloway gave credit to Arsene Wenger’s knack of producing precocious young talents. If that was the case, nobody would have delivered Adam to the Frenchman’s door. Scarlet cheeked, wheezing and spluttering through the last rights of Sunday’s unfortunate reverse , Adam had previously dictated virtually the entire game at his pace, on his terms.
Whether he was dropping short to deliver raking cross-field balls, making intricate incisions through a crowded infield or instilling panic with his invention in the final third, it was a glorious exhibition of midfield craft. City’s marathon men may have hustled Chelsea into submission, but were at a loss how to combat the intuitions of a skilled ball-player who used brains rather than brawn to dominate the game.
Throughout the match Adam bossed proceedings, and in the second half his deliciously weighted clip into the channel should have resulted in DJ Campbell putting the Tangerines one up after Luke Varney latched onto Adam’s pass. Moments later Gary Taylor-Fletcher was flagged offside after more Adam geometrics dissected the City backline, and after going behind against the run of play, the Scotland international arched a free-kick narrowly passed the post with Joe Hart scrambling, before sending over another wicked set-piece delivery for Marlon Harewood to glance home.
If Adam had the benefit of a Tevez up front, the points and the plaudits would surely have been his. So too would the post-match bubbly, and one could imagine the player sat in the communal bath, swigging away from the bottle, 70s style. So nearly Champagne Charlie.