How Gareth Bale could fit into David Moyes’ plans

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According to various press reports, Manchester United are considering an audacious swoop for Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale.

Frankly, it’s unlikely that Daniel Levy would want to sell his prized asset to one of Spurs’ domestic rivals and Bale himself might find the prospect of joining Real Madrid more enticing.

Nonetheless, stranger things have happened in football and what follows is an assessment of Bale’s role if he is to grace the Old Trafford pitch.

Position

During the second half of the 2012/13 season, Andre Villas-Boas primarily used Bale in a free role as the No 10.

Although the Welshman initially flourished in that role, opposing team soon started congesting him, forcing “AVB” to shift Bale out to the flanks in games against sides like Manchester City and Southampton.

At United, David Moyes is unlikely to give Bale the No 10 slot. He already has Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney (if not sold to Chelsea) for that role. Kagawa, in particular, is much more composed and comfortable in narrows zones than Bale.

Hence, moving on, the left-winger role might also not suit Bale because, as Michael Cox states, this position will suppress his goal-scoring abilities.

Possessing a weak right-foot, Bale cannot drift in and shoot, instead he will have to take respite by providing crosses.

For a player who scored 26 goals last term, crossing from the left-flank instead of utilizing his potent left-foot will be a massive bane for the team.

Moreover, Bale is much more direct to be an archetypal winger just popping in crosses.

He averaged 5 shots per game last term (second highest in the Premier League) and hit the ball with a better accuracy than all of United’s wingers.

Due to his mobility, Bale likes to cut inside from the wing, shoot from his stronger foot or link-up with teammates. Thus, the right-winger role will be the most suitable role for him at United.

The Red Devils desperately lacked goals from wingers last term and Bale can eradicate this problem.

More Space

As the No 10, Bale can quickly get overcrowded. Not to forget, when he receives the ball with his back to the goal, the 23-year-old tends to struggle.

On the right flank, however, Bale can simply take on a single defender at a time rather than a brigade of defenders and midfielders. This means more space for him to maraud down with speed and trickery.

Bale thrived on the wings against Southampton and City as he was up against only one player, rather than two or three. And, in one-on-one situations, Bale can beat any full-back in the world.

Out wide, Bale will also get the opportunity to get behind the backline, with his goal against Manchester City a testimony to this claim.

When the opposition puts up two solid banks of ‘4’ and Bale is playing as the No 10, he is compelled to drop deep as it becomes difficult for the midfielders to spray an accurate pass behind the two midfielders and two defenders for the former Saints youngster to pounce on.

But on the touchline, Bale can easily make unnoticed runs, with Michael Carrick supplying him constant ammunition.

If you have watched United’s two pre-season friendlies, then you might have also noticed the attackers trying to run behind the back-four on a continual basis.

Jesse Lingard’s sublime goal against Australia’s A-League All Stars was a courtesy of this tactic.  In my opinion, Bale can be a great asset if this approach is used by Moyes in the Premier League.

Free Role?

Many argue that if Bale is played on the flanks, he will lose the freedom that transformed him into one of Premier League’s best last season.

However, Moyes’s initial tactical plans suggest otherwise.

In the pre-season games, Moyes has played with one winger plucking in and the other providing width.

Ryan Giggs (against Thai All Star XI) and Lingard (against A-League All Stars) were given optimum  freedom to roam around all over the pitch. In fact, even the wingers providing the width got ample scope to move in.

Bale can take up either role.

I reckon since he likes to get involved centrally, he can move in from the right wing, link-up with Kagawa and Robin van Persie, while Zaha or Luis Nani can stretch the field of play.

Bale won’t be restricted by Moyes in the final third but instead as the No 10, he will play as an inverted winger.

This will give him the added luxury of staying only on the touchline if the center is becoming crowded and he is stuttering.

But that shouldn’t really be the case owing to the presence of Kagawa (or Rooney).

When Bale will drift in, the attention of the opposition will still be on Kagawa (since as the No 10, the Japanese will be the attacking hub of the team) and Bale will be usually marked only by the full-back.

This will give the Wales international the opportunity to get into the space in between the lines (as Kagawa will provide a distraction).

I have tried to depict this with the help of a diagram (consider the opposition playing a  4-2-3-1 formation).

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At Spurs, Bale was the focus of attention and hence, heavily marked by the opposing players.

