Former Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has revealed that he simply needed to take the shackles off Gareth Bale and give him the freedom to explode.
Bale had established himself as one of Tottenham’s best players even before Villas-Boas replaced Harry Redknapp at the helm in the summer of 2012.
However, it was during the Portuguese coach’s first season that the Welshman hit even greater heights and became widely recognised as one of the best in the world.
The winger finished the 2012-13 campaign, with 26 goals and 15 assists across all competitions (Transfermarkt), which convinced Real Madrid to pay what was then a world-record fee to sign him from Spurs in the summer of 2013 (BBC Sport).
Bale’s departure was the beginning of the end for Villas-Boas at White Hart Lane, with the Lilywhites struggling for consistency in the 2013-14 campaign and the former Chelsea boss being sacked midway through the season.
When speaking at a Web Summit this week, on a panel titled ‘Emerging Stars: How do you get to the top?’, Villas-Boas discussed how to get the best out of young players in different cultural contexts.
According to O Jogo (02/11/22 as relayed by Sport Witness), the former Spurs boss explained that in China, players “are more used to following orders, in an almost dictatorship rule” while in Europe, “here is the creative side of letting footballers have freedom”.
He then went on to add about Bale: “Gareth Bale was one of those examples. He is a player who likes that freedom, and, at Tottenham, he produced an incredible season with me, which took him to Real Madrid, where he won a series of trophies. Sometimes, you have to open up that freedom.”
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The free role that Villas-Boas gave Bale in the 2012-13 season was the key to getting the best out of the winger. While Redknapp mostly played Bale on the left, the Welshman showcased even more facets to his game when he was given the freedom to pick the ball up in different areas of the pitch and was absolved of some defensive responsibility.
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