On face value, there wasn’t too much in the way of overwhelming positives to be taken from Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 defeat at home to Wigan Athletic last Saturday. Indeed, considering the outpouring of frustration and in some quarters, considerable anger, that greeted Jermain Defoe’s substitution, you could argue quite the opposite.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas’ decision to take the England striker off for forgotten man Emmanuel Adebayor- at 1-0 down – catalyzed the most fervent atmosphere of the season so far at White Hart Lane. And as anyone who was there will testify, it represented a pretty damning incitement for both club and manager.

But looking beyond the substitution itself and the perceived ignominy of it, the return of Adebayor represented a landmark moment in Tottenham’s season so far. Unfit, unhappy and uninterested have been just a few of the words batted around the Togolese’s stuttering start to the season so far. But the fact is, it doesn’t matter why or even how’s been out. Just that he’s back. And now he is, Villas-Boas must unleash him against Manchester City.

The presence of a warmed up and ready Emmanuel Adebayor standing shoulder to shoulder next to a somewhat brooding Andre Villas-Boas, felt like a sign of real encouragement during the weekend. Although any returning goodwill felt incredibly short lived indeed, as the number of 18 of Defoe flashed up next to the ex-Arsenal man’s number 10.

After a season in which their side’s home form has been so incredibly mediocre and 57 minutes where they’d been abjectly outplayed by Wigan, you could argue that Spurs supporters were always going to vent their frustration in one way or another. The booing was not the right way to show the support, but it was perhaps something of inevitability. 1-0 down, half hour to play, and the manager takes off their leading goalscorer.

But it is within that statistic, which lies a very deceptive school of thought. Fans fumed when Defoe trotted off the pitch, lamenting the departure of their beloved hitman and somewhat satirically serenading Villas-Boas with chants of “Jermain Defoe, he’s a Yiddo.

A Yiddo he may be, but he was also a striker who made the scintillating contribution of 11 touches of the football, in nearly an hour on the football field. This is not to slate the man who has been in red-hot goal scoring form this season, but so often there seems to be a reluctance to take off the Defoe-tinted glasses in N17.

Emmanuel Adebayor didn’t score on his return to the side, nor did he particularly set the world on fire. But the effect he had on the team felt almost palpable.

The counter argument to Defoe’s poor game against Wigan, seems to go along the lines of poor service, or in fairness to him, an abject lack of it. And to some extent, he did suffer form a real lack of quality. With Clint Dempsey turning up to White Hart Lane seemingly only in body but not in spirit, life was tough for Defoe. But he still wasn’t giving enough – you’ve got to be more proactive in seeking the ball. As poor as the midfield was, they can’t be made the sole scapegoat.

When Adebayor came on, it seemed to cultivate more out of the men playing around him. Spurs seemed to not only retain possession a little better, but they seemed to look a bit more dangerous with it, too. Gareth Bale looked more proactive, the midfield appeared a little more confident and the tempo of play generally felt more fluid. Again, it wasn’t scintillating, but the change in output was no coincidence.

The difference with Adebayor, seems that when he moves on the football pitch, it has purpose. When the ball was played down the channels, he didn’t just lure defenders out with his movement, but he was able to shift the ball out and find a teammate. And it’s this purpose, which is the real difference in holding the line on your own.

No one is denying Defoe has been running his socks off and working hard. But running around like a headless chicken and racking up some impressive ProZone statistics, doesn’t win you football matches. Whether as an outlet down the channels, as a mobile target for a more direct route of play or simply as a man to get the best out of the rest of his attacking unit, Adebayor has the superior skillset to eek more out of this Spurs XI than Jermain Defoe.

In terms of the substitution itself, it’s a difficult one to call. No one is saying that 4-4-2 need be thrown on the scrapheap forever, and with the team one goal behind, the logical call is to be positive in your approach. But let’s not forget, Spurs were being outmaneuvered and overrun in midfield, before Adebayor came on. Dempsey played poorly, but so did Defoe. There were no guarantees that taking another man out from deep wouldn’t have backfired for Villas-Boas.

Although Spurs need more from their frontman than just goals. It sounds absurd, doesn’t it? But this Defoe argument isn’t anything new and the answer hasn’t become any different, either. Adebayor bagged 17 league goals last season, but perhaps more poignantly, he set up another 11. Defoe, even though many appearances came from the bench, set up one solitary league goal.

This isn’t some form of urban myth. Emmanuel Adebayor isn’t as prolific as finisher as Jermain Defoe, but he has the better all round game which is a far more valuable asset in whichever team he’s in. Be it the 4-4-1-1 of Harry Redknapp or the 4-2-3-1 of Andre Villas-Boas, the outcome is still the same. Supporters will see more out of their team if the Togolese starts football matches. It’s hard being patient, but they must judge this side on when Adebayor is playing a full part within it.

