It was nearly two years ago when Welsh wonder wizard Gareth Bale gave the White Hart Lane faithful one of their greatest international nights. His speed, flair, and precision fueled a 3-1 evisceration of Inter Milan in their Champions League group stage match. Such was Bale’s embarrassment of Inter’s right back Maicon that chants of “Taxi for Maicon” rained down on the hapless Brazilian.
Maicon recovered from that particular denouement sufficiently enough to sign with Manchester City this season. But Bale was at it again on Saturday, exposing another aging world-class defender in Rio Ferdinand. In the 32nd minute, Bale collected the ball near the half-way line and then made like a RAF Typhoon F2 towards the Manchester United goal. Ferdinand gamely gave chase but was left to choke on Bale’s chemtrail.
Spurs’ first win at Old Trafford since 1989 exposed the paucity of Manchester United’s defence. Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were the stalwarts of United’s stingy stonewall of a backline in their Champions-League winning year of 2008. But since then both players have missed significant stretches of time, with Vidic now out again for perhaps two months. There’s no doubt that the soon to be 34-year old Ferdinand, whose 2002 transfer from Leeds to Manchester broke the British transfer record, is in decline from the peak of his powers.
Sir Alex Ferguson was so flummoxed by his squad’s failure on Saturday that he thought Batman himself was marauding on the wing for the Spurs. The top of the table in the Prem boasts a bounty of pacy young players. Ferguson has added many such players to his squad in his latest rebuilding effort, but is he in need of a new hardman to replace Ferdinand already?