Defensive Duties

In the game against Chelsea during the business end of last season, Bale started out on the left-wing and rarely tracked back to provide support to Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

But that was basically because his role was such. The winger had the onus to start the counters and the team’s attack was centered on him.

Under a manager like Moyes, known for his defensive strictness, Bale will be without doubt, instructed to track back.

And stats suggest that he can easily do the “donkey work” at the back end.

Comparing his defensive outputs of the previous campaign to that of United’s wingers’, we find that Bale averages the highest number of defensive actions, highest number of interceptions, and the third highest number of tackles.

His tackling rate has scope for improvement but the lad rarely commits needless fouls.

And this is when Bale was mostly played as the second-striker.

Defensive Actions (p/g) Tackles Interceptions Fouls Tackling Success
Bale 3 1 1.3 0.7 73% (33)
Nani 1 0.9 0.9 0.6 90% (10)
Valencia 2 1.9 0.8 1.2 79%(57)
Young 2 1.2 0.8 0.7 83% (23)

 

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About Surya 32 Articles
Surya Solanki is a freelance football writer covering the Premier League and African football. Being an avid Manchester United supporter for the past ten years, something always motivated him to go beyond just being a spectator, and gradually he began blogging about his views. He is currently a Manchester United critic at Goal.com and a correspondent for Football.com.

14 Comments

  1. The best way to plan for Gareth Bale is to have him triple marked when UTD play Spurs as Levy will never sell to them!

  2. The question was;

    “How could Gareth Bale fit into David Moyes’ plans?”

    There is only one way Gareth Bale could fit into David Moyes’s plans.

    If AVB becomes Barca manager and Tottenham’s board decide that anti-football tactics are the way forward and poach Moyes for Old Trafford to become the next manager at WHL.

    We know how fickle your support are so why not give up on the red devils now Fergie has realised how big the re-building job is and join us at the Lane?

    Tottenham are the future. Moyes and his negative crap belongs in the British museum.

  3. I think Moyes has a 3 point plan:
    1: find Aladins magic lamp and use a wish convincing levy to sell for £20 mil less than Madrid are offering.
    2: use second wish to make Bale want to go to the drizzle and misery of “up north” rather than the sun and sangria of Spain. which is where he has already said he wants to go (eventually).
    3: use third wish to ensure he doesn’t get sacked by Xmas!

    You do know that Bale doesn’t want to go to united and he’s not for sale! Cesc has said the only club he would return to England for is Arsenal!

    My prediction for next season is utd to come down to earth with such a bump that their collective heads are forced from there arse!

  4. Just get used to the fact that Manchester United don’t get everything- or everyone they want. Gareth Bale is contracted to Tottenham, is happy there and there is no need to sell him. Real Madrid were warned off a £85 million bid- why should Levy sell to a rival premiership club for less. United won’t get Fabregas either, as he’s tied contractually to Barcelona, and emotionally to some other North London club. Moyes could do worse than be nice to Rooney- he’s not THAT bad.

  5. I for one don’t want bale yes he scored a lot of goals but didn’t play on the wing he played as a second striker 2 his number of assists wasn’t very good and if you take all the goals away and look at the rest of his stats he was barely average last season such to the point that Stuart downing is above him for passing acc successfully completed dribbles successfully completed crossing and key passes and we all know how crap fowning is so say no to bale and give zaha the games and buy modric instead and as for moyes anti football the stats suggest the complete opposite but i guess time will yell as for spurs a team on the up not until levy is ready to pay top money for a good cf

    • Oh my Barry… I honestly cant believe you said that!!! fool! i’d like to point out so much to you… we could be here all day. So, besides being the PFA player of the year (the 2nd time) and all the other rewards he got last season. He would be the best player in the UTD squad IF he came (he won’t btw). Lets not be silly now and think you’re going to walk the league again this season. I honestly think UTD fans will be on Moyes back by November. Chelsea (annoyingly) will win it this season. UTD i think will be 3/4th and trophyless.

  6. The stats don’t lie just look at them hes over rated hes a £20 mill player at the most oh and by the way i work for a company that organises opta stats by stats he was 8th best number 10 last season and 14 best winger

  7. I guess your right tony you 2 might not agree with me that i think bale is over rated but that’s the great thing about football we are all entitled to our opinions and it would be boring if we all agreed and i don’t think that we will get bale but if we do i hope that in wrong cos without a couple of signings we may struggle next season i still think modric should be a signing in sure that you cant disagree to much with that

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