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Brilliant Bale has world at his feet

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Phil McNulty | 07:32 UK time, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

When Luis Figo got wearily to his feet at the final whistle and made the short walk to congratulate Harry Redknapp, there was only one name on his lips.

The legendary Figo, now on Inter Milan's staff after a stellar career that also took in Barcelona and Real Madrid, recognises special moments and special talents when he witnesses them.

And Gareth Bale's electrifying display in Tottenham's landmark 3-1 win against Champions League holders Inter Milan will probably have fulfilled all Figo's criteria for world class.

"Bale is just amazing, amazing. He has killed us twice," Figo told Redknapp at the end of a thrilling game that will stand comparison with many of the club's famous "Glory Glory" nights and any in White Hart Lane's modern era.

Spurs boss Redknapp joked that Figo had not followed up the praise by putting in a bid to take Bale to Inter but such was the scope of the Welshman's performance that he will be on the radar of every major club in European football.

balemaicon595afp.jpgBale leaves Maicon trailing in his wake. Photo: AFP

It is rare that an individual player puts his name to a single match but when this night is recalled, replayed and recounted over the years by Spurs fans - as it will be and as it deserves to be - this will indeed be Gareth Bale's game.

Spurs had giants all over the pitch, from William Gallas and Younes Kaboul at the back to Luka Modric and Tom Huddlestone in midfield. Even keeper Carlo Cudicini made a key contribution with a crucial save from Wesley Sneijder.

But Bale was something else. He was like a white tornado that left Rafael Benitez, for all his renowned European tactical acumen, powerless and fidgety in his technical area as he made a miserable return to England following his summer departure from Liverpool.

Bale came to wider attention a fortnight ago with his hat-trick in the San Siro as Spurs lost 4-3 but this performance was arguably better. His goals in Italy came in a game that was already lost, with Inter 4-0 up and in cruise control. But Tuesday's display was from a goalless standing start and destroyed one of the most celebrated defences - and defenders - in world football.

Brazilian Maicon is coveted for his talents, a key member of Jose Mourinho's side that won the trophy last season. And yet he was given the runaround time and again on a night he will never forget, for all the wrong reasons.

From the moment Bale raced past him early on, accompanied by a deafening roar of approval and encouragement from the majority of the White Hart Lane crowd, the tone was set for a nightmare for Maicon and an outstanding performance from Spurs.

Spurs and their followers have had to choke on tales of Champions League exploits from rivals Arsenal, and the style in which they were accomplished, for years. Now they have a tale of their own. There was a feeling before kick-off that something special was in the air - and at the heart of it all was Bale.

Maicon was a broken man long before the end, with chants of "Taxi For Maicon" from the exultant home fans adding to his misery. Benitez called for reinforcements to assist his right-back in an attempt to stem the Bale-inspired tide. It was a waste of time as both his Brazil team-mate Lucio and substitute Obiora Nwankwo went the same way.

Redknapp, who could not disguise his pride and elation after one of the best nights of his long career, heaped praise on Bale, underscoring the player's modesty by revealing: "I gave him three or four days off last week. I told him to go abroad for a few days - and he did. He went to Cardiff to stay with his mum."

Redknapp added that Bale is "a low maintenance boy, easy to manage". But try telling that to the bedraggled and humbled figure of Maicon after the torture he endured at Bale's hands.

Rafael Van der Vaart set the ball rolling with an early goal and Bale saw a pearl of a cross wasted by Peter Crouch before a surging second-half run ended with an invitation the striker could not fail to accept.

The excellent Samuel Eto'o threatened to salvage an unlikely share of the spoils for Inter before Bale saved his best until last, with another burst that ended with the perfect provider, this time for Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Gone are the days when Bale struggled to even make a winning Spurs side, struggled to make the best of his left-back role. He is now - and this is not over-stating the case - one of the finest attacking left-sided players in the world.

It could almost have been described as the performance of a lifetime by Bale, except you know he has the talent to do it again. Maicon, regarded by many experts as the best in his position, was emphatically shredded.

pavgetty595.jpgRoman Pavlyuchenko made sure of victory. Photo: Getty Images

Those of us fortunate enough to get a close-up view of Bale at White Hart Lane saw a performance of pace, power, precision and end product. To produce a run of such energy in the closing moments to create Pavlyuchenko's goal confirmed that Bale has all the weapons in his armoury to do damage any time, anywhere to anyone.

Redknapp, who also deserves great credit for expertly preparing his team to play so positively in the face of the formidable challenge from the European champions, believes Bale will eventually return to the position of left-back. But the havoc he creates in a more advanced role makes him indispensable there.

If there is a downside for Spurs - and in reality there should not be after announcing themselves with such force in the Champions League - it is that Bale will now attract even more interest than he has done until this point.

If Figo was whispering praise in Redknapp's ear, one can only imagine what he might say to Inter president Massimo Moratti in the privacy of the inner sanctum. And when the superpowers of Barcelona and Real Madrid see the carnage Bale left behind him against Inter, they may just step up an interest already kindled by his hat-trick in Milan.

Indeed, if Manchester United are serious about buying the world's best to placate Wayne Rooney, they may well think Bale is the identikit replacement for countryman Ryan Giggs.

Redknapp, who seemed almost in awe of Bale's efforts despite having seen pretty much everything in the game, was strident and the player's own down-to-earth approach will serve him and Spurs well.

Bale signed a new contract recently and will go nowhere in January because, barring major accidents, he will be playing for Spurs in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Next summer may be a different matter but for now Redknapp will have him all to himself.

And what sort of fee would he command on the evidence of Tuesday's performance? Spurs will not put a price on his head but you can rest assured someone will try.

It would be doing Spurs a disservice to home in solely on Bale, no matter how big the temptation, because this was a team performance of the highest order demonstrating that any team in the Champions League is in danger of enduring an uncomfortable night at White Hart Lane.

The old stadium rocked and echoed in elation at the standard of Tottenham's efforts. Spurs fans have waited a long time for occasions like this and it is clear they intend to make the most of them.

