Gareth Bale: The Ego Has Landed

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Good morning.

Watching Gareth Bale yesterday reminded of me of a stage that small children get as the begin to try and take control of their world. A sense of ownership and determination can be fascinating to watch as they emerge from being completely dependent and defiantly utter the words, ‘I can do it myself!’.

What usually ensues in such instances is something like the removal of a vest not by pulling it off over the head, but climbing out of it as if it were a dress. An ambitious routine that might take – minus a shoulder dislocation, falling into a TV set or home aquarium – up to ten minutes to execute a simple 10 second task.

You can’t complain of course. Everyone wants their kids to think, challenge, try things for themselves, learn and in an ideal world dress themselves sooner rather than later.

Bale was in the Telegraph on Saturday. Yesterday I called the piece ‘terrifying’. Here are some particularly chilling quotes.

“I need to improve myself as a player and I spoke to the coaches at Tottenham about it,” he says. “Being stuck outside is not good all the time. You need to mix your game up and give the opposition things to think about. It’s one of those things I wanted to do and I’m starting to do it.”

“It got to the stage last year when I was standing out on the wing, playing well, with a lot of freedom, hurting teams and being targeted by defences. So it was a case of some teams putting two players on me, staying really tight and trying to mark me out of the game, which is quite easy to do when you’re stood right out there with not much room.

“So I’ve had to adapt my game. The full-back can’t follow you inside and strikers occupy the centre-backs, so it gives you that bit of space. It’s not easy. It’s a lot tighter in the middle but if you get into lots of pockets and you’re able to turn and run at defenders it’s just as good as being out on the wing”

What we got of course was effectively an unmitigated car crash. Bale goes inside. In his head, I am convinced he’s intent upon focusing his blistering pace down the middle. In his head he’s already shaken off those nasty defenders that want to double up on him out on the wing.

In reality, outside of his head he found himself in an area congested by not only his own team mates, but their opposition counterparts who either took the ball off him with no more than the poke of a toe or he is forced into a short, largely redundant pass.

Does anyone remember Darren Anderton also wanting to revolutionise football at White Hart Lane by playing out of position?

The knock on effect of Bale being in the middle was equally surreal.

With arguably one of the best players in the country safely out of position we are then treated to BAE morphing into A&E with some of the worst crossing since The Cassandra Crossing.  The knives were out for Benny. I lost count of the substandard scuffs he under hit into Man City shins.

How many balls crossed in by Bale himself would have resulted in threats on goal? My rough estimate would have to be, ‘lots’.

Is this playing to our strengths? Is this arrogance? Is Arry so wrapped up in his court case that he’s given up managing his players and letting them dictate how we play? 

And my fear is that the goal – in Gareth’s head – justified the means. The ‘look at me, look at me, Christ is risen.’ style celebration left me feeling a little uncomfortable. He didn’t lift up his shirt to reveal a vest baring the words, ‘I can do it myself!.’ but I’m sure I heard him thinking it.

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  • FatSpur says:


  • Sean says:

    The most worrying moment (the obvious aside) yesterday was from kick off after the penalty, where Bale. Tried to run through the entire City team on his own.

    Now Im as guilty as anyone for going bananas when he did those things in the second hald of that Inter game, and I know time was all but up, but it just smacked of the kid in the playground who thinks he can do the whole lot on his own.

    • Jay says:

      How can you question bale?! He took the ball and wanted to get us something out of the game. Pure and simple. He loves the club and wanted to get us something. That’s passion not ego. That’s a never say die attitude and I for one respect him for trying that with 20 seconds to go. The boy is only trying to get us points. As for the article. A complete load of rubbish! If bale is doubled up on its good to have a plan b.

    • Jay says:

      Our problem is we need more than one big striker and we have failed to sign one permanatly now for 3 seasons!! Adebayor as good as he has done isn’t a complete striker. Pav is useless and defoe is too small, hit and miss and needs a partner. If we had, had another decent striker we would have been set up better yesterday. Its the missing part of the jigsaw. A prolific goal scorer! Also if you watch kings challenge he goes in with one foot but from behind his back leg gives way and he ends up scissoring balotelli. Basically if you watch his knee gives way. Same thing at the end of the game and the whistle has gone he is kneeling down then one knee goes and he ends up struggling and eventually is on one knee.

    • EssexRocks says:

      Ummm. We were something like 6 minutes into 5 minutes of injury time – fair play to Bale for having one last go.

  • really? says:

    biggest load of bollocks ever written. why would we not want a player to have the confidence to KNOW he is gonna beat his man when we can have instead aaron fucking useless cut back and can’t fucking cross lennon – who is too shit scared to take his man on. knob.

    • jim says:

      spot on, i think harry is just gutted about the result yesterday and needs to lash out at something.

      • really? says:

        harry forgets to talk about how dire kyle walker was and as for Benny’s low crosses does he not realise they may have been for defoe or modric to get onto – no point knocking balls in for defoe to head in as they will get mopped up all day long by Lescott

    • Kiwiyid says:

      Sorry HH your talking crap. The lad is learning and I like it.

      • Headupyourass says:

        What the hell is this garbage? tall poppy syndrome much??
        you should appreciate the fact we have players of this calibre.

        i think the ego of HH landed a long long time ago, thinking you’re the Messi of blog writers! HA

    • jim says:

      Lennon is quality, you are a tool.

