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FM Experiment – Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham

Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham has made them a very interesting choice as a club for FM21. It’s been a while since Spurs had a major star partnering Harry Kane, so all bets are off as to what Jose Mourinho can achieve with them… or are they? Maybe Football Manager can give us some clues as to what to expect. Let’s hop in the time machine and take a look!

The set-up

We’re using The FM Editor’s 2020/21 Updates database for our experiment; make sure to check it out if you’re feeling like taking this new look Spurs (or any EPL side) for a spin. We also started unemployed at the beginning of the season, and disabled attributes masking.

Season 2020/21

From the start, Bale is an effective threat all across the front. If you’ve watched their documentary “All or Nothing” you know Mourinho has been displeased about his lack of attacking options. In Bale he has a player he can not only add quality to his attack with, but also move along the front of the team should any injuries occur.

It seems the portuguese manager deployed him mostly on the right, probably as an inverted winger, with Son Heung-Min on the left mostly likely in a similar role, and Harry Kane up front, a set up rather reminiscent of his 2005-07 Chelsea.

Bale finished with 19 goals in 42 appearances for the club, meaning he did not miss any long periods of time through injury, which must be a concern in real life regarding his move. He helped Tottenham return to the top 4, probably bringing a smile to Daniel Levy as they did not want to keep on missing on that juicy CL money. Just for good measure, though, they also lifted the Europa League, beating Real Sociedad in the final.

After such a successful season it would have been mad for Bale to leave Tottenham when his loan deal expired. Through the magic of the editor, he made his stay permanent, signing a 2-year, 19.6m p/a deal.

Season 2021/22

A slightly less productive for Gareth as he finishes with 30 apps and 10 goals, suggesting he’s either been injured more often or has dropped within the pecking order.

Still, Tottenham has an overall productive season as they once again take 4th position. They also took a trip to Wembley, facing Manchester City on the FA Cup semifinal, but failing to progress. The worst part of the season, without a doubt, was their Champions League form as they faced a 1st Knockout Round exit to PSG.

Regardless, Gareth earned a contract extension taking his deal till the end of the 23/24 season.

Season 2022/23

Now we really start to see the toll that all those injuries have taken on Bale’s body; his physical attributes take a serious hit and his playing numbers once again drop. He finishes this season with just 15 apps (only 5 starting) and just 2 goals.

For Tottenham, however, it’s one of the best seasons in memory as they finish 2nd, just 3 points off Premier League winners Chelsea. They lost the League Cup to Manchester City 2-3 in extra time, and an early exit from the FA Cup probably aided their league form. On the international front, it’s once again a disappointment at the hands of a Ligue 1 team, as they drop out in the 1st Knockout Round against Lyon.

It could prove the end of the adventure for Bale, as he was transfer-listed at the end of the season.

Season 2023/24

Early in the summer the Welsh superstar moved to Fiorentina for 8M; that ended his second stint at Tottenham after 84 apps and 33 goals.

For Tottenham it was also an interesting time. They exited early both cups and had yetanother Champions League 1st Knockout Round vs PSG. That was piled on with some terrible league form, finishing outside the UCL places.

Tottenham sacked Mourinho after the end of the season, bringing an end to his era in North London.

What did we learn?

Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham can give them a great option to improve their attack and bring them some much longed for silverware.

He has, however, been an injury prone player which could be problematic, particularly as he enters his 30s; Mourinho (or anyone) will have to manage his minutes in order to extract the most out of the welsh star.

We’ll just have to wait and see how accurate Football Manager can be.

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Written by Fernando

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