How far can Spurs go on this adventure? They will surely reach the knockout phase and, while their defence has proved vulnerable, there is no doubt they have rare potency in the shape of Modric, Van der Vaart and, of course, Bale.

When Spurs broke the barrier and reached the Champions League with victory at Manchester City last season, Redknapp and his players were looking ahead to special nights against the great sides.

And when the draw was made, this was the fixture ringed in every calendar. Now it will be remembered for years to come.

Redknapp, on the eve of this game, promised Spurs fans "a wild ride." They got that all right - and from Gareth Bale they got one of the great personal performances.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Ohh my goodness. Such a lengthy blog to describe a routine home win against Inter side managed by Rafa who was more interested in slagging off L'pool than concentrating on Spurs game.

    But well played Spurs and Gareth Bale deserves all the praise at the mo.

  • Comment number 2.

    A great win for Spurs.

    But I think this finally puts paid to the rumours that Rafael Benitez is a great manager.

  • Comment number 3.

    As a Spurs fan, its possibly going to take surgery to remove the grin from my face this week. I bet Rafa Benitez isnt liking the taste of his milk this morning.

    I think that Spurs actually won this game during the second half in the San Siro, when Gareth Bale gave the Inter defence a small preview of what to expect. While the comeback didnt quite happen, it put down a clear marker of what the team was capable of.

    One note of caution I would like to make: England have to play Wales twice next year. If Gareth Bale can do that against Maicon, What will he do when running at Glen Johnson?

  • Comment number 4.

    Well done Spurs, a joy to watch!

  • Comment number 5.

    Bale is ridiculous and destroyed Maicon.

    Still, maicon is no carlos and we will see what happens when he plays Alves there. That man can run just like bale

  • Comment number 6.

    Is this the same Bale who was powerless against Rafael and Phil Neville in recent weeks?

  • Comment number 7.

    Can't remember an individual performance of that standard, against a team of that calibre, for a long, long time..... I also think the lad has his head screwed on and will make sensible decisions regarding his career (i.e. not running off to the first big offer from a big club and growing at Spurs). Similar to what Fabregas did in the Summer. Both Cesc and Gareth will benefit from staying put for a little while longer.

  • Comment number 8.

    He was electifying last night. His pace made nonsense of the stature of Macion. This a player and good digning for Harry. At his young age he has a long way to go if he does not face any hard tackling for the likes of De Jong and Wilshere. Superb. I would love to hear the comments of Rafa. This time a prest on a pile of coal

  • Comment number 9.

    "He is now - and this is not over-stating the case - one of the finest attacking left-sided players in the world."

    If anything Phil you're understating the case. He is, without doubt, the best left sided player in the world. his pace, directness and killer ball are unparalleled.

    A mention must be given to Aaron Lennon, who is starting to return to the form of old. He gave Chivu a horrid time last night.

  • Comment number 10.

    Luka Modric was the heartbeat of that team, as he has been the last few weeks, he was outstanding, every spurs move of value had his contribution in its early stage.....unbelievable!

  • Comment number 11.

    Brilliant article Phil. I'm quick to write on your blogs when I feel that perhaps, you are running out of material, or pandering to already well documented stories. But I agree with everything you said here. You almost ran out of superlatives too! But thoroughly enjoyed reading this one, wish I was at the game last night!

    Good job!

  • Comment number 12.

    Your failng to relise Phil that Rafa isn't half the manager Mourinho is...

    It still might be virtually the same squad what won the CL but Inter look so fragile in defence this season with Rafa in charge, something which was a rare sight under Mourinho.

    Not making excuses for Inter but Rafa just hasn't got it 100% in the head, surely he must of seen the several men marking, tracking & closing Bale down in recent games? obviously not since he left the ageing and slowing Maicon to do that job on his own...

    Rafa's tactically inept especially in the defensive zone, he proved it time and time again while he was at Liverpool with the Zonal marking system and he's doing exactly the same with Inter.

  • Comment number 13.

    Brilliant Article Phil. I believe Gareth Bale is one of the most exciting prospects in football today. It's been a while since we have seen an exiting British talent emerge such as this. I think Gareth would be the perfect replacement for Ryan Giggs at Man Utd. I hope Sir Alex recognizes the urgency in buying this player as he is surely being tracked by all the top clubs in Europe. The only thing that bothers me is that he was available at a much cheaper price, why do we always have to pay double or more after 2 years etc.

  • Comment number 14.

    As a Welsh Chelsea fan I obviously want to see Bale come to Chelsea. He keeps getting better and better. Though from a Welsh point of view, the next 10 years will hopefully be better than the last ten with him and Ramsey in the side. Can't really see him going to Chelsea though, he'll probably go to Inter, Real or Barca. Don't know how much he'll be worth considering all that he offers - pace, left foot, shooting, only 21 yrs old - can't see it being less than 40 million.

  • Comment number 15.

    We should make yesterday Tottenham Hotspur Day.

    I am glad we kept both bale and pav they have both scored 6 with rafa(el van der vaart)

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't want to diminish what was undoubtably a brilliant performance from Bale and the Spurs side, but I think that you have built up Maicon a little too much. He may be considered one of the best right backs in the world but that's on the basis of what he offers going forward rather then defensively - a typical Brazilian full-back. Everytime I have seen him I have felt that he is vulnerable if you attack him. Bale exposed this fact brilliantly, however it was not against "one of the best defenders in the world".

    And @ joeboy67:
    "If anything Phil you're understating the case. He is, without doubt, the best left sided player in the world. his pace, directness and killer ball are unparalleled."

    Nice to see you have a good grasp of perspective there.

  • Comment number 17.

    Can you see the priest now Rafa?

    seriously though, great performance from Spurs and Bale in particular, but a note of caution, let's not jump the gun. One swallow does not a summer make.

  • Comment number 18.

    You guys never give up. Bale is good but you have blown his talent way out of proportion. One might be deceived into thinking there is no one who can do what he does and yet I see La Liga clubs with such left-back week in, week out. The only managers who will be seeking his signature are those who have been fooled by the media. Serious ones will wait until the has played well for many more European games

  • Comment number 19.

