Gareth Bale has done it again, producing a quality goal to save Tottenham as they toiled to get back into a game against Norwich who haven’t won in the League since mid-December. Even with Spurs’ second half pressure at Carrow Road it was looking like another frustrating evening for Tottenham and their travelling supporters as Norwich battled determinedly to hold on to their one goal advantage. Spurs attack had offered little threat until Bale who had been well marshalled all evening by a robust and hard-working home defence, broke clear from his own half.
Bale collected a pass from Jermain Defoe, in his own half on the edge of the centre circle and set off at pace towards goal. He avoided an attempt to bring him down after he’d crossed the half-way line and was quickly into his stride with a strong run. With three Norwich defenders closing in on him, he progressed to the edge of the penalty area where he unleashed a powerful left-footed shot to Bunn’s right giving the goalkeeper no chance. A superb solo goal from Gareth Bale, Tottenham’s inspiration!
Through the early 2000s I lamented frequently at Tottenham’s lack of a quality player to produce inspirational moments to lift and rescue the team at times of crisis. Liverpool had Steven Gerrard, Manchester United had Wayne Rooney, Arsenal had Thierry Henry but Tottenham never had a player who could turn the game with a magical moment. At last, we have he inspiration of Gareth Bale.
Without Bale, last night would quite probably have ended as another tale of failing to get anything against a team which showed determination and commitment. Go back to the spring of 2010 and Tottenham, without Bale, wouldn’t have had the opportunity to sample the joys of Champions League football. Finally, established in a role in the Tottenham team, Bale scored the goals at White Hart Lane in successive matches which enabled Spurs to beat Arsenal and Chelsea to set them up for their fourth place finish.
Bale at His Best
The following season started for Bale with two goals in Tottenham’s first away game at Stoke where he had been sent off in October, 2008 as his Spurs’ career seemed doomed. The winning goal was a classic volley from from a cross from the right. The season continued to prosper with an inspirational performance to bring Tottenham back from the brink of an ignominious defeat against Inter at the San Siro. His second half hat-trick of stunning goals terrorised the experienced Milan defence. At White Hart Lane he continued in a similar vein as Maicon was left floundering with Bale causing mayhem on the left wing in the creation of Spurs’ second half goals.
In his recently published book, The Glory of Spurs, Jim Duggan includes the two Champions League matches in his list of Classic Games. He described Bale’s performance in Italy as, “The finest ever individual performance in a Spurs shirt.”
The second leg brought the following comment, “A Gareth Bale-inspired Spurs tear the reigning European Champions apart.”
In the early part of last season as Spurs set off on a run which saw them rise to third, Bale caused problems on the left with his pace and strong running, leaving dfenders in his wake. Looking for a more expansive role he had greater freedom to roam and made Norwich suffer at Carrow Road with two excellent goals from a central position. The season tailed off and the departure of Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart in the summer has placed more responsibility on Bale’s shoulders. Without their ability to turn a game with a pass or moment of excellence, Bale has been Spurs’ lone source of inspiration this year. Over the past three seasons he has not only created goals but has added to his tally from midfield each year, a vital contribution to a team currently lacking in goalscoring options.
Gareth Bale has been the answer to Tottenham supporters’ wish for a player who can inspire and produce a moment of magic almost at will. He isn’t always able to fulfill that dream but when he does it’s well worth the wait.
Let’s enjoy every moment as it happens because sadly, being realistic, we’ll never know when Gareth Bale will be taken from us.