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How to prepare for Gareth Bale and Aiden McGeady

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Jack Ross | 11:20 UK time, Monday, 15 November 2010

Whenever a player is producing excellent individual performances, a common question asked of any future opponent is: "How do you stop him?"

At this moment, every right full-back about to face the considerable talents of Gareth Bale (pictured) is being probed for an answer to such a predicament, but where do they, and every other player keen to get the better of their direct opponent, get the solutions?

Is it correct to assume that the responsibility for informing players of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition should rest solely with the management, or should, and do, players do their own homework, thus improving the possibilities of them producing a good performance?

In my experience, the increased employment of video analysts and consequent production of match DVDs at clubs has given managers a huge help in terms of the manner in which they are able to pass information on to players.

This development is supported by the distribution of scouting reports that will contain information on your upcoming opponent with emphasis on their playing style and set-piece routines alongside detailed analysis of each individual player's attributes.

It would therefore appear that the modern-day player has little excuse for not being properly informed of what difficulties they may encounter from an opponent during a match.

There are, of course, no guarantees that simply being aware of what a player may do will automatically mean that you can stop them doing it as different factors in a match, such as fatigue, lack of concentration, being caught out of position, etc., can all contribute to a player being exploited.

During my own career, I have had to face very different wide players, from those with great pace to those who are fantastic at taking players on and I therefore have had to use a combination of managers' instruction and my own insight into knowing how best to adapt my game to suit.

One of my most difficult opponents, and one I played against on many occasions, was Aiden McGeady - and, in his case, my gameplan was to prevent Aiden getting on the ball with time to turn and run at me as if this was allowed to happen then he was very dangerous.

Such a strategy is just one example and I should point out that it should not just be viewed in a negative sense as Aiden McGeady and others, such as Shunsuke Nakamura, loved to go infield and join in with their central midfielders. Therefore, I was fully aware of this and always keen to try to exploit this by using their absence on the wide areas to get forward and try to create opportunities.

Similarly, it is not just defenders who will study strikers with the aim of preventing them scoring or creating. Attacking players will do exactly the same and thus look to get in behind those players they believe lack pace, or apply pressure quickly to those who they feel are not very comfortable in possession.

Football is always about seeking advantages and, as I mentioned at the beginning, managers will seek tactics to ensure them for their side, but players being students of the game only makes this more likely and success a more realistic possibility.

Finally, if absorbing information is a form of preparation for players then it is natural to expect the other parts of the game to be equally as well prepared. In this respect, I am making reference to Dunfermline's game on Saturday, when an injury to an assistant referee meant a member of the crowd having to take his place.

In a match that attracted a fantastic crowd of more than 7,000 and featured two good teams aiming for a place in the Scottish Premier League, should a fourth official not be seen as essential? I understand the financial restrictions that may inhibit this extra official being employed, but is there scope for it being at the discretion of the home team or for a supervisor watching the officials to be capable of replacing a referee or assistant in such circumstances?

This is not meant as a slight on the gentleman who took the flag as I thought he did well in what turned out to a very entertaining derby match and a terrific advert for First Division football.


  • Comment number 1.

    Nice to get an inside view. I thought it was interesting when Brad Friedel said on 'Goals on Sunday' that Bale was NOT one of the players that they considered when it came to headers at set plays, but - obviously - that is going to have to change after bale's superb goal against Blackburn.

    It may be that Gareth Bale is so good that defences will be utterly impotent against him. Not sure yet, but double covering him doesn't seem to work. As they said on Motd, he can cross like Beckham - at pace. Is it that good? George Best, Diego Maradona good? Hope so.

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't think that Bale is as good, or will be as good, as some make him out to be. I'm afraid that the Premiership hype machine is always looking to create new heroes because as long as we, the public, buy into it, then everyone makes money.

    Don't forget, Bale started out as a left back. The attacking greats like Maradona, Best, Ronaldinho and Messi weren't playing as full backs when they started their careers.

    There's no doubt that he's an exceptional player with stamina, pace, energy and a wonderful left foot. But I wouldn't compare him to the greats of the game. I don't think he has the exceptional trickery of the great players. He'll never be in that class.

    I think he is a classic attacking full back/midfielder. Few teams play 3-5-2 any more but Bale is the classic wing back for that formation. I would compare him with the likes of the rampaging German greats such as Breitner and Brehme, rather than the usual big names that people come up with to foster hype, even when Bale's style is nothing like them. I think Bale will have a great career if he becomes that category of player but there's no point pretending that he will become something that he's not.

  • Comment number 3.

    2. At 12:53pm on 15 Nov 2010, Someone Less Imaginative Stole My Username wrote:

    "...The attacking greats like Maradona, Best, Ronaldinho and Messi weren't playing as full backs when they started their careers."


    You forget Roberto Carlos was a Brazilian Great and he was a left back. Give the boy some credit!

  • Comment number 4.

    Is this the same Gareth Bale who did not get a kick of the ball against either Rafael Da Silva or Phil Neville, people are quick to point out how good Bale has been but less quick to point out how easily some have defended against him.

    Yes he is a good player and a huge talent for the future but its the usual over hyped British player syndrome kicking in at times.

  • Comment number 5.

    Excellent point about a fourth official, Jack.

    I have always thought how daft it is to discard referee's when they reach a certain age (45, I think?) as they have bags of experience & knowledge to pass on to younger officials - surely someone in this position could take the position of a fourth official?

    Saw Alan Wiley on Football Focus on Saturday, he is no longer a referee having passed the age barrier. How useful would a guy like him be at the side of the pitch when a new, young ref is out on the pitch?

  • Comment number 6.

    Despite my username and love of the Lilywhites I do agree with #2 and 4 that the hype machine can blow things out of proportion.

    I'm not surprised people are getting exciting, because in a team with the likes of modric and Van Der Vaart, Bale has looked like our most potent attacking weapon this season. I heard a stat that Spurs's first 8 goals this season in all comps were either scored or set-up by him.

    I think that Onouha, Da Silva and Neville both matched him up well (though they are the only 3 this season ) and right now it is hard to tell whether he only plays well when Spurs are on their game or vice versa.

    How do you stop him - which I don't think the blog actually suggests - with any player of pace once they are facing you you can't get too tight, you must give yourself a headstart especially given that you will be turned. Centre backs have a role to play shutting off space behind their full backs and if a right midfielder stands him up then a full back can cover the space, but that won't happen for 90 minutes. Finally the way to stop him is to force him inside, something which hasn't been suggested much by the pundits I have seen. When Spurs play as they did vs Blackburn with VDV on the right, if you can force Bale inside (into the territory of a strong defensive midfielder, you can narrow the spurs attack though I think Assou-Ekoto and Hutton offer enough attacking threat to make that a risky strategy.

  • Comment number 7.

    Interesting read, one of the most exciting players to watch at the minute, though it seems he is not entirely unplayable

  • Comment number 8.

    I Should write a piece next on how to stop Lionel Messi, should make interesting reading.

  • Comment number 9.

    Not sure how #2 can say "He'll never be in that class." about Bale! He's only 21 and has already been the best player in beating the European champions. Sure he's not quite there yet (we don't know if this top form will continue), but it would be daft to say he never will when he's already shown he could!

