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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Ade's departure a blessing.

I still remember when Mido was seen clutching a Tottenham Hotspur scarf above his head after completing a loan move to Spurs at the end of the January transfer window in 2005. Excited was an understatement. I'd seen this big kid partnering Drogba upfront at Marseille and had long craved to see him pulling on the Lilywhite. I pulled out my secret Daniel Levy-shaped teddy bear and gave him an extra hug that night -yes, they sell those.

Mido finished the 05/06 season with 11 goals in 27 games which rendered him our second top scorer in the that season. I remained in awe that we had a player of his ability, strength and goal-threat up front. My youth here fully ensuring I was naively hopeful. Bless. A top 10 finish was an achievement back then, not that we got a trophy for it though- unlike a top 4 finish this year,apparently. Mido chucked away his promise and his future in a Spurs shirt after returning from the ACON unfit and overweight. I'd even heard that newly acquired Tom Huddlestone had given him dieting tips.

Emmanuel Adebyor has slowly but incredibly surely reminded me a little of Mido. Without doubt, Ade had a fantastic season last year. Even the handful of optimistic Spurs fans that exist (or so I've been told) couldn't have envisaged the devastating presence he held in our side and the damage he could do to the opposition. Movement, pace, strength, creativity and positioning; the forward had it all. Ironically, possibly the one attribute that did hold him back was in fact his shooting. What I enjoyed was his eagerness and hunger to get involved - almost acting as an extra midfielder at times.

His record stood proud for itself with Ade accumulating 17 goals and 11 assists in the Premier league alone last season. Although, it wasn't just goals and assists he provided. He brought with him a new dimension of how we played the game. Our football was second to none in the top flight. The style we played suited his personal style and gave our midfield the freedom to express themselves further up the pitch. His incredible impact last year certified that expectations for this year, naturally, were to match the season forgone.

But things haven't been quite as smooth.

Defoe's almost rebirth and mould into the lone forward role has seen Ade's influence been far more modest this season. Adebayor has featured in 13 games for Spurs this year: We've won 5, lost 5, hold a win percentage of 38% and have averaged just 1.38 points per game. Compare this to without Adebayor and thing's look a lot brighter: Played 8 - won 7 - lost 1. A win percentage of 88% with an average points per game of 2.63. Who'd have guessed it eh? Ade's inclusion in the side has actually had more of a detrimental effect on the side this year. That 'swagger', for lack of a better word, has evaporated and the player himself seems to have lost that hunger that gave him - and us - so much joy and confidence. He's surfing a different wave length to the rest of the side, impeding rather than facilitating our attacks.

Maybe it's more of a blessing that Ade has had a change of heart and chosen to partake in this year's African Cup of Nations.

Statistics don't lie, but by no means do they tell the whole picture. In this instance, they do. We've looked far more fluent in possession and quicker in attack with just Defoe playing upfront by himself. Ade tends to hold up the ball, ensuring his first touch is back towards our own goal instead of that of the opposition. I don't knock the attempt, at times, to hold up the ball and bring others in to the game when we are breaking but, more often than not, you want to break at pace and get an attempt on goal.

It's clearer than day that the cracks emerging in our lack of depth up front will be that little bit broader now half of our strike force will depart for the ACON although, could this be the almost 'breakthrough' that may actually force Levy to dip into the market and see if we can emerge with a forward of greater ability than Louis Saha? Could this be the kick that we need to lay down our intentions and bring in the goalscorer we need to push us that little further? I know, I'm hearing the same broken record as well.

Hope for Damiao, expect a recall for Kane. That's how I'm thinking this January. We're likely to promote a younger forward to the bench for the trip to QPR (should Ade have already departed) and there's every chance that this occurrence will be a regular until the Togolese returns. Ade will miss, possibly, 4 games or so. If Defoe picks up a knock or suspension then Ade's return should be constantly 'around the corner'.

I mentioned at the start that Ade reminded me of Mido. Of course, Ade's achieved far more in his career and has amounted to a better player. Mido offered so much promise to Tottenham Hotspur at such a modest age yet drifted off the path to a successful career. Hopefully Ade's stint in Africa can enlighten him back onto that path he was so freely following last season.

But I won't hold my breath.

Ben - Follow me on Twitter here