Sigh…You Can Only Tell HimBy: Robert Reed | August 1st, 2013
There comes a time when you have to concede that the newspapers may be telling the truth, or at least a version of it.
For months we Spurs fans have been laughing at the ludicrous stories coming out of Spain from Marca, the Spanish version of Viz, about how Gareth Bale wants to leave and join the self proclaimed best team in the world, Real Madrid. We have read the stories online about Bale leaving this season and many of us have left condescending replies, proclaiming that only an imbecile still believes that Bale isn’t planning on staying another season.
Well, time makes fools of us all.
Bale wants to go to Madrid. That is the truth of the matter now and all that has to be decided is whether Levy wants to keep an unhappy player for one more season at the most, or whether he should sell now and be done with it. We all have our own opinions on the matter, see mine here, but whatever happens we will be OK. We were a good team before Bale found his form, and we will be a good team when he leaves. Such is football. However, note that I said we will be OK, I’m not so sure about young Gareth.
Do you remember what the guy used to be like when Harry took over? When Premiership players get a little time off they usually swan off to Mexico, or Dubai, or whatever sun drenched foreign clime is the current ‘in’ place to be. Not Gareth! When he got some well earned (or not so well earned back then) time off he would head back to Cardiff; put on his jimjams, get the Scalextric out of the loft and bum around at home. While his team mates were off abroad getting suntans, tattoos and chlamydia, he’d be watching TV with his family and tucking into his mum’s home made (what do they eat in Wales, Welsh rarebit? Leeks?)…tucking into his mum’s home made leeks. He was a humble, grounded young man.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is in absolutely no way a character assassination of Gareth Bale.
I am sure that he is still a very nice guy and if he does leave I would genuinely wish him well (which is a rarity when a player wants to leave my beloved club). However, I think he is making a mistake, and the reason for it is that his recent success and Real Madrid’s well publicised charm offensive toward him have gone to his head. He has started to believe his own press.
I have been a little worried about the change in Gareth for some time, and it started with that bloody heart thing he does whenever he scores. Some may love it, but personally I don’t like any goal celebrations which look like they have had too much thought put into them (apart from Klinsmann’s dive, that was quality). I like a player to celebrate, but not to go looking for teammates to act out some highly choreographed mini play about playing golf or whatever. OK they can sometimes be of use; Robbie Fowler pretending the white line was cocaine and making as if to snort it did serve the purpose of letting us know that the player was retarded, for example.
Bale’s sudden wish to run up to the camera, stick his tongue out, do his annoying heart sign and generally milk the attention is fine in the grand scheme of things, but for me it just signalled a change in the player’s personality. An expanding ego as it were. Again, nothing wrong with that, but his slightly shy and modest nature was something which for me was one of his most endearing qualities.
More recently, we have seen something which I thought was rather telling; his reported intention to register a personal logo. A picture, as if drawn by a teenager for their art homework, of the crappy heart sign with his shirt number eleven within it. What the hell was that? It was rather embarrassing and didn’t look good at all.
I say this was telling because for me it exhibited something which I had heard on more than one occasion about the player; that he is very immature for his age.
Gareth took a very long time to settle at Spurs and find some sort of form, more than most players who move from one English club to another, and I had heard on more than one occasion that part of that was because other squad members found him to be rather immature. Although they liked the lad, it resulted in his having a little trouble fitting in.
Premiership footballers not wanting to be friends with someone because they are immature? That’s like the Elephant Man turning down a date because she’s a ‘bit of a minger’. Not a good sign!
For anyone who doubts these rumours I would ask you; how many 24 year old professional people would go to a high level business meeting with their company’s director accompanied by their agent and their…mum and dad? Granted, some players have their father as their agent or manager but that is completely different.
A couple of years ago Gareth was quoted as saying that he would like to eventually play abroad; he’d simply learn a new language and ‘grow’ as a person. I found this to be a little naive. Many British footballers, some strong characters like Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes, have gone abroad and had a very hard time of it. They went out there with the knowledge that it was going to be a difficult transition, which necessitated more than just learning a new language, and still failed. I really do fear for Gareth in that respect. If he were going to sign for a mid table Spanish team as a standard signing, with the chance to find his feet and adjust to his new surroundings in his own time, then that would I think be a worthwhile venture for him; he could always just return home with little fuss if it didn’t work out. But he is destined to be the world record signing for Real Madrid.
