LONDON – Emmanuel Adebayor insists the relationship between himself and Tottenhamâ€™s manager, Mauricio Pochettino, could not be better despite rumours to the contrary, describing the Argentinian as one of the most understanding coaches he has played under.
The striker made his first appearance in this narrow win since early November, when he was granted a spell of compassionate leave to sort out some well documented family problems in Togo. His clubâ€™s compassion was not shared by many supporters, who booed Adebayor as he replaced Roberto Soldado.
â€œWe have a very good relationship between men because I am an adult and he knows what I have been through,â€ said Adebayor, after revealing Pochettino had picked him to play a couple of weeks ago, only for the player to admit he was not fit enough. â€œHe knows what I can achieve and what I can do as a footballer so, yeah, we have a mutual respect for each other. I think, for me, thatâ€™s the most important thing.â€
Adebayor seemed unperturbed by the mixed reception that greeted his return, from fans who feel they should be getting more for the reported Â£170,000 the player trousers each week. â€œI donâ€™t know if I will win the fans over, I just want to play football and enjoy myself,â€ he said. â€œI know if you do good, they will applaud you. I know if you do bad, they will boo you. It is as simple as that. For me, I am not here to win any fans back. I am here to do my job as a professional. Those who love me, I love them. Those who hate me, I love them as well.â€
A match that began with Jermain Defoeâ€™s first Premier League touch since returning from an unhappy spell with Toronto ended in scenes of high farce. With Sunderland 2-1 down and pressing for an injury-time equaliser with all 11 players attacking, the ball was cleared to Paulinho who set off on a counterattack accompanied by Jan Vertonghen. With both players still inside their own half and therefore incapable of being offside, the Brazilian picked out his team-mate who advanced and rolled the ball into an unguarded goal for what should have been his second and Tottenhamâ€™s third. Inexplicably, the assistant referee flagged and the referee Chris Foy disallowed the goal. â€œIâ€™ve made mistakes and he made one too, so thatâ€™s fine,â€ said Vertonghen. â€œNow I can say that because we won.â€
Not for the first time this season, Spurs relied on a late goal from Christian Eriksen to take all three points, the Dane smashing home off the upright from the outskirts of the penalty area in the 88th minute after excellent work down the right from Andros Townsend. Vertonghen had put the home side ahead after just three minutes from similar distance, capitalising on a poor Santiago Vergini clearance with a shot that took a wicked deflection off John Oâ€™Shea. Against the run of play, Sebastian Larsson restored parity on the half-hour with a splendid free-kick from 25 yards.
Unlucky not to win a first half penalty, Defoe looked reasonably lively alongside Steven Fletcher before being replaced by Danny Graham after 75 ultimately fruitless minutes. You would have backed Sunderlandâ€™s latest acquisition to score at least one of the late chances spurned by his luckless replacement.
Man of the match Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) – The Guardian