Bale Rescues Spurs. Repeat To Fade.

Gareth Bale rescued Spurs with two stunning free-kicks that secured a precious lead to take to Lyon, just when the European dream was fading away. May as well cut out the flab, trim the fat, cut out the middle man and just give him the ball. He’s going to sort it one way or another.  Might as well keep the same headline for every piece until the end of the season. He scores all the goals and there’s danger in the air each time he touches the ball.  It’s magic, thrilling out of the seat stuff. Polish every second he’s on the ball, wrap it in scented tissue and tuck it away in the memory bank for when you are old and grey.

Yet Bale threw a lifeline into a dark, dank hole that he helped to dig. He wasn’t alone, of course. Lyon are a tough, well-drilled side. Bale and his team-mates ran into a battle-hardened Champions League outfit and by the end had run out of ideas. It’s foolish to level the criticism that we would be nothing without Bale – we have him, he’s there, same as every great player lifts the whole side. However, last night’s uninspired effort confirmed the problems we have in keeping the ball and up front, which could cost us dear as the season reaches a climax.

A lead for a tough second leg was more than looked likely for much of the second half. I’m grateful but it does not fully obscure ineffectual efforts again from Dempsey and Adebayor, who is now generating ironic cheers from the East Stand when he wins a header. Parker is properly fit again but his forward passing generates nothing.

Serenaded throughout by a band of itinerant balladeers in the Park Lane, this was a Valentine’s day with my one true love. The lights were a bit bright, hardly the sort of secluded atmosphere you need for romance. Bit heavy on the dimmer switch.

But romance so often smacks headfirst into reality and comes off second best.  A decent crowd, considering the inflated ticket prices, and the whiff of a glory glory night dissolved into the reality of these first-leg games in Europe, one that was a long way from the final even though we are in the middle of February. The game was like an air-bed with a tiny hole. It looks solid but it’s slowly deflating before our very eyes. Play well and it’s never truly satisfying because there’s another game to go, another chance to cock it up. Play poorly and there’s opportunity for redemption. Either way, there’s something empty about a first leg tie. Bit like all my Valentine’s Days, really….

It took a while but we got going. Lennon and Walker combined superbly down the right. Beating the full-back this way and that or a through ball inside him, their pace was unstoppable. More please. Demebelehad a good first half too. Even though I don’t like him so deep, he had enough room to turn defence into attack. One throughball, cutting and quick, set up Adebayor but he missed the chance.

Finally, down he right again, Bale with an open goal, unmarked, he misses. Unbelieveable for Superboy under any circumstances, but now the lead shield had come off the container of green kryptonite that I am convinced lies buried beneath the penalty spot.

No matter. A free-kick, ridiculously far out even for him, but it swerves this way and that, sideways away from the keeper then down into the corner of the net. Bale has changed his technique in the last month or so. He no longer gives it sidespin and curl with the inside of his left foot but rather strikes it cleanly and lets the ball do its work. The swerve sets the keeper in one direction so a touch the other way and he has to change balance as well as direction.

Bale did not have a good game, all round. He has so much at his disposal, can do so many things, so many options, that it was as if he had too many choices that he delayed and deliberated, or tried something too flash. The simple choice is often the best.

Second half and we seldom got going. Lyon limited the space for Dembele and on our right. We were therefore less effective although I would not have substituted Lennon who had another good game. Lyon’s 4-3-3 can turn defence into attack quickly and once they had equalised with another in this game of stunners, they fell back and we were getting nowhere until the injury time winner. As above but no less wonderous. The keeper is still dizzy from watching the flight of the ball.

13 thoughts on “Bale Rescues Spurs. Repeat To Fade.

  1. Lovely piece Alan. Thanks.

    When the winner went in I didn’t cheer and raise my arms heavenward in jubilation, as I normally would, I just sat back and started to chortle quietly. It’s all so Gareth of the Hotspurs at present. I usually err on the pessimistic side, but I was as sure as one can be he’d score. It’s almost otherwordly at present.

    It was a good, technical game, not lots of clear chances but always interesting to watch as two good sides looked for space etc etc. A throwback to older European ties perhaps.

    It was tough going for us second half especially. They are a more than decent side and I think they’ll be fireworks and to and froing in the scoreline out there.

    Their goal was a ripper too.

    We’ve got to get Dembele further forward or give Holtby is head I think.


    • Absolutely, agree with all of that. I too didn’t cheer so much as gawp in amazement. It could be a crucial goal that could keep us in Europe.

      Regards, Al


  2. Hi Alan, hope all is well.
    Good to see another great write up regarding our boy wonder Bale and the game itself.
    Would love to see Bale win a trophy with us before he moves to another club. This will definately put him up there in our hall of fame, holding a trophy for future fans to admire what he did for us. It will truly be sad if he has no silverware with us, as most of our previous greats have.
    Still think we have enough about us to secure 4th place, and hopefully with Holtby in the squad this can now be achieved.


  3. As usual I think this is a very good summary. For me, we looked solid at the back, uninspired going forward. Adebayor has had a poor season (witnessed by some boos in the Paxton when his name was read out – I don’t agree with this practice but it’s telling). However his performance last night was unacceptable. He just looked like a pub footballer at best. Dempsey was full of endeavour with no product but at least he put ‘a shift in’. We need to sort this out.
    The Parker / Dembele combination doesn’t work for me. Parker gets the tackles in but whereas, last season, he would find Modric available to do something with the ball, Dembele is all over the shop. Parker then tries to find an outlet but it’s not effective and we lose momentum. Against well organised teams like Olympic Lyonnais, it’s a problem. Holtby seemed to give us a bit more penetration through the middle when he came on.
    We praised Bale to the hilt last time so I think it’s fair not to go over the top on this one. OL had him pretty well pegged down for most of the game and but for the free kicks, he was pretty anonymous. But weren’t those free kicks sublime? Bend It Like Bale sprung to mind.


  4. A win is a win and it will be great to take a lead to France .
    We all know that our forwards are not good at the moment. I have never liked Dempsey. He is just a player. ( championship standard at best) and Ade is having a poor season.
    I am sure someone will come to the club in the summer.
    Our backs are good and another midfielder would be good. I like the look of the new boy from Germany.
    Thanks Alan


    • Holtby looks very good. i would play him because he can give us the drive that we miss in Sandro’s absence. Different position but he gives everyone a lift, the opposition cannot rest while he is on the pitch.


    • Thanks for posting, he certainly seems like a down to earth young man. A cyber pal of mine, Mike Pearlman, is a Spurs-supporting journalist based in Wales. He’s met Gareth several times and confirms that he comes over as a decent, feet on the ground bloke.




  5. Alan, over ‘ere in Major League Baseball they use the term knuckleball for one that doesn’t have much spin, and apparently that is exactly what Gareth, Ronaldo and a couple of others are doing. According to Brad Friedel, it is the lack of spin on the ball which makes it so hard to read. “If you set your wall up correctly you see it come off the foot, and then you have to react to the first direction that it goes – and the problem is that there’s no spin on the ball. If there’s no spin on the ball and then in mid-flight it goes the opposite way, there’s no way to train your eye to deal with that. You just have to try to react the best you can.” And here’s a link to some science —


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