  • Comment number 10.

    how to stop gareth bale?

    be gretar steinsson. job done.

    he's put in some great performances this season, has bale, which have all been well documented. he's also put in some poor performances, with the bolton game a prime example (kept quiet all game by steinsson, who himself is having a poor season, and then lost same right back to score a very rare goal). the poor performances seem to be brushed over by the media.

    don't quite understand what the media are gaining by putting him in a pedestal, but whilst he's a fantastic talent, I think its being done a little too early.

  • Comment number 11.

    Comment 2. Someone Less Imaginative Stole My Username

    You are absolutely right. The EPL hype machine is a very deliberate ploy used to keep people watching and maintain/increase interest. Bale is a good player, but the massive over-reaction to his recent performances is no accident.

    The BBC and Sky have huge sums of money invested in the EPL, and recent studies have shown that, in emerging markets, people like to follow personalities rather than teams. That is to say; people in India (for example) are likely to start supporting Manchester United because of an admiration for Wayne Rooney rather than any actual attachment to the club itself.

    This creates a necessity for the EPL to continue to produce these poster-boy players. Rooney is less marketable now than a year ago, so we have Gareth Bale instead.

    I'll give you a recent example of The BBC adopting this tactic:

    In promoting The World Cup they used certain players, mainly drawn from the EPL, to entice viewers. Among them were; Rooney, Drogba, Fabregas, Torres, Tevez and from La Liga; Kaka Ronaldo and Messi.

    Now, the last 3 on that list have to be there- they're the 2 most expensive players in the world and the Ballon d'Or winner. To not include them would be faintly ridiculous.

    But the other players were always EPL based. They may have been advertising The World Cup, but they were always careful to give the impression that EPL players would decide the destination of the trophy. It was subtle, but very deliberate.

    As it turned out, there were no EPL players who really stood out at the tournament. So how did they report this? "The Big Players Failed to Perform".

    In reality, many of the world's big players did perform: Infact, the majority of the stand out player came, predictably, from the Champion's League Final- Sneijder, Muller, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Van Bommel etc. or Spain's big 2 teams.

    If anything, this, along with no English teams reaching the semi-final of the Champion's League, was evidence of a poor year for the EPL.

    But they flipped it round; All the "big players" were a let-down. This allows them to subtly suggest that the fact so many EPL players were poor is, if anything, evidence that they are infact the best players in the world.

    It's subtle, but it's there. The EPL is a very valuable commodity for The BBC and SKY- they're careful with it. Ask yourself this; why don't the BBC cover Spanish or Italian football in any real depth on their website? I mean, don't you think people in The UK are interested to hear about how Barca and Real are getting on, or the result of last night's Milan derby?

    Of course they are. But the BBC doesn't have any money invested in these leagues, and they're direct competition for the EPL, so they don't give them any free advertising. They know exactly what they're doing when it comes to promotion.

    That's why we had a BBC news report from Gareth Bale's home town after Spurs beat Inter. It was as if he'd won an election or walked on the moon, what had he done? bagged a couple of assists the night before.

    I'm not saying Gareth Bale isn't a good player, he clearly is. But he's earned the ridiculous praise he's been getting. People are talking about him as one of the best players in the world, he's only scored 19 goals in his whole career.

    To put that in perspective; Messi had scored 80 goals for Barca by the time he was Gareth Bale's age. If Bale is going to catch Messi by the time he's the age Messi is now, he's going to have to score over 120 goals in the next 2 years.

    I know that seems like a harsh comparison, but if people want to start talking about them in the same breath (and Match of the Day last night was), these are the sorts of comparisons that have got to be made.

    I found those stats with a Google search. Do you think the sports editors at the BBC aren't aware of these figures?

    Of course they are, but if Gareth Bale is to be the next golden boy of English football it's not in their interest to tell you.

  • Comment number 12.

    Bale's form in both games against Inter particularily his running at Maicon was dynamic but remember Spurs did also concede 4 goals in the first game..was Bale doing his defensive duties? Plus, this was the same player who went two years and four months, 25 games and 1533 minutes of action before finally bieing part of a winning Tottenham Hotspur team. Are the predominantly English media bulding up the Welshman just like they will inevitably do with Aaron Ramsey to cover any potential 'slip-ups' against their Welsh cousins in Cardiff next March?

    By the way Jack how would you stop Gareth Bale? Surely doubling up on him with one player further back cutting out any knock-past would do the trick?

  • Comment number 13.

    How to spot Bale?

    Ask Onouha, as Bale didnt do much against us.

  • Comment number 14.

    *Obviously SPOT should have been STOP

  • Comment number 15.

    @ 11. Flying_Machine:

    Good point, but a little sketchy in details - any chance you could expand on that a wee bit? ;o)

  • Comment number 16.

    Well most teams double-marked McGeady at Celtic and that seemed to work! It should have created more space for other players but it rarely worked out that way.

    Bale: looks an outstanding player but once he becomes a bit more known to continental teams I'm sure they will work out how to stifle him. But he's on fire in the EPL just now no doubt about that.

    And a great attendance for the SFL game on Saturday Jack.

  • Comment number 17.

    Another point I would like to make is that comparing Bale playing in the PL as oppose to any player in the SPL is ridiculas, Scottish league is beyond dire and the level of quality is lower than most of European countries. Being able to shackle an average player such as McGeady is not the same as being able to stop someone playing in the PL.

  • Comment number 18.

    To Joc at #12

    I may be wrong, but was Bale not a sub in that game and came on after the 4 goals were scored?

  • Comment number 19.

    Red_Devil_85 - Sheldon Coopers Therapist

    But McGeady doesn't play in the SPL anymore, does he? He moved for £10million.

    Don't you think Spartak Moscow could compete in the EPL? They obviously could, so given that McGeady now plays for them, where does that leave your argument?

    Drogba played in France until he was in his mid twenties, does that mean he was inherently inferior to every player in the EPL when Chelsea signed him?

    There are numerous former SPL players playing in England. We had a former SPL player playing in The World Cup final a few months ago. You should ask him whether there are any good players in Scotland, or you could ask Gattuso, or Henrik Larsson. They might even let you look at the Champion's League medals.

    But what do we know? We're only Scottish.

  • Comment number 20.

    13. At 3:36pm on 15 Nov 2010, dansafcman3 wrote:

    How to spot Bale?

    Ask Onouha, as Bale didnt do much against us.

    Well he did put in the cross that led to the Spurs goal for a start.

    Bale was hyped a lot after the Inter games, with fairly good reason considering his age and who he was up against, but there's also been a backlash from a lot of people lately mentioning the Everton/Bolton/Sunderland games and saying he did nothing. As usual the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    He's a very good player with a lot of promise who needs to improve in areas of his game. He recognises that and so does most people with a bit of perspective. There are a lot of people just lining up to criticise him for "doing nothing" as if you can expect every player to perform to their top ability in every game.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm no spurs fan, but i think the praise he's getting is deserved. people are quick to highlight the games against neville and da silva! correct me if i'm wrong, but don't even the likes of messi and ronaldo have off days! give the guy a break. he was brilliant against inter and has carried on his form for his club against blackburn recently. good luck to him, and from a welsh point of view, it will be interesting to see him against Johnson of england, though i'm sure they're already making plans for him, with a 2 right back formation with lennon partnering Johnson!

