Defoe has often battled to win a spot in Tottenham's XI during his two stints at the club, but Adrian Houghton believes he has rewarded his manager's faith in him this season
|By ADRIAN HOUGHTON
Tottenham forward Jermaine Defoe has often been touted as erratic.
When he does retire, he will unlikely be revered as one the English Premier League's finest strikers.
The striker stands at just 167cm, but nevertheless has made a big impression to the start of the season, scoring three goals in four matches.
His brace against Reading on Sunday, either side of Gareth Bale's speculative strike, helped ease his team to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Reading - Spurs' first of the new campaign.
It also signalled manager Andre Villas-Boas' maiden competitive win at the helm and only the club's second on the road in twelve outings.
By no means was this the ultimate pressure release valve for the Portuguese manager, but it was a step in the right direction.
|AT THE DOUBLE
|HOW DEFOE RATED VS READING
|A sterling performance from the England man, who again proved his finishing capabilities. He popped up in typical style for the first goal with a neat first-time finish and should have had a brilliant second soon after, but spooned his finish after an exquisite touch. Nearly turned provider when setting-up Sigurdsson, who somehow did not score, but grabbed his second in the second-half with a superb run and finish.|
What will be most pleasing for the 34-year-old is the nature of the performance.
From the outset, his side controlled proceedings, until a last-minute consolation goal from Royals winger Hal-Robson Kanu put a minor blemish on an otherwise flawless display.
The triumph belonged to a man not always seen in favour and who has spent time as a peripheral figure at White Hart Lane.
After four-and-a-half seasons with the club, an initial loan-spell in 2007 at Portsmouth consequently became a permanent transfer for Defoe in January 2008.
His love affair with Tottenham would resume again when Harry Redknapp lured him back to London for a second stint at the club only a season later.
Defoe, 29, is widely regarded as one of England's best forward options behind Manchester United star Wayne Rooney.
For most of his career at Tottenham, he has played second fiddle to fellow strike partners - namely to Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov and more recently last season's top-scorer Emmanuel Adebayor.
However, under new management, the pecking order appears to have changed.
Last season, Defoe made 25 appearances in the league, with only 11 being starts, but still produced a decent return of 11 goals.
He has started all four league games this campaign, while Adebayor has only featured twice as a second-half substitute and had to watch the latest performance from the bench.
The diminutive Defoe's clinical finishing would be a great source of frustration for the Togolese international, but for Villas-Boas it is creating a healthy headache.
A squad that runs deep with talent is now up and running, thanks to the inspiration of a resilient character who still has a point to prove.