Sir Alex Ferguson’s top tip for me? Don’t pick fights with my players… Charlie Adam is loving the pressure cooker of management as he bids to keep Fleetwood in League One
Charlie Adam has fired up his contact book as he takes his first steps into management with Fleetwood Town.
“I emailed Sir Alex Ferguson last year and he invited me to his house,” he says Post Sports. ‘He told me more than anything to be myself and not fight with the players.
“It was amazing – I almost hoped the car had broken 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 devoting 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 struggling to stay in League One but have seven points from their last three games
Adam revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson invited him to his house last year to give him advice
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‘I’ve always wanted to be a driver,’ explains Adam. He was even nicknamed ‘parched’ by his teammates at Stoke because of his frequent conversations with the coaching staff during drinks breaks.
‘I see myself as a leader and feel like I have the presence and personality to be a manager.’
After starting with four defeats in a row on Lancashire’s Fylde coast, the pressure has intensified on the 38-year-old, but with seven points from their last three games, after Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers, Fleetwood from moved off the bottom of League One. . Have doubts crept 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’re judged from the first second you walk on that grass, whether it’s at Fleetwood or Liverpool.”
Adam recalls the story of when his icon Kenny Dalglish called him to his home 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 do without that love? I didn’t want to lie on the beach or play golf all week.’
So who does he style himself on as he tries to master Fleetwood’s great escape?
“Kenny Dalglish has that aura (Adam’s WhatsApp profile picture is his kids with Dalglish) but I learned from every manager, whether it was Walter Smith or Alex McLeish,” he says.
‘Mark Hughes was brilliant at talking to people and delegating. Ian Holloway made you feel like you were the greatest player to ever walk. 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 little parts from everyone. I’ve been on the phone to Vincent Kompany at Burnley – mainly to try and get some players, but I’ve never been afraid to reach 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 Burn Naze residential area.
The biting breeze comes off the Irish Sea and from inside the boardroom overlooking the main training ground where Mail Sport meets Adam, you can see the terraced houses that make up the community.
The former Liverpool, Stoke and Blackpool midfielder insisted he is enjoying life in the dugout
The people of this once proud fishing center 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 always been 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 fired and the Cod Army were looking 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 ‘always make his own decisions and stand on his own two feet’ if he were to take the role and the former Scotland international was ready to make the move, just 15 months after retiring from the game .
‘Taking the job was never a difficult decision,’ he says. ‘The hardest part is taking that opportunity, so I spent the next 15 hours preparing on how I would address the players.
Adam praised the managers he played under and said he tried to take bits and pieces from each one
“I’ve been thinking about this moment for the past few years, but no coaching badge prepares you for the feeling of standing on that sideline. Ultimately you are the figurehead for the football club.’
Before the Fleetwood job, Adam worked as a coach at Burnley under Kompany. Over two days in September he traveled to Colchester with Burnley Under 21s for a Friday night game, arriving 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.
“If I’m into anything, I’m into everything,” says Adam. ‘At 13 I got a bus in Dundee to the station, got the train to Glasgow, trained with Rangers and then came back at 11pm for three nights a week and went to school the next morning. The hard work and habits were in me from the beginning.
‘I’ve had some incredible 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 right now. It’s about Charlie Adam as manager.’