  • Comment number 22.

    Re 11:

    The BBC's coverage of the World Cup is always going to focus on the Premier League's stars because these are the faces that their audience will recognise.

    Sneijder, Muller, Schweinsteiger and Van Bommel are names that are known amongst football fans, but they are not instantly recognisable to the average World Cup viewer in the UK.

    What I love about this discussion, is that by listing a couple of games where Bale has been quiet he is automatically cast out of the category of world class. This may shock you, but Messi does have quiet games sometimes, as does Cristiano Ronaldo, I suspect even Maradona did. What makes a world class player is that they can shine on the biggest of occasions, and in probably the biggest games of his young career against the reigning European champions Bale outshone everyone else on the pitch by far.

  • Comment number 23.

    Thank you for all the responses.

    Blogcritic, I agree that perhaps referees beyond the retirement age could be better utilised especially when there is an absence of fourth officials in SFL matches. There could almost be a mentoring aspect to them having such a role although given recent events in Scotland it would be understandable if officials chose to enjoy their retirement!

    JoC, stopping a player who is very direct is difficult as I can testify as I used to find Chris Burke during his time at Rangers as particularly troublesome for that reason. Trying to avoid being in a position where you are isolated with such a direct player is always beneficial. To do this obviously requires the support of the wide midfielder playing in front of you or the centre half playing inside of you.

    Red-Devil-85, this is not a blog aimed at comparing leagues in different countries but rather how players prepare for playing against talented opponents. Describing Aiden McGeady as average is not accurate in my opinion as someone who has who faced him directly on many occasions! It is too easy to knock the SPL and the players in it and to credit any individual's good performances to playing against poor players.

    For example, I remember another difficult opponent being Dado Prso of Rangers, who I watched give a very good performance for Croatia against Brazil at the 2006 World Cup-a stage upon which many top players have failed to produce what was expected of them.

  • Comment number 24.

    #18 JMcG67 - Bale played the whole of the first Inter game according to this:

    it says Spurs had 3 shots on target that night..which says more about Inter's defense?

    Compare Bales' stats to past appearances - granted most were as full-back:

  • Comment number 25.


    I take your point about the BBC using household names to promote The World Cup, but it's a chicken-and-egg situation, most people with a casual interest in football get their coverage from the BBC (and others) so they're the outlets that get to decide who becomes a household name.

    The BBC is not a commercial organisation, it does not have to aim for the lowest-common-denominator in terms of it's football coverage. Public service broadcasting; why was it not attempting to inform the viewing public about the great players they may not be so familiar with?

    As for your point about people highlighting Gareth Bale's quieter games, I'm not sure if that was directed at me, but I did not attempt to diminish him in this way.

    However, you are being selective. Gareth Bale shone against Inter, but did nothing against Manchester United.

    Now, the fact that he wasn't at his best in Manchester doesn't make him a bad player, but if you're going to argue that he's world class on the strength of a couple of performances, surely it's equally valid to argue that he's not based on similarly flimsy evidence.

    For players like Messi and Ronaldo, there are numerous, almost countless, games you could site as evidence for their top-class credentials.

    For Gareth Bale there are a handful.

    Like I said; I'm not saying Bale is a bad player, quite the contrary, but it's ludicrously premature to start putting him in the same bracket as the best players in the world, even if he did tear Inter (who currently sit in 5th place in Seria A) apart.

    Come back in a year's time, if Bale has made a a habit of terrorising the world's best players then yes, I'll take your point, but while he's only been doing it on-and-off for a few months, there's plenty reason to believe that he's merely a talented player in a rich vein of form.

    And yes, he is young, but he's not that young. When Messi was Bale's age he scored 38 goals in 51 games for Barca, 12 in The Champion's League.

    The comparisons just don't stand up to scrutiny I'm afraid. Maybe they will one day, but until then I think we'd be best advised to take Public Enemy's advice;

    "Don't believe the hype"

  • Comment number 26.

    There seems to be a belief that the best way to defend against bale is force him to come inside on to his right foot, either into the centre half or forcing him to shoot with his right which is, allegedly, much weaker.

    Ive not seen enough of bale to see if this is infact the case, but could anyone who has seen more of him tell me if the above is true or not?

  • Comment number 27.

    Another point I would like to make is that comparing Bale playing in the PL as oppose to any player in the SPL is ridiculas, Scottish league is beyond dire and the level of quality is lower than most of European countries
    Jack didn't make any such comparison.

    And loved the quality on offer in the Manchester Derby last week. High quality tedium?

  • Comment number 28.

    @red devil 85.

    you have a point about the state of scottish football but to be honest with you we all know that up here, we don't even try to kid ourselves on now , down there is a different story, build up and elevate players beyond their skills and ego's can cope with and it always ends in tears, the world cup springs to mind, rooney, terry, cole and even becham in the past has had the attention and it's all came crashing down around them.
    just let bale play his football and keep him out the headlines, he is definately a talent, leave it at that.
    one thing we do produce up here is good managers, surely you can't take that away from us.
    and jack ross
    i'm amazed you haven't mentioned the old fashioned managers way to deal with a player of bales ability. first tackle you nail him, i can't believe you haven't been told this as a defender and playing in scotland. come on jack ross it's rule one .

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree that there is a tendency to over-hype Premier League players. I also think that Bale is pretty special. The comparisons with Messi are irrelevant as this is Bale's first season in the Champions League.

    I think Bale can be sent inside, however, he is quick enough and has a few tricks to make himself some space and be on his way.

    I can't remember a player who has pushed the ball so far in front and made up the ground on the fullback and the covering centre back as effectively.

    For me, what marks Bale out is not just his ability to get to the byeline but his clinical delivery when he gets there. In recent weeks I've seen Crouch and Pavlyuchenko score tap-ins from Bale's crosses.

    What was remarkable about his impact in the first Inter game was his reserves of stamina available in the final 10 minutes.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think if full backs keep close to Bale and stifle the likes of Modric and VDV from providing through balls, Bale will be nullified. Rafael did this against us and Steinsson did for Bolton (thanks #10). You do need to maintain a tight defensive line as well otherwise you end up playing too deep which plays into Crouch's and VDV's hands.

    Having said that I like Bale - he has a great engine, good strength and a great shot - although its only really this season that he's really started to have a huge impact although playing left midfield as opposed to left back helps this side of his game. We will see what happens next season as to how he copes with teams using strategies to contain him. How he responds will be a marker as to how good he really is.

    As for starting at full back - many top midfielders start there. Beckham and Ince being a couple of instances.

  • Comment number 31.

    That is to say; people in India (for example) are likely to start supporting Manchester United because of an admiration for Wayne Rooney rather than any actual attachment to the club itself.

    partly true...I am from India and i have seen these type of comments before aswell and other comments like oversees supporters don't contribute to the club. i just want to say that there are lot of loyal supporters here in India and we do contribute to the club by buying their merchandise.
    FYI i am a Man Utd supporter.

  • Comment number 32.

    BTW Rafale had bale in his pockets just weeks back.

  • Comment number 33.

