Tim Sherwood’s Tactical Change and Reliance On Emmanuel Adebayor Shows Poor Judgment

Following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas, speculation has grown about the reintegration of Emmanuel Adebayor into the Tottenham side. In yesterday’s League Cup match against West Ham, caretaker manager Tim Sherwood fielded a 4-4-2 formation with Adebayor and Jermain Defoe starting up top. The Togolese striker scored the game’s initial goal, but West Ham’s second half tactical changes stimulated a comeback that saw Spurs lose to the otherwise struggling Hammers for the second time in three months at home.

For much of his tenure, Villas-Boas preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation (which played at time more like a 4-1-4-1 with Paulinho bursting forward) but this setup, despite some outstanding buildup play much of the season, has failed to deliver goals.

Yesterday, a midfielder was dropped and the formation was intended to allow Spurs to potentially become more direct in the attack. However, the result of the match was no different than previous poor results and Spurs created precious few chances.

I believe Sherwood should opt to stay with some form of a 4-5-1 formation. A potential setup that would be different than AVB’s formation would be to set up with three central midfielders (a position where Spurs have bought freely in the past few years) and two out and out wingers like Aaron Lennon, Erik Lamela or Andros Townsend. This would give the back four, who have been so horribly exposed against Manchester City and Liverpool, an additional shield. Moussa Dembele or Etienne Capoue (who has featured recently at center back) can play in this role flanking Sandro and will give Paulinho continued freedom to go forward.

If I were Sherwood, should he remain in control for the next match, I would not rely on Adebayor. The Togolese forward is a notoriously temperamental and unreliable character. Building a formation or tactic around him requires a certain degree of good faith and time that Spurs, in their current league position, may not be able to afford. Nonetheless, Adebayor is a proven goal scorer whose playing style, when in the mood, tends to bring other attacking players into the game. Moreover, given what we’ve read of Daniel Levy’s views about his squad this week, Adebayor may be the first name on the team sheet regardless of who manages Tottenham Sunday at St Mary’s against Southampton.

Editor’s note: For the latest Spurs news, analysis and opinion, visit the Tottenham Hotspur team page.

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