The game was only a couple minutes old when Emmanuel Adebayor pounced on a poor back pass from Kolo Toure. The Togolese striker ambled forwards, the keeper was already on the floor, Toure had his head in his hands and the supporters dotted around the Royal Bafokeng Stadium prepared for the goal. However, as a Tottenham Hotspur supporter, my spidey senses were tingling.
“He’s going to miss.” I mumbled to myself and after what seemed like an eternity, he did miss. As I sat there and contemplated his failure, something occured to me. It wasn’t the miss itself that worried me, even the greatest players are occasionally touched by the hand of Rosenthal, it was the manner of the miss.
Something is broken in Adebayor, he plays with no confidence, no buzz, no enthusiasm.
Rather like the opportunity he spurned at Loftus Road a couple of weeks ago, this wasn’t a physical issue, it’s a mental issue. The player knows what he has to do, where he has to be and how to do it, but he lacks the ability to execute those thoughts.
Something is broken in Adebayor, he plays with no confidence, no buzz, no enthusiasm. As the Spurs man ambled his way towards the gaping Ivory Coast goal he reminded me of Fernando Torres, a shadow of the player he was and the one we need him to be.
What has happened to the striker who last season contributed not only goals but assists, movement and gave us a focal point to our attack?
Those quick to listen to listen to the “I told you so” Arsenal fans amongst us have pointed to the fact that he now has a full time contract. Comfortable in his situation Adebayor is happy to pick up his wages, send a certain percentage home and then play out his career as a bit part player.
This reasoning doesn’t sit with me. If Adebayor was all about the money, why did he choose Spurs? Why did he choose a club that puts him in a position of judgement and one that has a strict wage structure?
During the summer Adebayor had the chance to follow the paper to Russia or Qatar, countries where his personality hasn’t already been rightly or wrongly judged. Alternatively he could have opted to remain at Man City collecting his wages and not having the pressure of first team football thrust upon him.
Roberto Mancini may have wanted him out, but football is full of examples of players who have seen out large contracts at major clubs training with the youth team. This transfer window we have seen the gifted Wesley Sneijder price himself out of a move to the Premier League by chasing the money. Adebayor a former Real Madrid, Man City and Arsenal striker could easily have done the same, but he didn’t.
Adebayor chose Spurs for a variety of reasons. To prove himself to the press and his doubters and secondly to finish what he started so impressively last season. Granted the wages we are paying him are big for our club, but definitely not bigger than a FC Anzhi Makhachkala or another fossil fuel backed club could have offered.
When this season started with a defeat away to Newcastle, the buzz word was patience. Now over six months later we should remember that. Adebayor has suffered this season through a lack of preseason training, injury, suspension and now the African Cup of Nations. It has been stop start and he has been unable to pick up a rhythm, but an even bigger factor on his performances has been his role. He has yet to play in a role which suits his style of play.
Think back to those glorious few months in 2011/2012 where Spurs were the toast of the country, Champions League dead-certs, even whisper it quietly, possible title challengers. Our Togolese forward was at the forefront of this expansive game that had our manager nailed in as the next Knight of the Realm. However, this wasn’t the manager being tactically astute or some Lance Armstrong style doping, this was very simply, Adebayor playing in his favoured number nine role, with a creative number 10 just behind him.
When this season started with a defeat away to Newcastle, the buzz word was patience. Now over six months later we should remember that.
The former Man City man is an out-and-out solo striker, a player to hold up the ball, bring others into play and drag defenders into unchartered areas. This season alongside Jermain Defoe, a player whose limitations we are all aware of, the Togo man has faltered. Similarly playing off the industrious Clint Dempsey or unsettled Glyfi Sigurdsson has resulted in the same lack of form.
These issues have had a direct impact on the re-adjustment of Adebayor, but perhaps finally a solution is just around the corner. A solution in the form of a young part English part German midfielder.
Lewis Holtby, if newspapers and Twitter are to be believed is set to join earlier than expected. The Schalke man is very much in the Rafa Van der Vaart mould, a player capable of finding space, a pass and that moment of ingenuity that strikers like Adebayor thrive on. All the Togo man needs to do now is start believing and start playing with that beaming smile that has been conspicuously absent this year.
I refuse to believe that he is damaged goods, he remains a player blessed with all he qualities needed to be a success at Spurs, we just need to AVBelieve in him.
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