Tim Sherwood puts forward his case for extended stay as Tottenham manager
Emmanuel Adebayor returns to starting line-up to give Spurs necessary lift against Southampton
Emmanuel Adebayor (second from left) celebrates his second goal against Southampton with his Tottenham team-mates during their English Premier League match at St Mary’s. Photograph: Reuters.
SOUTHAMPTON 2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3: Somewhere amid this helter-skelter of a contest, a refreshing frenzy of offensive play and attacking intent from start to finish, Tim Sherwood delivered a politically shrewd statement of intent. Where others might have reverted to basics upon taking over a side torn to shreds just a week ago, this caretaker favours a bolder approach. A swashbuckling victory on the south coast tapped into his players’ underlying qualities and cleansed the club of recent stodgy form and deeply dissatisfying performances.
This team appeared far more comfortable with the handbrake eased off and the onus set upon imposing themselves upon opponents and occasion. Sherwood is seeking to make this job his own – his opposite number here, Mauricio Pochettino, has his own admirers in the Spurs boardroom – and football this attractive and forward-thinking will help his cause.
Certainly, the reintegration of Emmanuel Adebayor already seems like a masterstroke, both in terms of basic team structure and to satisfy those on high. The striker’s two goals more than justified his inclusion, but everything about this display felt like a statement.
Gone was the defensive midfield shield, albeit with Sandro injured and Paulinho suspended. Etienne Capoue might have fulfilled the role but even when the only real central midfielder, Mousa Dembele, had limped away with an ankle complaint, the visitors flung on the captain of their under-21 team, Nabil Bentaleb, to fill the void.
Southampton led when Danny Fox sprinted unchecked down the left and fed Adam Lallana inside, the midfielder allowing the ball to run across him to flummox Vlad Chiriches, then skimming a low shot beyond Hugo Lloris.
Better teams than Southampton would have pressed home that advantage, yet Lallana’s effervescent performance in front of the England assistant Ray Lewington ended up as the home side’s only positive from another catastrophic defensive display. The captain’s industry would set up Rickie Lambert’s second-half equaliser, but did not yield even a point.
Perhaps Sherwood had sensed they were there for the taking. The equaliser was pilfered on the break, Adebayor sending Roberto Soldado scurrying down the left, where he collected and conjured a glorious centre which arced into the six-yard box for the Togolese to exploit space and volley home.
Spurs duly led when Danny Rose’s near-post delivery was poked inadvertently through Paulo Gazzaniga by Jos Hooiveld – a fourth own goal in his last 25 games – but Adebayor’s central presence was always unsettling. When Nacer Chadli hassled home defenders at a throw-in, the forward slipped free of Fox and Dejan Lovren to turn and score the winner.