    If he keeps progressing at the rate he is doing this season and was last season, he could be one of the best players in the world one day. Not at this precise moment, he's only 21 so he needs time but he seriously has everything - incredible acceleration/change of pace, amazing upper body strength to hold off any full-back, a rocket of a left-foot shot, can cross as well as anyone in the premiership, and he can head the ball well too.

    There is a danger of Bale being overly hyped by the press, but it seems to me like he won't let that get to his head or interfere with his football. Just needs to carry on going like he is now and he has a fantastic future ahead of him.

  • Comment number 34.

    I take great enjoyment from opposition fans belittling Bale's talents - Neville had him in his pocket, Rafael kept him quiet etc etc....

    They need to remember a few things...

    no one is brilliant on every occasion and few opponents are able to shine bright at Old Trafford, especially when Park & Rafael (yes 2 defenders not just one) barely took more than 2 steps away from Bale all game long. They limited his chances but in a game that was decided by a set piece and an assist from Clattenberg, and both teams had an equal share of the chances, perhaps their team selection and tactics ( they went from 442 to 451 with 30 minutes to go) is a reflection of Bales quality

    As for Phil Neville's exploits, he was 1 of 3 marking Bale that was a saturday lunch time ko, Spurs had played 85 minutes as 10 men vs the Champions of Europe on their patch and Bale scored a simply stunning hattrick and ran and ran and ran for 90 minutes solid. Spurs returned at 3am Thursday morning and played a very unadventurous Everton who created nothing other than a superb free kick. An injury hit Spurs were jaded, triple-marked Bale was jaded.

    Sure the media over hype everything and everyone...but if you get sucked in to that then more fool you. But to judge Bale, aged 21, on those 2 games when he has shown total class and amazing physical and technical attributes against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Inter Milan and many many teams a lot worse is equally as foolish. Sure teams will try and mark him out abnd it is somthing that Spurs & Bale will have to learn from and improve. Playing 2 up front vs Blackburn (which we have not done for a while) created more space for all our midfield and we were able to make our quality count and "over hyped" Bale got his 8th goal of the season.

  • Comment number 35.

    "Don't you think Spartak Moscow could compete in the EPL? They obviously could, so given that McGeady now plays for them, where does that leave your argument?"

    Well no they couldnt really. If they survived a season it would be a good result for them.

    The Scottish league is incredibly poor. Celtic and Rangers would be in the bottom 15 come the end of an EPL season and you wouldnt get low odds on them staying up.

    If you look at the players that leave and enter the Scottish league youll find that the occasional top player comes through (like Craig Gordon for example) but thats outweighed by the huge influx of players that are not good enough for the Prem going into the Scottish league and tearing it apart. Case in point would be Anthony Stokes who was surplus to requirements at Arsenal and shown no intres from Prem clubs. Now hes one of the top men in the SPL at Celtic

  • Comment number 36.

    Hmm and by bottom 15 i mean 15th or below. That wasnt very well thought out

  • Comment number 37.

    There seems to be a belief that the best way to defend against bale is force him to come inside on to his right foot, either into the centre half or forcing him to shoot with his right which is, allegedly, much weaker.

    Ive not seen enough of bale to see if this is infact the case, but could anyone who has seen more of him tell me if the above is true or not?

    - - - - - -

    People say it to sound clever....."make him play on his weaker foot" That aint clever it is simple will of course have some success, but Bale has shown he can use his right, just ask Petr Cech. he also has some skills which enable him to get back on to his left when it looks like maybe he has been forced on to his right.

    I think that Bale is most dangerous when allowed to run at like Jack Ross' comments on McGeady, theres a need to get close and don't let them turn and run at you. For SPurs & Bale that is when team work comes in to play. Working positions where Bale has the space to in front of him when he recives the ball, or perhpas holding back his position or letting the FB go ahead of him, drawing players away.

    Spurs have not really hit top form in the league this season, mainly due to injuries. When they do, the opposition will have to worry about the likes of Van Der Vaart, Lennon, Modric, Defoe and Bale. Maybe then Bale will get some breathing space and double marking him will not be as easy as it sounds, or enough to contain Spurs.

  • Comment number 38.

    Am a man utd fan and I remember watching Giggs in his beginnings and how good he was and I think Bale is going to be as good as Giggs. I wish to see him a Red Devil one day , I think every top team in Europe wants him , great talent , he is a complete player in my opinion and the only thing he has to do is play as good as he is doing now for couple of more seasons to show consistency.

  • Comment number 39.

    What's the difference between not having a fourth official at some games, and not having instant replays at others? Why is FIFA so hell-bent against technology (goal-line is rarely useful), if not to generate controversy and thus passion?

  • Comment number 40.

    What pray tell does any of that have to do with Gareth Bale? Or more precisely, how to shut him down?

    We've had numerous examples in real world games of how to shut him down, and how not to shut him down.

    So, in the face of all that footage, you call it a bad job and talk about how to defend against Aiden McGeady, but only if you are Jack Ross.

    Why is Gareth Bale's name on this puff-piece at all? You don't discuss Bale, and you certainly don't discuss how to stop him, instead you seem intent on letting us know such show stoppers as:
    - Clubs use DVD's (actually, it seems DVDs have gone the way of the dodo, witness Rio Ferdinand carrying his homework on an ipod...
    - Clubs employ scouts
    - Clubs prepare their players for the teams they face.
    - How to best defend Aiden McGeady if you happen to be Jack Ross, which on the face of it, if you happen to be Jack Ross, you probably should have stuck with not letting McGeady turn, because at least there you weren't over your head, which appears to be the case with journalism, even the puff-pastry opinion pieces standard for the BBC...

  • Comment number 41.

    Comment 11 makes a very good point,
    La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga amongst others are all quality leagues. If it wasn't for the money I reckon the PL *whisper it* would be below them in terms of standard. It was like that in the 80s after all before Sky came about.

    Bale is doing excellently too, although he is being awfully hyped up at the moment I have to say.

  • Comment number 42.

    Please stop hyping Bale.. he is a good player..had a few good games this early in the Season and Spurs Fans are elated..but please let's the kid mature and improve.. do not compare him to the great players the caliber of Ronaldhino..Maradona...
    It put too much pressure of the youngsters and they falter early in their in point the tribulations of Rooney or the stagnation of Lennon...they are good players not great yet and Bale needs to show high quality consistent greatness over a few years to be put on that pedestal..he is not there yet

  • Comment number 43.

    Bale is a good player, but he has been nullified on several occasions this season. He is still young though, and he has the potential to become the most revolutionary left winger since Lenin!

    The domination of the big four bourgeoisie is crumbling, Comrade Redknapp must grind them between the midfield milestones of Bale, Modric and Huddlestone. And then, who knows? Maybe the Spurs movement can take on the decadent aristocrats of Europe!

  • Comment number 44.

    Bale has the potential be a great player however he needs a few things for that to happen like consitency and a relativley injurt free career. There have been so many players who could have been great that haved suffered horror injuries and end up stalling. Maybe as someone rghtfully said earlier Bale has been doing this week in week out for the rest of this season and the next one then he can be called a great player.

    On another note, whilst i admit the SPL is not what could be called a 'marketable' league due to well sky plying all their money into the EPL, how many of the topo 5-6 clubs in England have players from their first eleven in the England team? United, who I do like have what? 2? Liverpool? 2? Chelsea? 3? Man City? 2? Arsenal? 1? Spurs? 3? 4?

