Spurs must do their bit to ensure Bale remains boy down the Lane
With a new four-year contract signed last summer, and with a new baby, Bale’s future at Tottenham should be a reliable peg for manager Andre Villas-Boas and those above him. But this is football and it seems like two things need to happen in the next few months to ensure Bale remains at White Hart Lane.
The second springs from the first, which is that Spurs must make the top four places and trust that what happened to them last May with Chelsea, does not happen again.
Then Spurs finished fourth on 69 points but lost their Champions League place when Chelsea, who came sixth in the Premier League, produced that triumph in Munich.
With Manchester United likely to win the Premier League, their progress in Europe will not affect Tottenham. But this is where Wenger comes back in. Arsenal are the other English club left in Europe and it would fit Spurs’ fans doomed sense of themselves to think of Arsenal winning the Champions League to deny them their place in it.
That is hard to foresee – good news for Spurs. Around 69 points should again secure a top four place, and the financial wherewithal to rebuff bids for Bale, but that will require them to maintain their form and victory level for the rest of the season. Arsenal lurk here, too.
Failing to stay the course is why Harry Redknapp is no longer manager. And he also had passages when Bale was unstoppable. Despite the evidence Bale has been serving up this season – again – he cannot do it all on his own.
Coming of age Jones beginning to live up to hype
As someone who has been resistant to the hype surrounding Phil Jones, it was with some surprise to discover a few weeks ago that Phil Jones is 20. That changed things, altered the perception of the young centre-half who can play midfield, it appears, with a veteran’s ease.
On seeing Jones roaming around the Bernabeu on Wednesday night as a key Manchester United performer, the hype looked for the first time to be at least worthy of some form of discussion.
It was Bobby Charlton, no less, who the Christmas before last, when Jones was 18, said that Jones carried similarities with Duncan Edwards. Given the emotional pull of Charlton and Edwards, this sounded over the top and it does still.
But Jones will be 21 next week – his birthday is the date that Edwards died, February 21 – and his all-round display against Real Madrid had a coming-of-age feel to it.
On leaving Celtic Park on Tuesday night, there was a small ball of criticism beginning to roll in the direction Neil Lennon. It was said that Lennon had risked too much on the doubtful fitness of Efe Ambrose, back from the African Nations Cup final and a long flight.
Ambrose had a game to forget, but how many alternatives did Lennon have? Juventus’s victory in Glasgow was in one sense a victory of superior resources. Lennon has a decent starting XI, who have surpassed themselves in Europe. Juve have a squad.