Don’t be fooled into thinking all of football’s ‘bad eggs’ are nasty and disruptive creatures. They’re not. Some are nice guys that are just complicated, and trickier to handle.
Crystal Palace new boy Emmanuel Adebayor is probably one of those.
Unemployed for six months, not so much as tickled in the ribs by an outstretched Premier League barge pole, the much-maligned Togolese striker is back from the brink of semi-retirement.
Regarded as moody, mercenary and devilishly hard to motivate (beyond his next contract talks) Adebayor arrives at Selhurst Park with a reputation for having more interest in voodoo spirits than the job in hand. Not great signs.
Yet the more I look at it, the more I think he could be THE signing of the January transfer window.
Where’s the logic?
Crucially, Adebayor’s game is perfectly in sync with how Alan Pardew wants his team to play.
Big and strong, he’s capable of holding the ball up and allowing their trio of midfield flyers to sprint up field in support. On the counter, he has the potential to make the side a far more dangerous proposition.
Quick and mobile - when he fancies it - the ex-Spurs star can also easily interchange with Messrs Bolasie, Puncheon, Sako and Zaha whenever they want to power into his domain. He’ll run the channels, as they drive inside.
For Palace supporters, that’s an exciting thought.
And most importantly of all, when crosses are flashed across goal the 31-year-old’s natural talent and finishing instincts should ensure they don’t see half as many chances go to waste. Ability-wise he’s on a different level to the other forwards they have.
As impressive as Palace have been at times this term, they have netted just 13 goals from open play in 23 league matches – and not one of those has arrived courtesy of a natural striker. Connor Wickham’s penalty at Stoke City is the only goal contribution from that department so far.
When you consider he was being paid £102,000 a week by Tottenham Hotspur to stay at home, some may say Palace need Adebayor more than he needs them. Pardew of course, will be banking on the hope that his gardening leave felt like torture.
Excited to be back in football, back in the spotlight, back doing what he does best, and back in the eye line of a coach that wants him, the prospects of an up lift in enthusiasm from the front man are actually pretty strong.
And aside from the outlay of £70-75,000 a week in wages, there’s not a lot for the Eagles to lose. They won’t go down. No one thinks they will qualify for Europe.
Between now and the end of the season, when both parties will re-evaluate the situation, both player and club have a relatively free run at it, to see if they can gel.
Adebayor has confessed he’ll need to ‘Google’ information on his new employers, and while that sounded odd from a player that’s spent 11 years of his career on English soil, I wouldn’t be too perturbed if I were a Palace fan.
Players don’t need to know the ins and outs of a club’s history. What’s more important is that they fit in with the other players, and what the manager demands.
If that’s in order, all Pardew needs to do is push the right buttons. Then the Eagles will be in business.
Crystal Palace are not in desperate times, and they didn’t need to take desperate measures.
They’ve simply chanced their arm on a player that’s gifted enough to make a significant short-term impact.
For five months, and with the carrot of a longer deal on the table, Adebayor is a horse that’s worth backing.
Read more from Adrian Clarke