    These clubs are no doubt having a measure of success due to bottomless pits of cash given to them by Sky as well as having their merchandise sold pretty much all over the world. Well done on having a marketable commodity. Yet one thing will suffer. The England team. So whilst it may take ten-fifteen years in order for both our Scottish clubs and Scotland national team to have success I would much rather have that as opposed to a well-publicised commodity that might have the best players on show (just now) but which in a few years time will lead to clubs losing any sense of individualism and tradition.

  • Comment number 45.

    Comparisons with Messi et al are pointless, but Gareth Bale certainly has a unique and exciting talent. The bottom line is that Bale can run faster with the ball under control than most players can run without it. His crosses are dangerous, and he is one of few players capable of passing the ball into the net when shooting. When the opposition team are chasing the game, I can't think of many more effective players.

  • Comment number 46.

    No doubt Bale is a good player, his crossing ability and natural athleticism are great attributes, as is his ability to take on the full back 1vs1. However, echoing what many have said before me, he has been exceedingly hyped based on 2 performances, the Inter games.
    Yes, he did give Maicon a torrid time, and Maicon is an exceptional full-back, but consider where Inter now sit in Serie A. They are 6th (yes i know, early days etc) and lost the Milan derby on Sunday. The main reason behind Bale's destruction of Maicon is Benitez. Mourinho, whilst considered boring by some, played a different formation to the one that is now used by Inter, a more secure one. Yes, Inter are now appearing to score more, but they are playing with a narrower midfield which leaves Maicon exposed. Benitez should have noted Maicon weakness against Bale after the San Siro, but he still insisted on leaving him exposed again- bad management.
    It should also be pointed out that Maicon hasn't made the Brazil squad recently, whether or not that's linked to the 'new management/new start' approach, this must suggest that he is not exactly playing his best at present.

    After been quiet for ages in the Premiership (not scoring for a while, ripping full backs apart etc), he is now 'superBale' again. I can testify that his contributions have been rare as i thought he would be a regular point scorer on my fantasy football team- that backfired until this weekend.

    He will be get better, possibly great, but team after team has coped with him in the league and it is, perhaps, easier to look after him then people would suggest/are suggesting, whether that be doubling up or keeping the midfield supply quiet.

    If he can produce performances regularly then perhaps he would be worthy of the hype, but he is far from the terrifying player people are trying to portray.

    Good blog btw.

  • Comment number 47.

    was expecting just to see a picture of Rafael in post #1 and then nothing further

  • Comment number 48.

    Just watch a video of the Spuds vs. Everton and you might just catch a glimpse of Bale's head sticking out of Phil Neville's back pocket.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am a Spurs supporter and am Loving Bale's form but I'm not sure he will ever have the chance to prove that he is a world beater due to him playing for Wales. If you have a look at Fifa's player of the year, the majority of them are only in there due to their form in the world cup and I'm afraid Bale may not get that chance. Also in regards to him playing too many bad games, even Messi has a poor game every now and then and it is about consistantcy which Bale will figure out with experience, but it seems like a long time ago now that he had a no win hoodoo over his head. Don't Bale out now!!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    This is the problem with English football (and cricket): too much analysis!

    All this over analysis creates a huge unnecessary mental baggage for the player. No wonder the performance is below par on the international stage.

    Scale down the analysis and start playing the sport on the field using some spontaniety and "on your feet" thinking - as the situation demands.

  • Comment number 51.

    who is this Gareth Bale everyone is talking about? have I missed something?

  • Comment number 52.

  • Comment number 53.

    Gareth Bale shot into the limelight largely on the strength of that amazing hat-trick against Inter, after which he woke up the following day to suddenly find himself a world class player.

    I can’t remember a game, particularly such a high level high profile one, in which a full back has scored a hat-trick of any kind, let alone a hat-trick of such quality with 3 superbly struck (all left-footed) drives rifled just inside the far post (and the first two after lengthy runs) and what’s more against a keeper who is rated as among the best in the world at the moment. In the second leg he did the equivalent to Maicon, a player who many rate as the best full-back in the world.

    Maybe it’s going to be a one-off, but I can’t recall Roberto Carlos doing anything like that. It’s often said what a fantastic match George Best had against Benfica in the 5-1 away win in the 1966 European Cup in which he got a couple. I saw the whole of that game when it was reshown a few years back (probably around the time he died as a kind of tribute), and while excellent, Best’s performance in that match didn’t quite match up to Bale’s against Inter. He scored with a deft, glancing header from a free kick for the first and for the second he pounced onto a slack cross-field pass, ghosted past two defenders as if they weren’t there and drilled a low right-foot drive inside the far post. This against a team which made up the bulk of the Portugal national squad in the World Cup year and that up to then hadn’t lost at home for aeons let alone been thrashed 5-1. He was only 20 then. Even so, where was he when United went out against a lesser side than Benfica, Partizan Belgrade, in the semi-final, throwing away the chance of playing Real Madrid in what could have been one of the great finals? Nowhere apparently. He obviously didn’t play another blinder in either of the two legs.

    Back to the topic: Bale is almost certainly going to become an out-and-out winger as his formidable talents lie more in attack than defence, as some posters here have pointed out.

    I can’t see him being anything less than world class for several seasons to come though, unfortunately, being Welsh (and like Ryan Giggs), he’s unlikely ever to have the chance to display his talents on the World Cup Stage (but one lives in hope). He’s not a one-man team – he needs decent players around him, as did Pele, Maradona and Zidane. And I’m afraid there’s not exactly an over-supply of international quality Welsh players.

    If he’s got a weakness, it’s that he’s too left-footed whereas Best was pretty good with both feet I think, though perhaps slightly better with his right. That said, being predominantly left-footed isn’t too much of a disadvantage. It won’t always work to force him onto his right foot because he’s good enough to cut in and still shoot on target (or make a killer pass) with his left, either by adjusting his body position or using the outside of his left foot (something which he’ll almost certainly work on and develop).

    The only thing that I can see getting in his way is that old bugbear that’s blighted the careers of so many players: injury. That said, it’s unrealistic to expect him to put in stand-out performances in the Prem week-in week-out, whenever he feels like it on soft stamina-sapping pitches where his pace won’t stand out so much. No player who’s ever kicked a ball can do that, whether your name’s George Best or Ryan Giggs. The human body just can’t take it.

    What I would expect though is for him to turn in some more dazzling performances in a lot of big, high-level games in the future, hopefully starting in February with the knock-out rounds (always assuming Spurs make it!) of this seasons Champions League.

  • Comment number 54.

    Most of Bale's attributes have been correctly described above and elsewhere, but one omission is Bale's superb touch, close control and ability to turn on a sixpence. The superb cross he delivered for Pavluychenko's goal on Saturday came after he broke away from a cluster of three players, with his back to goal - which owed as much to his close control as his pace.

    Good though Harry Redknapp is, he made a monumental blunder in insisting that Bale played at left back for so long. As a Welsh fan, seeing him play as a wing-back, it was blindingly obvious that he was something special going forward and pretty ordinary as a defender. Redknapp's insistence that he sees Bale's future as a left back is one of the most embarrassing examples of denial I can think of. It would be nice to think that Harry would get real, and acknowledge that he messed things up. I won't be holding my breath...

