End of hostilities bodes unwell for North London competitors

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp has snared Emmanuel Adebayor on a season long loan deal in a bid to cure his side’s goalscoring ills.

It was a move that seemed improbable two years ago. For differing reasons, the prospect of a Emmanuel Adebayor move to White Hart Lane remained remote during last summer’s transfer window. Four months ago, the idea would have sat uneasy among the travelling Tottenham fans in the Bernabeu and those awaiting at White Hart Lane for the then insignificant second leg of their Champions League quarter final against Real Madrid. On those occasions, like on many a league and league cup derby date gone before, the Togolese striker was the subject of offensive chanting from the fans he now aims to appease. That is often the fickle nature of football. All is now forgotten.

Adebayor’s parentage can often bear the brunt of vitriol from opposing fans, Tottenham’s once  included, by virtue of the well known chant. It is indicative of the speed of expansion of his parent club, Manchester City, that Adebayor finds himself as this juncture in his career. Just over two years have passed since his twenty five million pounds move from the Emirates to Eastlands, and only a matter of months have passed since he led Real Madrid’s charge on three fronts with a goalscoring ratio in keeping and sometimes outdoing what he had plundered at all four of his previous professional clubs. To suggest, as has been so in the past week, that this loan move could ‘revive’ his career is misleading in that, not since a short spell at Arsenal has Adebayor, in his five years since leaving Monaco for London, endured anything resembling a lean spell, or sharp loss of goalscoring form. Fifteen goals in twenty seven league starts for Manchester City, and a seven goal haul in nine starts in all competitions for Real Madrid ensured he left behind an indelible mark at both clubs and food for thought for Jose Mourinho.

The suggestion that Adebayor’s career needs a boost should not be tempered by his need for a regular starting place. Even if he is unwanted at home, Manchester City’s want for goals has always been delivered by the former Arsenal striker. His reputation remains intact and though Adebayor, with his temperamental nature in tow, has a penchant to get on the wrong side of managers in the past, that has been a long standing issue. Harry Redknapp is the latest man to believe the former Togo international captain can repay, with interest, any faith invested in him with his predominant currency, goals. If so, the baggage allowance, moreso for Adebayor than most, would be worth it.

The softened, even patronising tone afforded to Wenger nowadays confirmed arguably what has been on the cards for some time, finally after over a decade of duelling, a Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri Arsenal pose no threat to Manchester United.

In a week in which Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger renewed acquaintances, albeit less hotly contested than in seasons past as amply demonstrated by the scoreline, their current relationship status mirrored that of how Tottenham are now treated by Manchester City. Ferguson’s public backing of Wenger ahead of their meeting at Old Trafford was symptomatic of how cooled relations have become between the two managers who for seven years monopolised the Premier League’s title race. The softened, even patronising tone afforded to Wenger nowadays confirmed arguably what has been on the cards for some time, finally after over a decade of duelling, a Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri Arsenal pose no threat to Manchester United. Such is the sharp rate of decline being seen at the Emirates, by everybody bar their French manager himself, soon enough Ferguson may consider Wenger just another manager that could benefit from one of his famed pep talks, usually reserved for lower league managers, or friends Allardyce or Pulis, respected bosses wherever they have been, but little danger to the Scot’s own unrelenting pursuit of success.  For those many beneficiaries of Ferguson’s wisdom, it is greatly received. For the revered Frenchman, the patronisation will be ungratefully received.

For Manchester United to be in a position to do so is all too familiar. The shift in power of English football, now lobsiding in favour of Manchester given City’s emergence, does not bode well for Arsenal, or their North London rivals Tottenham. The arrival of Adebayor will be seen as a coup given the Togolese forward’s club pedigree and goalscoring knack. The very fact that a deal was brokered for the player, between these two clubs in particular, says much.

Just over a year ago, and aside from a mountainous pile of cash, only a Peter Crouch goal separated these teams in the race for Champions League qualification, but the latter was always likely to see City surpass a club working within Tottenham’s sensible wage confines sooner than later. Then they competed for the same placings and honours but now City’s inevitable rise from being among the possibles and probables to the all but certainties has relegated Tottenham to mere afterthoughts in their eyes. One, even two years ago, a deal similar to the Adebayor loan deal, included a hefty loan supplementation by Manchester City, would have been seen as unlikely when City’s apparent reluctance to sell to what was then seen as a direct competitor was considered. Interest in Shay Given from Arsenal and was given short shrift for that very reason.

Now City, with Champions League qualification guaranteed and with that an internal confidence that an only bring increased strength, are in a position to dispense of the unwanted many within their ranks, no longer hampered by the cautious distribution of their outcasts that may have been the case last year.

Harry Redknapp’s team has stagnated and at the very least, their striking trio remaining from last term have regressed. Adebayor’s arrival in North London is indicative of the calibre of player now ploughing furrows at the spearhead of Mancini’s ever evolving side, but Spurs transfer window inactivity has led to them falling even further behind their only recently acquainted cluster of rivals at the top end of the league. As both Manchester clubs threaten to over shadow their southern counterparts by embarking on trophy winning seasons that would cement beyond the reasonable uncertainty of a one off result, it is now Tottenham joining Arsenal and Arsene Wenger in receiving a patronising pat on the head.

The side once labelled the noisy neighbours, are now making a not inconsiderable ding. To call it a racket would be harsh for Roberto Mancini is now seeing his sides strings been pulled by Sunday’s conductor in chief Samir Nasri and the exceptional, superfluously talented David Silva providing much of City’s rhythm going forward. Manchester City’s evolution has continued at such a pace that even the arrival and a subsequent positive impact of a striker of Adebayor’s proven ilk can narrow the gap only marginally. The on loan striker’s likely plundering of of goals on a heightened scale to that of his teammates last season will only supplement their shortcomings. He is less of an addition and more of a replacement for the profligate few that remain. That should worry Harry Redknapp. What will worry him also, is City’s change in attitude towards their dealings. What’s a prolific, experienced, wage supplemented striker between friends?

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The Author

Barry Landy

Freelance journalist, Sports Journalism graduate and co-editor of Back Page Football. Have written for the Irish Independent, Irish Daily Star, The Irish Sun, Irish Mail on Sunday, TheScore.ie and Sky News. Founder and editor of Down In The Box and The Emerald Exiles.

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