    His performance was just immense. His close control,pace and energy were off the radar. Pleasure to watch.
    I can see him fitting in the Inter line up,but where would he play if he went to Real or Barca?
    While i think he'd be a great addition to United i'd love him to stay at the Lane. If Spurs can just get a bit of defensive surety and some consistency i don't see why they can't challenge for honours. Exciting days ahead for Spurs.

  • Comment number 20.

    One further good thing for Bale's career is that he's always going to get his summers off to rest and recuperate.

    Something that has undoubtedly help Giggs's longevity at the highest level

  • Comment number 21.

    When I first saw a 15 year old Gareth Bale playing for the Southampton Youth Team, one of the Saints coaching staff told me he'd end up being one of the best left sided players in the world.

    He was right!

  • Comment number 22.

    am I alone in thinking rafa has once again shown he is out of his depth in a big club...full credit to spurs, bale et al but can any one seriously imagine Mourinho losing that match, recall Inter's semi final against chelsea in London last year and you know what tactical brilliance is all about, the only thing Benitez knows is some stupid proverbs and slagging off great managers, he can do with watching his pot-belle for once!

  • Comment number 23.

    #16,you seem to miss one point. While Maicon may not be the best of defenders,what makes him such an asset is,even against the best wide attackers,he holds his own. The person attacking him has one mind on going forward another on not giving Maicon a chance to advance. Last night Bale almost seemed ignorant of Maicon's attacking ability. He just went on run after run. And made Maicon look amateur in the process.

  • Comment number 24.

    Brilliant result for Spurs and Harry, well done. Mr Redknapp should also be commended for his stance on telling the truth after games! Hopefully my own club and Mr Houllier will see that playing a winger on the wing (Ashley Young) does work if you play him in the right place!

  • Comment number 25.

    From a Liverpool fan. Well done to Spurs. Wish Bale was English. Looks like the priest took a tumble.

    What I can't understand is, if the PL is the best league in the world etc etc etc why is it that as soon as a home grown player looks anything like 'world class' there is immediate talk of him going abroad? Funny one that.

  • Comment number 26.

    RE Tony (17):

    You are correct in what you say, but who can begrudge Spurs their moment of joy.

    I for one would love to see the "Glory Glory" days of the sixties return to the lane.

    As I mentioned earlier, the match was a joy to watch, pure entertainment, and surely that's what it's all about.

    Good luck to them!

  • Comment number 27.

    As a Spurs supporter for over fifty years I have witnessed some awful lows but this young Welshman could be an inspiration to the whole squad. I beg all the powers that be don't let Man United lure him away.His electrifying presence could make all the difference to Spurs winning trophies. He is a joy to watch and a totally nice bloke to boot.

  • Comment number 28.

    Great performance by a brilliant player. Good on you guys, hope you go far in the Champions league except of course if you come up against us, then prepare to be thrashed.

    Great victory for the Premier League.

  • Comment number 29.

    Great win

    Now will the media stop trying to make sure their beloved Big 4 dominate every single season by saying that Bale is going to Man U, or Inter or Barcelona?

  • Comment number 30.

    We're not going to have to wait for hours for the mods to get their acts together are we?

  • Comment number 31.

    The point keeps getting brought up about him returning to left back.. I have no idea why this would even be on anyones mind.. surely it's in Spurs' favour that they have this guy on the left of midfield in front of a left back.. it will give them an attacking left side but also a midfielder who can help out more than other midfielders at the back due to his history of playing at left back..

    Shame to see Rafa using his time before a big game for his team to re-ignite feuds and be drawn into silly exchanges with the media rather than focus on his own team..

    Now if Harry would stop wasting considerable resources on crocked defenders he could be in the process of building some team.. the money that Woodgate and King must draw out that club on a yearly basis is crazy for what they have given back.. I also don't understand taking the Croatian keeper on loan who will also be picking up good money and then effectively having him as a number 3..

  • Comment number 32.

    (red devil in disguise)

    to be fair maicon not in the same league as phil neville!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 33.

    An appauling blog lavished with wild statments as usual. Wow is all that springs to mind.

    The facts are that Spurs beat Inter 3-1 and the team put in a good performance and Bale played very well.

    Inter are a team in decline. They are aging team and whilst they have my pick for World player of the Year, Schneider, and Eto'o. The rest seem to be exposed now teh Mourinho regime has left town. The midfield was pretty pedestrian. Muntari, hardly a leading light when he played Premier league football, Pandev not a great player and the young French boy is still learning his game. Not really a holding midfielder insight and no one to help double up on Bale.

    I'm not going to pick through the match, but it has to be discussed that if Inter had a proper game plan to deal with Bale, then Spurs would have struggled to beat them. If Cambiasso was fit then he would have nulified the impressive Modric. Everton managed to muster one after then San Siro, when Phil Neville had him in his pocket.

    All this does not change anything, they won and Bale is being lauded as the hottest property in World football. But in all honesty, only Man Utd will go in for him. And that will be based on "reputation" rather than substance. Because for all this hype, Bale is yet to produce this form on a regular basis. Lets see how he does against a tough tackling Bolton team this Saturday afternoon...

  • Comment number 34.

    A British player has now had two great performances and 6 months of good performances, of course he must now be labelled one of the best in the World....... Please everybody calm down. Bale is obviously a good player and in great form, but lets not get carried away, I heard some fans on the radio earlier saying he was better than Messi!!!!!!

    Also those people who are using this win as an excuse to have a go at Rafa Benitez, why? He is new in the job at Inter and has not spent a single penny. He is promoting youth Coutinho, Biabany etc and has revitalised Eto. He is obviously looking at the long term picture and credit to him for doing this in the high pressure environment of Serie A.

  • Comment number 35.

    Phil, every time someone in English football has a good game you heap praise on them beyond belief and drop terms like 'world class' like it's a hot potato. Bale is on a great bit of form just now, no doubt about it and he gave Maicon a tearing last night. But Maicon isn't one of the best defenders in the world. Fact.

    I'm not being anti Bale either, he's a great talent and if he keeps performing like this, Spurs will have a fairly big decision to make in the summer when a bigger club come knocking.

