Bale’s second season for Spurs in which he would feature at left back in the absence of Assou-Ekotto. He made 16 appearances but didn't get on the scoresheet in the league, he did however prove to be a reliable defender with the ability to get forwards.
The 2010/11 season at left midfield which won Bale PFA Player of the Year, mainly for his performances in Europe. From this position higher up the pitch he could utilise his pace and found the net 7 times in the league.
Bale’s current central position where he is now thriving, which earned him PFA Player of the Year again, this time completely dominating his opponents, scoring 21 league goals and becoming Spurs key man.Perhaps the easiest and most important period to look at to analyse Gareth Bale is the two most recent seasons, during which he has finally progressed into his ‘best’ positions as a left winger, or attacking centre midfielder. When looking at the numbers, the most noteable and interesting point is that Gareth Bale was statistically stronger in nearly all departments in 11/12, compared to 12/13 - his best season yet which has made him a very expensive transfer target. In 11/12 he won possession back more frequently (143), he played over 300 more successful passes, averaging 44 passes per game at 83% accuracy compared to 34 per game at 79% last season. He also completed more successful dribbles (65), created more chances (84) and made more assists (10). So what changed about Bale’s game in 2012/13 to turn him into a star performer while his statistics suffered?
[quote]‘Sometimes certain tasks might not achieve specific physical data that rewards premium efficiency in terms of a physical performance. You have to be careful with statistics.’
Andre Villas Boas[/quote]
Trademark and Crucial GoalsBale has changed his game in some ways that can’t necessarily be measured by statistics, he certainly grew in confidence. The numbers suggest he has began to take greater risks, being more selfish and taking more shots, which led to him scoring more and creating less, but is he now at that ‘world class’ level? Many people measure world class quality by a players impact on their team in big games, big moments, and across the season, and perhaps this is exactly where Bale stepped up from the seasons before. The manner and quality of his last minute winner against West Ham for example, his contribution of goals at a time when he was the only Spurs player getting on the scoresheet, the sheer amount of away goals he scored was impressive enough (a product of him exploiting space in behind on the counter-attack). On top of this he has now put a stamp on his style of play, he has trademark characteristics, and strikes fear into keepers after developing his free kicks, he forces managers to adjust their strategies to counter his threat, and can now go a game completely quiet before turning it on its head, a notable trait of all of the players we associate with world class quality.
“People have been double-marking or even triple-marking me. I’ve had to mix my game up and I’m improving all the time, especially in that free role.”
Gary Neville once described Cristiano Ronaldo as a ‘bully’ who preys on players weaknesses, and Gareth Bale is now learning to be just like him by isolating players in 1 v 1 situations. Teams are now doing all they can to stop him doing this. At 23 Bale is now primed to take his career to the next level, and it probably won’t be long before a big money move to Real Madrid or Manchester United puts him on a bigger stage. With most players reaching their peak in their late twenties, it will be very interesting to see the way he develops over the next few years in terms of position and performance.