Derby day debunks the myth of the ‘one man team’

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Jan Vertonghen, Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur

Looking for another reason to celebrate yesterday’s win might seem a bit like sleeping with Michelle Keegan and then boasting about the colour of the bed sheets.  Although beneath the hysteria, seven point gap and copious amounts of AVB man-love that came out of yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Arse, we also slayed one of the lazier urban myths that have been thrown our way in recent times.

If you simply looked at the score sheet without actually watching a minute of yesterday’s game – which it often feels as if might be the case with half of Fleet Street’s finest – you could probably make a whole number of Gareth Bale-based assumptions.

The Welshman got what’s now become his customary goal and given his recent glut of them in the Premier League, it’d have been all to easy to whip out the tagline of ‘one man team’ once more. Certainly, a large number of spanners from the red side of the neighbourhood gave it a good go trying to get that term trending on Twitter before the game.

Although contrary to popular belief, watching 90 seconds of highlights on your mobile doesn’t account for much in the way of an accurate snapshot of our season so far and both the gentlemen in red as well as the swathes of the sneering majority were left with not so much egg, but several kilograms worth of omlette on their faces after yesterday.

Perhaps our memories got lost in the moment, but does anyone remember Gareth Bale putting his body on the line to block a Lukas Podolski shot in the last ten minutes? It’s certainly hard to forget his goal, but did he really hustle and harry Jack Wilshere relentlessly for 90 minutes? If he did, then maybe we should be charging £100million for him to prospective suitors.

Of course we’ve been over reliant on his goals in recent games and of course, such has been the anonymous existence of our strikers over the past few months his world-class contributions have felt that much more important. But yesterday we owed as much to the likes of Michael Dawson, Aaron Lennon and in particular, Jan Vertonghen, as we did to our number 11.

As much of an impact as Bale’s pace had in running at Arsene Wenger’s back four, it was the superior quality of our backline that made the difference yesterday and on this occasion, not the Welshman’s brilliance. Neither Dawson or Vertonghen are likely to run 60 yards and put one in the top corner, nor are they likely to be plastered over the back pages anytime soon.

Indeed, just about the only things they have in common with Bale are their Loughton Lick haircuts, which seem to have reached a pandemic like level within the Spurs dressing room. But while they didn’t win a match in the most conventional sense, Dawson and Vertonghen were the real heroes of yesterday’s victory and the whole team as a collective produced a glowing example of why this ‘one man team’ stigma is absolute garbage.

Should we finish fourth, third or even second this season, Gareth Bale is going to be the poster boy of our achievements. But don’t let that for a single moment overshadow the importance the rest of our side – with special reference to a glorious Belgian centre-half – has had upon our progression. We won’t and maybe after yesterday, the wider footballing public might understand that, too.



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