    It is valid to make the point that to be judged World class a player needs to play at a high level for a long period of time. On that basis Bale needs to maintain his form to be judged in that light. But this is an irrelevant issue anyway. The reason for all the 'hype' is that Bale is a tremendously exiting player to watch right now. How often do battle-hardened commentators like Alan Green stand to applaud a team at the end of the game - as he did when Spurs beat Inter? Perhaps Bale's performance had something to do with it - or was Figo hyping Bale and the EPL when he said that Bale had "killed" Inter?

    A good point above was made about injuries. I still remember how Simon Davies scored a superb individual goal for Wales against Croatia (similar to the John Barnes effort against Brazil), following on from a superb game against Italy. Welsh fans were full of hope and expectation - and then the crippling injuries set in. Who knows what the future holds for Bale, but it would be nice (if unrealistic) if people could put partisan considerations to one side and enjoy his performances, like those of any outstanding sportsman, rather than resorting to small-minded and embittered put-downs.

  • Comment number 55.

    Lets give the kid some space, He is doing good.

  • Comment number 56.

    "Don't you think Spartak Moscow could compete in the EPL? They obviously could, so given that McGeady now plays for them, where does that leave your argument?"

    Well no they couldnt really. If they survived a season it would be a good result for them.

    The Scottish league is incredibly poor. Celtic and Rangers would be in the bottom 15 come the end of an EPL season and you wouldnt get low odds on them staying up.

    Give any nonentity - never won anything of substance - club access to premiership money and they have a decent chance of survival.




    Now what evidence do you have for saying SM would not survive?

    If you look at the players that leave and enter the Scottish league youll find that the occasional top player comes through (like Craig Gordon for example) but thats outweighed by the huge influx of players that are not good enough for the Prem going into the Scottish league and tearing it apart. Case in point would be Anthony Stokes who was surplus to requirements at Arsenal and shown no intres from Prem clubs. Now hes one of the top men in the SPL at Celtic


    What huge influx?

  • Comment number 57.

    There has been much talk about how to reduce Bale's impact. It was clear that Inter were unable to cope with him, but that could be more to do with the type of game that is played in Italy. Bolton seemed to have locked him up the other week. Nevertheless, the longer his ramapaging run go on unhindered the better. Fabulous to watch.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 40 i_r_sensitive:

    I read Jack's blog every week, have done for ages, and it is a fabulous insight into the life & thoughts of a professional footballer in Scotland. As far as I can see, the blog was intended to spark debate about how to stop a player like Bale - and it has, 56 comments in fact. Job done.

    If you are seeking definitive answers on something, I think you require an encyclopedia and not a blog.

    If you don't like Jack's blog, or the BBC, why are you even on here?

    Keep it up Jack, the rest of us love you big man!! x x

  • Comment number 59.

    Bale has been superb for the last 30 or so games in the league.But for Wales,has been excellent in nearly all the games he has played.The criteria in being a World class player is playing in Europe and International games,he has been excellent in both.When I hear about how player x has him in their pockets,it makes me smile.Having up to 3 players marking one man,and with snide little fouls,does not mean having them in their pockets.Last year Phil Neville was slaughtered by Bale,this year not.I would bet my house on him being slaughtered in the return match.Yes he might be slightly overhyped,Figo was one so called expert who was amazed by Bale's exploits in the Inter games,what would he know about being a great player?

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    For all those who doubt Bales enormous potential name me ANY team in any league who would not want him in their squad. There is no team in the world that would turn down the chance to have him in my opinion.

    I think that tells you just what Bale is now ( and the chances are that he will get better and better)

  • Comment number 62.

    Comment 11

    Sign of how you can take facts and bend them to your delusions. Get real!

    Bale is not the best player on this planet. Full Stop.

    He can easily be marked out of a game if you have players who stop him getting the ball in the first place.

    That's what United and Everton did. They stopped the supply line to Bale.

    Nothing to do with Rafael or Neville. In fact, Rafael was substitued as a direct result of playing against Bale!

    United fans are the biggest gullibles. That's how the Americans bought their club!

    Again, nonsense article about much a do about nothing really!

    And I am a Spurs fan!

  • Comment number 63.

    @61 Chelsea

    For every good cross Bale puts in there is a poor cross, Alan Huttons balls from the right are better. If he improves on his crossing then he will be the best left back in the EPL.

  • Comment number 64.

    How to stop Gareth Bale: a step by step guide

    1) Wait a few weeks. Form is temporary, class is permanent.
    2) Shepherd him wide, then tackle him when he runs out of room and has to slow down.

    It really is that simple. He's a decent winger with great pace, but Maradona he's not.

    I may have to eat my words on Sunday, but I don't see him giving Sagna any great deal of trouble.

  • Comment number 65.

    You've got to laugh at some of the attempts to do Bale down. I remember arguing more than a year ago on a Welsh footie forum that Bale should be used as an out-an-out winger not as a wing-back, as he was then playing under Toshack. The argument against then was that he lacked pace! Umm, I don't think so...

    What has stood out for me over the past few years following Wales is Bale's close control and footwork, which enables him to get away from any tight marking. This is as much as strength as his pace. If you think that doubling up on him alone will stop him I think you will be disappointed. And for those that think he is weak on his right consider his shot that beat Cech at the near-post towards the end of last season, or the way he got past the Russian defence out in Moscow - on the right - and delivered an inch-perfect right-footed cross for Ledley to tap in.

    Bale is the real deal, and there's going to be a lot of people contributing to this forum who are going to feel very foolish in the not-to-distant future... Assuming they have any humility that is...

  • Comment number 66.

    4. At 1:07pm on 15 Nov 2010, Red_Devil_85 - Sheldon Coopers Therapist wrote:
    'Is this the same Gareth Bale who did not get a kick of the ball against either Rafael Da Silva or Phil Neville, people are quick to point out how good Bale has been but less quick to point out how easily some have defended against him.'

    Dont forget Emerson Boyce. Tottenham 0 Wigan 1!!

  • Comment number 67.

    Gareth Bale is clearly an excellent talent, and I believe will be a World Class player in 2 or 3 years time, he is quick, a great crosser of the ball and can finish. Everything a good left winger needs.

    I just hope that we are not hyping him up to much which seems to be the way in football, and its not just us British like people may think. The hype has affected so many players and you may laugh at a few of these names but they were all seen as great talents when they moved into the first team at their respective clubs and never, or have never reached their potential:
    Lee Sharpe (Should have been a Man Utd & England great)
    Francis Jeffers (Made his England international with Wayne Rooney and scored)
    Keith Gillespie (Keegan said Andy Cole would not have gone to Man U if Gillespie hadn't been part of the deal)
    Freddy Adu (USA International and made his MLS debut at 14)
    Giovanni Dos Santos (Start well at Barca oblivious at Spurs)
    Ryan Babel (Similar to Dos Santos but cost 4 mill more)
    Javier Portillo (Broke Raul's youth goalscoring record at Real Madrid), Denilson (at one point the most expensive player in the world)
    David Hirst (Man Utd offered 2 mill more for Hirst than Shearer)
    Arturo Lupoli (Once at Arsenal and was seen as the future of Italian team)
    Francesco Coco (Was seen as the next Maldini, had spells at AC & Inter but was more interested in the money and fame)
    Ryan Green (Played for Wolves and was at the time (1998) the youngest player ever to play for Wales aged 17)
    Stan Collymore (Should of had 50 England caps but wasted his talent)
    Gazza (Is it the Hype that caused Gazza to be what he has become)
    Joe Cole (Seen as the next Gazza, never quite proved why)
    and in my opinion the greatest ever Georgie Best (Retired in what should have been his prime at 27, I know he returned to the game but he was never the same player)

  • Comment number 68.