    But you done the same thing with Berbatov earlier this season, scored a hat-trick against Liverpool and he had suddenly paid back his 30m transfer fee. He's been as quiet as a church mouse since then, hardly the contribution of a world class player.

  • Comment number 36.

    Bale did well last night I'm not going to say otherwise but Inter defended him awfully again and he took full advantage.

    His two best performances this year have come against the same team who decided it was a good idea to show him the outside and let him take it, allowing him full advantage of his pace and excellent strike on his left foot, abysmal defending.

    He hasn't produced a performance close to that this year in the league as he is predictable and pretty easy to defend, he has been shut out the game by some pretty average right backs, force him inside on his right foot and into the cental midfielders, his pace is worthless running across the pitch and his right foot isn't strong.

    Based on two games I think it's farcical to brand him the next great white hope as all he posseses pace and a left foot.

    I he wants to be a great player he will have to be pushed inside or out and affect the game, at the moment he doesn't have that in him.

  • Comment number 37.

    It was a superb performance by Spurs and in particular Bale. If you look at all the players missing from the Spurs line up it can only bode well for the season, as those players return.

    Spurs were written off by most commentators after the draw because their group is by a long way harder than any other. All thee teams are significantly better than any team in Arsenal's group and Utd and Chelsea's groups are also much easier. Having watched the home and away fixture against Inter and having played eighty minutes with only ten men we beat them on aggregate 6-5, in fact in the final three quarters of the games we scored 6 goals to 1.

    I'm not getting too carried away because I'm pretty sure we won't win The CL, so our priority must be the same as last year, a top four spot. I've also read a lot about Utd coming in for Bale, my question is why would he go there? Utd are broke so I doubt they could afford him, so a move to Spain would be a much better choice than to a team that are on such an obvious decline. In the coming years City and Chelsea, because of their wealth are going to be the teams to beat, with four or five other teams fighting for the other two CL spots.

  • Comment number 38.

    Fantastic result, many bores are saying that Bale didn't do much in the recent league games. Who cares? Let the selective memory fickleness of football fans/media shine through here. Also, I don't care if Spurs aren't in the competition next year. Makes it more exciting if you're in it every other year or so, otherwise you'd get too used to it and the atmosphere at White Hart Lane on Champions League nights would be about as electric as at The Highbury Emirates.

  • Comment number 39.

    Yet another British player being hyped up. Calm down, calm down!

    Secondly, the Beeb should've waited a good few months before devoting a article about Rafa so-called rejuvenation at Inter the other day. It really baffled me as to the timing of it, considering Inter haven't been that impressive. I've watched them against Samp and Roma. In both games, they were very suspect defensively. Samp found it very easy to have a go at Inter on the counter. Last season it was much harder for the opposition team to get at their centre backs as the midfield made it hard for them but this season, its not that hard to have a go at Inter's defence. Their attacking game wasn't that expansive either, especially against Samp where their only good player was Coutinho. Rafa's Inter may seem a bit more daring than Jose's Inter but at times, that daring nature comes across as very naive at times and also at the expense of competent defending as a team

    The Five Live team seems to have an obsession with Biabiany for some reason since the first leg but the guy did absolutely nothing against Sampdoria, i genuinely didn't realise he was on the pitch until 20 minutes into the game. Why get so carried away with a player that they have seen very little of

    Maicon has been superb for the past two or three seasons but this season from the off, he has been poor, so its not just against Spurs. Maybe Maicon's head has been turned by Real's interest in the summer or his game has been blunted by Rafa but whatever it is, he has been in poor form this season. Well done Bale for getting the better of a off-form Maicon in such a superb manner but calm down. Also if you've watched Inter in past seasons, Zanetti drops in and around that right back area whenever Maicon goes forward (or even when he doesn't) and is very effective at it but this season, that defensive steel he provides in that area has been poor.

    At Pool, whenever Rafa's first choice team is hampered by injuries, he didn't seem to know how to get the best out of a makeshift team and last night seemed the same too. Not what i call a ideal manager for getting the best out of a squad

    Modric, like Scholesy in the past, is getting unfairly overshadowed by the praise on VDV and Bale. Modric has been just as important in his own subtle away.

  • Comment number 40.

    Bale was great pace to burn but more important something on the end of it. There are three other players who play wide who have the pace of Bale, Leenon, Walcott and Young at Villa but none of them can time and time again pick out a man or finish with a good shot. He can only get better with the confidence such displays will give him. Rafael Benitez's tactical acumen? maybe he should have a word with Moyes and Ferguson who's teams have dealt with Bale very well in the last two Spurs games. I doubt Bale will be given the space to run into by other teams but he will influence games in a big way. This can only be good for Spurs and may well give the other quality Spurs midfield players a better stage to show there undoubted talents. Spurs would have probably been happy to reach the knockout stages and there not there yet but on this performance no team will want to go to White Heart Lane. Redknapp again got the tactics spot on letting Inter worry about his team and telling everybody in the pre match interview how they were going to play. A quick tempo press the ball get in there faces and give them nothing, time and time again we watch English clubs do this to Europes best. Quick attacking skillfull football there is no better sight on a football pitch imo and last night Spurs produced it and were well worth there victory.

  • Comment number 41.

    Exciting stuff from Tottenham. As long as they are challenging at the highest level they won't have a problem holding on to players like Bale.

  • Comment number 42.

    Great display by Bale last night, I can't see him staying at spurs after the end of the season. If Man City don't come in for him, I would not be at all surprised if Arsenal get their chequebook out, and the lure of playing for a top 4 club will be too much for Bale to turn down.

  • Comment number 43.

    People have to remember that whilst Bale had a fantastic game last night, the reason he was able to skin Maicon the way he did was largely down to Inter being on the back foot from 18 minutes in. Most teams, Manchester United being the latest, double mark Bale to stifle his threat. It worked on Saturday as at no point did United need to chase the game. Inter could ill afford to put two men on Bale whilst they needed a goal. In some ways Maicon, for all his skill, was Bale's perfect opponent. A forward thinking right back whose prime concern was the other end of the pitch. It will be interesting to see Bale's input when spurs are chasing a game. Having said this, double marking him can only leave free space for another spurs player of growing talent to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and there's plenty more of them right now down at White Hart Lane.