      • Cptcaveman says:

        Yeah afraid I have to agree HH. Couldn’t believe what I was reading up above…although I also believe his best position is wide left, he makes a good case for being able to come inside occasionally, i.e if he’s being marked out of the game.
        But, all this ‘I can do it on my own’ rubbish is, well, just that! How was his celebration uncomfortable to watch? All he did was his usual heart and run towards the fans…hardly reeks of Masiah does it! No sorry HH, I like your blog but recently you have been sounding more and more like an old man!
        The fact of the matter is, we’re in 3rd, playing good football but are being unlucky with many bad ref decisions and lets face it, a small squad. I for one am feeling pretty content right now sitting above Chelsea and Arsenal and confident knowing we can get something in both these away games!

  • 4 Ever Hopeful says:

    Somebody had to try something yesterday. For almost an hour we had a zero attacking threat and in other rrecent games nobody has taken a big enough percentage of the chances created, often by Bale. In the end yesterday he scored from a central position and still had the gumption to set up what should have been the winning goal. I think you are way off the mark on this one Harry.

    • TomTraubert says:

      “Gunption to set up what should have been the winning goal”

      It sounds like you are blaming Defoe here. Ball was too far ahead of him at full stretch. He was just up from cramping. Bale took waaayy too long to release that pass, instead of going outside the CB he should have passed it inside much earlier.

    • Harry Hotspur says:

      Somebody had to try something yesterday. For almost an hour…. but Bale played like this for the entire game.

      How many chances do you believe he actually created yesterday?

      If you watch the ball into Defoe, it was actually shocking. When Defoe changed his run because Bale hesitated, the jig was up.

      • Hamish says:

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. Watch it again my friend.
        For the first time in a long, long while, Defoe gambled on the headed back pass and got it right. He doesn’t do it nearly enough. For a small fella he very rarely gambles on a ball inside the 6 yard box – it’s exasperating and costs us goal after goal. Even Harry pointed the finger at Defoe. There was nothing wrong with the cross – it was perfect and if Defoe hadn’t stalled his run at the crucial moment it would have been a tap in.

        • Neil says:

          I agree. Bale has put in quite a few crosses this season that defoe should be tapping in at the back post, but he hangs by the penalty spot instead for a cut back. Richards was stopping the square ball

        • jim says:

          It was a shit cross that was delivered to late at at a poor angle, if you couldn’t see this you are blind.

      • SpurredoninDublin says:


        Not a trick question, or anything, but I take it you are not blaming JD for the miss?

        Reason I ask, is that we seem to be developing a number of hate figures and a fair section of us will blame JD, Pav etc for any failure, while ignoring other contributing factors.

        If Kaboul or Walker had given away the penalty, I think we would never have heard the end of it, but Saint Ledley is human and allowed the occasional lapse.

        I am not knocking King, but merely trying o point oiut what appears to be a double standard. I think sdo far, I have not seen anybody who criticised Def for the miss, praise him for his well taken goal.

        • DAVID says:

          Pass from Bale was over hit, should have passed to Defoe about 5 seconds earlier.

        • Harry Hotspur says:

          I thought Defoe’s goal was genuine class. The ‘miss’ I blame on Bale. He took too long to release the ball which caused Defoe to alter his run.

          King’s credit is so good that there is little justice in screaming at him.

        • SpurredoninDublin says:

          Thanks for that. I wasn’t trying to start a witch hunt on Ledley, but I think we both know that if it had been Kaboul or Walker who conceded the pen, there would have been a furore.

          My point is that some of the players are viewed by some of the fans as “hate figures”, and it doesn’t matter what they do they will never be praised. But if they score a hat-trick, all we will hear from the detractors, is about the “sitter” they missed. As I said, I notice that those who blame Defoe, do not praise him for what I agree was a very well taken goal.

          When you see these inconsistencies, it’s difficult to take some posters seriously.

        • milton says:

          personally, i think Bale should have put a through ball for Defoe before trying to take on the defender, not one person anywhere I have read has mentioned this… just me?

        • glenn says:

          Problem is JD is not a ‘centre forward’
          Pav, ade, crouchie or bent ….even vdv would have made a bee line for the far post/6yd box the moment bale picked up the ball. JD is used to holding back while the other striker in a 442 goes into that position and so hesitated / deviated for a moment. Bale’s pass was strikers dream. He took out the defender and the keeper before placing a perfect cross to the far post. Just look back at Crouch’s and Pav’s goals over the couple of years. It’s sad to see defoe trying to lay the blame on bale. Also, I’d rather trust bale in that situation rather than JD in a one on one with a defender up his arse

  • psiberman says:

    Echoes my thoughts exactly. I’m all for mixing up positions against lesser opposition or when we’re out of site in a game, but when we’re chasing, can we really afford it? Think the hype is going to his head. Harry should stop him getting carried away and make him stay on the wing for the next game. His celebration was a bit OTT for me yesterday. When scoring an equaliser or when we’re behind, after scoring, the best celebration is to run into the goal, pick the ball up and put it on the centre spot, ready to go and get the winner.

    • TomTraubert says:

      Hype exactly.

      Him and Walker are starting to believe their hype too much. I said it last week too. Walker would be a decent wingback but he’s not an all out RB. He’s Hutton with a tad more defensive nous and more pace. This is why Corluka was the perfect partner for Aaron on the right. I think Bale should be employed as a LWB too. Remember when he broke into the team when Benny was injured? Yes he lined up at LB but played like a LWB to devastating effect.

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