One-dimensional Bale must improve…

by Charlie Coffey

Monday, November 8th, 2010

to be considered as a true great.

If last week’s highly entertaining round of Champions League matches has taught us that Gareth Bale can now be considered as one of the most exciting players on the planet, it has also reminded us that pace comes and goes, and that the very finest players are those who continue to prosper when that time comes. Whether it is 37-year-old Filippo Inzaghi scoring a brace against Real Madrid, or 36-year-old Paul Scholes running the midfield for United once again at Bursaspor (completing 100 of his 107 attempted passes), these great players prove that pace can only get you so far.

As I said in my last blog, Bale has so much more in terms of both physical and mental attributes than many other speedy wingers and is by no means a headless chicken, but if he truly deserves the obvious comparison to Ryan Giggs, he will have to prove that he can adapt his game later on in his career to cope with the detrimental effects age can have on players, especially wingers.

Bale’s natural fitness is comparable to that of Giggs, but like any other player he is susceptible to an injury that can take five yards off his pace. Just ask Michael Owen. At 21 Owen was considered one of the hottest properties in world football, and had been ever since he slalomed past the stars of Argentina’s defence to score what has sadly turned out to be the best goal of his career at the age of 18. Bale could also do worse than to look at the fall in Owen’s stock after moving from Liverpool to Real Madrid as a warning against moving away from the club with whom he developed into the player that made the top clubs interested in him in the first place.

Inzaghi has never had much pace, nor technique in the respect of dribbling, but his poacher’s instinct and finishing ability have stood the test of time. His game has never been about beating a man with the ball at his feet as Bale’s is, rather turning up in the right place at the right time to finish off the athletic work of others. Bale should maintain the ability to deliver the kind of pinpoint crosses that led to goals for Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko on Tuesday, but whether he will always have the pace to reach the crossing positions he was able to get into so often against Inter, and to complete the amazing amount of completed dribbles (nine) against some of the world’s top defenders without necessarily deceiving them but by simply outrunning them, is another matter entirely.

What Giggs has done, as well as to look after himself in terms of a modest social life and a comprehensive yoga routine, is to develop an ability to split defences with passes from deep without the need to beat a man an get to the byline.  That is not to say an intelligent footballer like Gareth Bale cannot add this to his game as and when it is required, but until he proves that he can any comparisons to Ryan Giggs and co. will be somewhat invalid.

Read Charlie Coffey’s brilliant blog at

Play our free fantasy football and predictor games to win great cash prizes.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • negrodamus

    bale is far from one dementional. hes not all about pace, hes also one of the best crossers of the ball in the world. comparing him to giggs, bale is far more versatile; hes a better defender, better at heading; bale can pretty much play every position on the pitch, aside from keeper, but i wouldnt be surprised if he could do that too.

  • jonno

    Giggs has done it for 15 years mate, Bale has barely done it for 15 months.

    He was absolute crud until Redknapp played him in midfield.

    Saying that, we’d take him all day long!

  • charlie

    why are we talking about how good bale is going to be in 2020 anyway? and why does this article keep bringing up how well giggs and scholes are doing with age? do i sense a bit of insecurity?

  • jonno

    lets be honest. Spurs wont finish in the top 4 this season.

    They will get through to the last 16 of the CL, get hammered by the likes of Barcelona and by that time they’ll be 15 points away from the CL places.

    Are you telling me if Barca, Real or Man U came in for him he wouldn’t be tempted to leave to play CL football every season?

  • charlie

    lets be honest, united are looking worryingly weak. your squad lacks depth and a few players of real quality and you know it. you guys see young squads like ours then look back at your rapidly aging squad and you feel threatened so you make articles and comments like this.

  • Hoe

    What a deluded article, do you homework first idiot Bale is probably our least ‘One Dimensional’ player, he can run, run and run, then pass, shoot, cross beat people with skill and take freekicks, how many more dimensions do you want?!

    Maybe you expect him to keep the nets too?

  • Hoe

    jonno that ain’t entirely true about him being Crud, in his first year he was MOTM (for us) when we lost to Arsenal 2-1 and he scored from a set piece, in truth he only started playing defence again when Ramos came in, before that Jol was playing him left wing mostly.

    Don’t get me wrong I don’t expect everyone to remember things like that (specially if you ain’t a Yid), but still, do your homework please.

  • Darren

    couldn’t agree more with Charlie here, United’s squad is very, very poor, look at Arsenal’s bench on Sunday, that was surely the strongest bench they’ve ever had!

    Saying that, United are still unbeaten, that’s the problem I feel, teams are still intimidated when they go to Old Trafford.

    Chelsea will still run away with the title but 2nd is well up for grabs

  • feedbaQ

    man utd aint good enough… Pleaes we have heard that one before… Tell me why there two points behind the leaders?… Still running for all four trophies.. And incase u havent noticed there unbeaten not in the primier league bt in all competitions…. If they aint good enough and looking at there position ask your self what will happen when they hit full peak…. Ah and tottenham and arsenal if ur good enough whats there to show for it?… Bolton and newcatsle respectively?… Speaking of tottenham lets imagine a bale less tottenham.. To me looks like one of the teams that might just make the headlines for getting a draw at oldtrafford… Actually there is light at the end of a tottenham tunnel.. TRAIN LIGHTS…

  • rama

    i think people have not fully understood the article…it says bale should find ways to improve himself with more attributes which do not require his pace ..but i would still rate him among the top 10 players in the world at this moment…even though he has the potential to be the world’s best he should work really hard and move onto a club that plays to his strength… barca play to the strength of messi and manu played to the strength of ronaldo and rooney

  • inthe realworld

    What makes jonno such an expert? What’s his CV listing his acheivements? Sounds like either a young adolescent or a deluded example of a blinkered fan.With his powers of seeing the future perhaps he can tell me the score in the Champions League finsl, both teams and next Fridays Euromillions numbers. It’s opinionated prats like him that give ,we the majority, football fans a bad name. I have to remind no football fans that one moron doesn’t make the jonnos of this world typical. Bale is 21 and is maturing faster than Giggs at that age. Might I presume from the “style” that jonno is a United fan from outside their locale??

  • Mani

    To whomever said he couldn’t turn down Man U, he did, to play for Spurs. Martin Jol promised him first team football and, bosh! …

    As for the basic premise of the blog, no shit!!

Previous post:

Next post: