First published in The Pink on Saturday, November 27, 2010
SO, Gareth Bale is apparently the best left-sided player in the world.
While many of us feel proud of him as a former Saints prodigy, it also rankles somewhat.
‘What might have been’ had the club been able to hold on to him a bit longer?
In fact, for a while at Spurs, it seemed as if staying at St Mary’s may have been the better option, compared to the bright lights of North London.
After all, Bale was better known to many as a Spurs jinx, so long did they fail to win in the league with him playing. Now, to be fair to him he was hardly a regular, due to a combination of injury and constant chopping-and-changing of the team.
This year, there is not a football fan in Europe who hasn’t noticed his talent – especially after his hat-trick at the San Siro.
The Welsh wonder-kid was great during his 12 months in the Southampton first team. Sadly for us, he is now consigned to the “what might have been”
box, along with names like Theo Walcott and Alan Shearer.
If the club had been in a position to hang on to both Walcott and Bale for a an extra year each at least, I am confident we would have made it back to the top flight by now.
Alas, that is all ifs, buts and maybes, but there has to be a concerted effort to ensure that box of ex-Saints that went on to be greats does not have any more added to it.
The primary concern right now has to be Adam Lallana.
For my money, he is the most important cog in our team. He has the talent to unlock defences and drag defenders all over the field and it is no coincidence that our worst run of form this season came when he was out injured.
So why hasn’t the club announced anything about his contract?
His current deal runs out in the summer, meaning that as of January, he can sign a deal with any other club and leave in the summer. I’m fairly certain there is a queue of potential suitors just lining up to try and seduce him with offers of riches and football higher up the pyramid than League One.
Quite simply he has to be tied down to the club – but as the New Year approaches I’m getting worried. Now, hopefully I’m just being overly paranoid and an announcement is imminent, but we’ve seen it all before here in Hampshire.
As manager, Alan Ball famously said he left Saints as the club didn’t make him feel like he was wanted. To many that seemed a little disingenuous, but I’m sure we can appreciate the sentiment.
Admittedly, Lallana may decide he does not want to stay, regardless of what the club do. If that turns out to be the case, well there is not an awful lot we can do.
Fingers crossed though that Saints are pulling out all the stops to make sure Lallana is well aware of his worth to the club – both for the present and the future.