Not putting all your eggs in what basket yes, so to speak, but in a game whereby respected qualities such as loyalty, passion and allegiance are meant to prevail, aren’t we being sold a little short by our league’s top pros? Spurs’ Gareth Bale is the latest star to hint at his very own personal ambitions for next term by revealing he wants to be playing Champions League football. Bale told The Mirror
‘Everybody always wants to test themselves against the best players in the world. We have to wait and see what happens. Obviously if we don’t (qualify for the Champions League), we’ll have to sit down and discuss and see what’s best for myself’.
The first sentence was okay. We can accept that Gareth, but it is the second just leaves that bittersweet taste in the mouth if you are of the Tottenham persuasion. Want, want, want. This is what we’ve reluctantly come to expect from modern-day football in that players always envisage the grass being greener elsewhere and negotiate an innate lack of patience in persevering with current employers in joint union of a distinct target. Gareth Bale is undoubtedly a talent, who has lit up the Premier League for the duration of the last two seasons. I know what you’re thinking; there’s nothing wrong with a little self-confidence and Bale should indeed be playing in Europe’s biggest competition, but to carelessly utter such thoughts before the current season is even finished is where his young, naïve nature lets him down.
Perhaps Lionel Messi set the benchmark by achieving all but a World Cup triumph before the age of 24. Or perhaps, the fast-paced, direct and immediate nature of contemporary living with Twitter and other social media focusing on instantaneous exchange has sub-consciously made us more impatient individuals. I don’t know what it is, but everywhere you look in football nowadays, it is increasingly rare a case that specific personnel stick around, dig in and achieve strength in adversity. Instead players are often advised to walk away, start again or re-assess. How much easier is the latter?
Samir Nasri walked away from Arsenal last summer and remains in contention for a Premier League winners medal, but aside from his much-coveted bet with Piers Morgan on Twitter, the Frenchman has embodied less flair and outstanding performances this term than during his eye-catching spell at Arsenal. At 22, there is still a lot for Bale to learn, even though it is appealing to believe he has mastered the Premier League with his careering bursts of pace up the pitch and deadly crossing accuracy which few can match. Far too often, we build players up, partly because of the Sky Sports hype-machine but also our hopes for a player to succeed, and we often may fling our hands in the air and shrug our shoulders when someone as young as 22 doesn’t deliver. Youngsters are naïve and impressionable. After all, who wouldn’t have their head turned if Real Madrid and Barcelona were mentioned?
Harry Redknapp maintains that Bale is a ‘home bird’ in that he is grounded and down to earth but his comments certainly haven’t instilled any particular faith that he is willing to achieve his long-term targets with his current employers. In fact they have conveyed the opposite. Although it is the popular belief that they are, footballers aren’t completely silly and talents such as Bale are surely aware of their own upward mobility and social kudos. In other words, youngsters are more prone to hype going to their head than most and Bale’s latest comments reflect a man who knows deep down the club need him more than he needs the club. Bale knows he has shone in front of a global audience and has countless numbers of potential suitors.
Another Spurs talent whose future is unclear in relation to the clubs current finish is Luka Modric who has remained silent upon the whereabouts of his labours next term. Redknapp said of the situation
‘I would be lying if I said I was sure that Luka will stay – you don’t know’
Again, the overriding notion is that the players are distracted by the bright lights of more successful clubs elsewhere and negotiate a so-called heir in flirting with them. All it would take would be an interview stating how this season is still up in the air but I am dedicated to achieving Champions League football with this club going forward. This type of attitude is no longer traceable and one season of failure is all it takes nowadays for contracts to be reviewed, scrapped or deliberated upon.
There are very few clubs worldwide nowadays whereby the majority of the squad is content in their employment. Perhaps the Manchester United’s, Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s of this world are some of the very few clubs where personnel are almost guaranteed of a top-of-the-table finish; hence squad member satisfaction. Elsewhere at aspiring clubs such as Spurs, players are continually caught in that dilemma of fleeing a good club to a great one, with no real verbal ambition to stick around and indeed make their name as the centrepiece to a future great side. If Spurs make the Champions League, Bale and Modric are likely to stay but if they don’t, they are likely to consider their options. It is as simple as that. Maybe I have to accept that is how it is these days, but you can’t help feeling vexed, that stars that have ‘just made it’ should be more respectful to the clubs that have moulded them.
What do you think of Bale’s comments? Should he continue to learn his trade at Spurs? Follow me @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989