The Real Madrid fans are spoilt brats (sorry any Madrid fans if you’re reading this…but I don’t like you). They are like the child in the supermarket who screams and screams for something they have seen until they get it. If they then decide they don’t like it, they throw it on the floor. Remember how much they wanted Modric? They screamed for him, they got him, he didn’t play well straight away and they voted him the worst buy of the season. Madrid chew up superstars and spit them out.
Recently they unveiled new signing Asier Illaramendi (no, me neither) to their fans. They gave him a bit of a cheer and then all started chanting for Gareth Bale; how callous is that? I don’t know if Bale heard about this and was impressed, but he shouldn’t be. He should read between the lines and see the mentality of the club and the fans and stay well clear.
If Gareth can join Madrid and be an instant smash hit then he shouldn’t have any problems, but there are a few reasons why that is unlikely.
For starters, as I have already suggested, Bale is a player who takes a long time to settle at a new club and find his feet. He is lucky in that the manager and assistant manager both speak good English, but I bet the banter in the dressing room is not.
Then there are the players, the cosseted ‘Galacticos’ whose egos are very sensitive to a new name coming in and taking their adulation away from them. It is well documented that virtually every big name player who signs, including David Beckham and Ronaldo, has a long period stretching sometimes into months where the other Madrid players will not pass them the ball unless they have to. It would appear that one has to work one’s way into their little clique and until that time, you’re on your own. Yes the players make all the right noises about welcoming this or that new signing to the club, but it appears the reality is a little different.
I’ve already mentioned the fickle fans, but what could really derail Gareth’s game is the team itself.
Last season Bale was a revelation playing in the hole with basically a free role. He bloomed, and was given the freedom to express himself which had been denied him in previous seasons. He will not be so indulged at Madrid.
Ronaldo is the main man and rightly so; he is a better player than Bale and will be the focus of the team. It’s also been reported that winger Di Maria was offered as part of the deal as he would be surplus to requirements upon Bale’s arrival.
While none of this means that Bale will never get to play in his favoured and most effective position, it does suggest that he will often have to make do. That is not conducive to getting the best form from Gareth in a timely manner.
Bale had some fantastic games for Spurs on that left wing, but as time went by he started getting found out. Teams would double up on him and sometimes keep him quiet for virtually the whole game. Do you remember the job Phil Neville did on him when we played Everton the year before last? If that happens too often in his first season at Real he will start to lose the crowd, who will be expecting instant miracles from their world record superstar.
But surely this is nonsense! Madrid are spending an absolute fortune and will therefore bend over backwards to let Bale do what he does best, right? Why else would they buy him?
Do you remember all the fuss Madrid made trying to sign David Beckham, at that time considered one of the best right wingers in the world? They eventually signed him, and with Figo already established on the right they played Beckham in central midfield. Beckham was pretty good in that position, but there were countless better. I mean if they wanted the best central midfielder at the time and were looking at Manchester United there was a certain Paul Scholes plying his trade. So why did they go for Beckham? Because he was a star! He would become an insanely marketable, good looking, world famous advert for Real Madrid football club. It was all about money, prestige and publicity. A vanity project. Scholes on the other hand, while being one of the best players in the world, was a monosyllabic ginger.
Real love high profile players whether they are what the team requires or not, and Gareth Bale is one of the most marketable players there has been since Beckham. He has a squeeky clean, wholesome image and an explosive, exciting game which is an advertiser’s dream. His face, along with his shirt and the sponsor’s logo, is adorning billboards, advertising campaigns, video games, magazines and newspapers on a daily basis. Not to mention the countless YouTube videos being compiled by impressionable geeks from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur.
If what I consider to be the worst happens and Bale goes to Real, I sincerely hope things work out for him (only him, I want Real to crash and burn) but I think this is a move too soon for the player. I hate to say it but in my opinion he will not be able to handle the high pressure, expectation and sometimes toxic atmosphere in the goldfish bowl of Madrid, and that he will be returning to Blighty sooner than he thinks.
So with that in mind; buy back clause, Daniel?
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