Paul Parker

Bale risks making things worse with ‘coward’ comments

Paul Parker

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Gareth Bale's comments regarding the tackle from Charlie Adam in Saturday's friendly between Tottenham and Liverpool were a bit over the top for me.

Adam's challenge was poorly-judged but I do not believe there was any malice in it. It was certainly not as bad as the one the Scot inflicted on Bale while playing for Blackpool just over a year ago. That really was a terrible challenge, and caused Bale a significant injury.

You cannot blame Bale if he has harboured any resentment against Adam since then. As a player, sometimes it is difficult not to hold a grudge no matter how hard you try. But to come out and call another player a coward in public does not reflect well on him.

Rightly or wrongly, Bale perhaps lacks a degree of public sympathy. He has previously attracted controversy for appearing to dive on several occasions, and subsequently trying to justify his actions by saying he does it to avoid injury. Not only that, but many will question why he was even on Tottenham's pre-season tour of the US, considering he had withdrawn from selection for the Team GB Olympic squad not long beforehand.

Bale is a fine player, but there are others better than him who are also targeted unfairly by opponents unable to keep up with them, players who do not make their frustration public. I can think of two particular players based in Spain, for a start.

He has every right to be upset about picking up an injury which may jeopardise his fitness for the new season, but for him to express that could have the opposite effect. Like it or not, defenders will pick up on his comments, and those who are unable to compete with Bale's power, pace and skill will think that at least they can make him retreat into his shell with a couple of hefty challenges.

I would like to say that there is an unspoken rule among players that they will take it easy on each other during pre-season games, but unfortunately that is not the case across the board.

At this stage of the year, many players will have new managers they want to impress, or indeed new team-mates and fans if they have moved during the summer.

Nowadays, most top teams have their friendlies broadcast live across the globe, and their performances are still being assessed by supporters and media alike with plenty of scrutiny.

Many of these matches, like the Spurs-Liverpool in Baltimore, are played in regions in which the clubs hope to attract new fans and sell more shirts, so the pressure is still on for the players to showcase their own talents and the sport as a whole.

Finally, some players are just born competitors, and are incapable of giving anything less than their all in any game, whether it be a cup final or a quick 5-a-side on the training ground.

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