The Midweek Moan: It’s too early to start believing the Bale versus Ronaldo hype

15:35 27 February 2013

Tottenham

Tottenham's Gareth Bale. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

PA Wire

Welcome to London24’s weekly column taking a frustrated look at the world of sport and having a good old-fashioned rant to get it off our chests. This week, beware that propaganda machine clicking into gear for next great hope Gareth Bale...

Gareth Bale. Photo: David Davies/PAGareth Bale. Photo: David Davies/PA

Those of a football persuasion have a great propensity to jump the gun.

Freddy Adu was the new Pele, Bruno Cheyrou was the next Zinedine Zidane and now Gareth Bale is Cristiano Ronaldo, the 4G Valleys edition. Or so we’re led to believe.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale (left) and manager Andre Villas-Boas celebrate. Photo: John Walton/EMPICSTottenham's Gareth Bale (left) and manager Andre Villas-Boas celebrate. Photo: John Walton/EMPICS

You may not recall the failed talents of the first two but there’s no escaping the current clamour to create a holy trinity where Tottenham’s shining light stands as an equal to Real Madrid’s real McCoy or his Ballon d’Or better, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Naturally, the excitement surrounding the 23-year-old – particularly if you’re of a Spurs leaning – is at fever pitch. That’s unsurprising considering his match-winning exploits of late.

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale (right) scores his team's winning goal. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale (right) scores his team's winning goal. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Indeed, his eight most recent strikes have accounted for his side’s last 10 goals, the most recent of which downed West Ham to move the north Londoners’ into third place in the Premier League.

With all due respect to the Hammers and the other teams Bale has laid waste to domestically this term, they are not the calibre of opponents that secure a player’s passage to the elite.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Lyon. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA WireTottenham's Gareth Bale celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Lyon. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

He has had an undeniably magnificent six months and noticeably since the turn of the year he has been winning games on his own. While this undoubtedly puts his name on the shortlist to join the best of the best, it’s a club that takes considerably more than half a year’s excellence to secure election.

For that he needs sustained exposure to the Champions League and/or top level international football. A solitary Welsh visit to the World Cup in 1958 does not suggest the latter will change any time soon.

"Let’s all just take a big, deep breath and gain some sense of perspective, because Bale isn’t yet Blighty’s answer to Ronaldo or Messi."

James Cunliffe

So, the Champions League it is then. There, again, the sign are good. Spurs’ only foray into the tournament saw Bale frighten the life out of both Milan giants. But that needs to be replicated repeatedly and while he’s going the right way about it, in terms of a return to Europe’s top table, this campaign has to be seen as an hors d’oeuvres to the promise of future feasts.

Even then, true greatness is not guaranteed. Take Steven Gerrard for example. Hero-worship is and will be forever etched on the psyche of the red half of Merseyside. Still, one man’s maestro is another man’s also-ran.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale applauds supporters. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA WireTottenham's Gareth Bale applauds supporters. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Barring partnerships with Fernando Torres (when he know where the goal was) and now Luis Suarez, Gerrard has spent a decade and more playing the one-man action hero, as Bale has in recent weeks.

His stock long ago moved into the world-class bracket by virtue of time and consistency, pulling out the really big performances either when the chips were down or the eyes of the world were upon him in Champions League and FA Cup finals.

Stats: Suarez v Bale

Passes: (LS) 950 | (GB) 791

Passing Accuracy: 77.2% | 78.4%

Passing Accuracy opp. Half: 73.3% | 61.5%

Duels Won: 167 | 141

Duels lost: 278 | 159

Duels won: 37.5% | 47%

Aerial duels won: 10 | 37

Aerial duels lost: 26 | 54

Aerial Duels Won: 27.8% | 40.7%

Recoveries: 89 | 86

Yet when it came to picking the best English midfielder of his generation, bona fide great Zidane picked Paul Scholes. Opinion, ain’t it great?

So let’s all just take a big, deep breath and gain some sense of perspective, because Bale isn’t yet Blighty’s answer to Ronaldo or Messi.

His ascension to that platform will take time and will be a tricky path to tread. Just ask Brazil-based Neymar, who was billed as the South American answer to the main protagonists in the El Classico rivalry. Consistently linked with transfers to Chelsea, Manchester City et al, it’s all gone considerably quiet since his performance – or lack thereof - against England at Wembley last month.

Bale, though, does already operate in arguably the toughest top-flight league in the world and that’s why the hope, and indeed the hype, is so big. Even in a London24 poll the majority of readers have voted him as the best player in the Premier League, in the wake of his brace at West Ham.

It’s perhaps worth noting, while many seem set on prematurely declaring the former Southampton left-back a genius, that, statistically this season, Bale isn’t even as good as Liverpool’s Suarez.

Based on Opta figures the Uruguayan out-points the Welsh wizard in almost all aspects of the game from passing, to dribbling, to assists. It’s probably a small mercy for Spurs fans that boss Andre Villas-Boas thinks the Prozone style of management, based on numbers and figures, is “useless”.

But while the comparisons to Ronaldo and Messi show no signs of let-up, Bale rightly deserves the plaudits for his current form. Let’s just leave the grand proclamations until he actually stands as their equal through time and achievement, not before.

Related articles

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest football news

Friday, May 22, 2015
Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Winger Eden Hazard could miss his first Premier League match of the season when Chelsea play Sunderland on Sunday after undergoing emergency dental surgery to remove his wisdom teeth.

Friday, May 22, 2015
Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino (left) hopes his star striker Harry Kane enjoys a prolific tournament with England's Under-21s in the Czech Republic

Mauricio Pochettino says everyone at Tottenham will be cheering for Harry Kane and England’s Under-21s after the striker was selected for the European Under-21 Championship.

Friday, May 22, 2015
Saido Berahino of West Bromwich Albion  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Boss Tony Pulis admitted West Brom will let Saido Berahino leave if a top four club makes a move - but only for the right deal.

Friday, May 22, 2015
West Ham's Sam Allardyce (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Sam Allardyce will find out whether he has a future as West Ham manager on Monday, but he will be on his way to Spain.

Friday, May 22, 2015
Bastian Schweinsteiger of Bayern Muenchen (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is interested in signing Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger this summer, but Chelsea could also enter the fray.

Don't Miss...

What is this?

Near You Now

Competitions

Time to experience the dizzy heights of London's tallest attraction!

Morgan Pryce, commercial property experts based in London are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Shard viewing platform in the city itself.

Read more