Bring back Bale for a second season
After watching Gareth Bale hit a hat-trick against Sheffield United, Spurs fan Dan Carrier calls for the club to give supporters the chance to see the flying forward in the flesh
03 May, 2021 — By Dan Carrier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dan Carrier: ‘Bring back Bale for the fans’
SPURS 4 (Bale 36, 61, 69, Son 77)
SHEFFIELD UNITED 0
CAN there be a more heart-warming sight for Spurs fans to witness than Gareth Bale grinning as he claims the match ball from the referee after striking a marvellous hat-trick?
Tonight (Sunday) the on loan forward sent a clear message to doubters that he still has more than enough class to play in the Premier League – and his frequent exclusion from the starting XI this term is a head-scratching enigma that adds credence to the idea that sacked Spurs boss Jose Mourinho wanted to win playing a peculiar brand of anti-football.
Surely Bale’s hat-trick means the second-year option on his loan deal will now be activated. It would be a miserable move to deny fans the chance to see the returning hero in the flesh next season – and regardless of the romance, his brilliant trio of strikes against Sheffield United show he can offer something special.
Speaking after the game, which leaves Tottenham five points adrift of the top-four with just four league fixtures left to go, interim head coach Ryan Mason said Bale was “happy” at the club, but would not be drawn on whether he would be given the opportunity for another year.
Mason added: “That is a conversation for the end of the season between Gareth, the club and his parent club. Our priority is the four games we have left. Gareth is happy – he has another match ball to add to his collection.
“We now have a massive game next week. We’ll do a week of hard training – and let’s hope Gareth is happy again next weekend.”
Bale’s full-time smiles were just the tonic needed to lighten the mood after last weekend’s Carabao Cup final defeat.
Though Spurs may run out of track before they can make up ground in the league, there is still a chance for a cathartic finale to wash away the costly errors committed during this oddest of odd seasons.
Mason, with nothing to lose, gave Tottenham fans what, on paper, looks like a dream attack – Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Dele Alli and Bale. Against the team propping up the table and already relegated, Mason showed a boldness so often lacking under his predecessor.
Spurs started brightly – Alli and Bale set off with points to prove, and with Kane and Son buzzing, there was a fluidness that has been sorely missing.
Sheffield United, though already down, are not known for lying down but their efforts were no match for the fabulous four up front.
In the opening 20 minutes, Kane had a shot cleared off the line, Bale blasted over after working space on the right, and Son forced United keeper Aaron Ramsdale into a sprawling one-handed block low to his left.
As the half ticked on, the worry that such pressure had not garnered goals was apparent – until Bale took centre stage.
The Welshman broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark. Serge Aurier saw Bale time a run perfectly, and his chipped pass set-up a race between the Spurs forward and Ramsdale. Bale won – and with a flick of his left boot, sent the ball over the United keeper and into the net.
United briefly found their feet after a half time debrief and the introduction of two substitutes, Sander Berge and Oliver Burke.
For 15 minutes, it looked like the old habits were about to return. So often when a goal to the good this term, Spurs sat back and let their lead slip. But there was also the sense that, inspired by Bale, Tottenham were biding their time and could press the turbo button when needed.
The game-sealing second came on 61. Son stole the ball, rode a foul and then hit a first-time pass into acres of space centrally. Bale had tracked the play and strode on to the pass.
He had 25-yards to cover before he could shoot from a comfortable range, and he showed a turn of pace that rolled back years – giving United’s scrambling defence no opportunity to make up lost ground. Bale rounded off the move with a rasping finish.
Then came the hat-trick, created by Lo Celso, Son and Aurier, who cut inside his marker and saw Bale’s delayed arrival on the edge of the box. Bale had all the time in the world to pick his spot – and his finish was executed with the pin-point precision of a golfer putting from a yard away on the 18th green.
Spurs weren’t finished. Another mood-lifting goal, which gave the scoreline a deserved sheen, came from Son.
Intricate push-and-run football saw the home side pick their way through United’s midfield before Son collected wide right. The forward curled a trademark shot into the far corner.
Critics may say this 4-0 win is all good – but it’s only Sheffield United, and is probably still too little, too late.
But you’d have to be stone-hearted not to enjoy the sight of Bale walking back on to the pitch at full-time to collect the match ball. There surely can’t be a Spurs fans who doesn’t hope the option to keep Bale for another year is activated by whoever Mason hands the reigns over to.
Tottenham: Lloris, Aurier, Dier, Alderweireld, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Lo Celso (Winks, 70), Bale (Bergwijn, 74), Alli (Lamela, 77), Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Hart, Doherty, Sanchez, Sissoko, Moura, Ndombele
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Baldock, Egan, Basham, Bogle (Berge, 45), Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Osborn, Brewster (Burke, 45), McGoldrick (Mousset, 83)
Substitutes not used: Lundstram, Lowe, Jagielka, Foderingham, Robinson, Gordon