Andre Villas-Boas reveals how heart-to-heart with Gareth Bale led to subtle tactical tweak and the Welsh winger’s best form for Tottenham… just before that £85m move to Real Madrid
- Bale felt a little out of form when a Tottenham player during 2012-13 season
- He went to see his manager Andre Villas-Boas to discuss how to change things
- Villas-Boas proposed a change of formation to get the best out of Bale’s speed
- It worked, with the Welsh winger embarking on a hot streak of scoring form
- He would finish that campaign with 26 goals and 15 assists for Tottenham
- But that led to Real Madrid signing Bale that summer and Villas-Boas’s downfall
Bale had been at White Hart Lane for six years by this point but was a little out of sorts when he came to visit the Portuguese manager.
Now Villas-Boas has lifted the lid on how the meeting led to a tactical shift that enabled Spurs to see the best of the winger.
Andre Villas-Boas has revealed how a change of formation got the best out of Gareth Bale during the Welsh winger’s final season at Tottenham in 2012-13
Bale felt he wasn’t performing well but Villas-Boas changed things and his best form returned
‘Gareth wasn’t feeling that he was unlocking his full potential, he came into my office one day and said: ‘Boss, I’m not happy, things are not going well for me,’ Villas-Boas recalled to Copa90.
‘Ok,’ I said, ‘I can try and change to a 4-4-2 formation and you can play free at the top with [Emmanuel] Adebayor and I can move [Gylfi] Sigurdsson to the left, cutting in.
‘This is when Gareth starts on that run of games where he scored, I think for five or six games in a row, and then the results exploded, and his career exploded from that moment on.’
It was during the January of the one full season – 2012-13 – Villas-Boas was in charge at Tottenham that Bale came to see him.
Bale runs to Villas-Boas to celebrate scoring a last-minute winner against West Ham
The Welshman was then excellent in Spurs’ 3-0 Europa League win over Inter Milan
The shift to a more attacking role proved to Bale’s liking and he went on to score in matches against Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United in the Premier League, plus Lyon in the Europa League.
Shortly afterwards, he scored a dramatic last-minute winner in a 3-2 win over London rivals West Ham at Upton Park, running to celebrate with his manager on the sidelines.
In March 2013, Bale produced an excellent performance as Spurs beat Inter Milan 3-0 at White Hart Lane in the last-16 of the Europa League.
Villas-Boas had a good working relationship during their one season together at Tottenham
Bale is now back at Tottenham, on loan from Real Madrid, and awaiting his second debut
By the end of the season, Bale had scored 26 goals and contributed 15 assists in all competitions for his club.
Of course, this attracted covetous glances from elsewhere and the Welshman duly moved to Real Madrid that summer for a world record fee of £85.3million.
In his absence, Tottenham struggled and Villas-Boas left the club in December 2013 in the wake of a 6-0 defeat at Manchester City and a 5-0 home loss to Liverpool.
Bale has since returned to Tottenham on loan from Real with the fans eagerly awaiting his second debut.