The Bale Conundrum

A fairly comprehensive article on the Bale conundrum can be read here (via James Maw and Four Four Two). Steals plenty of thunder so I'll just add my own personal take on it here. There is no conundrum, if I'm perfectly honest. There doesn't appear to be that much management either concerning Gareth and his marauding into central positions.

I don't disagree that Gareth should not be looking towards developing his game and to be able to do that he has to have freedom of expression and more importantly the confidence and drive (not dive) to mix and match his play by not just being stuck out on the left flank. Except there is very little wrong with being stuck out on the left flank (unless he's man-marked by three defenders). If that's the case, he can swap wings with Lennon (if Aaron is playing on the opposite wing) or he can roam into central positions to pull defenders his way and free up room for someone else to attack the flank. It's basic tactics that a coach on the touchline would have his grey matter sparking with analysis to think of how best to work Bale into a game to be as effective as possible. Different opponents and varying class and quality of opponents will define how it plays out exactly. One game to the next, it will differ. It's obvious stuff. At least, from the comfort of this blog it is.

Much like one game to the next Bale should be managed accordingly. If remaining disciplined for the most part, then that's what he has to be told to do as part of the match preparation. I get the distinct feeling that his roaming is turning into a free pass for him to just play that way without any caveat other than 'keep doing it' regardless of what might work best against the back four he's facing.

Against Arsenal, width was one of the many qualities missing from our play. There is no doubt Bale is hungry and ambitious and wants to be the best player he can be. There is little argument he has the strength and skills to be that player. His focus though? It's a little foggy at this point in time. It's up to Redknapp and the coaches to make sure that he doesn't lose himself in the quest to become a complete attacking midfielder. Perhaps my mind is foggy, but I'm sure not that long ago (pre-Inter games) that Harry said his best position was left-back and his future would be there. That might be going back a fair while. But it's important to remember this is a young lad, a kid, that needs to be fathered as much as he need to be unleashed. He's evolved, there is no doubting that. But we all know hype can sometimes consume a player much like confidence can make or break one.

Spurs, as a collective and as individuals need to reclaim some of that back to basics work ethic. Stretch opponents with width and pace. Swap flank players to confuse and hassle the opposition further. Roam into the middle if the opportunity arises but remain disciplined that the role is one of a left-winger. Against lesser teams, weaker teams, experiment with that license to roam free.

Just think at the moment we're in need of a re-boot and a re-load. Best to start with our most prominent weapon.