  • Comment number 44.

    Lets not forget, Bale was very easily managed the other night by the Manchester United defence. While i admit his 2 performances against Inter Milan were sensational, he is not the finished product at all, and the lack of a right foot is definitely an area he needs to work on.

    However, he has time on his side, and is certainly a promising and exicting prospect - the only downside for me is why couldn't he be English!!!

    Also, i struggle to see Tottenham keeping hold of him - as Phil rightly says, European clubs attention have been turned towards WHL now, and i can see the likes of United, Barca and Real Madrid and obviously City (who always make a £50m bid for anyone who has had 2 decent games in a row) coming in for him either during the January window or in the summer.

  • Comment number 45.

    OMG Phil I can't believe you ONLY every write about Man Utd and Liverpool. I'm so tired of seeing your Man Utd and Liverpool blogs on this websi...

    ...oh wait.

    Seriously though, someone should tell Rafa: sometimes you can't see a priest on a mountain of sugar. Lesson learned.

  • Comment number 46.

    I can't help but notice that Rafa Benitez is slowly shredding this Inter side in the same way he shredded Liverpool. All confidence will be sapped, all energy spent, and the chairman will be left with nothing but tattered injury-prone near-cadavers come summer 2012. Unless he gets shot of Rafa.

  • Comment number 47.

    I feel blessed to have witnessed that performance in the flesh and if more words were available to add to the praise, surely they'd be filling this page.

    Whilst Bale was indeed a hero, mention must go to Aaron Lennon and Modric both of whom stretched Inter to the point of forgetting about Bale, only to switch flank passes and open Bale into a 1-1 situation.

    It would no doubt take a bid of over £50m to tempt Spurs and even that wouldnt be enough.

    This team is going places and shall be a force in coming seasons, finally the potential is being realised...and rightly so.

    The board and management have put a lot into the team and squad and, whilst dented by wantaway players like Dimitar 'on strike' Berbatov and Carrick, they have finally created a group to grow together in a sound financial basis so the club moves forward together.

  • Comment number 48.

    "Brilliant Bale has the world at his feet"??

    Wasn't this the guy that was in Phil Neville's back pocket just over a week ago?

  • Comment number 49.

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

  • Comment number 50.

    To #16 while I agree that Maicon is better going forward he was still voted the best defender in the Champions League last year by the coaches in the tournament. You don't receive that praise just because you're good at getting forward.

    As for Bale, a fantastic display that showed when he's at the top of his game he's difficult to stop. Obviously I hope we can keep hold of him for a long time to come because he's the sort of player that you need to be sucessful, someone who can make things happen. His final ball last night was pretty much perfect on every occasion as well.

    And for Spurs as a team it was a tremendous performance. Yes people can say Inter weren't at the top of their game but was that down to the way Tottenham played or the way Benitez set the team up? Maybe a bit of both but credit where credit's due, this was a Spurs side that tore the current European Champions apart. That doesn't happen just because you had a good night, that comes from having players all over the pitch playing to the best of their ability. And that comes from having a manager and a backroom team who prepare them to play that well.

    A terrific night for everyone involved.

  • Comment number 51.

    Man Utd already think Bale is theirs next summer.

  • Comment number 52.

    Once again the best left sided player of a generation from these isles is a Welshman. It's tough for England but on the plus side, at least he doesn't play for Man Utd as well.

  • Comment number 53.

    Absolute world class performance…totally destroyed Micon, who is supposedly one of the best right backs in the world albeit an attacking one. Then he proceeded to destroyed Chivu and Lucio, it didn’t really matter what Rafa through at him. It is up there with Ronaldinho performance against Madrid in 2005.

  • Comment number 54.

    Benitez has shown his complete lack of class this week. Press conference was all about Liverpool and Hodgson, you could see him referring to a bit of paper on the table for all his facts and figures. If he had class he would have just left it alone and tried to prove everyone wrong by what he achieved with Inter. He showed just how poor he is tactically, Moyes and Fergie did a job on Bale in recent weeks. He then had the gall in the interviews afterwards to blame the defeat on his side's own mistakes rather than give any credit to Spurs - the interviewer had to really push him to say Spurs played well.

    Moving on to Bale, he does look like he is going to be top top class, his final ball is what the likes of Lennon, Wright Phillips and Walcott are all missing. I think we should be inspecting all male babies born in Wales who look like they may be left footed to be brought over the border in England. What damage could we have done with Giggs or Bale on the left flank over the last fifteen years! He needs to be producing performances like that week in week out for me though. Two games against an ageing defence and right back who basically plays right wing does not put him alongside Messi yet, typical though that the press get carried away with it all. They were just as quick to keep piling the pressure on the 19/20 year old who hadn't won a game in a Spurs shirt and suggesting that he may be a bad luck charm - I mean what is that supposed to do to a young lad's confidence? It's lucky H was the manager at that point as he will have really enthused the lad with confidence.

  • Comment number 55.

    Me and Bluenose aren't the same person by the way, by the time I'd finished writing and submitted his/her comment had appeared and practically mirrored mine!

    Great minds and all that

  • Comment number 56.

    Woah woah woah...

    Best left sided player in the world?! If you're basing that on two performances you're being a little naive...

    Ever heard of a small chap called Lionel Messi, plays for a little club in catalunya...

  • Comment number 57.

    I let my 9 year old son stay up last night and watch the game on the TV with me. He plays left wing for his local club and is very fast for his age. If ever there was a DVD of a game and a player for him to learn from as he develops then this was it. Garath Bale was awesome and Spurs played brilliantly. I have to take my hat off to Harry Redknapp on this occasion and congratuale Spurs (and i don't even support them!)

  • Comment number 58.

    For once can the media stop trying to manoeuvre every good player from outside of a Sky 4 team into one.

    It's made for a far more exciting Premiership now that it's not the same four teams monopolising the top of the table.

