Resurgent Adebayor provides missing magical touch for erratic Tottenham

The €6m signing will carry the hopes of fans and manager alike against rivals Norwich

Tottenham Hotspur’s Emmanuel Adebayor: Turns 30 next week yet he has been playing like a colt and is on a Gareth Bale-like streak of form. Photograph: Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur’s Emmanuel Adebayor: Turns 30 next week yet he has been playing like a colt and is on a Gareth Bale-like streak of form. Photograph: Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur settle down for a super Sunday afternoon, as they say, with enough connections to have the two clubs twinned.

Chris Hughton’s Tottenham credentials barely require restating, while Tim Sherwood played for Norwich for three seasons before departing in 1992 for Blackburn Rovers and the Premier League title.

What is less known is that Sherwood was a schoolboy player at Norwich but chose to make Watford his first club. He’s from St Albans. It was when at Watford that Norwich signed him.

As he returns to Carrow Road for the first time as a manager, Sherwood will also be aware that it was on this ground last season that Gareth Bale scored a rasping equaliser after a 60-yard run completed in Bolt-time. If ever there was a goal to convince a curious Real Madrid, this was it.

Sure enough, six months later Real handed over €100 million to Spurs for Bale and Andre Villas-Boas embarked on a spending spree – or those around him did – culminating in Tottenham signing seven players, inevitably dubbed the “magnificent seven”.

That did not work out magnificently for AVB and in his place is Sherwood who rewinds to Norfolk after a difficult trip to Ukraine in the Europa League. That would have gone better had one of those magnificent seven, Roberto Soldado, not missed a sitter at 0-0.

More significantly, on the domestic front Spurs go to Norwich having won 4-0 at Newcastle and beaten Everton 1-0 at White Hart Lane. Those victories have put Spurs fifth, just three points off Liverpool with a gap to Everton in sixth.


City’s demolition job
The Sherwood-Spurs experiment looked to have been floored by the 5-1 home hammering by Manchester City

3½ weeks ago. And there is talk daily from the Netherlands about Frank de Boer or Louis van Gaal being the Tottenham future, but that is the only defeat in 10 league games since Sherwood stepped in to succeed Villas-Boas.

It is all part of Tottenham’s mish-mash of a season that was supposed to be about smooth ascendancy. There are contradictions everywhere.

Emmanuel Adebayor was frozen out by Villas-Boas, but has scored eight goals in Sherwood’s 10 league games.

Adebayor turns 30 next week yet he has been playing like a colt and is on a Bale-like streak of form.

He has been Sherwood’s ace, one measure of his renewed importance being that he did not travel to Ukraine. Neither did five others, such as Moussa Dembele.

It was the difference between sixes and sevens and for Spurs there was some form of lesson in five of last summer’s seven playing on a rutted pitch in Dnipropetrovsk.

Soldado, all €31 million of him, was one, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue and Christian Eriksen the others. Chadli and Capoue scarcely contributed on Thursday night and we have not even mentioned Erik Lamela, at €36 million, the costliest signing last summer and more than one-third of Bale.

Lamela has made minimal impact and is injured. There is already talk of him returning to Italy once May is done. As it stands, pound-for-pound, Lamela is the least effective transfer anywhere for some time.


Topsy-turvy season
Eight months on, that historic Spurs summer of 2013, when they were involved in the world-record transfer, cannot be considered a success. From Dnipropetrovsk to Norwich, Tottenham’s season has been literally all over the place. And yet they are fifth, have two more points than after the same number of games last season and are in possession of a squad capable of going higher.

Sherwood has made some form of connection that had been snapped during AVB’s unravelling. He has tried to bind together a new group of players, some of whom, such as Lamela and Chadli, must be bemused as to how their first months in England unfolded.

But it is Adebayor, the man signed permanently the summer before last (for €6 million) who will carry the hopes of Spurs fans, and the team’s principal threat, to Carrow Road. The magnificent seven have become a support act.

None of this was planned. It’s a ball of confusion and yet it is one that could cause Hughton’s disconnection from Norwich City.

With 12 games remaining Norwich are giving the impression they have a plan. “If we believe Chris is the right man to take the club forward then we stick with that,” said chief executive David McNally on Monday. The “if” in that sentence damned Hughton.

It also damned McNally. And it said a lot about football clubs, who claim to plan but who, in reality, panic and react. Tottenham Hotspur 2103-14 are an example of this. So far, they are fortunate Tim Sherwood is proving a smart reaction.

Kroos control: Eyecatching touch and finish against Arsenal
There are games when an individual formerly believed to be of sure potential steps up to validate that belief and leave an imprint on the memory.

Toni Kroos did that for Bayern Munich at Arsenal on Wednesday. The upright poise, ease of touch and sensuous, accurate power of his goal: with this combination Kroos left a mark against which others will be measured.

It is no wonder David Moyes wants the German for Manchester United. There is something of the Busquets about Kroos.

If not quite as persuasive as Kroos’, the performance of Yevhen Konoplyanka for Dnipro against Tottenham still revealed enough to explain why Liverpool’s directors spent three days in January trying to sign the winger.

And if ever there was an example of the hype surrounding English players, it was visible in the contrasting displays of Konoplyanka and Andros Townsend. The latter looked distraught when substituted, understandably.

It is a standard trick to make annual comparisons in order to illustrate a club’s decline or rise and it’s hard to resist when it comes to Wolves. This weekend two years ago they were drawing 2-2 at Newcastle in a Premier League game; last year they were losing 2-1 at home to Premier League-bound Cardiff.

That left Wolves third from bottom of the Championship, from which they fell. It means this Saturday Wolves are at Brentford in a League One match they need to win.

Wolves are third in the third division; it is their third division in three years. They have fallen so fast they are still receiving Premier League parachute payments. Brentford are top of League One

“I think it will be a great atmosphere,” said Wolves manager Kenny Jackett. “But we are used to that wherever we go because two years ago Wolves were a Premier League team.”

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