Football has a short memory. Idols quickly become villains, while villains can quickly become idols, showing the flip-flop nature of the beautiful game. And Gareth Bale now knows all about this, with the Welshman public enemy number one at Real Madrid nowadays, despite helping Los Blancos to clinch their 10th European Cup less than a year ago.
The Welshman has been roundly criticised for some below par showings of late, culminating in some pretty vile abuse from ‘fans’ of the club after last night’s Champions League semi-final loss. The defeat leaves the Madrid side unable to defend their status as Europe’s top dogs, while their La Liga hopes hinge on Barcelona slipping up in their remaining two games.
After being booed from the stands and having his car attacked by fans, Bale could have been forgiven for thinking things couldn’t get much worse…. However, they have. As he left the Bernabeu last night ordinarily autograph-hungry supporters launched tirades of abuse towards the Welshman, branding him a “son of a b****” and an “a***hole”, among other things.
Football is a notoriously fickle world – after all, Bale was scoring in a Champions League Final for the club less than 12 months ago – but is there really any way back between the player and the fans now?
“We’ve been vindicated by these statistics and it’s what we’ve been saying all along,
“It proves that people don’t know what they’re talking about when they criticise Gareth, they are not looking at it properly.
“Real have to work with Gareth and pass the ball to him more. Give him more of the ball and let him show everybody what he’s good at. He’s going to be the best player at Real Madrid when his team-mates work with him and help him. Hopefully Real will come to terms with this.”
It all sounds a little playground, doesn’t it? Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, claimed last week that his client’s team-mates do not pass to him enough, which has had an adverse effect on his performances.
We’ll stay out of the ‘ball hogger’ debate and instead look at the over arching problem, Bale simply doesn’t seem to fit in. In a lot of ways he’s a similar style of player to Cristiano Ronaldo, with his pace, power and desire to be the main man all characteristics the Portuguese star possesses. That town ain’t big enough for the both of them, though…
Leading on from the last point, Bale will never truly be the main man. Even though he’s the most expensive player on the planet, Ronaldo is Mr. Madrid. Talented and arrogant, the ex-Man United ace is the club personified, which is, perhaps, why he fits so well. Bale is more reserved, making him less likely to win over the crowd.
Even if ‘Ronny’ leaves the Wales international may again be dumped down, with Real a club able to bring in the very biggest players on a yearly basis.
As Player of the Year prior to his exit, Bale was certainly appreciated in the Premier League. He shone for Spurs, but his performances also made him popular with other fans, who appreciated his fearsome ability, even if he was prone to a little simulation.
Heading back to a familiar league may give Bale the platform to get back to doing what he does best away from the pressure of Real Madrid.
There’s no doubt the pressure and expectation of being at Real is getting to Bale. He doesn’t have the same swagger he had at Spurs nowadays, with the constant criticism and heckling weighing heavy on his shoulders.
Getting away from such a hostile environment may revive the winger, who is in need of some appreciation.