Without the pace to run in behind or the strength to hold up the ball, the Spanish striker was effectively a bystander as the Merseysiders swept Spurs aside with ease.
It would be fair to say that Soldado’s debut season in the Premier League hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. The £26million summer signing has failed to justify his price tag and the question really is whether Spurs should persevere with the striker beyond the end of this season.
But with continued uncertainty over the future of manager Tim Sherwood and so many of the players, it is difficult to anticipate whether the club should stick or twist. Under a new manager’s ideas or with different players surrounding him, Soldado could potentially rekindle the form which prompted the club to splash the cash in the first place.
The player himself has shown a positive attitude and outlined his intention to stay and prove himself. After scoring the winner against Cardiff, his first from open play at White Hart Lane, Soldado shouldered the blame for his lack of goals by admitting “I am the only one responsible for my poor form, but I will get better.”
Whilst many players would have shirked the challenge, the striker clearly has the hunger to succeed at his new club.
But this desire so far hasn’t produced an improvement on the pitch just yet. Having admitted back in December that his performances at Spurs hadn’t matched “the level that I expect of myself”, Soldado’s fortunes have actually worsened since. With Emmanuel Adebayor impressing since his return under Sherwood, the Spanish striker has found opportunities to redeem himself limited.
Soldado’s record at Valencia proves that he isn’t a bad player. The striker scored an impressive 24 goals in 35 appearances in his final season at the Mestalla and, unless you’re Fernando Torres, that sort of ability doesn’t just disappear overnight.
For a player that is essentially a penalty box finisher, Soldado has let himself down this season but he has also been betrayed by a chronic lack of quality service. At Valencia, the striker thrived at the tip of a 4-2-3-1 formation with a playing style suited to bring the best out of him. Rather than shooting from range, Los Che would work the ball into the area and allow Soldado to apply the finishing touch.
In this regard, some of the blame should be appropriated to Director of Football Franco Baldini. As the man in charge of transfers, Baldini should have recognised whether the striker was truly the right fit at the club.
After the sacking of Andre Vilas-Boas, it emerged that the manager may not have even wanted many of those that arrived in the summer.
Soldado’s form would also be aided if there was a degree of consistency in team selection at the club. Neither AVB or Sherwood seem to have ever settled upon a best eleven at the club this season.
For Soldado and the multitude of other new signings, adapting to life at White Hart Lane has been made more difficult by this lack of consistency. The replacement of AVB with a new coach that is widely expected to also be deposed at the end of the season is a self inflicted wound which has only furthered the instability at the club. As it stands, only a handful of players such as Hugo Lloris and Nabil Bentaleb can be reasonably assured of their place in the starting eleven.
With the season drawing to a close, the question of whether Spurs should stick or twist with Soldado will have to be answered sooner rather than later. But before that decision is made, other more pressing issues need to be addressed such as the identity of the manager and a coherent transfer and playing strategy.
Simply discarding Soldado on the basis of one poor campaign during a time of great instability would just be the latest in a long line of poor decisions from Tottenham. £26million was spent for a reason and before they simply write that fee off, the powers that be need to clarify a few matters before declaring whether the Spaniard is surplus to requirements.