Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp talks about his role in transforming Gareth Bale into a world class player.
Fomer Spurs boss Harry Redknapp took credit for developing Gareth Bale into the player that he is today. Redknapp managed the Welsh winger from 2008 to 2012 at Spurs and said it was his “tough love” that was responsible for Bale’s rise as a player. The Queens Park Rangers manager said that he transformed Bale from a Tottenham fringe player to the most expensive player on the planet.
Redknapp reckons Bale lacked toughness in his initial Spurs days and was too soft to be a defender. The Premier League demands mental and physical strength from its defenders and Redknapp felt Bale was not the strong enough to play in defence. This is why he was tried out as a left winger, a role where he has flourished since.
Redknapp has managed a lot of rising stars in his career who have gone on to become superstars. He managed the likes of Jermain Defoe, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick in his West Ham days and helped them progress on to bigger and better arenas in world football. Redknapp is known for his astuteness about young talent and is much respected because of this. There is a famous interview where a fan asks Redknapp (then managing a 17 year old Lampard at West Ham) about why he let players like Matt Holland leave the club and accused Redknapp of sticking with Lampard who is Redknapp’s nephew. Harry responds to the question in front of Lampard and predicts the future:
Of Bale, Redknapp said:
“Gareth seemed too soft to be a defender so we decided to try him further forward,” said Redknapp in an extract of Always Managing: My Autobiography in the Daily Mail.
“He drove me mad in training. Technically he was outstanding, but he always seemed to be playing with his hair. It was never right. He’d be flicking the fringe or wiping it out of his eyes and I would be going quietly mad, just watching. ‘Gareth, leave your barnet alone!’
“He was always getting a little knock in training, too. He’d go down then limp off, and I always thought the physios made too much fuss of him. It was the same pattern every morning: Gareth would tumble and stay there, and they’d all go running over. In the end I told them just to leave him alone.
“Gareth got up, got on with it and got better and better. It was all about building up his confidence.”
Redknapp also said Bale’s self belief will be tested when he performs with the Galacticos at Real Madrid:
“He will have to be ready for when he goes it alone, has a shot, misses and Ronaldo starts throwing his arms up in the air,” Redknapp said. “He cannot, at that point, go into his shell and become this timid little creature. But it is not natural for Gareth to behave in an assertive way.”