A head-on collision is like running into a 600kg polar bear… so, do you still think it's wrong for Bale to dive for cover
00:01 GMT, 5 December 2012
Good on Gareth Bale for trying get out of Steven Sidwell’s way at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
It’s not cheating, it’s sensible.
At full pelt the Tottenham flyer, who weighs 74kg, bears down on opposition defenders at around 23mph.
Target: Gareth Bale terrorises defences at home and beyond
More from Neil Ashton…
Ash Wednesday: Rafa the gaffer is here to stay… so it's time for Chelsea fans to forget feeble protests and stand by their manager
Ash Wednesday: Faced with Ronaldo and co, now is the time for Hart to remind us why he's No 1
Ash Wednesday: AVB's battle to emerge from Redknapp's shadow at Spurs
ASH WEDNESDAY: Cash a goner if you're a Gooner as Arsenal continue to short-change their fans
Ash Wednesday: Crystal clear why Arsenal have joined hunt for Palace superstar Zaha
Ash Wednesday: A warning to Blackburn's new boss… careful who you trust at the top
Ash Wednesday: Mourinho's pupil Rodgers needs to reel in the soundbites in bid to steady Liverpool
Ash Wednesday: Amnesty on football's ills Now that would be a good idea… until the next whistle blows
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
If he acts the big brave British boy as everyone is screaming out for him to do, then a head-on collision is the equivalent of running into a polar bear weighing 600kg.
No-one is stupid enough to do that.
Why would a player of Bale’s talent put himself at risk of serious injury simply to man-up in front of the opposition and their fans
He did that before, remember, when Charlie Adam nailed him in 2011 and he spent three months on the sidelines with an ankle ligament injury.
Bale remembers and quite right too. The following summer he was forced off in Tottenham’s pre-season friendly when Adam gave him another nasty reminder following his transfer to Liverpool.
There is bad blood between them and Bale wants to protect his ankles from further punishment.
That is the reason given by Tottenham’s manager Andre Villas-Boas after television replays proved conclusively that Sidwell clipped his winger last weekend.
Bale has become a moving target for the tough-guys ever since his memorable hat-trick against Inter Milan at the San Siro in October 2010.
The Wales midfielder came of age that night and he has been singled out for special treatment ever since.
This is one of the most precocious talents in world football and his breathtaking runs down Tottenham’s left wing should be respected by referees.
Bale’s not a fraud, but no-one can
stay on their feet when they believe they are about to be taken out by
Brad Guzan, Daniel Agger or Sidwell.
He is establishing a reputation for
going to ground too easily, but that’s unfair on a player who is the
main attacking thrust in this evolving Tottenham team.
Going down: Bale was booked for going down from this challenge from Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell
Against Aston Villa last month he felt he had little choice but to take action when he spotted Guzan storming out of the Villa goal in the corner of his left eye.
Sure it looked clumsy, even stupid, but the alternative was to be taken out by a man at full flight weighing 95kg.
Somehow he avoided a caution at White Hart Lane that night, but he hasn’t been so fortunate in his last two games.
Against Liverpool last Wednesday, when Tottenham won 2-1, Bale was cautioned after a collision with Daniel Agger.
Why would he cheat He set up one and scored a beaut that night, confirming his class in this improving Tottenham team.
He was given another yellow card at Craven Cottage after 23 minutes and yet his team still recorded an impressive 3-0 victory over Fulham.
The sarcastic applause for referee Chris Foy did not help, but his reputation is becoming an increasing source of frustration. He has denied, on several occasions, that he dives deliberately.
Surely he is entitled to take evasive action when he believes he is about to be taken out by the opposition.
The thunderous challenges come thick and fast for players like Bale and over the years he has a developed a physique to deal with most of them.
He would much prefer to side-step them with a dip of the shoulder and sharp acceleration, but it’s not always possible.
You've got to be kidding me! Bale can't believe his caution
The basic premise that this is the Barclays Premier League and that things are differently over here cannot always apply.
Certainly there was no criticism for former England striker Michael Owen when he was asked whether he would dive to win a penalty in the last minute of a World Cup final. He replied ‘yes’ and yet no-one had a problem with that at the time.
There were certainly no complaints when the country went potty after Owen came into contact with Argentina defender Robert Ayala in the penalty area at France 1998.
Perhaps the difference is the blatant attempts to win free-kicks or penalties, the kind of behaviour that appeared to be in Didier Drogba’s blood during his early years in English football. He admitted he ‘dived’ on television, later retracted, but the damage was done.
Team-mates, particularly Chelsea captain John Terry, promised to ‘have a word’ when it had become endemic in his game.
Others, such as Everton skipper Phil Neville, admitted he was ‘stupid’ after he took evasive action when he believed Agger was about to take him out in the Merseyside derby.
When Bale returns from the hamstring injury he picked up during the victory against Fulham, he will be under the microscope more than ever before.
He has been booked six times already this season and two of them have been for simulation. With six goals and one assist for Spurs, it is little wonder people are getting in his way.