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Jan 20, 2014

Adaptable Sherwood can't rely on Adebayor

FC's Paul Mariner and Ian Darke praise Emmanuel Adebayor's recent performances and believe Tim Sherwood's reintroduction of the striker was a turning point for the Spurs.

The Andre Villas-Boas era ran into trouble due to his stubborn resistance towards implementing a Plan B. If things started going wrong, they just stayed wrong.

After the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal, I pondered whether Tim Sherwood would fall into the same trap. He went into that game with his familiar 4-4-2 formation, playing into the hands of Arsene Wenger's side.

Yet in Sunday's 3-1 win over Swansea, Sherwood demonstrated that he can be adaptable. Roberto Soldado was dropped to the bench, with Nacer Chadli coming in to form a five-man midfield. Like Arsenal, Michael Laudrup's side tend to dominate possession and Sherwood wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.

During the game he also showed his nous when he brought on Kyle Naughton to help Kyle Walker on the right. Swansea were beginning to have some success on the left flank through the impressive Ben Davies, and pushing Walker further forward helped to nullify this threat.

- Crace: Sherwood's Spurs march on - Report: Swansea 1-3 Tottenham - Watch: Game highlights (U.S. only)

Adaptability will be crucial in the coming weeks when tougher challenges come Tottenham's way. Next up is Manchester City; Everton and Newcastle are still to come in February, while March brings Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

With the Europa League campaign also starting again soon, Sherwood will find his squad stretched and must find solutions. He has plenty of options in midfield and will also be well-stocked in defence when the likes of Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul return from injury. Yet it is in attack where Sherwood is lacking in possibilities. Emmanuel Adebayor has become the most important member of the team to the point that it now seems impossible to drop him.

If he remains fit and continues playing like he is now, then Adebayor will start -- either on his own up front, or with Roberto Soldado alongside him. That is a big if, however. Any player can pick up an injury and history tells you that Adebayor's form cannot be relied upon.

With Soldado struggling for confidence and Jermain Defoe off to Toronto before the season ends, Sherwood needs a new striker. While it's true that the likes of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela can play just behind a lone forward, there's no reason to believe that Sherwood won't continue playing 4-4-2 with a pair of out-and-out strikers -- especially at home.

The Spurs manager has been cagey when asked about possible transfer targets but I'm convinced that he's after a new forward. Yet when you look at the players that Tottenham have been linked with during this window -- such as Steven Fletcher, Shane Long, Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella -- it doesn't seem as if the club are looking to break the bank to back their manager.

With Sherwood's future very much up in the air and the fact that January is a difficult time to pull off major deals, buying an experienced yet cut-price striker makes sense. Two players that fall into this category are Goran Pandev and Dimitar Berbatov, who have both been rumoured to be on Spurs' radar over the weekend.

My preference would be to sign Berbatov -- mainly because he is an established Premier League player who wouldn't require a settling in period, but also because I have a signed picture of him in my basement that's been gathering dust since he agitated for a move to Manchester United.

As fantastic as he's been since returning to the side, relying on Adebayor is a dangerous game. Sherwood needs an extra body on board if he's going to avoid running into striker problems before the season's end.

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