Goodbye Mr Adebayor.
Football can create many emotions. Ecstasy, despondency, anger, pride and disappointment. It can make you sing. Or scream and shout until you are blue in the face. But rarely have I laughed out loud during a match. So thank you to the now-departed Emmanuel Adebayor for eliciting that response from me when Manchester City took on Adebayor’s old club Arsenal, in the golden days of playing at the City of Manchester Stadium. As you are probably aware, Adebayor celebrated a goal against his old club by sprinting the length of the pitch, finishing off with a long slide in front of the rather furious Arsenal fans. I laughed myself silly, whilst privately thinking “he’s going to pay for that”. It was typical of Adebayor’s sense of injustice in life, and the ability of Arsenal’s departed villains to let sleeping dogs lie. It was also very funny, funnier even than a referee falling over, or Alex Ferguson jabbing his watch.
Adebayor was part of the batch of over-priced, overpaid players that came to City in the two years after the takeover, including the likes of Robinho and Kolo Toure. This was a batch of players who nevertheless paid their way, as they took the profile of the club onto another level, and were the link between the old club, the club of underachieving players and false dawns, and the current batch of proven winners. They should be thanked for gracing us with their presence, however much money played its part, but the fact is that they are no longer needed – City have moved on, and so should they. They were good players, great players even, but City had to pay a premium to get them, and the club is still paying the price now.
The problem they were always going to present though was that once they became surplus to requirements, their wages would make moving on a near-impossibility, especially with Financial Fair Play regulations hanging over every club. City were always going to get fleeced once such players moved on – that was the risk they took.
For this reason, I don’t begrudge Adebayor digging in and demanding a deal with Spurs that matches his current contract. Why shouldn’t he? He signed a contract with City, and is perfectly entitled to see it out. Clubs are happy to get rid of players when they see fit, so we cannot moan when players see out a contract. Most of us would do the same. Yes, he could have made a gesture, for the sake of progressing his career, and taken a pay cut, but I don’t hate him for not doing so. And as it turned out, he got his deal by standing his ground anyway, so his actions proved to be beneficial.
It’s a shame though that Adebayor will never fully make his mark at a football club. Adebayor was desperate to join Real Madrid on a permanent basis, even cutting his hair in an attempt to impress his pay masters, but it was never going to work. Adebayor on his day is unplayable, and a world-class striker, but those days are not constant, and he was never going to be good enough for Madrid except as a stop-gap measure. He is a player whose levels of performance seem to mirror the time of the year and the length of his remaining contract. Always on fire for a new club, or when playing for a new deal/club, but tailing off in many a season when the motivation waned. He is not a player to have with you in the trenches, though to be honest I’d prefer a soldier anyway.
So what sort of reaction would a returning Adebayor get at the Etihad stadium? Probably some polite clapping and an overwhelming sense of “meh”. Not a legend for the club, nor a disgrace. The fact is that he played well for a while, tailed off as has been mentioned, fell out with the manager, and thus his days were numbered. Once a player falls out with Roberto Mancini, there is no way back, unless you are from Argentina. Off the field he has had other demons to deal with, demons I wouldn’t wish on anyone. For all the inevitable allegations of greed against Adebayor, he reportedly financially supports a former teammate whose career was ended by the shooting attack on the Togo national team bus in January 2010. He also contributes part of his wage to help charities back in Togo and the Ivory Coast.
This shrugging of the shoulders could all change of course. If he has any brain cells in his head, he will knuckle down and concentrate on performing for Spurs. But as is often the way with out-of-favour departing players, don’t be surprised to see a tabloid headline in the coming days like MY CITY HELL: ADE LIFTS LID ON RIFT WITH PSYCHO MANCINI. HE DIDN’T SPEAK TO ME FOR NINE MONTHS…..etc etc. If he does score against City, before running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the City fans, then I am also entitled to change my opinion, become abusive before writing a vitriolic blog attacking his sense of fair play and loyalty. That’s my prerogative – I’m a football supporter.
For most City fans (and I speak for you all), the news he had finally left was met with whoops of joy, and relief. Not because he is a terrible player, but because we just needed him off the wage bill, and to free the money to strengthen elsewhere. He just HAD to go. To be honest, I don’t care about how his career now progresses, except when he is playing against City. I wish no harm on him, nor do I hope he becomes a White Hart Lane legend. Another player that was passing through, he will be a footnote in the history of many a club. Hope you do ok, Manu.