How do you feel about things up tops for Tottenham Hotspur? Let me know what you think on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and bat me all your White Hart Lane frustrations. 

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  • Spurs4Life
    2 years ago

    Sell Defoe ,add it to the money from Modric sale , bring in Hunterlaar or Damioa, start giving Coulibaly a run,add a classy midfielder and install Lloris as the number 1 . C.O.Y.S

    Reply
  • charles
    2 years ago

    So many comments and so few hit the most important fact “defoe is far to selfish”.The fact is that if you keep playing Defoe players like Bale will leave .So many times Defoe has wasted chance when other players like Bale have been in a far better position to score.Defoe should watch the Liverpool C.F. Spurs are going nowhere with Defoe,he is NOT a team player.

    Reply
  • spursguv
    2 years ago

    I looked at the crowd on a few occaisions and I think Defoe going off was the icing on the cake. Nothing makes any sense, Lloris is better than friedel. Ade is Better than Defoe, Falque is better than carroll. Why take off Walker? Why not leave hudd there and knock the ball long to Defoe and Ade? it’s not a Defoe issue for me or the other 67% who voted in an online poll that said Defoe should have been subbed. Two back to back defeats along with favouratism being shown instead of Competition for places. I’ve been right behind AVB however he is showing signs of what he did at Chelsea. If Ade doesn’t start and Friedel is still in goal v City then I’m over him. We all know Defoe and how often he misses. It was no mistake off rednapps to leave defoe out of the side. I’ve been saying for years our biggest problem is keeping player like Defoe and Hudd. These players have decent game now and then and live off it. I reckon AVB will be gone by the summer. If Levy doesn’t buy a 20m rated player in Jan then what’s all the Ambition about? The 6m we made from player transfers?

    Reply
  • Peter Ag
    2 years ago

    Scary bit is no Dembele, no creativity – nothing in reserve – Makes getting rid of Kranjcar for 2 mill (especially knowing that Modric was leaving), look like the worse piece of business. Couple that with the rush to get rid of Van Der Vart and you can see where problems lie.
    Up front Pav has not been replaced so we are ridiculously without options. Very difficult for any manager to cope with all of this, a long injury list and also the sale of Modric …
    The only thing I would say regards AVB at home is majority of best football played against the middle ranking teams (WBA, Norwich and QPR) was when we reverted to 4-4-2. Against Chelsea the tactics were spot-on and we will have to adapt in this way against tougher opposition but 4-4-2 should have been the way to go against Wigan …

    Reply
  • Cliffyboy43
    2 years ago

    I echo the views of other Spurs supporters here. The idea that our mediocre performance against Wigan can be put on Defoe’s shoulders is ridiculous, and while Dempsey is a reasonable squad player, he just should not be starting for us, even before my pet rabbit, Bunny.

    Reply
  • StevieT
    2 years ago

    And how many sitters did “Miss a barn door” have last season? Most of his goals were put on a plate for him and it was only in the last game where he finally learnt to take the ball past the keeper and score when put through one on one. He should have had nearer 30 goals last season with the service he was provided. One striker is not working well so you have to adapt or wait until it is too late to salvage anything from the season. Another couple of bad games and we will be only left with the FA Cup to go for. Out of the Capita, Europa and so far behind in the league the Europa will be the only thing on offer. Don’t forget we also will lose Ade in January to Africa. And he missed the important pre-season/beginning of the season because of his own greed. Give me a player who wants to play for the team any day over a greedy moneybags.

    Reply
  • JD
    2 years ago

    DEMPSY WILL NEVER BE A SPURS PLAYER HE`S JUST USELESS LIKE SIGGY , ADEBYOR AND DEFOE WOULD BE A VERY GOOD ATTACK FORCE AND YES DEFOE WAS ALLWAY`S A SELFISH LITTLE TOE RAG HE JUST IS NOT A TEAM PLAYER.

    Reply
  • KennyM
    2 years ago

    How did Dempsey score all those goals last year? Until AVB realizes that Dempsey is a poor player and does not fit into the Spurs side things will not change. Ade should start without a doubt and the city game is the best place for him to make his comeback! Please God let Levy have a plan to get a striker in the Jan window!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Matt Read
    2 years ago

    Defoe is a quality goalscorer, I had a player who has averaged a goal every other game this season I would think he deserves licence to shoot. Additionally, I don’t know why Spurs fans are so anti Clint Dempsey. He is a proven quality Premier League midfielder and will come good over the course of the season.

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