A couple of days after Emmanuel Adebayor signed a season long loan deal with Tottenham Hotspur, his parent club rolled in to White Hart Lane and demolished the hosts with the sort of display which had all associated with each club immediately re-appraising their aims for the campaign.
With Adebayor watching on, it was Edin Dzeko who inflicted the most damage – scoring four to finally conclude any misguided thoughts the Togolese striker had that there was any future for him within Roberto Mancini’s squad.
As the Citizens glided back north, Harry Redknapp was left to pick up the pieces of a crushing defeat which had far greater resonance than the shedding of three points. Luka Modric was still gazing admiringly towards west London, and Spurs had yet to open the chequebook over the summer in an attempt to re-establish themselves back into the Champions League places.
Since edging City out the top four in 2010, Spurs had gone on to spend under £15m in affirming their status whilst City had spent more than that on individual players eight times across a £200m spree. The reality was rammed home that on and off the field City were well out of view and after buying themselves a ticket to European football’s grandest banquet, at least they had the decency to throw Spurs some scraps from the feast.
The philanthropic gesture of loaning out Adebayor mattered little to City who could easily afford to dispose of a player they had parted £25m to procure just two years earlier, but it mattered greatly that player and club were married together in such matrimony.
Truth be told, Spurs were in desperate need of a decent striker. For a side who do play open and expansive footballer under a manager who permits them to do so, their goals return last season was poor. They concluded the season scoring 55 times, which was 23 less than the champions, one less than eleven and twelfth placed West Brom and Newcastle and equal with Blackpool – who went down.
They failed to score in seven of their league games with four 0-0 draws an no goals in four games against Wigan and West Ham showing the paucity of that crucial killer touch. Those failings were largely down to Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane scoring just eighteen league goals between them despite the enviable midfield resource of Aaron Lennon, Rafael Van der Vaart, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, and given the comparisons listed throughout so far, it’s worth pondering that even without the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva and the rest, how would Manchester City and Tottenham’s respective league places had fared if Carlos Tevez with 20 league goals in 29 games had been plying his trade in the capital?
It has been a long coined phrase that goals win games and Redknapp needed to acquire a quality striker pronto, but with limited resource at his disposal the potential acquisition of adebayor on loan was always going to be tempting to a man famed for his ability to sniff out a bargain.
A brief look at Adebayor’s goalscoring record shows the boy has undoubted pedigree. He scored a goal every other game at Arsenal and even before being jettisoned at City he scored 19 times in 43 appearances. Yet, wherever he goes he never quite fits in and problems inevitably arise. The fact that nobody fancied taking a punt on Adebayor spoke more about his attitude than his ability.
But for all his failings, Redknapp isn’t afraid to take a gamble and back his own judgement. Few managers would have gone near Paolo Di Canio when Redknapp did and even at Portsmouth, he resurrected the careers of Glen Johnson, Defoe and Crouch by instilling the players with the belief and bravado necessary to coax out whats locked inside. Once again with Adebayor such demonstrations of faith are reaping rich reward.
His two goals against Aston Villa on Monday night shifted Spurs up to third in the table and even though talk of a title charge is premature, both player, manager and club are in a happy place. Spurs have the striker they crave and Adebayor is once again enjoying his football – and it tells.
Operating as the lone frontman in Spurs’ 4-4-1-1 Adebayor offers so much more than any one of last seasons striking quartet. He has the pace and mobility that Crouch lacked, the aerial presence and strength that Defoe was missing, the clinical goalscoring that was absent from Keane’s game and overall he’s a better version of Pavlyuchenko. Adebayor also occupies whole back four which none of his predecessors was particularly good at thus creating space in other areas of the pitch for the rest to flourish.
Seeing Adebayor operate against Villa also makes you recognise how hard he works, his long legs eating up the ground to hassle and harry full-backs and deep lying midfielders, but this work rate only comes about because he wants to. When Adebayor is motivated and playing well he is a real asset to any side, the dexterity of his forward movements means he’s a handful for defences and his energetic approach sees him expand a lot of good energy for a communal cause. However, when things aren’t going well then Adebayor can quickly become a liability, and Redknapp’s biggest task with Adebayor was not getting him to play well, but rather maintaining his interest and application over the rigours of a whole campaign.
Should the remainder of the season stay on a firm footing between player and club, theoretically there is no reason why Adebayor couldn’t resettle in north London in front of an appreciative crowd and manager. His time at Manchester City is all over bar the shouting, but there are a few caveats Spurs must consider before opting to make Adebayor’s switch a permanent one.
For a start, the bean counters at City still mulling over £195m losses will have noticed his form for a team that want and need him, so may decide to add on a couple of million for good measure, and then there’s the financial aspects of luring Adebayor too.
Tottenham’s buckling to Luka Modric’s wage demands means they are now susceptible to agents demanding top-dollar for their clients, and although Spurs have no chance of matching his pay at Eastlands, Adebayor’s men wouldn’t settle for anything less than parity with Spurs top earners.
Regardless of what he brings to the party and how well he is doing at present, there is a huge difference in signing Adebayor on the cheap at reasonable wages and paying an inflated fee on £100,000 a week. Given his history and the fact he never settles anywhere for long and largely chases the cash, an Adebayor permanent move to Spurs might not be a match made in heaven, but as it is, it’s definately a marriage of convenience.
Follow John Baines on twitter @bainesyDiego10
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