Following the five-nil home shellacking by Liverpool on December 15th, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy promptly told Andre Villas-Boas to pack his bags.
The players were mentally depleted and out of ideas, no doubt the result of Villas-Boas’ penchant for deep cerebral probing.
Cue Tim Sherwood and suddenly White Hart Lane was overflowing with adventurous, uninhibited football. Spurs went on to win seven of their next 10 Premier League matches, losing only once. Cloud lifted.
From all accounts, Spurs are once again a happy group. Except maybe for one man: Roberto Soldado.
After starting, scoring and playing the full 90 against Stoke on December 22nd, Soldado was substituted in his next two matches, the 2-0 win over Manchester United and the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Since then the striker has been relegated to the roll of unused substitute in three of the last five matches.
This doesn’t bode well for Bobby Soldier. So what exactly has gone wrong?
The simple answer, he doesn’t score goals. No striker can expect to maintain his place in a side when he’s only scored five goals in 21 Premier League matches. Especially when four of those strikes were penalties. Shite return for the £26m Spurs reportedly dropped to acquire his services.
Emmanuel Adebayor is another major factor. The Togolese striker has been on fire since being called back into the team. A Sherwood special, Ade has hit eight goals in 11 contests. Impressive stuff from the guy who was a dead man walking under Villas-Boas. Barring an injury, Ade’s the top striker at Spurs.
Finally, the club’s formation hurts Soldado. Despite deploying a 4-4-2 in his first five league matches, Sherwood has since wised up and changed to a 4-2-3-1, leaving Soldado the odd man out. In the future Sherwood could return to the 4-4-2 but as the season winds down and Spurs inch closer to a Top 4 finish doing so feels like an unnecessary risk.
Anyone who watched Soldado at Valencia, Getafe and/or Real Madrid knows he’s a lethal poacher. But it’s feeling less and less likely that we’ll see him doing that in a Spain shirt come this June.