    The lads in terrific form, the only thing that will stop him is injury!

  • Comment number 69.

    Gareth Bale is an excellent player, but I think plenty of people are confusing potential with quality.

    Dave Parker (#67) makes an excellent point - Lee Sharpe had potential, Ryan Giggs had quality & therefore realised his potential. Gareth Bale is too young & too early in his career to have realised it yet, but he has all the potential that Giggs, Beckham etc. had when they were at his stage, which makes him a very exciting player indeed.

    And how to stop him? Either shepherd him inside to where there are more players & less space (safety in numbers), get really tight to him & don't allow him space to run or show him outside, hope you are quicker than he is & block the inevitable cross.

    No doubt Roy Keane the player would have different ideas...

  • Comment number 70.


    Bale has scored 22 goals and not 19 goals in his career so far. (counting only first team and national team goals)

    He might not beat Messis goaltally but Bale has probably scored more goals than Zidane though (compared to when Zidane was Bales age)

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm sick of hearing people bang out about how Phil Neville had Bale "in his pocket" - the fact is that Spurs played Everton a mere 63 hours after leaving the San Siro pitch, and Bale had run himself into the ground in that game. This was the shortest time that any Premier League club has EVER been given between a midweek Champions League game and the subsequent league game. Even Europa League teams are guaranteed a longer rest than this!

    OK, so he hasn't been able to maintain his Maicon-roasting form in every game he has played this season, but is there any player in the world who could? The boy has 9 goals and 12 assists in his 22 appearances so far this season - suggesting he has rather more good days than bad.

  • Comment number 72.

    71. At 4:00pm on 16 Nov 2010, razor81 wrote:
    'I'm sick of hearing people bang out about how Phil Neville had Bale "in his pocket" - the fact is that Spurs played Everton a mere 63 hours after leaving the San Siro pitch, and Bale had run himself into the ground in that game.'

    I think you need to take chill pill razor81. Bale didn't have the best game against Everton but you dont need to make excuses for him. Neville is an experienced player who at Utd once controlled Vieira in his prime, so there is no shame in having a bad game against someone like Phil.

  • Comment number 73.

    To qualify what I said earlier about the near impossibility of putting in consistently high performances in week-in week-out in the Premiership - it’s something that defenders manage to do more often than wingers, I think. The nearest to that was Ronaldo’s form for Man Utd a couple of seasons back when he got 42 goals (in all competitions). He didn’t have many bad games that season. Bale hasn’t put in a season like that yet, which is why I wouldn’t value him at £80m (not yet).

    To say that Bale isn't world class yet, I don't go along with. If the 2 performances against European champions Inter (even taking into account Benitez' tactical ineptitude - not proven imo) weren't world class, then I'd like to know what he's got to do to be considered such - score 6 spectacular goals (including an overhead kick from the half-way line), make 3 assists with raking Beckham-style crosses and make 3 goal-saving clearances off his own goal-line? Come on.

    The question is how often he can put in world class performances like that. There's more of an incentive to play at the top of your game when you're up against some of the best in the world than when you're playing, dare I say it, West Ham. Hopefully, playing against the best will bring the best out of Bale. I don't think the 2 games against Inter were a flash in the pan. I've got a feeling we're going to see some more performances like that in future Champs League matches.

    On the subject of being consistently world-class, Ronaldo is valued at £80m without ever really showing himself as anything special for Portugal despite appearing in 2 Euros and 2 World Cups, an opportunity Bale is never likely to have (unless he takes on Portuguese nationality, which God forbid).

    And we saw in the last World Cup in the match against Spain how even Ronaldo can be totally neutralized. Ideally, this is how you would stop Bale - make sure he doesn't get a kick - except for one in the shins - or be in a much better team than the one he’s in! (e.g. Cardiff City!)

  • Comment number 74.

    What a load of rubbish....if u've seen the game againts man utd, Rafael had bale in his pocket !!!

  • Comment number 75.

    Oh to add to my list of hyped up players and wasted talent in my comment 67#:
    Keiron Dyer (Blighted by injuries but burst onto the scene very similar to Bale, Started at full back and moved forward)
    Norman Whiteside (Mercurial talent loved his beer, and still does regularly see him in the Orange Tree in Alty)
    Paul McGrath (I know he won the PFA Player of year in 92 but he should have been the greatest british centre-half ever. Like Norman loved his beer!)
    Michael Johnson (Showed glimpses at Arsenal not so much at Liverpool)
    Jonathon Woodgate (Could have been as good as Rio or Terry)
    Michael Bridges (one great year at Leeds, not even sure if he still with Carlisle)
    Jamie Redknapp (Hampered by injury)
    Lee Bowyer (At one time the most expensive teen in british football)
    Michael Owen (He should have well over 100 England Caps and be the leading all time scorer, injuries played a big part)
    SWP, Scott Parker & Damien Duff (Just blame Chelsea & Abramovich - thats a joke for all you chelsea fans out there)
    Jordi Cryuff (Thats a joke for all you Reds out there)

    Can anyone think of anyone else??

  • Comment number 76.

    Antonio Cassano (Flopped hugely at Real Madrid and I think Sampdoria wanted to sack him recently even though he is there best player)
    Ronaldo (Still a Brazilian legend but I still feel we should have been talking about him in the same breath as Pele and Maradona)

  • Comment number 77.

    Apologies for those wanting to talk about Gareth Bale, but I just wanted to prove a point, relating back to my comment 67# 75# 76#

  • Comment number 78.

    I've been watching and reading all these from across the continent; what's all the hysteria about, folks?

    It's safe to say that Gareth Bale, in his current form, has potential. Take away his pace (he's a fit young fellow) and the fact that he can send in dangerous crosses - what's left? Obviously, he still lacks some requisite skills that he needs to be working on before we start throwing out comparisons like Messi, Zidan, and others.

    But it seems you guys have already put him up on that pedestal and I'm afraid he might buy into all the hype and mushiness.

    Tone it down, folks; allow the youngman to develope the tremendous talent he seems to have first. Stop hyperventilating. You're simply setting him up for a big fall.

    I'm rooting for you, Gareth.

  • Comment number 79.

    Bale is the best left sided player I have seen since Giggs.
    Giggs has been kept quiet by many in his carreer, Many players like Greaves, the greatest goalscorer, did not play great in every game, and people that Bale in our "impossible" run in to get 4th, terrorised Chelsea to such an extent thar Terry got sent off after being made to look amateur as we beat Arsenal, Chelsea, and City at their place, he is NOT a left back now, but a left winger who causes teams to "double up" on him, he is highest scoring left winger in Europe right now, and wil -with Van der Vart terrorise many teams efore this season is out--eve Messi does not do it very game!

