Tottenham Focus - Gareth Bale: High Plains Drifter or Young Gun?
To judge the press in recent days, Gareth Bale has turned into the High Plains Drifter, riding into the small settlement of White Hart Lane to rescue the brave townsfolk against the outlaw Geordies. Tottenham, in other words, are becoming a one man team.
Nonsense, obviously. One only has to look at the superb form of Sandro and Aaron Lennon this season, Hugo “Boss” Lloris in goal, as well as the impact of Jan Vertonghen to name just four to know Spurs are not just reliant on the lonesome Welsh gunslinger.
However, there is an underlying point to all the superlatives. André Villas-Boas referred to the fact that the best teams hang on to their best players, saying: “Barcelona losing Messi would be a disaster, Real Madrid losing Ronaldo would be a disaster, so this is exactly the same”. Villas-Boas knows the value of Bale. Look at Arsenal - having gone through a period of losing their most important players each summer the team is struggling to maintain their top four status.
Bale was formidable last year. This season he has progressed again. There appears to be more bulk and power to add to the electric pace. Bale appears to be more comfortable dealing with the demands of a freer role. When moving to the right or appearing in the centre, the Welsh flyer seems to have a purpose in mind and the wherewithal to carry it out.
Bale is undoubtedly on fire at the moment, and has the ability to turn a game in Spurs’ favour as seen against Newcastle where he seemed to pose a threat every time he had the ball. For Spurs fans, this rich vein of form has come at exactly the right time, with Spurs missing both strikers. Does this also suggest that he acknowledges and accepts the responsibility to have to raise his game when needed? Maybe.
There seems general agreement that Spurs will have to get back into the top four this season, to get Champions League football, to keep the Welshman at The Lane. Unbeaten in the League in 10 games, vying for third and not far off second would suggest this is a strong possibility. However, considering the players in the squad, where would he fit in to the political hot house of Madrid, or in a league where, due to financial disparity in clubs’ spending power, competition can seem more like a turkey shoot?
Under Villas-Boas and Daniel Levy, Spurs appear to be building for the long-term. With over half the squad being 26 or younger and the potential of the Academy with the likes of Zeki Fryers, Alex Pritchard and Kenny McEvoy, Spurs appear to be heading for exciting times. Bale would be an integral part of this with the team likely to be built around him.
For Bale, it may make more sense to stay. Less a High Plains Drifter, more of a Young Gun.
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