    If Spurs' league form is good enough to get them in the top four again, Bale will stay at Spurs. He's only just signed a new contract, and transfers like van der Vaaart shows their ambition to be one of the biggest clubs in England and Europe.

    A new training complex and academy is under construction, a new stadium has received planning permission, and the club is financially excellent, three things, for example, Liverpool don't have.

  • Comment number 59.

    Bale will be up there with the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Ronaldo at this rate, he is world class. I hope he stays at Spurs for years to come!! A special mention about Van Der Vaart though, that guy has been immense since joining from Madrid, every game he plays in I feel like we can win! COYS!!

  • Comment number 60.

    56. At 09:22am on 03 Nov 2010, At The End Of The Day - Its Night wrote:
    Woah woah woah...

    Best left sided player in the world?! If you're basing that on two performances you're being a little naive...

    Ever heard of a small chap called Lionel Messi, plays for a little club in catalunya...


    He's not an orthodox winger though, is he?

  • Comment number 61.

    Great performance. What is he worth? Somewhere around the same mark as Di Maria. Both can torment the world's best on their day, both need to add some consistency to their game.

    As for Big Diesel saying it's up there with the Ronaldinho performance against Madrid? Not quite haha it was good but Ronaldinho was the best player in the world, destroying a team built of players as capable as the Inter ones but managed by a much more tactically astute coach. If Mourinho was still at Inter Bale wouldn't have had the time or space he did in either game.

  • Comment number 62.

    the biggest difference is... Mourinho>Benetiz


  • Comment number 63.

    The lad really has pulled out two stunning performances in a row against the European Champions and a player who, prior to these fixtures, was lauded as the best right back in the world. Personally, I think this justifies the hyperbole in the article.

    Some mysteries remain though: why, after what happened in the San Siro, did Benitez not double up on Bale. One would have expected him to have watched the game at Old Trafford on Saturday and recognised the benefits. By the time he did choose to do this, Bale had already worked up a head of steam and had the entire Inter defence on the back foot.

    Any great players can be nullified to a certain extent by double marking, that's the thing about a great player - even if he isn't able to shine, he gives his team mates more room to do their stuff.

    And why were Inter so narrow? I can only assume that Benitez waas happy to let Bale have the ball, as long as he had a bulk of bodies cutting him off from the danger area, yet all the available evidence suggested that Bale would find a way round that and he did.

    Either way, a fantastic performance.

  • Comment number 64.

    I can't believe some of the bitter comments coming out such as:
    1 - Inter are nothing under Benitez.
    2 - Bale is not world class after 2 games

    What a load of tosh. The people harking on about the demise of Inter are probably the same people who at half time 2 weeks ago were saying they are actually better than last season.

    Also, Bale has not had just 2 good performances. He's had 2 STELLAR performances, numerous great ones and a few good ones over the last YEAR.
    To the people saying "phil neville/rafael had him in his pocket" i say this: not even the greatest players of all time played at their top level every game. I don't remember Maradona scoring in every single game. Messi doesn't destroy teams every game, nor does ronaldo.
    I remember a couple of seasons ago at white hart lane that a make shift left back named Jamie O'Hara (a central midfielder) had Ronaldo in his back pocket.

  • Comment number 65.

    Though i'm not getting carried away with the hype, its nice to see a good orthodox left footed winger that stays on the left like Bale (and also Malouda). The likes of Johnson and Robben are playing on the right and cutting inside, sometimes comes across as not having enough variety and sticking to the same routine (although when your as good as Robben at it, than i suppose you can't complain too much).

  • Comment number 66.

    Post 48 says it all.

    Bale plays well against European opposition because of their lack of double making or even tackling.
    Last week against Everton, David Moyes assessed the situation and completley nullified Bale's threat with Phil Neville.
    This was so apparent that for the last 20 minutes he switche4d to the right and got no change out of Baines either.

    Good game last night I admit...but Bale has played 2 great games this season...both against the same team.....I wonder if Rafa has forgotten how British players play. Hold on he didn't have many in his first team at Liverpool did he?

  • Comment number 67.

    Well done Bale. Haha Benetez. But Phil aren't you in danger of running into the same Brick wall that many have run into Before. Bale had two fantastic matches against a team that thought they had it in the bag, and were badly run by the manager.
    I understand the need for superlatives, but at the end of the season will Bale still be producing the goods? What will you say when he has a bad run? That he is the worst in the world? Good though he is, two games don't make you the best at anything.

  • Comment number 68.

    Many thanks for all your comments already. Lots of you may think the media, including myself obviously, go along to these big games and watch with a clinical - and some might argue cynical - eye.

    Let me assure you there was genuine excitement and joy at what we saw last night, from Spurs but in particular Bale. We were privileged to see something very special and this makes it two great Champions League nights in north London in recent memory after the draw between Arsenal and Barcelona last season.

    I see some are making the point that Phil Neville and Rafael kept Bale quiet recently, and I take that on board. But every player has a quiet day and what we witnessed last night was evidence of a prodigious emerging talent.

    The press box at Spurs is in a very low position, right behind the dug-out, and is perfect for an appreciation of the pace and power of the game at this level.

    We were close to Bale in the second half, and the energy. power and skill he showed, right up until the final whistle, left many simply awe-struck.

    This was not only about the performance, it was about who it was against. Inter Milan are a class act and showed that in patches last night, and yet they simply could not cope with Bale. Why not celebrate that moment as football fans instead of carping about the quiet games he has occasionally had?

    Rafael Benitez tried to get closer attention on Bale in the second half, this was clear, but it made not the slightest difference and the Inter coach was a very subdued figure afterwards. As for suggestions a team marshalled by Mourinho might have had more success against Bale, we will never know - unless Spurs face Real Madrid later in the competition.

    I was interested to hear Harry Redknapp say he thinks Bale will eventually return to left-back. Who will argue with Harry after last night, but I've got to say I do not see that for a very long time.

    Spurs fans, do you see Bale reverting to left-back any time soon? I don't. And let's hear what you thought about the rest of your team last night?

    How far can you go in the Champions League? And do you fear Bale will be lured away?

    It was a great night for Spurs fans. So feel free to debate it here.

  • Comment number 69.

