Tim Sherwood said he wants to address his team’s slow starts in games after Tottenham’s narrow 1-0 victory over fellow top-four contenders Everton.

The head coach said he was disappointed with the first half performance and believes Everton could have been out of sight but for the efforts of Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.

He said: “We started slow again and we’ve got to find out why. Hugo kept us in the game early on – we have to address it.

“We did the same against Man City and we were out of the game, and it could have happened again today.

“We wanted to put some pressure on higher up the pitch – that was the game plan from the beginning – but they were far too deep and if you give these players room they’ll open you up.

“It was chalk and cheese first to second half and we managed to come out on top. It’s going to be fine margins between now and the end of the season. More games are going to be ground out like that one instead of free-flowing football and smashing teams up three and four nil – it’s not going to happen.”

Sherwood addressed his frustrations with his players at half-time but said he was pleased with the way they played in the second half, and earned a win thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor’s excellent individual goal.

And he reiterated his praise for the Togolese striker who has found a rich vein of form after being isolated by previous head coach Andre Villas-Boas.

He said: “It’s all about how he’s being managed I think. He’s going to have sticky spells, all strikers do, but he’s got the right attitude and application and I’m just delighted with him at the moment.

“The contrast between first and second half was good, they clearly took it on board. I want the ball played into midfield and if someone is marked, give them the ball.

“Risk the football. I want to play with risk – I want to be responsible in responsible areas, but I want them to risk the football and get a bit of rotation in the middle, it was a bit stodgy in there.”

Tottenham survived an injury-time penalty appeal from the visitors when Capoue collided with Seamus Coleman, and Sherwood admitted his heart was in his mouth as the player went over.

He said: “Whenever someone goes to ground in the penalty are you just don’t know. We got one against us the other week, which got overturned. This one’s gone for us today, I don’t know whether we got away with it or not but we were fortunate to come away with the three points.

“Fourth place will be determined by how many points you pick up from the people around you and we made a good start to that today.”

Jermain Defoe was hoisted on to the shoulders of his team mates for a lap of honour at the final whistle in what was his final Premier League appearance at White Hart Lane, but Sherwood said the striker has more to offer in the coming fixtures before he departs for MLS side Toronto.

He said: “It was a bit early but if he got ten standing ovations it wouldn’t be enough. He’s a legend at this club and if I’m him I’m still out there now. He’s far from finished – unless he’s not telling me something.”