Football articles

Bale’s departure wouldn’t have to mean the end for Tottenham’s Champions League push

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Friday 2nd August 2013

Many people have compared the situation that Gareth Bale and Tottenham Hotspur find themselves in with that of Cristiano Ronaldo’s own stand-off with Manchester United four years ago over a transfer to Real Madrid – coming to the conclusion that Bale’s departure would have a far more negative impact on his current club than Ronaldo’s did on United because the latter are bigger in stature and can handle the scenario better by bringing virtually anyone else in to replace their star man. But in terms of each of the club’s respective goals and achievements, the effect would not be that much different.

United won league titles and reached European finals by being driven on by Ronaldo ‘almost single handedly’, as they say, and they have continued this trend since he left them. Tottenham’s expectations are lower, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they would just about scrape into the top ten should Bale leave, just as the Red Devils haven’t imploded and fallen out of the top three since 2009. So just as United carried on doing ‘the business’ as it were without the Portuguese international who did so much for them, Spurs can move on from Bale and adapt.

People have this theory whereby they take a player’s entire contribution out of the equation then calculate where that club would be without it, seemingly forgetting that the player’s role would be filled by someone else who would ultimately add something to proceedings. And even if that person was Titus Bramble the premise would still apply, although that’s stretching it a bit as far as he’s concerned (while we’re on the subject I feel he should change his surname to Bumble as it’s well suited to his play. Mind you, a synonym of ‘bramble’ includes the word, ‘prick’, so maybe I’m wrong).

Of course, any side would miss a match-winner of Bale’s ability, but there would be others to come in. Why, Spurs already have Andros Townsend back from his loan spell with Queens Park Rangers – which is like a signing in itself added to their squad from last season – along with actual new signings such as Paulinho, Robert Soldado, Nacer Chadi and more no doubt before this transfer window closes (probably ten seconds before in Tottenham’s case). Whereas Bale would possibly tire himself and aggravate niggles that he may have for the sake of playing for his team – because he’s seen as so important to them – other players can come in, be rested and fresh, instead of the Welshman having to feature in virtually every game of a long campaign that is made far longer by an arduous and over bloated Europa League competition, one that obviously doesn’t fill him with feelings of unparalleled excitement hence the rumoured unrest.

Maybe if it featured a soundtrack that was as ‘emotive’ as Tony Britten’s adaptation of Handel’s Zadok the Priest then it would be taken more seriously seeing as it’s the music that players, including Bale, always seem to mention when discussing their reasons for wanting to play in the Champions League. I’d be surprised if clubs in the Europa League haven’t petitioned UEFA to change the theme tune to something a bit more rousing, like the song from 1970s television show The Adventures of Black Beauty, in order to deter their star players from following the modern Pied Piper that Britten turned out to be. According to many tabloids some of those players are not that dissimilar to the rats that were behind the Piper.

Back to Townsend: he looks a very exciting prospect and has already proved himself at Premiership level to a certain extent, so if he is going to improve even further, he’s a very exciting prospect indeed having just turned 22. Overall, Junior Hoops members selected him as their Player of the Season despite being at the club for under five months and he, dare I say, looked as good as Bale at times (in terms of actual physical looks, he could pass for being Lewis Hamilton’s father despite being over six and a half years younger than the racing driver, but that’s another tale entirely.

If the media had Townsend down as 23, I would hazard a guess that they got it wrong and meant 32, although that would mean he would still have been only three and a half years old when Hamilton was born. As it is, he’s recorded as being 22, and however much you try and swap those two numbers round, it will always be 22, so I doubt that he is Lewis Hamilton’s father). And don’t forget that Spurs have Danny Rose back from his loan spell with Sunderland where he won their Young Player of the Year award. He’s a left-sided player who can also work well further up the field from his normal left-back position, like a – dare I say ‘dare I say’ again? – younger Gareth Bale. So he’s also like another new signing in a way.

Antonio Valencia was brought in at United near the time of Ronaldo’s departure, maybe not as a direct replacement, but as someone who could play a similar role to him. Valencia can be terrific at times, but you wouldn’t equate him with the man he ‘replaced’ in terms of ability and effectiveness. Still, the club have won two league titles and reached a Champions League final in the four seasons since Ronaldo’s departure, so it doesn’t have to mean the end of Tottenham’s top-four dream if Bale does likewise. Clubs often lose their best player and move on.

It’s when they lose more than two or three without adequately replacing them that they start going downhill. Bale is arguably more effective than Luka Modric ever was, but they brought in others to fill the void left by the Croatian and ended up acquiring their highest points total in the Premier League era last season. No side wants to lose their best players, but if it’s a good side that is prepared to stay at the top end of football then they cope (unlike say, Blackburn Rovers after their title in 1995). And that is what Tottenham, using everything from their youth system to their scouting network, will have to work around if Bale leaves.

Do you think Tottenham can still qualify for the Champions League without Gareth Bale? Feel free to leave me any comments on here and/or on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr or YouTube:

https://www.facebook.com/rickymurraywriter 

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