For Tottenham Hotspur and Mauricio Pochettino, Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford was a chastening experience. The north London side were comprehensively outplayed by Louis van Gaal's men as Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen drifted anonymously on the game's periphery.
However, there was one slight silver lining towards for Pochettino's young squad; the return of Emmanuel Adebayor. Some fans may not even consider this a good thing, but on the basis of his performance at Old Trafford, Harry Kane is in desperate need of a breather and with Roberto Soldado currently injured, Adebayor's opportunity to redeem himself is now.
This season has been one of professional torment and personal turmoil for the Togolese striker, but he entered the fray as a 79th-minute substitute for Nacer Chadli against United as a man determined to get his career back on track. As reported by The Guardian, Adebayor admitted that he had come through "a dark moment" in his career. In December, the former Arsenal and Manchester City striker was granted compassionate leave after a relative fell gravely ill and during a time when the player claimed his mother was practising witchcraft against him.
However, White Hart Lane has hardly been an avenue of solace for the troubled striker after a candid interview in the wake of the home defeat to Stoke City in November strained his relationship with the fans. Adebayor had said that the Tottenham players were struggling with the negative atmosphere, but his ill-fated attempt at a rallying cry was met with anger by the Spurs fans.
After tensions between player and supporters persisted, Adebayor's time at Tottenham was straddling towards an acrimonious conclusion. In January, however, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy stepped in to block the striker's proposed loan move to West Ham, the player embittered and frustrated.
It was clear that Pochettino did not regard Adebayor as an essential part of his first-team and after deeming him surplus to requirements, the striker was set to spend the remainder of the season at Upton Park. Now though, Adebayor has shifted his focus back to Tottenham's faltering bid for Champions League football and is prepared to rededicate himself.
A look to the supporters at Old Trafford on Sunday would have given you a gauge of the feelings towards Adebayor's return. The Spurs fans looked less than excited as he replaced Chadli and joined Harry Kane in attack and even booed the returning striker when the referee blew the final whistle. However, given the continually underwhelming form of £26million signing Roberto Soldado and the fact that Kane is clearly running on empty, Adebayor may be pivotal in the closing two months of the season.
The 31-year-old is armed with remarkably thick skin, so the discontent from his team's supporters is unlikely to derail Adebayor's bid for redemption. On top of that, the striker seems a more seasoned and reasoned individual, perhaps tempered by an emotional visit to his homeland.
Adebayor told the Daily Mail that he is grateful to be able to call himself a Tottenham striker and that several members of his family are not as lucky as he has been. "As I tell you before, my junior brother, my senior brother, my uncle, I think they would love to be in my position today, being a footballer, being a striker for Tottenham, trust me," he said.
Adebayor is certainly no stranger to adversity and professional set-backs. In August 2011, Roberto Mancini declared that the striker was no longer part of his plans after he had fallen behind Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli in the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium.
Cast aside by City, Adebayor sought temporary refuge in the sunny streets of Madrid, signing on loan for Real and scoring eight goals in 22 appearances for the Spanish giants. Following that, he signed for Tottenham - a controversial transfer considering his previous association with Arsenal - and put his misery behind him with 18 goals in his first season.
André Villas-Boas replaced Harry Redknapp as the Tottenham boss and ostracised him, demanding that he trained with the youth-team, but when the Portuguese coach was sacked, Adebayor reminded the Premier League what it had been missing in emphatic style under Tim Sherwood, scoring 14 goals in 24 games, finishing the season as the club's top-scorer.
Spurs' prodigal son has returned once more and although he has to contend with fan disaffection, Adebayor can yet redeem himself under Pochettino and provide fresh impetus to a Spurs attack that has been carried by Kane. the young England superstar is in desperate need of reinforcements and the returning Adebayor might be the perfect man for the job.
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