At any other club in the world, Gareth Bale would be hailed a club legend. Being at the heart of 4 Champions Leagues and a La Liga title. THAT goal vs Barcelona and THAT goal vs Liverpool. Not Real Madrid though. It seems like his time at Bernabeu will always be clouded with issues other than his big game performances.
The Welsh international, like many in capital, has not escaped from the high expectations of the Los Blancos faithful. Notorious for being the most spoilt fans in Europe, they have given Bale more stick than any other player since his arrival in 2013. Whether that be in the form of booing, attacking his car, social media, the relationship between the two parties hasn’t been a smooth ride.
No doubt his legacy at Real will be different to any other play with the accolades he has. But how much responsibility does the former Spurs attacker in this situation? Are the fans to blame or is it him? Similar to our Xhaka article yesterday, let’s see both sides of the argument:
Why it’s Gareth Bale’s fault
Playing devil’s advocate, the 30 year old isn’t innocent in this whole fiasco. Signing for the biggest club in the world (no offence Manchester United fans), comes with the highest of expectations. Unfortunately, these expectations go beyond the football pitch. It also involves integrating yourself into the culture and with the fans.
Bale’s reluctance or inability to learn the language in his 6 years in Spain is questioned frequently by the press as well as fans. Yes, learning Spanish is not essential to succeed for a side, but there is more to it than just being able to do post match interviews to the media. The language is key for communication on the pitch, in training, with the manager and in a social environment too. To make it worse, his Welsh compatriot Aaron Ramsey is making no secret of his desire to learn Italian since joining Juventus. In fact, he’s actively trying to be good at it! After 6 years, surely he should know the basics by now?
But as I mentioned, the language goes further than the interviews. Thibaut Courtois said earlier this year how Bale hasn’t adapted to the Spanish way of life. Now the Belgian isn’t exactly in a position to say this, considering his poor form between the sticks. Moreover, going to bed early and not socialising with teammates isn’t the end of the world. Every person is entitled to spend their free time how they like.
“Bale does not speak [Spanish] as he only speaks English and we talk with gestures.”Marcelo speaking about communicating with Gareth Bale
But all these things add up and collectively reduce the synergy in the dressing room. There of course have been examples of players who haven’t got on well and still played well. Cole and Sheringham for instance. Yet, being alone, playing golf and keeping to yourself, it doesn’t come across well. If he’s still performing on the pitch, fine it will get ignored. But when times are hard, the fans will use this as ammunition for criticism of the winger. Bale should be aware of how it comes across and perhaps make more effort in socialising, even if he doesn’t want to.
Why it’s not Gareth Bale’s fault
Now, the popular opinion and in fact my personal opinion too. The criticism of the Southampton youth product has been unjust to say the least. The man has scored countless crucial goals, delivered man of match performances regularly and ultimately played a large part in Real Madrid’s golden era of European success. For Los Blancos fans to see this and continue to slate him for petty things is ridiculous.
Granted, the fans will get frustrated about his injury record. He’s missed so many games over the years, of course it’s annoying. But it’s not Bale’s fault he’s injury prone. Yet then they’ll just blame his golf for this. Have a day off, he’s a professional footballer. If it was so damaging, the club wouldn’t let him do it.
Then the issue of Spanish and socialising. Are you really going to put more weight on someone not having late dinners and midnight coffees than a flying bicycle kick goal to win your side the Champions League? The issue of socialising and the ‘Spanish way of life’ is a way of scapegoating Bale when the WHOLE team is playing poorly. Singling out the ‘odd one out’ and throwing him under the bus makes sense if you’re not playing well. Perhaps Thibaut Courtois needs to focus less on midnight coffees and more on making saves.
You can tell by how I’ve written this, I think it’s a joke how Madrid have treated a club legend. The moments he has created, the goals he has scored, the games he has won, it all heavily outweighs the negatives. Of course I’m not referring to all Real Madrid fans here. Just the ones who think it’s right to abuse such an incredible footballer after everything he’s done.
Does Gareth Bale have some responsibility in how he’s viewed by his teammates and the fans? Perhaps he does. Watching a bit of Spanish TV and reading a couple of books wouldn’t hurt. But first and foremost, he is a professional footballer, a pretty good one too. Put some respect on his name.
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