Gareth Bale has more to offer, said Tottenham Hotspur boss Andrė Villas-Boas in his post-match media conference. The former Chelsea manager was fulsome in his praise of Bale, who scored a hat-trick in just 24 minutes in the second half of Spurs’ visit to Villa Park.
Asked whether Bale could be rated as world-class, Villas-Boas said: “[Gareth's] up there with the best, he’s showing tremendous skills and talent. I think he’s improving every day. Such a young player and helping the team. We recognise he’s one of our major assets.
“In playing and training, his personality is wonderful, going through an excellent moment of his professional and personal life and at the moment, we are benefiting from that.
“You always expect the team can make an individual even better. As he learns to play in this team, he’ll feel even better and probably his performances will improve.”
The match itself was a one-sided affair. Tottenham, playing away from home, won the corner count in a goalless first half by 15-1. The second-half goal glut was inevitable, bearing in mind that Aston Villa had shipped eight goals to London rivals Chelsea three days previously.
In the 53rd minute, Jermain Defoe broke the ice with customary clinical finishing. He then handed over goal scoring responsibility to Gareth Bale, who responded mercilessly.
In the 69th minute, Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph went to tackle Bale on the half-way line. The Villa midfielder forgot that Bale has a superhuman burst of pace worthy of an Olympic sprinter. Delph’s tackle missed the ball by a yard, but scythed through Bale’s trailing leg. It looked awful, and for a heart-stopping moment, Spurs fans feared some damage.
But after the briefest of treatment, the Tottenham colossus stood up, ready for more power surges. Delph had been given a lesson in pace, and a yellow card.
That single moment summed up the game. Aston Villa trailed in Tottenham’s wake. A wake-up call, indeed, for Aston Villa’s owners.
Their young players are out of their depth.