Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0: Tim Sherwood’s misplaced faith in Emmanuel Adebayor compounds his tactical naivety - FA & League Cups - Football - The Independent

Arsenal 2 Tottenham 0: Tim Sherwood’s misplaced faith in Emmanuel Adebayor compounds his tactical naivety

The Calvin Report: Former Gunners' striker, like many modern professionals, wants to be pampered like a dowager’s favourite pussy cat

Maybe now Tim Sherwood will understand he’s in a tough school. It is laudable to exude enjoyment, just about acceptable to play the court jester, but his longevity as Tottenham manager will hinge upon his ability to make the right decisions at moments of critical importance.

He failed spectacularly last night, when Arsenal dismantled a Spurs side assembled on little more than idealism and outdated principles. A policy which may placate those who regard him as Harry Redknapp’s surrogate son duly blew up in his face.

Not for him the chess-match feint and counter that defines modern tactical strategy. Sherwood naively refused to match Arsenal’s system, which lacked a traditional centre-forward, and relied upon an old school 4-4-2 designed to showcase Emmanuel Adebayor’s incipient partnership with Roberto Soldado.

The Tottenham teamsheet might as well have been sealed with Sherwood’s loving kiss. It was an article of faith, which backed up the new manager’s florid assertion that Adebayor, the serial whinger of football folklore, has materialised somehow into a doughty warrior.

Sherwood’s character reference had bordered on the fanciful, and relied upon a damning truth. The Togolese, like many modern professionals, wants to be pampered like a dowager’s favourite pussy cat. He’ll purr when he wants, which, come to think of it, wouldn’t make a bad signature song.

Adebayor’s adolescent personality, mirrored by the breathless revelations that he fell out with the ill-advised, ill-fated Andre Villas-Boas over his determination to wear a beanie hat, ensures he is indulged and complimented.

His ego isn’t so much being stroked in his latest incarnation as a potential match-winner, as being pounded to within an inch of its life. As the game got away from his team, Sherwood was obliged to reconsider the motivational power of the two  R-words which dominate his trade: respect and remuneration.

At his most engaged and with a contract to earn or extend, Adebayor hints he is worth £170,000 a week. He offered minimal value for money last night, when he lacked the wit, or the drive, to drop deeper into a supporting role. He petulantly pushed Bacary Sagna in the back, and disappeared without trace when he slipped in creating his only opportunity.

Until recently Sherwood staged pick-up matches involving promising local players in the garden of his Hertfordshire home. He believes in the concept of street footballers and argues the game is “too regimented”.

This was not the sort of contest to test such principles, however cherished. The FA Cup might have been strategically neutralised, with third-round day stretching over a weekend, but this was the real thing.

It had the fervour associated with a storied local rivalry, and was played at the sort of pace which makes imported players goggle-eyed with admiration and, it must be said, a little apprehension. Sherwood trusted in Nabil Bentaleb in central midfield, but being sufficiently streetwise to realise Academy graduates always go down well in the boardroom is a miniscule part of his role.

There is an reckless naïvety about his approach. Tottenham laboured because of their numerical disadvantage in midfield, which created the sort of tension reflected in the running battle between Jack Wilshere and Mousa Dembélé.

Happily, the gentrification of the Emirates did not affect the warmth of Adebayor’s welcome. The long-suffering season ticket-holders have clearly not forgotten the breathless sprint to celebrate in front of Arsenal’s travelling fans while playing for Manchester City. They had a vested interest in attempting to goad him into the brainless tackle on Santi Cazorla while playing for Spurs in 2012.

It was a surprise that it took Arsenal 32 minutes to take the lead, fractionally after one of those moments of bitter foresight which so enrage managers. Sherwood was leaping up and down on the touchline, aghast at the space Serge Gnabry was allowed on the edge of the area, when Theo Walcott’s decoy run split the Spurs defence.

Kyle Walker, whose World Cup prospects will surely recede if he continues to represent a triumph of supposed style over substance, was not in the same postcode as Cazorla drilled his shot into the far corner.

Another defensive calamity secured a fourth-round place 17 minutes into the second half. Danny Rose, the latest player thrown at Tottenham’s problem left-back position, was robbed by Tomas Rosicky on halfway.

He raced into an empty half and, though under eventual pressure by Walker, lifted the ball over the unprotected Hugo Lloris. Only then, as he opted to immediately withdraw Soldado, did Sherwood acknowledge the magnitude of his mistake.

As they took their leave, the Arsenal fans struck up a last, exultant chorus of “Tim Sherwood’s a Gooner”.  We will be hearing that a lot around north London in 2014.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week