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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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  1. Paul

    December 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    the picture you use for this “article” already negates any point you might because it probably reveals your bias towards Adebayor.

    • Christopher Harris

      December 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Paul, I selected the image, not Kartik.

  2. Smokey Bacon

    December 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    For the Spurs Holiday party they are doing a version of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Levy is Scrooge, of course, while Gareth Bale returns as the ghost of Christmas past.

    It’s playing every week at White Hart Lane from now until mid January, or maybe until the end of the season.

    • Georgie

      December 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      It is more of a hangover party after blowing away Gareth Bale lottery money.

  3. Dickybran

    December 19, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I think we need to play two up front. The reason why Spurs haven’t been scoring is because we’ve had either Soldado or Defoe playing up front on their own. Neither are blessed with height or strength. Barcelona played with one up front but had two other forwards either side who would get further forward and around the back of the defence, getting onto through balls and running though on goal. Lennon, Townsend etc do not play this way, they play more like wingers staying out on the touchline and getting down the wings. Sometimes they cut inside but their passing and ability to spot runs from the striker is not good enough. The other option is to get to the byline and cross it in. Lennon’s crossing has never been good enough, and even though Townsend puts in a good ball Soldado never seems to really make a good run and get away from his marker. And 9 times out of 10 he’s the only player in the box and is marked by at least two defenders because the defence has no one else to mark. Also Spurs do not play the ball quick enough. They dominate games but move the ball around so slowly that the opposition have plenty of time to get men behind the ball making it very hard to break them down. Adebayor was useless in front of goal last season and I couldn’t wait for him to leave, but I think he adds a bit more in attack, even if it’s just giving the defence an extra man to mark and him winning the odd header in the box.

    While I’m here, Spurs have been useless from set pieces for so long now. We must consistently have the worst record from scoring from corners in the Premier League. They need to work on this a lot more.

  4. Dust

    December 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Kartik is absolutely right…show me a good performance from ade like last night and I’ll show you 4 teams and a plethora of dross from him.

    That football last night v wet spam was some of the most erratic, wasteful immature football I’ve seen at the lane is a while.

    Yes they showed more effort but to suggest it was tactically worthy is foolish. Yes Adebyor played well and scored a great goal… Where was that energy when he was brought on v city?

    We lost to wet spam again…not with avb but the snake Tim Mirkwood… 442 with 4 attacking midfielders left a huge whole in the middle of the park that when we had huffed and puffed for 70 minutes and ran out of energy they exploited with their reserves…away from home.

    They defended the very predictable and wasteful “get it to the wings and run really fast and whip it in to a box with a poorly position Defoe”…shocker! That didn’t work?

    Halfway through the game I looked down and found due to the time travel back to the arcane days off a 442 I was wearing day glow socks and a Stavros t-shirt! Thanks Tim!

    A makeshift back 4 and you put Sig, Townsend, Lennon, and Dembele infront of it? LoL what did anyone expect?

    We got beat…Tim Mirkwood then subbed his way out of the game by taking of Adebyor for Holtby! LoL leaving an inept Defoe up top on his own?

    Do that v Southampton and 6-0 will be a memory we crave…

    New word….Timneptitude! Levy needs to get a real manager in sharpish!

    • Georgie

      December 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      What makes you believe any decent manager would consider joining Spurs? Especially with Levy at the helm?

  5. scrumper

    December 19, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I don’t believe Sherwood is Tottenham’s future but Adebayor and Defoe as twin strikers is the best you’re going to get at the moment. The current team has struggled to score all season and Adebayor is a proven goalscorer, so it’s up to Sherwood or his successor to get the best out of him (before he’s sold off). Right now he’s not match fit.


      December 19, 2013 at 11:30 am

      “proven goalscorer” did you watch games lat year. He is probably the most hated player at the moment. Only reason he is playing is b/c Levy is paying him to much money a week to sit in a box seat.

  6. steve

    December 19, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Does it not show to some degree, AVB’s man management skills that he could not get the best from Adebayor, nor the rest of the bunch for that matter. What grates me is that Soldado didn’t play last night. We finally play a formation and style of football that not only gets the ball into the areas he loves (i.e. the box)quicker, but also support in there as well (additional bodies) and yet he remains on the bench. Even when Ade had to come off, bringing a midfielder on showed negativity. IMHO, Sherwood is not the solution.

    • scrumper

      December 19, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Not sure where Soldado loves the box. When Lennon has been allowed to run with the ball and put it across the face of the goal Soldado has never been closer than the penalty spot and frequently has been found labouring outside of the box.

      • steve

        December 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Read this article: in particular this line here “Whereas Soldado’s more clinical finishing should help in this respect, all 24 of his goals were from inside the box” refering to his goals for Valencia last season. As for the supply, for most of the season we have been playing with inverted wingers and the ball very rarely played into the box for Soldado to get on the end of. So it would be understandable that on the few occasions that the ball may be played into the box he is nowhere near it as he just doesn’t know what our midfielders are going to do.

    • Martin J.

      December 19, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Lots of Spurs’ fans don’t think Sherwood is the solution but ultimately it’s Levy’s call. Some of the names being mentioned, like De Boer or Capello, etc. might only be available next season. So for now Sherwood will remain in charge unless he goes on a long winless streak. He also wants the job permanently and stated so again after the West Ham loss.

  7. Dave

    December 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Kartik, please stop writing about Tottenham. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to this team. Adebayor was far and away the best player on the pitch last night until he came off.

    • Jordan Fox

      December 19, 2013 at 9:41 am

      With respect to Kartik, he is completely correct while you are only somewhat correct. Yes Adebayor was good last night, but did you watch him once last season? He was extremely poor, showed a terrible attitude, and was poison to the team moral on and off the field. Adebayor is a proven mercenary who shows up when he wants.

      • Hickorywind

        December 19, 2013 at 9:49 am

        You can’t count on a player who only shows up maybe once every five games.

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