    Incidentally, one of the real high points of this result is that we're hopefully going to see a team in the knock-out stages who will be set up to attack rather than contain, relying on the old-fashioned notion that if you score more goals than your opposition then you're through!

    Tactically naive? Maybe, but I don't really care - its great fun.

  • Comment number 70.

    Two good performances and suddenly he's the best player in the world? Reminds me of the Paul Scholes bandwagon that was rolling a few weeks ago. Great performances, and obviously a very good player but judge him over a season. This is yet another journo that forms his opinions over a 2 week history, it happens with many sports including F1. Calm down and produce a levelheaded argument please, Phil.

  • Comment number 71.

    This morning, Rafa Benitez is blinded by the milk bottle on the mountain of coal.....:)
    Well done Spurs, and thanks for wiping the smile of Benitez' smug chops.

  • Comment number 72.

    Dont get me wrong Im delighted as a Welshman that Bale is doing well, I just dont think he's produced enough good performances to make himself into World class player yet. I hope he does achieve it as Ive been wondering where the "next" Bellamy, or Giggs level of ability player is coming from. The potential is there but is he of the ability where each week he can produce match winning performances? I dont think so. He has been held by other players this month and Id just like to keep some perspective on the boy. I hope he does progress though, as he is exciting to watch and gives a cynical Welshman hope! Well done on a great result spurs. I enjoyed it hugely and was so impressed with the football played by Bale, but also by Modric, and Van Der Vaart when he was on. The lad looks to me to pretty much have the lot!

  • Comment number 73.

    WOAH! Calm down Phil and every Bale worshipper, let's pull a few things into focus… ( Man United fan here)

    This was a great performance by Spurs (according to the highlights that I watched, was watching my team in Turkey) and they deserve all the plaudits but to be honest playing in the champions league, this is what it's all about, winning your home games and Spurs did that very well last night, onto the next game lads…

    As for the plaudits for Gareth Bale, YES he is a VERY VERY good player and contributed extremely well in the two back to back games over Inter but at the weekend against us, a young lad called Rafael had him in his little back pocket.

    And as for linking him with BIGGER clubs, I think this is very disrespectful to Tottenham and the great team they're building down there, I personally couldn't see where Bale would fit in at United, we have some amazing talent coming through the ranks and that was clearly highlighted last night, I think he should stay at Tottenham and continue to play the way he is and make progress with them, don't know why the media have a need to link him elsewhere?

    Just my pennies worth…

  • Comment number 74.

    #25 FedupwithGovt -
    Why do English fans always say 'wish he was English' just about players from Wales? Why not about van der vaart, or Owen Hargreaves........oh wait! ;-)

    As great as I think Bale is and will become, he was essentially up against a wing back. Better defensive right backs will know to show him onto his right foot, Phil Neville did a grand job on him. I bet Glenn Johnson isn't looking forward to Eng v Wales!

  • Comment number 75.

    @ Kanchelskis Legend...

    Messi can play left, right or down the middle. Ok so he's not defensive minded at all. But then Bale at left back is pretty average. Don't get me wrong Bale's in fantastic form and has the potential to be a great player.. But two performances doesn't justify him being 'world class'.

  • Comment number 76.

    Cant' see bale back at LB and can't see us going back to a 4-4-2. With bale, modrice, VdV and lennon playing off a big striker, and Hudd coming along nicely in the more "holding" role, we would be foolish to bring back an out of date system.

    Some people on hear bad mouthing Inter, saying they are past it, are being thick. INter are a great side. Those who will say they were missing cambiasso etc. we were missing our 2 first choice centre backs and keeper.

  • Comment number 77.

    All we saw last night was confirmation of what Spurs fans have known about Bale for the last 18 months. If he was English the media would've been on it far sooner. I worry a club like Real Madrid will come in for him before long playing like this, I'm pretty certain he'll be the best left sided player in the world over the next 10 years.

    If Redknapp would only buy a genuine world class centre forward and a left back who doesn't leave a huge hole in our defence like BAE does we could set our sights even higher than another top 4 finish.

  • Comment number 78.

    "Bale had two fantastic matches against a team that thought they had it in the bag, and were badly run by the manager.
    I understand the need for superlatives, but at the end of the season will Bale still be producing the goods? What will you say when he has a bad run? That he is the worst in the world? Good though he is, two games don't make you the best at anything."

    2 games?? Have you been on holiday for the whole of 2010?

  • Comment number 79.

    'Reminds me of the Paul Scholes bandwagon that was rolling a few weeks ago.'

    Scholesy has been putting top performances for well over a decade

  • Comment number 80.

    I'd like to step in somewhere in the middle of the viewpoints here. It was a great performance as a team from Spurs and a top performance from Bale (although I thought Modric was just as influential). I don't want to see us get carried away (as some Spurs fans are prone to do) but am getting the hump with those people crawling out the woodwork declaring Inter are a terrible side and Maicon is past it!

    I don't think we should start announcing Bale as a truly world class star player yet, certainly until he's played maybe at least one full CL campaign and delivered. He is, undoubtedly, a top, top premier league player now and has all the talent to continue to progress. Lets give him the chance to progress without putting him under a riduculous amount of pressure though.

    To those people now announcing Inter as terrible side - any team managed by Mourinho is going to be harder to beat than a team managed by Benitez. I freely admit that. However, Inter are 2nd in the Italian league and before last night had lost once so far this season. They had Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Etoo (two of the absolute top players in the world) up front. Please be reasonable. Any club side in the world would have been happy with that result last night, let us enjoy it!

  • Comment number 81.

    On a previous post someone wrote " At his young age he has a long way to go if he does not face any hard tackling for the likes of De Jong and Wilshere. "

    Seriously?? Wilshere and De Jong. In the same bracket. I know he was guilty of a nasty challenge but unfair to categorise those two together! I once saw Jeffers hit a sweet left foot - I'm not gonna put him in the same class as Bale now!

  • Comment number 82.

    At The End Of The Day - Its Night

    I agree that he can't be labelled world class yet.

    But in his niche as an orthdox touchline-hugging winger, he doesn't invite comparison with Messi.

