Tottenham: Is Gareth the Man to Bale Out Spurs?
Two years ago he was the darling of Welsh football and talk abounded of a lucrative move to Old Trafford.
Gareth Bale came to prominence with the Wales national team through head-turning performances on the international stage. He proved that he could transfer his undeniable set-piece and dribbling skills from the Championship to the international scene.
His impressive free-kick goal against Slovakia was quickly followed by a second for his national team against San Marino.
A move to Tottenham Hotspur in July 2007 for an incentive-based fee that could approach £10 million ($19 million) seemed inevitable once Martin Jol registered a keen interest in the player, skipping a long queue to sign the talented left-footer.
Bale would score three goals in his first four competitve starts for the London club before suffering a season-ending ankle ligament injury.
It was clear that Spurs missed his vim and verve as they suffered a post-League Cup slump and limped towards an unimpressive lower-half finish.
Despite seeing only glimpses of his talent during his nine appearances during the 2007-08 campaign, Spurs fans were praying for a clean bill of health for the 19-year-old in the weeks leading up to the new campaign.
This season, however, Bale has disappointed and struggled to make any impact in most of his starts. He has had a chance to cement his place in the side in light of the absence of Dos Santos and lack of other competition.
But he is lacking confidence, all too evident in his consistently poor delivery from corners and free kicks. He is not providing Tottenham with the release valve from all the pressure the team has come under from fans and the media.
His performance against Fulham on Sunday was dire and merited a score of 3/10 in some newspapers. He is young, but has important experience and is on a steep learning curve.
It is vital for Harry Redknapp and Tottenham that he rediscovers his touch and gains some confidence, starting with a first goal of the season at home to Blackburn in front of the cameras.
His form is not only important from a personal point of view, but also for his club. If he, Aaron Lennon and David Bentley can provide good service from the flanks to Tottenham's in-form strikers, Spurs will undoubtedly start to force their way away from relegation and into contention for Europe.
Much is made of Tottenham's soft core—the shaky goalkeeper, a lightweight midfield—and Redknapp will need to make the most of offensive assets such as Bale over the coming months.
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