London: Tim Sherwood believes Tottenham will qualify for the Champions League if Emmanuel Adebayor continues to produce the kind of lethal finishing that earned a crucial 1-0 win against Everton.
Sherwood’s side were below their best for long periods at White Hart Lane on Sunday, but still took the points thanks to Togo striker Adebayor’s seventh goal in his last 11 appearances.
The former Arsenal star struck midway through the second half, showing great technique and determination to control Kyle Walker’s free-kick with his chest, hold off Seamus Coleman and fire past Tim Howard.
Adebayor’s winner lifted Spurs above Everton into fifth place and the north Londoners are just three points behind Liverpool in the race for a top four finish in the Premier League.
If Tottenham do land a lucrative place in Europe’s elite club competition, Sherwood is convinced Adebayor, who was frozen out by former boss Andre Villas-Boas, will have a significant role to play.
“Once he got it onto his left foot I knew it would be in,” Sherwood said of Adebayor’s goal.
“I know he did well over a whole season for Arsenal in the past and I’m hoping he will do that here.
“It’s all about how he is being managed. He is a good character.
“Every striker will have a sticky patch but I’m just delighted with him at the moment.”
After a humbling 5-1 home defeat against Manchester City and a draw at Hull threatened to derail Tottenham’s top-four bid, this was a vital, if slightly fortunate, win against another contender for the Champions League berths.
Sherwood acknowledged Tottenham had been out-played by Roberto Martinez’s smooth-passing side in the first half, but he was delighted with the way his players responded to his half-time demand for a higher tempo.
“I keep finding myself saying the same thing. We started slow against Man City and were out of the game and it could easily have happened this time,” Sherwood said.
“We sat the players down at half-time and had a little chat. We had to put more pressure on Everton and, when we made them play quicker, they didn’t have a shot in the second half.
“There are going to be fine margins between now and the end of the season for that fourth place we are all chasing. There are going to be more matches won like this than smashing people 4-0.
“The fourth place will be determined by the results against teams around us. That’s why this was an important result.”
Sherwood was less enthused by the sight of Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe being carried off on the shoulders of his team-mates as he took a standing ovation from the White Hart Lane faithful, who believed this was his final home game before a move to Canadian club Toronto later this month.
In fact, Defoe, who has agreed a four-year contract with the Major League Soccer club, could bid one last farewell in a Europa League tie against Dnipro on February 27 and Sherwood said: “If he got 10 standing ovations it’s not enough, he’s a legend at this club, but it’s a bit early.
“We’ve got a few games yet, so he’s not finished… unless there’s something he hasn’t told me!”
Martinez was frustrated his side, who are now five points behind fourth placed Liverpool, had nothing to show for a strong performance, although he refused to blame referee Mark Clattenburg for failing to award a penalty after Etienne Capoue’s challenge on Coleman in stoppage-time.
“Sometimes in football it is better to be lucky than good,” he said. “If we play that game nine times we are going to win eight.
“The goal is as disappointing as you are going to get. We feel a lapse of concentration cost us.
“But if we play like this in the next few games we will get a lot of points because football can’t be that harsh on us.”