Tim Sherwood Needs to Understand: Adebayor – Soldado Duo Doesn’t Work

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

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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  1. Hi – I agree with much of what you say. For sure it hasn't been working, but so far Sherwood has 17 points from 8 games, which is top 4 form easy so lets keep the faith. It sends out a big message to teams when we line up 4-4-2 especially at home.
    But – 1) Soldado has to work harder when he does not have the ball. That is my main criticism of him. If we are to play 2 vs 3 in the middle of the park he has to work harder. Look at the difference in pressing between us and Man City, it was embarrassing
    2) He can't seem to hit a barn door with a banjo which is a real worry.
    Summary play him when we think we can over power lesser team and play Eriksen as no 10 against harder opposition like Everton this weekend

  2. What nonsense. Soldado's getting good chances but TS is going to have to change the play-style for the partnership to work? That has to be the strangest logic I think I've ever heard! No, scrub that, it's not strange logic, it's utter stupidity is what it is! The only thing that needs to happen is for Soldado to actually take one of the decent chances he's been getting every game and get some of the confidence back that AVB did his best to strip from him. Changing the style yet again is precisely the last thing that needs to happen when a player's still trying to gel and the current style is at least getting him opportunities.

  3. And what exactly are you basing this theory on. How many games have the two played together?. Soldado missed many of the eight games that Sherwood was in charge for. I seem to recall several chances created between the two v Southampton and Stoke. They didn’t play well together v Hull but then again the whole team were below par. I would prefer to judge Soldado at the end of the season instead of jumping to conclusions after just a handful of games as a partnership

  4. Neither would get in an all-time great Spurs side and it just shows how we've had to settle for 2nd best recently. Where are Greavsie, Linker, Big Chiv and Klinsmann when you need them?

  5. I also agree that they are two very different players. Adebayor is better on his own. He holds the ball well, perhaps too well. He´s not very good in the one-two play with the others and a bit slow to notice his co-players running in position. In the Hull-game, I noticed Eriksen playing the ball to Adebayor many times and running in position, but not getting it back again. Adebayor holding it for too long, and Eriksens run is wasted.

    I would say that Soldado is much better in this one-two play, playing through the defense with a co-player, being able to play intelligent fast football.

    But i´m not saying that one is better than the other, but you must use them correctly.

    Ade should stay more in the box waiting for a high ball or a cross, and Soldado should one-two his way through the defense with Paulinho or Eriksen or another fast-thinking player.


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