Tottenham Hotspur’s main striker, Harry Kane, has yet to muster a league goal this campaign and their new £22m man, Son Heung-min, is unproven in the Premier League. If only they had an experienced forward on the books with a strike record anyone would be envious of. Wait, they did, and terminated his contract with mutual consent.
The man in question is, of course, Emmanuel Adebayor. Living proof that being good enough doesn’t mean you’ll be tolerated. Since joining Arsenal in 2006 his goals-to-games record has been consistently impressive. This while adapting to different styles of play and even a stint for Real Madrid in La Liga. Along with goals there has been another aspect that remains the same: Adebayor ostracizes himself and aggravates the managers.
No striker with such a tally should ever become surplus to requirements but Arsene Wenger couldn’t pack his bags quick enough. Scoring against his former club when playing for City we saw how he loves to annoy when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate . . . in front of the Arsenal fans.
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City soon tired and the arrivals of Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli forced him out of the door. However, his goal scoring record never dipped and only Tevez initially had a claim to be above Adebayor in the pecking order. Dzeko, like Son Heung-min, was a risk from the German league and Balotelli, was, well, you know what you get with Mario.
He wasn’t free from critics in Madrid but a one in three return for a loan player, at a club known for its cliques, was a decent return. Regardless, he was sent back to Manchester where he flirted with fines for refusing to train with the development squad. Instead he went on loan to Tottenham Hotspur, after already washing his hands of his ties to the Gunners. He finished the season their top scorer on 17 goals.
All good then. Well, it should have been, but no matter how many times his shirts changed the personality remained the same. By the time Andre Villas-Boas collected his last pay-cheque at Spurs he’d expelled Adebayor to such a degree his career was effectively over at the club.
He was given a glimmer of hope by caretaker boss Tim Sherwood (that’s all he ever was despite being given an eighteen month contract) and predictably returned to scoring goals. For a second time he finished the season as Tottenham’s top scorer. Then the inevitable occurred: Sherwood was axed; the new manager took a dislike to Emmanuel.
While he’s the common denominator in all these fallouts it doesn’t mean his treatment has been fair. In any workplace there will be characters that don’t get along. It’s the job of managers to ensure these conflicts can be dealt with in a professional manner. When the problem brings so much to the table it’s often the case that the manager has to bite his tongue and put up with it. If Tottenham were winning league titles every year it’d be understandable to offload trouble.
But they aren’t.
Instead they’ve lost talent because he didn’t fit into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans. I’d have thought any plan would have included goals and Adebayor always provided them. There’s always two sides to every story, too. There’s no denying he’s an abrasive character but a talented manager learns how to handle rough edges while keeping everything else running smooth.
Remember that Arsenal celebration when playing for City? He looked like the villain even though Gunners fans had shouted racist and personal abuse all game. Much is made how he was walking around Tottenham’s training ground all smiles after being happy to train with the youth team and run down his £100,000-a-week contract. If he’d have sulked he’d have been equally criticised. This is an attempt to paint him as money grabber. What isn’t reported are the charitable efforts he pays for in Africa. He isn’t fighting to keep all the money for personal reasons, he has made commitments to those with the greatest need.
His mini-resurgence under Sherwood shows that he isn’t completely unmanageable. With a trail of so many burnt bridges it may be his former boss that provides the only remaining option if he wishes to play in any top flight again.