  • Comment number 80.

    No team has yet managed to stop Bale without doubling up on him.

    You know it to be true, Rafael and Phil Neville overraters

  • Comment number 81.

    Just got in from work and read all this. As a Spurs boy for 50 years I was fortunate enough to see Cliff Jones in his prime. He did what every good pro does and played consistently well every week for years. He also played for Wales in the World Cup finals which neither Ryan Giggs nor Gareth Bale will. Bale is a great talent who is having a great season. He is not Cliff Jones nor is he Ryan Giggs. He may be one day who knows, but let's not indulge in the British disease of over hype and then over criticism. Don't forget not so long ago he was going out on loan because he couldn't get a place on the bench ! Leave him alone let him do his job and wait and see. The current team needs to back up wins in Europe with wins against Wigan, Wolves, Bolton etc to become more than just a flash in the pan. Let's Hope !!!

  • Comment number 82.

    No player turns it on in every game, even Pele, Maradona and Cruff had off days (I remember a feature on Fantasy Football League entitled "Pele was sh*te" where they showed footage of Pele making a pigs ear of things. In my opinion, Bale is one of those players who, when everything clicks into gear, is virtually unplayable. However, he will have off days when he will look decidedly ordinary and we'll wonder what the fuss is about. At the end of the day though, I think most fans would love to have him in their team.

  • Comment number 83.

    81 In that case you'll have seen Dave MacKay in his prime too. I'm a Hearts fan, but too young to have seen him play, so only know about his legendary status from listening to older fans who were lucky enough to have seen him. Funnily enough, I've never heard of any young, promising player ever having been described as the "new" MacKay.

  • Comment number 84.


    Glad you seen an 'unadventurous' everton at white hart lane. Everton passed and probed created some opportunities. We even took the lead. Spurs were direct, plenty of long balls. Bale wasn't marked by 3 men but what you seen was Bale being held up and then footballers instinctively closing the space down.

    The BBC & media portray Spurs as a glorious team. You only need to refer back to the lazy journalism on the day of the game from BBCs own site. Spurs were cast as this grand, great footballing team against pragmatic, practical etc everton. A clash of two styles but it was to be a premiership classic was the message.

    But then when the game didn't pan out as hoped - it was an 'off day for spurs' - how dare everton spoil the headline writers bit of fun. And in terms of playing inter with 10 men. From what I seen Spurs players did very little for 90mins at the san siro. The was no great pressure being exerted on the inter team. The only player who committed himself to exerting some energy was Bale in the final 15mins.

    Bale is a good player. I don't think he'll be up there with Messi & Ronaldo but they are the best of their generation. If a silly bid is put on the table £40mill plus I would sell him because i think his real value is between £20 - £30mill.

  • Comment number 85.

    Hilarious that some people think United 'doubled-up' on Bale.

    The guy who said Park 'didn't take two steps away from him' - erm, Park played left-mid. I know he has a good engine, put running from one side of the pitch to the other depending on who had the ball is impressive.

    Nani played in front of Rafael that game, hardly the most work-man-like of midfielders. Rafael had a fantastic game, but won't get the headlines as it would mean admitting the kid can defend - why would anyone do that when it's funnier to say 'he can't tackle'?

  • Comment number 86.

    A really insightful blog...what I have found interesting is that a lot of the top players playing well at the moment Bale, Carroll, Adam Johnson etc. have come through the Championship to get where they are today.

    This blog "The Championship, the 'wonder kids' shop window!" seems to think that the top British talent is now coming from the Championship...what's your opinion Jack?

  • Comment number 87.

    One of your correspondents has suggested that Bale isn't as good as the 'hype' generated by the Premier League makes him out to be, contrasting him (for reasons best known to himself) with Maradona, Best, et al. This comparison is bizarre and fatuous at best; nobody, not even the most ardent Spurs or Wales fans, would find any reason to compare him with those types of players at this stage in his career; but if you look at just one facet of his play: any footballer with his ability to run at the pace of which he is capable, while controlling a ball seemingly without having to try, is going to score and create a lot of goals. Jack Ross is right, there are ways to limit the opportunities even of someone as quick as Bale, but even if you carry those ways out in as regimented a way as the team can, over ninety minutes opportunities will arise for a player of Bale's type. The measure of his quality will be when opposing teams who focus on limiting his ability to turn and run present him with just one, maybe two opportunities in a game and he capitalises on them and converts them into goals for his team.

    Serious Football

  • Comment number 88.

    Gareth 'one premier league assist to my name all season' Bale




    (Trademark BBC & Barclays Premier League Marketing Department 2010.)

  • Comment number 89.

    He's not Maradona, Best or Pele.

    But if Ryan Giggs is a legend then Bale is made of stronger stuff.

    Take a look at Giggsy - 595 league appearances, 109 goals. That's a goal every 5 and a half games.

    Now Bales record - 100 league appearances, 14 goals. That's a goal every 7 games. Now bear in mind that the majority of those 100 games were playing at left back. Now remember that for 20 games that Bale played in for Spurs they didn't win. The figures also don't take into account the Champions League, where Gareth has scored a hat trick - not many midfielders do.

    He has all the tricks, ask Maicon. Cryuff turns, drag backs, quick feet, lollipops, that game was like a showcase. I have never seen Giggs have a game like that, and I am a huge fan of his.

    Don't hate on Bale because the BBC love him. I love watching him play and I'm not Welsh or a Spurs fan.

  • Comment number 90.

    I thought this article was really poor and the title is very misleading. It hardly mentions how to stop Bale and I thought it could have been written in a much better manner.

    Also Aiden Mcgeady has never been as good as Bale is and is often extremely poor when he plays, no need for a praising article to a bad player

  • Comment number 91.

    What a stupid comment.

    Doubt you've watched McGeady that much at all. McGeady isn't and wasn't surrounded by the likes of Van der Vart and Modric to supply him or deflect attention. When Celtic played against Barca in the CL they double marked him and it worked: and it was relatively easier because there was no other midfield runners in that Celtic team who they had to keep an eye on at the same time.

    I've seen 'bad' players and he isn't one of them. Like all players he has his weaknesses but I doubt you would know much about them.

  • Comment number 92.

    Tricefc, whenever a top league is heavily populated with foreign players there is usually a beneficial impact felt by the lower divisions as homegrown players seek regular football. The SPL is, probably due to it's economic climate, allowing many more younger players opportunities and has seen the rewards with youngsters such as James McCarthy making huge impacts and eventually moving to the Premiership.

  • Comment number 93.

    It always amazes me how some people go on about the strength of the EPL, as if every team was a Chelsea or a ManU. Truth is half the teams are happy just to survive relegation. There are 4-5 strong teams in the EPL, just as there are that many in La Lige and possibly that many in Serie A. The others are pretty much on par with each other, and I don't see Spartak Moscow being worse than any of them. Or the Old Firm for that matter.

    Comparing McGeady negatively against Bale is also rubbish. Bale plays in a "better" league than McGeady did, but also plays against "better" fullbacks than McGeady did. The point of the blog was how do players prepare for facing them, whichever one it was.


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