Did Tottenham Make a Mistake Selling Gareth Bale?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentDecember 24, 2013

Did Tottenham Make a Mistake Selling Gareth Bale?

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Did Tottenham Hotspur make a mistake selling Gareth Bale to Real Madrid?

    This slideshow will examine if Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was right to sell Bale to Real, former manager Andre Villas-Boas' role in Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado playing poorly, and if Tim Sherwood can turn it around.

    Don't hesitate to comment below with your opinion on the matter.

Why Daniel Levy Made the Right Call

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy laughed his way to the bank when he accepted Real Madrid president Florentino Perez's £78 million offer for Gareth Bale. The Telegraph reported the fee as £86 million (€100M) but Perez has revealed to Intereconomia (h/t FIFA.com) that the fee was €91 million (£78M).

    Bale scored and created a combined 25 goals (21 goals, four assists) in the Premier League last season.

    Arsenal's Theo Walcott registered 14 goals and 10 assists while making nine fewer starts, so he was one total goal in the Premier League behind the £78 million-valued Bale.

    Is Walcott worth anywhere near that? Of course not.

    Please don't reference Liverpool owner John W. Henry tweeting, "What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?" in reaction to Arsenal's pointless £40 million plus one pound bid for Luis Suarez as a reason why Levy should have blocked the Bale transfer.

    To state the obvious: £78 million is greater than £40 million plus one pound.

    The latter bid was mocked by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, per Ben Rumsby and John Percy at the Telegraph:

    To be honest, we laughed. We were away at the time on the pre-season tour when I saw the bid in writing.

    I think Arsenal were ill-advised on that, to say the least.

    Arsenal as a football club always had great integrity historically and so, when that bid came through, I can only say it was one of the worst pieces of information they ever received, from whoever.

    It was never going to succeed.

    You know what Rodgers wouldn't have laughed at?

    A £78 million bid from Real for Suarez.

    You probably would have read Henry justifying the sale of Suarez by saying: "I was surprised Monday morning to receive an offer in that amount." (Keep in mind this hypothetical takes place before Suarez temporarily elevated himself into the same class as Lionel Messi and Ronaldo.)

    Real's £78 million deal for Bale was heavily in favour of Levy, and he made the logical decision to cash in.

Andre Villas-Boas Wilted Under the Pressure

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    The manner in which Andre Villas-Boas acted in the latter stages of his tenure is concurrent with former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher's experiences with two of his bosses.

    Carragher wrote in the Daily Mail,

    Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez were two of the biggest influences on my career but they walked out of Anfield different men to the impressive figures who first breezed in. By the end they were making strange decisions and strange statements. The pressure of such an intense role clearly impacted on them.

    "Strange" is the word to describe how former Spurs manager Villas-Boas handled Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, two players signed to compensate for Gareth Bale's departure.

    They have not delivered mainly because of Villas-Boas.


    Erik Lamela (£30 Million Signing from Roma)

    In the 2-1 UEFA Europa League win over Sheriff, Lamela scored and completed 11 dribbles.

    Three days later in the 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, Lamela spent the entire game doing what you were doing—being a spectator.

    It was the fourth straight Premier League game in a row that Lamela warmed the benches.

    Then he started in the 6-0 defeat to Manchester City on the left wing even though Levy commissioned the £30 million transfer fee based on Lamela's performances as a right forward for Roma.

    Hold up. If Lamela started against City, why didn't he make cameo appearances against Aston Villa, Hull City, Everton and Newcastle?

    Lamela spent Villas-Boas' last two Premier League games as Spurs manager sitting on the bench.

    This is on top of Lamela not being able to speak fluent English, adjusting to a new culture and a different playing style, and being burdened with a big transfer fee.


    Roberto Soldado (£26 Million Signing from Valencia)

    When he scored 24 La Liga goals for Valencia last season, the team was built around him and he led the club in shots per game.

    At Spurs, he became the third option as Andros Townsend and Paulinho were given license to shoot on sight.


    League OnlySoldadoTownsend Paulinho 
    Shots Taken344648
    Key Passes192116


    Soldado cannot create his own shot; he is a goal poacher.

    So when Villas-Boas empowers two of his "midfielders" to act as quasi-forwards, then he is inviting the "Spurs paid £26 million for a penalty-taker" or "Soldado can't score regularly from open-play" talking points.

    Instead of giving Soldado a strike partner to alleviate the pressure, Villas-Boas just persisted with something that wasn't working.

    If only he had a 6'3" complete striker in his squad...

    Oh wait, he did.

    He had the lackadaisical Emmanuel Adebayor, who only seems to perform when he is fighting for a new contract or when he feels he can win a starting XI position.

    This is happening under new Spurs manager Tim Sherwood, who has the smarts to motivate Adebayor knowing he wants to desperately prove Villas-Boas wrong, as per BBC Sport:

    They [Villas-Boas' coaching staff] asked me to train with the reserves, which I did with pleasure, and they asked me to train on my own, which I did with pleasure.

    So now everything is paying off.

    I kept doing my thing and this is my glory time. I'm very happy.

    I thank the players and the staff [under Sherwood].

    They have given me my confidence back and they said 'we know how good you are'. I didn't want to let them or the fans that believe in me down.

    The more goals Adebayor scores—three in his last two games under Sherwood—the more attention he will receive from the opposing team.

    This will give Soldado chances to score "cheap" goals, i.e. tap-ins (his specialty), and provide the platform for him to start living up to his transfer fee.

    Something as simple as playing a target man alongside a goal poacher was not an option for Villas-Boas because he got personal with Adebayor.

    If Sherwood gets the Adebayor-Soldado partnership to score, then it will be another indictment on Villas-Boas' managerial competency.

Can Tim Sherwood Turn It Around?

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    Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy upgrading Tim Sherwood from interim to permanent manager until the end of the 2014-15 season is a sign of how highly rated Sherwood is.

    Levy didn't need to do this, just like Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich didn't need to keep Roberto Di Matteo as the caretaker manager in the months after Andre Villas-Boas' dismissal.

    Sherwood giving Roberto Soldado a strike partner in Emmanuel Adebayor, who will deflect attention away from Soldado, could open up opportunities for the Spaniard to score.

    Erik Lamela will improve if he isn't sitting on the bench under Sherwood, which was the case under Villas-Boas, who wanted Hulk rather than Lamela, per Matt Barlow at the Daily Mail:

    The Portuguese manager [Villas-Boas] asked his chairman to buy Hulk, Joao Moutinho and David Villa as he planned for life without Gareth Bale.

    Of his four unwanted signings [Erik Lamela, Nacer Chadli, Vlad Chiriches and Christian Eriksen] Lamela proved the most contentious.

    Villas-Boas was asked, after the Liverpool defeat, if he had chosen all seven signings and while he resisted the temptation to make his point, his hesitation spoke more loudly than words about the communication breakdown. A few hours later he was clearing his desk.

    If Sherwood can get Adebayor scoring, it bodes well for Lamela and Soldado, as both can take the club forward post-Gareth Bale.


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