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Is Gareth Bale really the best British football player?
Following an excellent performance against Scotland, a match in which Bale may or may not have embellished a foul to earn a penalty, Wales manager Chris Coleman has come out and said that he believes that Gareth Bale is the best British player. Actually, that's just what the headline says. All it looks like Coleman said is: "I wouldn't swap him for anyone else, to be fair."
Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Chris Coleman. In fact I'm really not sure why the Welsh FA chose him to become the new manager in the wake of Gary Speed's death. This comment, however, solidifies Coleman's idiocy in my mind. Look, I understand the need to support your players. No one wants their manager to come out and say, "Yes, he's alright. I'd rather have Wayne Rooney though." That's pretty poor man management. I suppose a manager with as poor of a record as Coleman needs to be conscious of how he works with the players, but that doesn't make the idea behind his comment any less idiotic.
Yes. Gareth Bale is an excellent player. In 169 games for Tottenham Hotspur he has scored 31 goals. He's grown from a fullback who couldn't get a win in a Premier League game to one of the best left wingers in the world. Yes, that's right. I think Gareth Bale is among the best left wingers in the world. He's may not be the best, but he's certainly up there. However, to call him the best British player or to suggest that you wouldn't swap him for anyone else is just plain dumb.
Now, when we say Coleman suggests that Bale is the Best British player, what he's really saying is that he's better than any English player. No offense to Scotland and Northern Ireland, but I can definitively say there is no player on either squad that is as good as Gareth Bale. England, however, may be another matter entirely. Looking at the current England squad I can see only one player I would definitely swap Gareth Bale for, Wayne Rooney. There are some other good players in the England squad. I like Gary Cahill and Adam Johnson. I think James Milner, Andy Carroll, and Danny Welbeck all can be valuable cogs in a quality team. Maybe I'd consider swapping Cahill and Bale, but the idea of swapping a decent attacker for a good defender seems silly.
So, on balance, maybe the headline that Bale is the best Brit isn't as silly as it first seems. Especially when you consider that Wayne Rooney has quite a few detractors. However, in 447 career matches Wayne Rooney has scored 199 goals. For comparison's sake, Jermain Defoe has scored 199 goals in 479 career games, but is 3 years older. However, this discounts the impact that Rooney has on a teams attack through his passing and dropping deep. Rooney will be 27 next week and Bale just turned 23 this summer, however If Manchester United offered me a straight swap Rooney for Bale I'd hardly have to think about it. Rooney would be a Spurs player within the hour.
This brings us to the idea that Chris Coleman would not swap Bale for ANYONE. Here's the list of players (off the top of my head) that I would swap Bale for: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Neymar, Eden Hazard, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Falcao, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Gerard Pique, Arjen Robben, Andres Iniesta, and Luka Modric. I'm sure if I actually did some research there would be more players on that list, but that would require actual work on my part.
Even if you don't agree with some (or most) of that list there is certainly one player we can all agree we would swap Bale for. That player is Messi. Messi is only two years older than Gareth Bale, but he is without a doubt the greatest player of our generation. I can't think of a footballer I'd rather have on my team than Little Leo. If you would rather have Bale than Messi, then frankly I don't know what to say with you. People like you clearly cannot be reasoned with. How do you argue with 73 goals in 60 matches last season? Or 265 total goals in 340 matches for Barcelona. That's a goal every 115 minutes on the pitch. That's crazy.
So, after a "careful" examination, maybe calling Bale the best British player isn't too far off the truth. I would probably only swap Bale for Wayne Rooney and I can certainly imagine that there might be people who would choose Bale over Rooney. I don't agree, but you're entitled to your opinion. On the matter of not swapping Bale for anyone, well, that's just obviously rubbish. So, Chris Coleman, I applaud your efforts to support your player, but I still think you're a crap manager and not very smart.