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The Lead

I’ve been a bit critical of Jonathan Wilson’s tactical hermeneutics of late, but today’s piece on Gareth Bale makes some good arguments against the notion that Tottenham Hotspur are a one-man team. Wilson writes:

Take the last-minute winner against West Ham. Bale began a charge and was bundled off the ball as he laid it outside to Gylfi Sigurdsson who had moved left as Bale surged through the centre. Sigurdsson knocked a pass inside to Tom Carroll by which time Bale had got back to his feet and Sigurdsson had made a run that created a fraction of space. It took an extraordinary strike to score but the key thing was that Bale had two players within 10-15 yards of him, as well as Adebayor pulling away to the right. You do not have to share the late Valeriy Lobanovskyi’s conviction that the coalitions between players are more important than the players themselves to appreciate that others contributed before the majestic execution.

And here is one of those magical moments in which the analysis is borne out by the underlying statistics. As I argued earlier this month, in terms of the control of play, Spurs look about as good a side without Bale as they are with him.

This isn’t some crazy voodoo either, but as Wilson argues, common sense. Football is all about interplay; the notion that in the modern Premier League in which space is almost all tactically accounted for a single player could overcome some major deficiencies within their side and lift them to where Spurs are in the table is ridiculous.

It would also behoove those who want to start talking about a “run of form” too to remind themselves of the Hot Hand fallacy.

England

Benitez openly criticizes his team’s performance.

Wenger worried about Arsenal’s morale.

“He inspires people and he is a direct influence on every single player.” – Villas-Boas on Gareth Bale.

Nathan Dyer insists Swansea will manage without Laudrup.

Italy

Inter hit with fine after fans racially abuse Balotelli.

Ultras in Genoa to face jail time.

La Liga

Real Betis interested in extending Campbell’s loan.

Afellay will return to Barcelona at the end of the season.

Germany

Lewandowski’s agent says the Polish striker has already made up his mind over future.

“I am convinced Borussia will make it into the final.” – Edin Dzeko discusses his future and rumours linking him to Dortmund.

Bit and Bobs

Mourinho in the running to coach Ballack’s friendly in the summer, team to include arch rival Messi.

McClaren leaves Dutch side FC Twente.

“I didn’t kill anyone. I’m here to seek justice.” – Diego Maradona

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.