5 Things to Expect from Emmanuel Adebayor at Tottenham This Season
As one of the more unpredictable characters in the Premier League, it’s perhaps unwise to present “five things to expect from Emmanuel Adebayor at Tottenham this season.” Nonetheless, here at Bleacher Report we’ve looked into our crystal ball and attempted to predict what to expect from the Spurs hit man.
Unlike summers past, the Togolese striker has been a low-key figure in the summer of 2014.
Similarly, while Mauricio Pochettino’s steady rebuilding operation began in the United States, Adebayor was absent, a mild bout of malaria putting paid to his chances of impressing his new manager.
Despite the recent inactivity, here’s what to expect from the West African over the coming campaign.
A Slow Start
As noted in the introduction, Adebayor’s summer was disrupted as the player contracted malaria, albeit described as a “mild bout” by Sky Sports.
The club, acknowledging the striker’s illness, released the following statement in the middle of July:
The Togo international was admitted to hospital on Saturday after reporting feeling unwell to our medical staff.
A swift diagnosis meant the disease was detected at an early stage and he is responding well to treatment.
The striker is expected to be released from hospital tomorrow and will then require a minimum of seven days before returning to training.
The player has been advised not to travel on medical grounds, which means he will be forced to miss our pre-season tour of North America.
His inactivity means that the Togolese forward remains some weeks behind his team-mates in terms of full fitness and cannot be expected to hit the ground running, despite goals against Schalke and Celtic.
Similarly, in his absence, there has been a growing chemistry between Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, two of Tottenham’s transfer duds of last season.
As the club seek to “make good” their questionable investment, Adebayor might be a peripheral figure in the opening fixtures.
A Partnership with Soldado
The recent friendly against Schalke, however, revealed how things might look should Pochettino use Adebayor and Soldado in tandem.
It was an approach that Tim Sherwood toyed with at times last season, but ultimately, for one reason or another, it didn’t evolve into Spurs’ plan A.
This season, however, it might be a different story.
Both players scored in the 2-1 victory over the German side, as the new manager opted for a 4-4-2-cum-4-2-4, using both men together up front, flanked by Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend.
Indeed, it could be that using Adebayor alongside Soldado ultimately manages to bring the best out of the Spaniard.
The former Valencia man will doubtless enjoy working alongside the West African and profiting from the space created by his astute movement and intelligent positioning.
In Southampton we did it with Ricky [sic] Lambert and Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana and we are flexible. Sometimes we play with two strikers and sometimes with one striker in the same game, but we always play with the same philosophy
We need to be protagonists and always press high, work hard and be a dynamic team, but after we have a lot of games and we have time for all the players to show and play.
Tom Collomosse, writing for the Standard, believes that Pochettino will look to build his team around the striker this season—with or without Soldado.
While it remains to be seen exactly which starting XI Spurs will employ against West Ham United in their Premier League opener on Saturday, there is little doubt that Tottenham boast incredibly creative midfield resources.
Erik Lamela, coaxed into action by his compatriot Pochettino, has begun purring in pre-season. Lewis Holtby returns from Fulham and looks well-equipped to thrive under the new man as well.
The likes of Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend have enjoyed playing time down the flanks in pre-season and will look to feed the strikers at every opportunity.
Add to this collection Christian Eriksen, one of the team’s star men last season. The Dane has been muted in pre-season but has the natural quality to thrive once again, for a second consecutive campaign, in the EPL.
With this stable of creative influences, Spurs’ forwards should have a field day. Not only do all boast the tools to make a difference in the attacking third, the attacking midfielders offer a variation and a diversity of approaches.
Adebayor, in particular, will look to profit from the sustained set-piece excellence of Eriksen.
A Late Transfer Bid?
It’s also worth noting that there is no guarantee that Adebayor will be at White Hart Lane come the close of the transfer window.
As Pochettino attempts to remould the side to his own, personal specifications, he may decide that a 30-year-old striker with a prima donna reputation and a hefty wage packet is expendable.
The Togolese forward was in exceptional form under Tim Sherwood last season, but is there any guarantee that the new boss can keep the veteran motivated and committed?
Adebayor walks a fine line, and Pochettino will be all too aware that a lapse back to the sulky, anonymous character of the Andre Villas-Boas days is a little too close for comfort.
The Mirror’s John Cross believes that a ready-made suitor might be AS Monaco, with the Ligue 1 club keen to bring their former star back to the club he played for for two-and-a-half years.
Ben Burrows, also of The Mirror, reports that Radamel Falcao is refusing to rule out a move away from the Red and Whites. Should the Colombian striker depart, expect the Adebayor-to-Monaco rumours to be reignited once more.
Could Pochettino really refuse a big-money offer for a volatile figure who is 30 years old?
Drama and Controversy
One thing that is pretty safe to expect from Adebayor is a testing mix of drama and controversy.
Recently, he’s largely kept his head down, but the catalogue of past inflammatory incidents—from celebrating gratuitously in front of the Arsenal fans to falling out with AVB—doesn’t appear to be closed for business just yet.
Indeed, is there any guarantee that the divisive Adebayor will get on well with Pochettino and adapt to the new man’s methods?
He is not the hero at White Hart Lane that he perhaps thinks he is either, as acknowledged by my colleague Thomas Cooper, writing for Bleacher Report, “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.”
If Adebayor’s performances and endeavour tail off—as they threatened to do toward the end of last season—or if the goals do not flow, don’t expect the Spurs faithful to keep their sentiments to themselves.