London: After Emmanuel Adebayor had scored his first goal since November, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas handed him a slip of paper. The striker glanced at it and promptly put it in his right sock. It might well have read: ‘Please stay’.
A Clint Dempsey strike sealed the points for Tottenham on Tuesday as they came from behind to beat Reading, but Adebayor’s powerful header made all the difference after Michael Dawson had cancelled out Pavel Pogrebnyak’s early goal.
Villas-Boas said afterwards the Togolese striker had still not made up his mind whether to play in the Africa Cup of Nations this month. The 28-year-old has concerns over security after he was part of the Togo team which came under gunfire ahead of the 2010 tournament, but he could yet join up with his national side for the tournament in South Africa, which starts on January 19.
“It’s a vulnerable situation and anything can happen,” said Villas-Boas. “I’m not going to put myself in a position where I block a player from international duty. We have left it to the player to decide.
“A striker lives off goals and I think it was important for him to score. It will give him a boost of confidence because it’s natural for strikers to improve their form when they finally get the finishing touch.”
Adebayor’s partnership with Jermain Defoe seems to improve with every game, as does this vibrant, entertaining Spurs side under Villas-Boas. The home fans chanted their manager’s name as his men moved to third in the Premier League after a festive period in which they have earned 10 points from a possible 12.
How things have changed since Villas-Boas’ first league win as Tottenham boss, another 3-1 victory against Reading in September, when the jury was still very much out about the new man in the dug-out.
Spurs did it without Gareth Bale, too. The Welshman was suspended after being given five yellow cards, so Gylfi Sigurdsson began on the left with Aaron Lennon on the right. Former Reading midfielder Sigurdsson, unlike Bale, tended to cut inside but Lennon showed poise and quality.
“I’m extremely pleased and the group are extremely pleased, too,” said Villas-Boas. “We sit within the possibility of finishing third, which is important, but we have to continue. We’re enjoying our football and playing well. We had an extremely good December, and when you get so many points in a month you feel extremely confident.”