In a topsy-turvy season which can see a string of good results turn a team’s campaign on its head and vice versa, Crystal Palace find themselves marred in the middle of a six game winless streak firing blanks in five of those six games. January has come at the perfect time for the London club as they desperately need reinforcements up front and desperate times call for desperate measures and they have banked it all on one of the biggest wildcards in the Premier League.
As Alan Pardew attempts to halt the slide he has turned to one of the most controversial strikers in the Premier League in Emmanuel Adebayor. Signed on a free in January, Adebayor does have the pedigree to help Palace start to climb the table again however his unpredictable attitude makes it a huge gamble for Pardew and one that could blow up in his face should the big Togo forward go AWOL as he’s been known to do.
The former Arsenal man has scored 96 goals in 230 appearances – a strike rate of a goal every 2.3 games and will add much needed fire power to a Crystal Palace team in which the forwards have just six goals in a combined 47 appearances this term. Leaving midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Wilfred Zaha as their top goal scorers with five goals apiece.
It has often been taken into account that without Yannick Bolasie in the side adding more cut and thrust out wide that Pardew has struggled to get the attacking momentum going. However it seems the lack of a natural goal scorer is starting to catch up with the Eagles and has seen them plummet into the bottom half of the table.
Adebayor will certainly provide goals but there the reality is that their new striker is also an unpredictable, and expensive, powder keg. Adebayor’s services do not come cheap and if this gamble blows up in Pardew’s face it could be tricky too offload him as Tottenham found out. The rangy front man seems to respond to the type of man management style Pardew employs – as he displayed when under the management of Tim Sherwood where the former Aston Villa manager revitalised his career for a short time. He needs to be believed in and the occasional arm around him to make him feel loved. If Pardew can do that then Adebayor will repay him with goals.
Unfortunately the ex-Spurs striker is a tale of two extremes and he can go from the sublime to the ridiculous. Drama, stories of witchcraft being cast upon him and a string of controversial moments on the field ,including a bust up with then Arsenal team mate Nicklas Bendtner as well as his infamous celebration for Manchester City when scoring against Arsenal, could turn the usually well run club into a circus.
Although Adebayor is yet to play a single minute of first team football this campaign he has been keeping himself in shape and posting videos on social media to prove it. But there is never any substitute for match fitness and with the slump Palace are in they need their newest addition to hit the ground running and do not have the luxury of waiting for him to reach full fitness and match sharpness.
Now 31-years-old the hope will be that Togolese hitman has mellowed out and is ready to be a leader on and off the pitch. Palace’s forwards are yet to find the net from open play, Adebayor may not be as hard working as the rest of the unit and will have his diva moments but his record shows he knows where the goal is.