When Tottenham paid £26.8 million to Valencia for Roberto Soldado, there was a feeling in the air that Spurs made a wrong decision although they were gaining a quality striker who made a name for himself in La Liga over the last 3 years. It was a huge amount of money and we all know Tottenham doesn’t have a lot of luck in the “big money signing” department, just ask Sergei Rebrov. However, it was great to see that a world class striker chose Tottenham and AVB looked really happy to see him on his squad.
It didn’t start well for Spurs and Soldado as there weren’t many chances being created and he was not getting the balls he wanted inside the box. Instead, the slow tempo and lazy passes caused him to score only once from open play under 5 months of AVB reign this season. That led to him losing his confidence and maybe some of his skill set.
When we saw Tim Sherwood play Soldado and Adebayor up front for his new 4-4-2 formation, it was a sense of relief as Soldado was going to get more space off Adebayor’s runs and passes and find his groove as a Spurs player. However, the pretty expectation swiftly turned into an ugly truth. In the league game against Southampton, Adebayor scored two goals and was the man of the match while Soldado was remembered with his waste chances in front of the goal. Still, the mood was upbeat and happy and Soldado was finding more chances with this new formation. But yet again, with every match, the hopes have been getting slimmer and slimmer and I can honestly say that this duo is not meant to work and is not going to work unless they drastically change their play style overnight.
4-4-2 formation works perfectly when the two strikers play off each other as in one striker holds up the ball while the other runs behind the defense, or when one striker puts the ball down and starts running at defenders, the other makes space for him by making intelligent runs. The perfect examples for the former would be Dzeko-Aguero or Negredo-Aguero at Manchester City and Benteke-Weimann at Aston Villa, while Sturridge-Suarez combo would be an example for the latter.
Why can’t Soldado and Adebayor work together though? These are two great strikers with proven quality but when they come together, it just doesn’t click. It’s because their play style contrasts each other’s. Adebayor is a player who is tall and has great aerial ability; however he likes to put the ball down and run past defenders more. Soldado, on the other hand, likes to run behind defenders and get the ball inside the box to score. He is definitely not a hold up player material. When Soldado gets the ball in the attacking area, Adebayor is either too close to him or too far away from him, and in both cases he just waits for the ball to come to him. When Adebayor gets the ball, this time Soldado tries to open up space by running behind the defense but gets completely ignored by the other players. So, he just stands passively and waits for the ball to come to him instead. That’s why Tottenham dominates the possession in games but can’t increase the tempo or find an opening to win the game.
It looks like this duo is not going to work for the foreseeable future, and time has already come and passed for Tim Sherwood to bench Soldado in favor of the highly suggested 4-2-3-1 formation with Lamela or Townsend included to bring pace and quality to the team which struggles to find the killer edge in the important games and minutes.
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