Charlie Adam has been thumbing his contacts book as he makes his first steps into management with Fleetwood Town.
‘Last year, I emailed Sir Alex Ferguson and he invited me over to his house,’ he tells Mail Sport. ‘More than anything, he told me to be myself and not to pick fights with the players.
‘It was unbelievable — I was almost hoping the car broke down when he drove me back to the station so I could spend more time with him.’
Time is something the former Liverpool, Stoke and Blackpool midfielder is dedicating to his first role in the dugout. On his first day at Fleetwood, the club staff had to ask him to leave the training ground in the evening.
It was the night before New Year’s Eve but Adam was in no rush to get home.
Charlie Adam took over as manager of struggling Fleetwood Town at the end of December
Fleetwood are battling to stay in League One but have seven points in their last three games
Adam revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson invited him over to his house last year to give him advice
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‘I’ve always wanted to be a manager,’ Adam explains. He was even nicknamed ‘parched’ by his team-mates at Stoke because of his regular conversations with the coaching team during drinks breaks.
‘I see myself as a leader and feel like I have the presence and personality to be a manager.’
After beginning with four defeats in a row on Lancashire’s Fylde Coast the pressure intensified on the 38-year-old but with seven points from their last three games, following Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers, Fleetwood moved off the bottom of League One. Were doubts creeping in?
‘I think back to when I went to Liverpool (in 2011) and there was fear, walking into a dressing room with Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and all these top international players,’ says Adam. ‘It took me a few weeks to get a grip because you get judged from the first second you walk on that grass, whether it’s at Fleetwood or Liverpool.’
Adam recalls the tale of when his icon Kenny Dalglish called him to his house in Southport and said he wanted him to sign for Liverpool, while the then Reds manager was watching the Masters in his pyjamas.
‘You live with the pressure but it’s because you have that burning desire for the game. What else would I be doing without that love? I didn’t want to lie on the beach or play golf all week.’
So who he is styling himself on as he tries to mastermind Fleetwood’s great escape?
‘Kenny Dalglish has that aura (Adam’s WhatsApp profile picture is his kids with Dalglish) but I learned off every manager, whether it was Walter Smith or Alex McLeish,’ he says.
‘Mark Hughes was brilliant at speaking to people and delegating. Ian Holloway gave you the feeling you were the best player who ever walked. When I went back to Dundee, the young manager James McPake was in his first job and it was fascinating to see his approach.
‘You take small parts from everybody. I’ve been on the phone to Vincent Kompany at Burnley — mainly to try to get some players but I’ve never been afraid of reaching out.’
As Sir Alex will tell you.
Coincidentally, it was Sir Alex who in 2016 opened Fleetwood’s £8m Poolfoot Farm training complex, which is tucked away in the residential area of Burn Naze.
The biting breeze comes in from the Irish Sea and from inside the boardroom overlooking the main training pitch where Mail Sport meets Adam, you can see the terraced houses that make up the community.
The people of this once proud fishing hub have always prided themselves on their sense of community. With a population of just over 20,000, Fleetwood was the smallest town in England with a League club until Forest Green Rovers’ promotion in 2017.
Since 2014, Fleetwood have been ever-present in the third tier after six promotions in 10 years. With an average attendance of 3,000, they rely on becoming more than the sum of their parts.
For Adam, the call came in December when Lee Johnson was sacked and the Cod Army searched for a third manager this season. Adam reached out to a good friend in David Moyes whose brother, Kenny, is his agent.
Moyes advised him ‘to make his own decisions always and stand on his own two feet’ if he took the role and the former Scotland international was ready to make the step, just 15 months after retiring from playing.
‘Taking the job was never a tough decision,’ he says. ‘The hardest part is seizing that opportunity so I prepared for the next 15 hours about how I would address the players.
The former Liverpool, Stoke and Blackpool midfielder insisted he is relishing life in the dugout
Adam hailed the managers he played under and said he was trying to take bits from each one
‘For the last few years, I’d thought about this moment but no coaching badge prepares you for the feeling of standing on that touchline. Ultimately, you are the figurehead for the football club.’
Before the Fleetwood job, Adam was working as a coach at Burnley under Kompany. Across two days in September, he travelled with Burnley Under 21s to Colchester for a Friday night game, arrived home on Saturday morning before doing media duties at Bramall Lane on Saturday lunchtime as Sheffield United took on Everton. From Sheffield, he made the short trip to Doncaster to see one of his loan players in action.
‘When I’m in anything, I’m all in,’ says Adam. ‘At 13 I was getting a bus in Dundee to the station, getting the train to Glasgow, training with Rangers then coming back at 11pm for three nights a week and going to school the next morning. The hard work and habits were in me from the start.
‘I’ve had some amazing highs and some tough lows in football. Relegation with my local team (Dundee) and how I left was hard to take, when they didn’t offer me a contract. But the day you retire is the day that part finishes.
‘It’s not about Charlie Adam as a player now. It’s about Charlie Adam as a manager.’