The key to answering this question is quite a simple one: it depends on your definition of one-man team. There is a subtle difference between a player being the sole reason that you win a game of football and a player being the focal point of your team and helping you win a game of football. Put it this way: if Spurs were playing badly but winning due to Bale (a la definition 1) then we would be a one-man team; but Spurs are playing well and winning with the help of Bale (a la definition 2).
Before I analyse the stats of the matter, I’ll talk about the rest of the Spurs team. This Spurs’ defence is the best I have seen in my lifetime. I’m not that old, but I’m old enough. We have the best strength in depth out of any PL team – arguably – which is a key contributing factor to why we haven’t conceded more than once in a Premier League game since the 9th December. Walker, Naughton, BAE, Caulker, Dawson, Gallas, and Vertonghen have all played in that time and we even have Kaboul returning from injury soon. We have appeared to overcome the difficulties we had in seeing out the closing stages of matches and the WHL faithful no longer expect defensive calamities that were so common as of old.
Our midfield (excluding Bale, the subject of the one-man team discussion) is solid. At times we lack creativity, but it dictates the pace of the game well and links defence with attack effectively. Dembele and co carry out an important defensive job, too, as Spurs keep opposing teams in their own half rather than being allowed to spend time in Spurs’ half. However, one thing they haven’t truly done as yet is contribute huge amounts of goals – including Dempsey and excluding Bale, we have still only added 10 league goals from midfield so far in this campaign – compare that with Chelsea who have 35! It’s clearly an area Spurs need to work on.
Our attack is unfortunately the clearest argument yet that Spurs are indeed a one-man team. Adebayor and Defoe have contributed a pitifully low number of goals from their forward positions and time and time again we have been let off by the sheer class of Bale. A few more goals from these two men, and Spurs would be less reliant on the Welsh wizard; but, coupled with our midfield’s inability to score, the striking drought has only been forgiven due to Bale scoring our last 6 goals.
But has Bale really contributed that much? This season he has ‘only’ produced 10 assists – a decent amount, for sure, but hardly setting the world alight. He has added 18 goals in all competitions but most of these have come since Christmas, 7 coming in a hat-trick and two doubles against Villa, Newcastle and Lyon. Certainly, in the last few games, he has been pivotal to us winning but we have won without him, for example, at home to Reading in January we were potent attacking-wise as we won 3-1.
Where would we be without Bale? Not top 4, certainly. But equally, we would still have a very strong side. At the moment, we play around Bale, relying on his sheer magic and technical prowess to guide us through matches and provide the attacking spark. But if necessary, we could use a different tactic. We have the players to employ a number of systems. Holtby could be a midfield playmaker, we could focus all our attacks on the right wing, or we could sit back and let teams attack before breaking with the pace of Lennon etc. Bale is critical, but he is not the be-all or end-all of Spurs.
As mentioned earlier, there is a difference between reliance and over-reliance. I think Spurs are just about at the reliant end of the spectrum.
Do you think Spurs a one-man team? Have your say below!
By Alex Beck
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