Alan Pardew backs Emmanuel Adebayor to be a big hit at Crystal Palace
Alan Pardew believes Emmanuel Adebayor can provide Crystal Palace with an "x-factor" until the end of the season, and revealed he felt his chance to manage the striker had slipped away.
Adebayor signed a short-term contract at Palace on Tuesday to finally join Pardew at Palace, 10 years after resisting the manager's attempts to bring him to West Ham to instead sign for Arsenal, and after he had also considered bringing him to Newcastle.
When the striker joined Manchester City from Arsenal in 2009 for £25million, having scored 62 goals for the London club, Pardew had just been appointed Southampton's manager in League One and his reputation was in decline after an unsucccessful spell at Charlton.
Following a dramatic reversal in their respective fortunes, however, Pardew - whose team host Stoke in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday - is finally working with a player he clearly admires, and he will rely on him to provide his Palace team with the attacking threat they have been missing.
"Of course (I thought my chance to work with Adebayor had passed)," Pardew said. "Once a player reaches that level, and they're bouncing around the big clubs, unless I become the manager of one of those I wasn't going to see him.
"But he's always been a player that I've always thought can disrupt games. He disrupts games, he can create a chaos factor, and you can't underestimate that in the Premier League.
"You need a player who's got x-factor, and for whatever physical shape he's in, he will create a moment that could change the game, any game, and that of course is why he's here."
Adebayor is unlikely to start against Stoke, owing to Pardew's belief he is short of match fitness having been a free agent for the past five months, and the manager is also without Connor Wickham after the FA suspended him for three games for violent conduct following a recent incident with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen.
"Connor Wickham's learned a harsh lesson this week," Pardew said. "I've disciplined him about the incident, that's not what we do here. And he's regretful of how it looked, he didn't mean to catch him quite like that, he was trying to get the guy off who was pulling his shirt.
"Nevertheless, he's learned a tough lesson. Financially it's going to cost him, and it's going to cost us: three massive games he misses.
"(Stoke) really get it down, have great technical players. Bojan's been a great player for them, (Marko) Arnautovic has been one of the finds of the season in terms of adapting to the Premier League.
"And they've always been resilient, they have the characteristics of a Crystal Palace team, defensively: very strong, not much given away, plus the flair in front makes them dangerous opponents."