Interim manager Tim Sherwood made his opening statement for the Tottenham Hotspur job as his side claimed a 3-2 win at Southampton.
Andre Villas-Boas paid the price for his side struggling for goals, failing to impress and latterly losing games.
Spurs are yet to find a replacement, but Sherwood wants the job. The players he selected at St Mary’s on Sunday delivered for him, in style.
Tottenham fell behind after an Adam Lallana goal, but the recalled Emmanuel Adebayor drew Spurs level, before an own goal from Jos Hooiveld gifted the visitors the lead.
Delighted with the win, huge. Less taken by the management and tactical decisions though. Not a sustainable way to build or play whatsoever.— Raj Bains (@BainsXIII) December 22, 2013
Crisis club Spurs six points off the top of the league.— Dan Fitch (@DJFitch) December 22, 2013
Lallana crafted an equaliser for Rickie Lambert, but Adebayor popped up with the winner.
Saints made a rapid start, with their players swarming around the Tottenham midfield. There were fears that Tottenham’s midfield looked a shade too attacking, and they were exposed as Saints went ahead on 13 minutes.
Danny Fox, who was only in the side due to the late defection of Luke Shaw, drove deep into the heart of the Tottenham half without being challenged.
Fox slipped the ball into Lallana. After a neat turn he crafted a bit of space and seeing no Tottenham players around him, fired a low shot beyond Hugo Lloris.
Per Martin Laurence of WhoScored.com:
Sherwood elected to partner Roberto Soldado with Adebayor. They combined for Spurs' leveller on 25 minutes, but luck was a bit of a factor.
A shocking ball from Adebayor sent Soldado scurrying out to the left wing. Once retrieved, he whipped in a brilliant cross.
Seeing a chance to atone, Adebayor attacked the ball with gusto and volleyed beyond Paulo Gazzaniga.
It was an excellent goal, but it came shortly after Saints had squandered a missed opportunity. Danny Rose gave the ball away and the home side pounced. The ball was played into the path of Jay Rodriguez, who could only curl the ball over the top.
Spurs edged themselves in front on 54 minutes, as Hooiveld unfortunately turned the ball into his own net after a cross from Rose.
It was a short-lived advantage for Spurs, as the brilliant Lallana crafted an equaliser. He dashed into the Spurs box and delivered a sublime reverse pass for Lambert to slot into the unguarded net.
Spurs fans have been craving excitement, and Sherwood’s side delivered it in some style at St Mary’s. They moved ahead on 64 minutes, with Adebayor curling home after a loose ball had dropped into his path.
The ideal scenario for Sherwood would have been for Soldado to get on the scoresheet. How he did not is a mystery, as he passed up two gilt-edged chances in the space of a couple of minutes, but the Spurs held on for the win.
Adam Lallana: B+
The Southampton man once again showed exactly why he is in the frame for a place in the England World Cup squad. Not only did he show an excellent eye for goal with the opener, but he oozed quality in the middle of the park. His range of passing, short and long, was excellent and he never looked flustered on the ball.
Emmanuel Adebayor: B+
Wherever he has been in his career, Adebayor has thrilled yet frustrated in equal measures. He frustrated for a few seconds with a misplaced pass to Soldado but atoned seconds later with the goal. For the rest of the game he simply thrilled. Not only did he grab the winner, he produced a number of lung-bursting runs and was a thorn in the side of Southampton all game.
Adebayor gave an interview to broadcaster Sky Sports immediately after the game:
I am happy to be on the pitch, I have been working hard. I am pleased as not only have I scored goals, but we have won the three points.
The manager has given me confidence and I am very happy for him as well.
Up next for Tottenham are home games in the league against West Brom and Stoke. Positive results will certainly strengthen Sherwood's hand, but of far more importance are the two games which immediately follow: a New Year's Day trip to Manchester United followed by a visit to Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Should Sherwood emerge with positive results from two tough away days, it could see chairman Daniel Levy hand the temporary coach a longer reign.