Emmanuel Adebayor will likely still believe he is capable of thriving under Mauricio Pochettino this season.
Unfortunately for the Tottenham Hotspur striker, for the fourth year in a row, his summer preparation has been disrupted.
In 2011 and 2012, the protracted nature of his loan and then permanent transfers to Tottenham from Manchester City left him without a satisfactory pre-season in successive years.
Last year Adebayor had to deal with the death of his brother. A horrible summer personally was exacerbated professionally by his falling out with then-manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Earlier this month, Spurs announced via their official website that Adebayor had come down with a "mild bout of malaria."
We're pleased to report that Emmanuel Adebayor has been released from hospital after being admitted on Saturday with a mild bout of malaria.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 14, 2014
The good news, as noted above, was the likelihood of a quick recovery following what Spurs described as "a swift diagnosis." The bad news was he would not be well enough to travel on the club's North American tour.
With a new manager to impress, not being available to play in the first games under his watch was not ideal. But assuming Adebayor's recovery has gone smoothly, he should be back in contention for meetings with Celtic and Schalke over the next two weekends.
As frustrating as another disrupted start will have been, current circumstances at Tottenham seem aligned enough in his favour that it should not prove too problematic.
It is not that he does not have work to do in convincing Pochettino of his value. He does.
Adebayor remains divisive among Spurs supporters. He has a reputation of being trouble off the pitch—something ESPN commentator Taylor Twellman referred to during the Toronto match broadcast—and inconsistent on it.
The latter is fairer than the more subjective former. As good as his mid-season resurgence last season was (11 goals from his mid-December return to February), it tailed off in the spring, with his better performances more sporadic (such as the brace he scored in a 5-1 win over Sunderland).
Pochettino might well decide Adebayor is not suited to his Tottenham team or prefers other options. But having remained through disagreements with Villas-Boas, the player has seemed revitalised enough in 2014 that his latest head coach should be tempted into sticking with him.
Still regarded by the club as a marketable enough persona to help promote the team's new kits (above), the more pertinent of the earlier mentioned circumstances in the 30-year-old's favour are firmly football-related.
Out in North America, Pochettino has—similarly to his time at Southampton—deployed a lone recognised striker with varied attacking talent supporting and working in conjunction with him.
Harry Kane superbly set up Lewis Holtby's opener versus Seattle Sounders. Roberto Soldado was frequently involved in a fluid, quick-moving first-half display from Spurs against Toronto.
Each will be working hard to win what is increasingly looking a solitary forward role. It is arguable neither is as suitable to it as Adebayor.
Will Emmanuel Adebayor be an important player for Mauricio Pochettino this season?
More experienced than Kane and a bigger physical presence than Soldado, Adebayor has the attributes to perform a similar function for Pochettino as Rickie Lambert predominantly and successfully did at Southampton.
The Togo international is not the same player as the Englishman. For instance, he is more skilful and rangy in his movements, whereas Lambert is less tricky on the ball but more aggressive, assertive even.
What both share, though, is good enough finishing—Lambert scored 14 times last season—in the box to make the most of their considerable strength and height (both are over six feet tall). And, crucially augmenting this, an inclination to involve others—Lambert created 53 Premier League chances last season, Adebayor 34, as tallied by Squawka.
Both are obviously welcome characteristics, given the requirements on a lone striker to carry the scoring load but also to connect with others in keeping the ball moving and putting the opposition under sustained, worthwhile pressure.
Kane and Soldado are capable of doing a job for Pochettino. The younger Kane is a sizable presence with improving forward attributes himself. The prospect of Soldado finding his shooting boots again is a tantalising one.
But barring an outside recruit deemed even better, Adebayor might just be the man the Argentinian can use more than most. He has shown his quality in his time at Spurs; he now needs to overcome another temporary setback and reiterate again the work he is capable of playing alongside the likes of Christian Eriksen and Aaron Lennon.
It is potentially the last chance the former Arsenal and Manchester City player has at a relatively high level. Certainly in England.
He has the opportunity to lead a potentially exciting new era at Tottenham from the front. With all the doubts that have been cast against him, after all the troubles Adebayor has endured (brought on by himself or otherwise), a potentially career-defining role should be enough to motivate him moving forward.
Should Adebayor be able to channel that successfully, he has it in him to thrive under the demands of Pochettino's management. It is on him to prove that now.