The Daily Mail has been publishing pieces of Harry Redknapp’s forthcoming autobiography, Always Managing, in which the Queens Park Rangers boss describes Real Madrid’s record signing Gareth Bale as being short on confidence. Redknapp, of course, coached Bale for four years during his time as manager of Tottenham Hotspur. In the book, he describes the massive test awaiting the Welshman in Madrid.
“[Gareth’s] biggest test will be to step out of the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo with confidence. That won’t be easy. Ronaldo is a huge star at Madrid and will probably want to take nine out of 10 free kicks - at least. Gareth will have to assert himself and that will require a strong mind. He has to think ‘I’m an 86 million pound ($136 million) player’ and act like it, taking responsibility, claiming the ball when he fancies his chances. And yet at the same time he cannot dwell on his fee and what it means too much because that would put him under immense pressure.”
He adds: “It is a tricky balancing act. He will have to be ready for the matches when he goes it alone, has a shot, misses and Ronaldo starts throwing his arms up in the air. 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. Don’t get me wrong, he knows he is good. The fee is crazy, amazing money, but he wouldn’t have fought so hard to get the deal done if he didn’t fancy his chances of living up to expectations in Madrid.”
He continues: “If I have a worry it is that I remember the days when Gareth’s confidence was draining fast at Spurs and there were genuine fears he might not make it. He wasn’t the strongest of characters back then and he cannot be allowed to fall into that same negative state of mind. If it doesn’t start like fireworks for him he will need [Real coach] Carlo [Ancelotti] to make sure he does not become isolated, left alone with his thoughts. He won’t like the attention a difficult start brings either. Gareth is a very private person and he won’t enjoy having every move scrutinized.”