Emmanuel Adebayor never caused a problem during his Tottenham exile, caretaker manager Tim Sherwood insisted after his match-winning display against Southampton.
Forced to train with Spurs' development squad by then-coach Andre Villas-Boas, the 29-year-old provoked ire among the club's fans by posing for a smiling picture with Benoit Assou-Ekotto that the fullback posted on Instragram immediately after Sunday's 5-0 humiliation at home to Liverpool.
But the departure of Villas-Boas has seen Adebayor return to the Tottenham fold, scoring emphatically against West Ham in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday evening before netting twice in a five-goal thriller against Southampton to ensure Sherwood tasted victory in his Premier League managerial debut.
And Sherwood insists he has not needed to find any special words of encouragement or motivation for his mercurial striker.
"We all know Adebayor, and we all know he’s a top player," the Spurs boss told reporters. "It’s down to him. I haven’t had to gee him up. I want attackers to attack, defenders to defend and midfielders to play midfield. I just want him to crack on and do what he does, and he’s not letting me down. He was never a moment’s problem with me. I’m always honest with players, and if they give me respect I’ll give it back. That’s the relationship I have with Adebayor.
"I’ve been in this job five minutes. It’s different when you’re a manager – you have to balance a lot of players, but at the moment I can’t criticize anything he’s done or anyone else in the squad. It’s a simple game. It’s about getting the ball to your top players in the right areas of the field. In the second half we managed to do that more often than not and the outcome was great for us."
Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, lamented his side's slack defending in the absence of regular starters Luke Shaw, Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte and Victor Wanyama.
"It’s very frustrating," he said. "We’re very angry about the result because we dressed up as Santa Claus and gifted them chances. We started well, got the 1-0 and were close to getting 2-0, but once we conceded the equalizer it was tough to get back into the game, especially in the second half."
Pochettino also refused to dwell on another superb display from captain Adam Lallana, adding: "I would probably change Lallana’s great game to have achieved a positive result. When you talk about individual performances it’s great for him, but it’s overshadowed by the fact we weren’t able to get the win."