In defence of Emmanuel Adebayor

The Tottenham Hotspur striker received a barrage of criticism after missing a crucial penalty last night, but Adebayor, for all his faults, is not the villain he is frequently made out to be.

Lazy, indifferent, greedy and ultimately the worst striker Tottenham Hotspur have ever had, Emmanuel Adebayor gleefully smirks after chipping over a penalty to see his team crash out of the Europa League, no doubt already thinking of his warm bed and the piles of money he undoubtedly sleeps next to like a baleful dragon.

This is not a million miles away from the interpretation foisted onto last night's events, when the striker missed a penalty to cap off a season he is unlikely to recover from at Tottenham Hotspur, where the already sceptical public have had all their worst views about him confirmed.

However Adebayor, whilst no doubt at times contributing to this image of himself, has received an unfair amount of criticism in recent weeks, and the positive contributions he has made have been overlooked.

It is a seemingly accepted part of English football that languid players are never truly taken to heart, although Dimitar Berbatov has perhaps finally bucked that trend after exuding a calm brilliance for several seasons. Adebayor can be lazy on the pitch, but criticisms of his work rate, of indeed lack of it are much over-egged. Of the three forwards Spurs have used this season, Adebayor does far more for the team effort than Jermain Defoe or Clint Dempsey.

It is no coincidence that Gareth Bale and Gylfi Sigurdsson's best performances this year have come playing alongside Adebayor, whose work in Spurs build-up play is often ignored, or worse criticised as he does not spend enough time in the box, instead moving wide to link with his midfield.

He has not been able to match his returns from last season in terms of goals or assists, but this year has been broken up by suspension, a difficult time with his country at the African Cup of Nations, and injury. However in the past couple of matches, including the game in Switzerland, Adebayor has been excellent for Spurs, stepping up in the absence of Gareth Bale.

Adebayor is clearly culpable for some of the issues that have marred his season, but the amount of stick he received over his time with Togo, which seems to be a very difficult and nuanced relationship with his country that is oversimplified in the English press to paint Adebayor as the villain, is particularly unfair.

Adebayor exhibits many of the worst qualities about modern football, he can be greedy and selfish, and if he is not the number one striker at Spurs next year it might be best to move him on, but his actions are viewed through the prism of a fan base that already have their minds made up, and often this leads to an exaggerated amount of criticism.

image: © wonker

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