It was barely a week ago that Gareth Bale had plummeted from world-record transfer to laughingstock of Spanish football.
Lampooned as “Forrest Bale” on the satirical program Crackovia in the run-up to El Clasico against Barcelona, his anonymous showing in the match led to El Mundo describing him as “irrelevant” and the typically Madrid-friendly Marca opining that the Welshman was Los Blancos’ “worst performer” at Camp Nou, per Telegraph Sport:
The Spanish media reckon Gareth Bale is "irrelevant", a "mistake" and Madrid's "worst player". More here http://t.co/VGWqWyQEdH— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) October 28, 2013
How quickly things change.
Four days after the Barcelona defeat, a fitter, more confident Bale made his home debut at the Bernabeu.
Two goals and two assists against Sevilla put an end to the criticism he had faced since El Clasico, and three days later, he answered his critics with a standout performance once again.
Playing the full 90 minutes for just the second time this season, Bale earned another pair of assists in Saturday’s match away to Rayo Vallecano—first setting up Karim Benzema with a right-footed cross from the flank and then playing a lovely pass for Cristiano Ronaldo to convert after bursting past his marker just after the restart.
It was exactly the sort of high-octane, difference-making presentation Madrid had paid so highly for during the summer transfer period, and early reaction from the Spanish media suggested they had already changed their tune.
5 - Gareth Bale has scored two goals and provided three assists in his last two La Liga games. Train— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 2, 2013
“Four assists in three days for Bale,” crowed Marca after the match, proceeding to point out that the player had “silenced all his doubters over the past three days.”
That such a short period of time can make such a difference in how a player is assessed speaks to both the knee-jerk nature of punditry and incredible amount of attention focussed on both Bale and his club, but for the time being, all seems to be well again at the Bernabeu.
Delighted @GarethBale11 is fit again and showing his undoubted ability. How quickly we like to write people off! An extremely sad trait.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 31, 2013
Which shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Gareth Bale is a very good footballer, and it was only a matter of time—and fitness—before he reminded everyone of that.