Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughGareth Bale may be a big fish but we don't yet know the size of his pond - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Gareth Bale may be a big fish but we don't yet know the size of his pond - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Gareth Bale may be a big fish but we don’t yet know the size of his pond

You could forgive Gareth Bale if he wanted to leave Spurs this Summer. Missing out on fourth place despite a campaign of gargantuan personal proportions, the general consensus that ‘players of his level need Champion’s League football’ has set the machine in motion. Chins started wagging, keyboards rattling and sharks circling up and down the country, with one slight problem – none of them asked Bale himself what he thought.

And so it is with great ecstasy from Spurs fans and an almost patronising appreciation from the media with which the news of Bale’s impending new contract has been greeted. Bless him, young Gareth, giving it one more year. Resisting the temptations of an immediate cash in on his best ever season, willingly putting himself through another 12 months of Europa League purgatory. His 150K a week salary will likely still pale in comparison to what he could make elsewhere, so his decision to stay must be rooted in little more than loyalty resting in the depths of his heart. Except when you think about it…it really does make sense.

Looking at the European landscape, there is no club at whom Bale could guarantee himself success. Purported suitors Manchester United embark upon life post-Ferguson with nobody really knowing how they’ll respond. Real Madrid, bidding farewell to Jose Mourinho, are in similar uncertainty and possess a figure in Cristiano Ronaldo whose own on-pitch dominance would surely conflict with the Welshman’s. Chelsea and City have the cash but will themselves be starting new regimes, with any signings likely to be made by sporting directors and no guarantee that Bale, outstanding as he may be, would be the immediate object of the new manager’s desires. Where he would fit alongside Hazard, Mata and Oscar or Silva, Tevez and Aguero is unclear. At Spurs, there are no such problems.

At present he is in a team built almost exclusively to cater to his needs. Accusations of being a ‘one man team’ fail to account for how much a team can provide for one man. Nowhere else would he find his style so readily accommodated, his occasional greed tolerated at all costs. Starting afresh would require him to win over a new set of fans, who as much as they may welcome him would inevitably voice dissent the moment he did anything that didn’t seem to justify the suggested £50million price tag. It is a gamble Bale will almost certainly take at some point, but doing it now, with the European elite in a state of universal chaos, would make the pressure yet more severe.

The surprise at Bale’s decision does Spurs themselves a disservice. Their glass ceiling is completely unknown. It may seem like the same old story that ‘they could be contenders with a couple of big signings,’ but that story has never been more true. Three points more this year than last was still not enough to win the coveted fourth place championship, but at least represents some form of improvement. Three more next year may be all they need.

The decisive change between last summer and now must come from behind the scenes. The signings of Hugo Lloris, Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson were good ones but far too late in the day for a team looking to gain instant momentum. This time around, Daniel Levy must be quicker in giving AVB what he needs. In tying up one of the world’s unquestionable elite for another year, he’s taken a vital first step. And in committing his future, Bale himself may have now enabled Spurs to provide him with the stage on which he belongs.