Adebayor: 'I know what I want now – it can make me a bit awkward'

Near-death experience has left Adebayor with sense of perspective about struggle to find favour at City
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The Independent Football

There is nothing like a chance meeting with death to concentrate the mind.

As a madman took over the controls of his plane and sent it plunging towards the soil of the Sudan, Bryan Ferry vowed to himself that if he ever got out alive he would overcome the writer's block that had afflicted him for half a dozen years.

On 8 January, Emmanuel Adebayor and the rest of Togo's footballers at the African Nations' Cup hid behind their seats as the hitherto unknown Front for the Liberation of Cabinda grabbed their 15 minutes of fame by riddling the team bus with machinegun fire. The experience did not leave the Manchester City striker with a burning desire to write another Virginia Plain but it gave him a sense of perspective when Roberto Mancini told him he would not be involved in the opening game of the season at Tottenham.

"I had a chat with him after the Spurs game, which was good," he said of his manager, a man whom the just-departed Stephen Ireland claimed had "no relationship" with any of his footballers. "Managers can change. Today they love you and then you think you are going to be moving. You have to adapt.

"What I am going to do is keep playing and enjoy my football. I have the chance to be alive when I could have been dead after what happened at the Nations' Cup. This can maybe make me a bit awkward as I know what I want now. My priority is always going to be my family."

Adebayor has always been a bit awkward. During Euro 2008, adidas had rented out a Viennese museum and invited Adebayor along for a few well-chosen words about the tournament. He used the opportunity to announce it would be in everyone's interest if he left Arsenal to play for Milan.

When he did eventually quit the Emirates for Eastlands last year, sorrow was not the universal emotion on the training pitches of London Colney and the feeling was mutual. When Adebayor scored in City's stunning 4-2 victory against Arsenal at Eastlands, he ran almost the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of those who had travelled from London and earned himself a three-match ban for stamping on Robin van Persie.

"I started well last season but then everything was different after the Arsenal game and that suspension," he said. "It was frustrating and then, of course, I had the situation at the Nations' Cup. Now I am looking, waiting for my chance.

"To be honest, I am just focused on what is happening now. I don't want to look too far into the future. Who knows? By January maybe the manager will tell me to leave or maybe I will ask to leave. This is football and I have learned many things playing the game.

"There is no pressure for me to leave at all. Even if I went somewhere like Real Madrid, I would be in the same situation as I am in Manchester, surrounded by talented players but having to fight for my place with Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. I want to make my own history with City."

He would, however, not wish Mancini to leave. "If you keep the same manager, he gets to know the players and it just makes everything easier. What we are trying to establish here will take time. We have to look at clubs like Arsenal and Manchester United who have had the same manager for a long time, and Chelsea, who have kept the same group of players for seven or eight years."

Adebayor's first game of the campaign was in the unfamiliar surrounds of the Dan Paltinisanu Stadium in Timisoara, Romania in a Europa League qualifier. They stayed in a hotel where a room could be had for £50 because the city's premier hotel had a strip joint in the basement, which was considered unsuitable for a club owned by one of the Muslim world's foremost families, and then returned in the very small hours of Friday morning to prepare for Liverpool. It would be easy to signal tomorrow's game as an encounter between the rising and the setting suns but Adebayor knows Anfield too well.

Just as it was refreshing to hear Shane Warne extol the yeoman qualities of Graham Gooch when asked to name his most dangerous opponents, so it was when Adebayor singled out Jamie Carragher as one of the defenders he least likes facing. "He is strong, a fighter and so intelligent, a really clever defender."

He added: "They have been in the Champions' League for I don't know how many seasons and for them not to be in it now will hurt. Last season was very, very bad for them but we all know that Liverpool is a club that fights. You could see their personality and desire when they played Arsenal [last Sunday].

"But at City we have our dream. We want to achieve things like Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. It is going to be tough but we have to hope. We are an ambitious group of players and this is an ambitious club."

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