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