As Sam Allardyce faced the post match Sky Sports questions, the words: “We were beaten by Bale” slipped from his mouth. The West Ham boss had just seen his team lose 3-2 at home thanks to Gareth Bale’s two wonderful strikes sandwiching a Glyfi Sigurdsson bundled goal. Last night whilst basking in the Glory of Bale I failed to register this sly dig by Big Sam, but in the cold light of day I have started to ponder this.
Are Spurs really a one man team?
White Hart Lane has undergone something of a transformation over the past seven months. During the late summer the crowd was fractured and rebellious, differing opinions wafted over the terraces. The only shared consensus was this isn’t how it was supposed to be. We all had an idea, we all had the solutions, but we had no harmony.
On the pitch things weren’t much better. Bale was now a number 11, Jermaine Defoe, last years super sub, now our sole goal scoring hope. Rafa Van der Vaart had played against Newcastle and lined up against West Brom, but his heart was elsewhere. Across Europe on a beach somewhere Luka Modric sat brooding, and a former captain had finally succumb to injury. We weren’t even a team, let alone a one man team.
As we trailed 1-0 to QPR at half time back in September, the abuse that rained down on the Lillywhites became unbearable. I am not some über fan, I haven’t travelled across Europe and due to my age, work reasons and finical issues I wasn’t there in the darkest of days at White Hart Lane, but that cold evening witnessing Spurs fans turn on each other, I feared for our future.
Something changed though, after half time we started to gel. We had touched the bottom and had only one way in which to go. Slowly a seed of confidence started to germinate. We beat Man United away, yes we lost to Woolwich and Chelsea but the manner of the defeats spoke volumes. The manager’s squad settled, players learnt their new roles and they started to rise to the levels we have always demanded of them.
Hugo Lloris one of the top six or seven goalkeepers in the world rightfully became our number one. Aaron Lennon became just as capable attacking inside as outside. Sandro took his nick-name to heart and added a further level of controlled ferocity to his game and even Defoe, learnt how to play as a solo number nine. We were a team.
Obviously in every team there is always the standout person. When you sit in a changing room before you play football, or you sit at your desk at work take a look around, there is always that one individual who makes a difference. Gordon Ramsey may have his name above the door, but with out the sous-chef, pot washer or waiters he would just be a wrinkled Scotsman failing to get a dish out on time.
Football isn’t tennis, it isn’t one man versus another. If it was Diego Maradona would have three World Cup winners’ medals, Leo Messi even more records to his name and Liverpool would be second or third in the Premier League.
What makes Bale such an effective weapon in our armoury is the way in which our team trust him to deliver, and allows him the freedom in which to do so. With the seconds ticking away at Upton Park, Tom Carroll has the ball, the obvious pass is out wide, but he rolls it to Bale. Emmanuel Adebayor is shifting wide for the through ball, the centre-backs are distracted. He should pass, but he doesn’t, he uses the space, confidence and belief the team has bestowed upon him and he wins the game.
Bull fighting is an intriguing spectacle. For those of you yet to witness it, or those vegetarians amongst you, it’s a lot more than one chap with a cape and a sword. Before the killing blow is delivered Picadors on horse back armed with lances have their way, then the Tercio de Banderillas continue to wound the beast. This routine is designed to tire the bull before finally the Matador delivers the final stroke.
When you sit in a changing room before you play football, or you sit at your desk at work take a look around, there is always that one individual who makes a difference.
Without its support cast the Matador would be one man facing a beast four times his size and twice as fast. Yes he’s the star but without his team working hard to deliver him an surmountable obstacle, his job would be impossible.
Tottenham operate in a similar style these days. We have players designed to soak up pressure, move the ball quickly, create space, tire the opposition and then give Bale the chance to have the headlines. As Gary O’Neil laboured to catch Bale in those final few minutes, it was 89 minutes of chasing Lillywhites that had cooked him, not just a Welshman.
Bale just like Mousa Dembele, Lennon, Michael Dawson, Lloris, AVB, you and the person sat next to at White Hart Lane or in front of the TV set that are Spurs. We are Tottenham Hotspur, not Bale Hotspur. There is no such thing as a one man team.
On Sunday at White Hart Lane, Spurs will need all of us, not just one man.