This was something that cropped up on the last blog and appears to have a touched a nerve. So where better to begin than trying to define what exactly is ‘world class’? Well, it’s an incredibly unique mix of talent that qualifies a player as being thought of as world class. It’s not just about that extra edge they have, that x factor, it is about consistency and it is ultimately about achievement.
Form is temporary, class is permanent is a phrase routinely wheeled out when footballer’s mojo goes missing. To an extent this is true. How many footballers looked like they were going to hit the big time, but actually fizzled out instead? So a sustained effort is required. You can’t claim to have been world class because you had a good season.
The biggest hurdle for those seeking entry to the inner sanctum? Medals. Pots and pans and cups and chalices. Big shiny badges and ribbons and balloons and streamers. Winning stuff. If anyone can name a player that they genuinely believe is world class who hasn’t won anything beyond a 50 meters swimming certificate then they are either wrong, bonkers or both. Football’s halls of fame are not littered with the names of players who didn’t win anything.
So what of Bale? He has had some astonishing moments. But going past Maicon a few times and the occasional Ronaldoesque fre kick being on target is fabulous, but it’s a far cry from the big boys bracket. I’m not deriding him. He’s one of the most exciting players in the Premier League. But the facts are he when it comes to being truly world class, he doesn’t tick all the boxes yet.
As per the last blog, think of Berbatov and Modric. Both were picked up by Spurs for modest amounts. sold on for what, nigh on triple what we paid. But this says more about modern football than it does about their status as world class talent. So far, both have been outed as pretenders.
Berbatov? Game over. He went to Manchester United and flat-lined. Sure, his wiki page will have a couple of Championships on it and a Charity Shield on it, but he won’t even be remembered as a Manchester United great. He’s a nearly man who went on to nearly be good for Fulham.
Modric is hardly worth dwelling upon. Marca voted him the worst Spanish transfer ever or something. At least Berbatov got some game time while the rest of the United team were busy winning things. Those two dropouts, are classic examples of how not to get remembered as world class…
So Bale needs to be consistent. Three seasons ago he was a defender, two seasons ago a winger, a season ago he wanted to swap wings, this season he’s a striker. I’m not mocking, just highlighting that there simply isn’t any stability there yet. He’s certainly reached a point whereby he’s the first name on the team sheet, but there’s still some way to go.
So what does he have to do? In truth, little more than keep on keeping on. He’s a massive talent and clearly intelligent enough to realise he’s on his way to being a great. He could be one of the world’s finest. But he needs to develop and fine tune his craft. Be truly consistent and then the rest will probably follow. But he all bias aside he should stay at Spurs and develop.
He’s not the finished article and so he’s not world class. Who the hell am I to say that? A guy who believes so much in his talent, that I’m convinced that there is more to come so when the phrase ‘world class’ is bandied about, it will be entirely justified.