A Blessing Undisguised?
So it would appear that we have seen the last of Emmanuel Adebayor, at least for a few weeks.
Now I hold my hands up by stating that I believed he was a good buy for us in the summer, and I still have a feeling that the structure of the deal made by Mr Levy may well allow us to move him on in the summer, with little or no loss financially, because he is now in a position where his wages are not so stupidly high to put off 99% of clubs and the extra 1% didn't want or need him. Today and for most of his appearances this season, however, my initial optimism has all but disappeared.
Of course there were some big question marks over his signing on from City. First and foremost, he does have a bit of a reputation for losing focus and love for his clubs. Add to that we changed managers, with no absolute certainty that AVB really wanted him and only took him because it was him or trying to convert Heurelho Gomes back into a striker. Add different tactics, injuries and the form of Jermain Defoe and seemingly a lack of chemistry between the pair, and we have plenty or reasons to lament our decision to bring back the player, despite his success last season.
There does remain the debate over whether Adebayor would work better alone, with one of Dempsey or Sigurdsson supporting and that like so many strikers, he lives or dies on confidence, something which he appears to have lost, but also he still seems incapable of playing quick incisive football, and as with last season, despite scoring a good percentage of goals and assists, is the one Spurs player that has me pulling my hair out, because I can't decide whether he doesn't quite have the ability or simply doesn't have the hunger. How often, this or last season are you shouting at him for his terrible touch, hanging on to the ball for to long, lacking vision, or simply not attacking the ball or the opposition player? The answer is loads!
Losing Adebayor for up to six weeks, may well leave AVB short on options and Defoe short on rest, but will this force us back into playing more towards a 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1 formation, perhaps more an AVB ideal, but also one that will bring back the best in Defoe, whilst also giving more game time to the in form Dempsey and the improving Sigurdsson. As a contrast, I have also wondered if this represents an opportunity for Jon Obika to at least have a chance to break into the squad. He may never play for Spurs again, but would he have done any worse that Emmanuel if he has played eighteen times this season?
This isn't meant to be a dig at Adebayor, more a look at whether his absence actually brings us improvement in goals and form from our striking two. The stats clearly show that Adebayor has really struggled for goals, with two in the league (Arsenal, Reading) and one Europa success against Panathinaikos. I know goals aren't everything, but 3 in 18 appearances isn't what we expect or need. If goals don't happen, the least you expect is for supreme effort as a compensation.
Jermain's stats still look good with 16 in 33 games, but when paired with Adebayor in a 4-4-2, he looks a shadow of the player that many (including myself) doubted could ever play as a lone striker. Initially I thought that a partnership between Adebayor and Defoe would work very well, and whilst I still feel they have the physical qualities to work together, I now doubt they have the mental ones. Sure Jermain got a great hat-trick against Maribor, when I felt they played really well individually, however did they clic as a pair? Not for me!
Since that game, Defoe has scored six goals in fourteen games, which isn't a million miles from his whole season stats, however his double brace against Fulham and West Ham were achieved without Adebayor in the side. Suddenly strikers with two in twelve and the other with three in eighteen simply doesn't look good enough, so whether Adebayor stayed or went, I think AVB needed to do something, whether that was to bang their heads together and make them work as a pair, or accept they can't or won't work together and play one or the other.
Over the next few games, we might well have a conclusion to this debate. Perhaps we will see a new striker join. Perhaps Defoe will suddenly re-find his form on his own, or finally we realise that Defoe is simply tired and losing form as a result of too many minutes, too soon in the season. Personally I have a feeling that a pairing of Defoe and Dempsey next weekend will be impressive, with Jermain working and moving with greater freedom and energy than we have seen him for a few weeks. West Ham and Fulham to be exact.
Perhaps as fans we also need to take note. Many of us were demanding we return to a 4-4-2 and also insisting we play Defoe and Adebayor or just play Adebayor. At the time, it may well have been because neither Clint or Gylfi had settled, so we do have a legitimate get out of jail free card. Did AVB agree with us, bow or capitulate to fan pressure at a time when we were struggling as a team?
Now one or both of our main strikers either need to alter their ego's or accept they can't play together and as a result will probably play less games. Jermain now has a great opportunity to not only prove that he has the hunger and ability to play on his own, but also perhaps the club from bringing in a new striker to replace not only him, but Adebayor as well...