There’s much Ado over Al­bert’s fall from grace

Birmingham Post - - SPORT - Foot­ball Writer

JUST months after com­plet­ing the best sea­son of his ca­reer, Aston Villa were will­ing to cart Al­bert Adomah off to Mid­dles­brough.

After be­ing cast aside by Steve Bruce last sum­mer, Adomah re­turned with a bang as a best-ever haul of 15 goals helped Villa to the play-off fi­nal.

So why was the man­ager will­ing to dis­card a player who quite pos­si­bly saved his job?

The early days Adomah was one of Roberto Di Mat­teo’s mar­quee sign­ings in 2016 as Villa fought off com­pe­ti­tion from Premier League side Burn­ley to land the winger. He was drawn to the size of the club and its his­tory, hence why he re­jected the op­por­tu­nity to re­main in the top flight.

Those close to Adomah were equally ea­ger for him to join Villa and a three-year con­tract was penned with the op­tion of a fourth in the club’s favour.

De­spite Di Mat­teo’s faith in Adomah, his best form in his first sea­son at Villa Park ac­tu­ally came un­der Bruce. That was de­spite the Ge­ordie hav­ing reser­va­tions about him from the off. In Bruce’s first win­dow, he bought seven play­ers and Adomah was im­me­di­ately placed to the back of the queue.

A switch to three at the back meant Adomah was dis­lodged and when that didn’t work Birkir Bjar­na­son was given a run of games out wide at the Ghana­ian’s ex­pense.

There was a feel­ing within the player’s camp that his time at Villa Park was com­ing to an end.

De­spite fin­ish­ing his first sea­son in the Sec­ond City with three goals and an im­pres­sive ten as­sists to his name, un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing Adomah’s fu­ture continued to grow.

Sur­plus to re­quire­ments This isn’t the first time Bruce has told Adomah he’s free to leave Villa.

After Villa snapped up for­mer Hull City pair Ahmed El­mo­hamady and Robert Sn­od­grass last sum­mer, Bruce was open to let­ting him go.

Loan op­tions were sourced at the last minute but a move to Sun­der­land didn’t ap­peal and Adomah de­cided to stay and fight for his place. The re­vival He was given a cou­ple of chances to im­press in the Carabao Cup against Colch­ester and Wi­gan last sea­son. He scored against the lat­ter and pro­duced that mem­o­rable head­stand cel­e­bra­tion. But he couldn’t get a sniff in the Cham­pi­onship. Adomah was even left out of a squad to face Brent­ford with the likes of Gabby Ag­bon­la­hor held in re­serve in­stead. Iron­i­cally, it was a re­union with Mid­dles­brough which prompted Adomah’s first mean­ing­ful op­por­tu­nity to im­press. With Villa lack­ing pace and cre­ativ­ity against 10-man Boro last Septem­ber, Bruce re­placed Bjar­na­son with Adomah at half-time and reaped the re­wards. De­spite be­ing on his un­favoured left side, Adomah ter­rorised Boro as Villa some­how failed to see off the Teessiders. In the next game, against Barns­ley at Oak­well, Adomah stole the show with two goals in a 3-0 win. That dou­ble be­gan a scor­ing spree of ten in 12 Cham­pi­onship matches. The goals dried up in the New Year but Adomah pro­duced mo­ments of magic against Blues and Wolves to de­light Villa Park.

Ready to com­mit With just weeks of the 2017/18 cam­paign re­main­ing, Adomah ap­proached then di­rec­tor of foot­ball Steve Round about a new con­tract but was told to await the out­come of the play-offs. Keen to se­cure his fu­ture, Adomah again dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of an ex­ten­sion with Bruce at the be­gin­ning of this sea­son only to be told a new deal would in­clude sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced terms.

Bruce’s snub re­sulted in Adomah’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives putting the feel­ers out to other Cham­pi­onship clubs.

Leeds and Mid­dles­brough were ap­proached, but Adomah was keener on the lat­ter.

He still owns a prop­erty on Teesside and re­mains close to sev­eral Boro play­ers.

What hap­pened with Boro? A deal was agreed with Boro and Adomah was on his way up to their Rock­cliffe train­ing base when the goal­posts were moved.

While Adomah wanted to sign a loan deal with a view to a per­ma­nent move, Boro were only will­ing to re­sign the winger on a tem­po­rary ba­sis.

Bruce planned to sign Crys­tal Palace’s Ja­son Pun­cheon as Adomah’s re­place­ment. In the end, no­body truly got what they wanted. Where does he go from here? of­fer of a new con­tract off the ta­ble, Adomah’s seems in­evitable at this

By ALEX DICKEN >Highs and lows... Al­bert Adomah cel­e­brates his goal against Blues last sea­son, in­set, and holds his head in dis­be­lief after see­ing a last-gasp penalty saved in last week’s hu­mil­i­at­ing Carabao Cup de­feat at Bur­ton

> Villa boss Steve Bruce

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