  • Comment number 83.

    'All we saw last night was confirmation of what Spurs fans have known about Bale for the last 18 months'

    eh? 18 months?! He was close to being on his way out to Forest last season and i didn't see many Spurs fan arguing against such a move at the time.

  • Comment number 84.

    #51, as I said before, what are Man Utd going to buy Bale with, chocolate buttons? They are in a hole they can't possibly get of, Utd need a new Goalie and replace Scholes, Ferdinand and Giggs who are all near the end of their careers.

    I don't think Bale is going anywhere in the summer maybe the season after and it will be to Spain unless he's lured to Manchester's big club for the money but Utd, why would he want to? Surely if he leaves it will be for success and that obviously rules out Utd.

  • Comment number 85.

    Why no McNulty article on Malouda?

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm running out of superlatives to describe the brilliance of Gareth Bale. Hope he'll stay at Spurs for years to come as I can't think of a better place for him at the moment. Glad he isn't English. It would've been the worst jinx for such a promising young player. Anyway, England isn't that much better than Wales. Can't wait to see him trash Johnson in Euro qualifiers (that coming from a Liverpool fan).

  • Comment number 87.

    Awesome Spurs. Magnificant performance: Champions League and we`re having a laugh ...... :)

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    Bit funny this. Bale is world class after 2 games!! Fair enough he scored a hat-trick the other week ( when the game was over) and he played better last night. But where was he at Old trafford or against Everton. Im sorry but great a result as it was, amid the euphoria one has to question the psychological strength of the squad as a whole. Against the so called top 4 they have an awful record and should take things one step at a time. They still have to negotiate an away trip at Twente and although they deserved their win last night Benitez was hamstrung be the fact that he couldnt play Milito from the start and his defence lacked Cambiasso`s considerable ability to protect them. I`d say a more accuarte reflection of where spurs are is somewhere between the first half thrashing in Milan and last nights game. As a gooner id prefer to see them fail but they do have quality in their ranks but need to address the mentality to become more consistent and thus more of a threat for a whole season. I have many spurs supporting friends and they tend to see this too.

  • Comment number 90.

    i think most of you are jumping the gun here

    to be world class, you need to get consistent fantasy league points!

    bale hasnt had big points since his 2 goals at stoke.

    now if he has a performance against bolton this weekend then i will grant him world class status gladly as he's in my team :-) (put him in last week btw not today as most of you probably will!)

  • Comment number 91.

    I enjoyed 'Guess the Question' with Harry Redknapp in the game report. It's odd to note in these technological times that the ability to pick up journalists questions can't be managed.
    Well done spurs.

  • Comment number 92.

    Maicon is now the best right back in the world, yet several right backs in the premiership have made Bale look anonymous in recent weeks

  • Comment number 93.

    To use some quotes from the film Gladiator that I feel are very apt here and could be said the same about many players written about in the english media.

    macion " your Good, but your not that Good "

    bale " your Good but your not that Good "

    as for Inter Milan there good but not that good

    and before people get to carried away about milan being the " holders "
    please do remember they now have a different coach, whos style is somewhat more risky than that of the defensive and boring Mourinho who was perfectly suited to the general Italian way of playing football.

    congrats to Spurs though, the job needed to be done and so it was done in
    good fashion as well.

    and what a refreshing change it is to read a Blog that has managed to refrain from feeding us boreing drivel and rubbish about MU and Lpool
    long may it continue, i can live in hope.

    up the Gunners.

  • Comment number 94.

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

  • Comment number 95.

    It was a good game and Spurs got the breaks denied to them at the weekend. That is the way football works. However the game could have gone either way and Spurs would do well to remember that. Bale continued to demonstrate how good he is because he has control and pace. He was the only reason for the win.

    Spurs have weaknesses in defence which are always going to be exploited by good sides and high scoring games where goals are shared out are always suggestive of a side on the brink but not destined to cross it.

    So a good win but nothing to get carried away with.

  • Comment number 96.

    Dear Mods, I wrote a paraphrase of Benetez own saying in Spain , that if white liquid is in a bottle it must be milk. and said that clearly the liquid is white, is in a bottle, but isn't milk. Can someone explain how that breaks house rules? I am stating that what you think you see, might not be what you see at all.

  • Comment number 97.

    Great performance for Spurs overall and Bale in particular. In your first season in the CL, 3-1 against the champions of Europe is a huge result and a lot of traditional big 4 fans should remember that.

    I did think that Bale, given his current form and hatrick at the San Siro, was given a lot of space to run into (which he exploited to the maximum). I can't imagine him doing this to the Inter of Mourinho, this result says a lot about Rafa, who still seems to want to be liverpool manager.

    The challenge for Bale will be to continue to perorm when he is man-marked, denied space and pushed inside onto his right foot. A fantastic performance though and he has enjoyed a great start to the season...

  • Comment number 98.

    Reminds me of the Leeds Champions League campaign in many ways. Leeds had a very good team then and spurs i think are as good. Bale is similar to kewell who was described as having the world at his feet also. I think spurs can a long way like leeds did.

  • Comment number 99.

    84. At 09:53am on 03 Nov 2010, WaldoSpur wrote:
    #51, as I said before, what are Man Utd going to buy Bale with, chocolate buttons? They are in a hole they can't possibly get of, Utd need a new Goalie and replace Scholes, Ferdinand and Giggs who are all near the end of their careers.

    I don't think Bale is going anywhere in the summer maybe the season after and it will be to Spain unless he's lured to Manchester's big club for the money but Utd, why would he want to? Surely if he leaves it will be for success and that obviously rules out Utd.


    Your club reaches the CL for the first time. You're drawn against the champions, a real glamour tie. There is great expectation. You beat them on your turf, with your young star turning on the style spectacularly.

    The next day, do you express your unbridled and wide-eyed joy like most other fans are?

    No, you launch a bizarre, ill-informed, bitter, spiteful rant about another club.

    Strange, strange behaviour.

  • Comment number 100.

    Too much of Bale love now, and very few remember how Rafael (20 yrs) had him in his pocket, without protection, not long ago.


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