The 25 Best Players in the Championship - as voted for by you: Part 3 of 25
We’re now onto the third window in our (twist on an) advent calendar. Paul Binning reveals the rise of a flying winger at the forefront of the Derek McInnes revolution at Ashton Gate.
Albert Adomah (Bristol City)
The summer of 2010 saw some much heralded arrivals at Ashton Gate. Steve Coppell had joined at the end of the previous season whilst signings included David James – England’s goalkeeper as they bowed out of the World Cup in South Africa and Nicky Hunt, a former England under-21 international signed after more than 100 games for Premier League Bolton.
However, Bristol City’s first signing of that summer has turned out to be the most valuable. Albert Adomah came on a free transfer from Barnet, just two years after his professional debut.
18 months on and Adomah has been central to the mini-revival enjoyed under new boss Derek McInnes, but this is no short-term success story. The tricky, leggy Ghanaian was named as the fans’ Player of the Season in his first season following a series of outstanding performances on the right flank and has continued in the same vein this time around, albeit following a slightly low-key start suffered by the whole squad whilst Keith Millen was still in charge.
A raw, pacy unknown winger, Adomah has developed into one of the Championship’s star performers and one of its most influential players. McInnes has already noted how important Adomah and star striker Nicky Maynard are to the style of football he has brought to the club, because they work so well in tandem and can hurt teams seemingly at will, and on their own. Without Adomah it is certain City would be still be rooted in the bottom three.
Uncle Albert, as he is affectionately known amongst Bristol City fans, came into football at 15 as part of a youth project funded by Hammersmith & Fulham council because he was “bored”. A rapid ascension through the ranks at Harrow & Borough was followed by a move to Barnet where he earned a reputation as an exciting, skilful winger, but in that position perhaps more than any other, there are always doubts as to whether sheer pace and a few tricks can bridge a step up in class.
Adomah stands at 6’1”, tall for a winger and he often appears gangly and uncomfortable. He doesn’t glide down the wing like Cristiano Ronaldo, nor scurry in a style such as Shaun Wright-Phillips. His pace is deceptive but it his ability to seemingly keep the ball attached to the end of his boot that is the outstanding feature of his game.
He always looks as if he’s going to lose control, over-run the ball or over-do the tricks but rarely does. A match never seems to go by without Adomah beating three players at some stage and there is an audible buzz of excitement every time he receives the ball.
If he could be criticised for anything during his successful first season at Ashton Gate it would be his decision making and end product. Too many runs ended with a disappointing cross, whilst he too often shoots from distance when there are better options around him if he were to look up. This is something McInnes and Maynard have dealt with recently. Results have quickly followed with John Salako describing his recent performance at home to leaders Southampton as “unplayable”.
A regular failing for a winger can be a tendency to hide away a little and go into a shell once a couple of hard tackles have been administered. Adomah is different, he has genuine ‘bouncebackability’. He gets knocked down, tripped, shoved around and gets up again. He’s the Chumbawumba of the West Country because he gets up – every time. A crunching tackle or fierce shoulder-charge simply leads to an increased willingness to receive the ball and try and beat his opponent yet again.
The other regular criticism of many wingers is inconsistency. Football’s history is littered with talented, skilful wide men who look like world-beaters in one match but then do very little in a number of subsequent outings. Of course Adomah has his off days, but last season’s award was testament to a series of performances across the whole season.
A fledgling international career has already produced a headline moment during his Ghana debut against Brazil at Craven Cottage in September. Adomah was only on the pitch for 13 minutes but still managed to nutmeg Ronaldinho – he’s that sort of player!
A quote after the match summed up the likeable winger, “The Brazil players must have thought I was mad because I had a smile on my face for the whole 13 minutes that I was on”. Adomah always plays with a smile on his face and seems to enjoy every minute of his burgeoning career.
Who else did you vote as one of the 25 best players in the Championship? Read about the rest so far here.