Yet again we are having to face the fact that Emmanual Adebayor is not going to feature much for Spurs this season and yet we are being given no real reason.
When he finally arrived as a full time player rather than on loan at the beginning of last season is was obvious that – without any pre-season training due to being out of favour at Citeh – he was unfit but, due to a lack of options, he was forced into playing and his performances suffered.
This season – yet again – he had no pre-season, due initially to an injury but then a lengthy period of compassionate leave due to the death of his brother. At the time I commented that if any one of us supporters had a death in the family we might be allowed one or two days off to attend the funeral. Adebayor seemed to take three weeks – all the while getting paid an exhorbitant amount of money.
When he did finally return he was unfit but unlike last season we had options up front and so he was ordered to train with the youth squad. In all fairness, the youth squad´s training regime was probably totally restructured to give Adebayor every opportunity to get his fitness levels up and this apparently is what happened and he was allowed to rejoin the first team.
He even made the squad to face Sheriff two weeks ago but – strangely many of us felt – was an unused sub. But with other games on the horizon – Hull in the cup and tonight´s fixture in particular – we all felt it was only a matter of time before he would appear.
Yet last week he was nowhere to be seen.
The official line was that he had a foot injury – but no explanation as to how or where it occurred – on the training ground, in the shower, who knows? What is perhaps more startling is the report that he was not even at the ground on that Wednesday evening. My understanding is that all first team players have to attend matches even if not selected unless they are given permission not to.
The unconfirmed report even goes as far as to suggest that he was in fact at Loftus Road which is in itself weird as, although QPR were playing that night, they were away to Wigan. Had he permission to miss our match, or had he gone AWOL? Or was he actually at White Hart Lane but in hiding? Again no word from the club.
But now, when we have official news of the team for tonight´s game we hear that Rose, Fryers and Chadli are all out with ongoing injuries while Sandro is still hampered by a slight hamstring problem. They will not be available. When it comes to Adebayor, we are told that he is unavailable for selection with no reason stated. The conundrum continues.
So without Adebayor to offer something different what do we do for a team for this all important must win fixture. And it is a must win fixture for two very important reasons.
A win will secure progress to the knock out stages meaning that the remaining two games in the group are almost meaningless. And, bearing in mind our propensity for poor performances immediately after a European night, we have to look at who we are due to play after those next two games. Manure and Liverpool is the answer – far more important fixtures in the entire scheme of things.
Plus our next group game at the end of November is away to Tromso, north of the Artic Circle where it will be cold – very very cold – and a potentially frozen pitch. We do not need to send any of our highly paid and highly valuable superstars there needing a result, as injuries to life and limb seem on the cards.
No, get the job done tonight, get qualification in the bag and then concentrate on the Premiership for the rest of the year until just before Christmas when we have the little matter of a CapOneCup quarter final to worry about – but that is six weeks away.
There will be rotation, of that we can be assured. Walker, Vertonghen and Paulinho all played all three games last week so will almost certainly be excused.
Will Lloris play after his collision at the weekend – probably safe to leave him on the bench – so a totally changed defence. Kaboul and Chiriches at the heart, Naughton on one side and maybe one of the rising youngsters (Stewart for example) on the other.
And why not try something different up front, maybe even formulate a plan B and revert to 4.4.2 meaning we could start with Defoe and Kane (who was excellent when he came on in the cup last week) and then go with a midfield four of Lamela, Eriksen, Capoue and Siggy, more than enough to compete and get the victory.
So, my team for tonight would be
Stewart – Kaboul – Chiriches – Naughton
Lamela – Capoue – Eriksen – Siggourdsen
Defoe – Kane