Harry Redknapp denies Gareth Bale dives and cheats

 

Harry Redknapp is adamant that Gareth Bale does not dive and insists the only reason that his star winger goes to ground so much is because he is targeted by opposition players, who "kick him from pillar to post" every week.

Bale was criticised last weekend by a number of pundits for the incident which led to him winning Tottenham a penalty in their 5-2 defeat at Arsenal.

Ex-referee Graham Poll said former colleague Mike Dean had been "fooled" in to awarding the spot-kick after Bale dragged his trailing leg into the path of the on-rushing Wojciech Szczesny before tumbling to the ground inside the Arsenal box. Replays showed there was little, if any, contact.

Bale has been cautioned for diving, or "simulation" as it is now known, before this season, but Redknapp insists the player is not a cheat.

"I don't think he dives," the Tottenham manager said.

"I haven't spoken to him about it and there is no need to. He gets kicked form pillar to post most Saturdays.

"I think you will find there is an awful lot of players who have been booked for chopping him down with cynical challenges this year, rather than him going down under no challenge."

Bale's electric pace may have helped him become one of the most explosive players on the planet, but the 22-year-old's skills also mean he has had to deal with a number of clumsy challenges from defenders who cannot keep pace with the winger.

The pummellings took their toll last year, when Bale was forced to miss much of the second half of the campaign because of several injuries.

Redknapp is confident that Bale has now developed enough physically to deal with the reckless tackles, which the Tottenham boss insists are just a normal part of the game which Bale has to deal with.

"He takes some rough treatment, he gets chopped down an awful lot because he runs so quick and he changes direction so quickly," Redknapp added.

"He has to accept it. The great players do like Messi and Ronaldo.

"I watch Spanish football every week and Messi gets chopped down and kicked but he gets up and gets on with it. He never misses a game.

"Gareth is a great young player with a fantastic future and he has to accept that.

"It doesn't worry me. He is 6ft tall and is built like Ronaldo. He is strong. He can take it."

Bale suffered a hamstring injury in midweek but Redknapp is confident that he will be fit for Sunday's crucial clash against Manchester United.

Spurs go in to the match on the back of a 5-2 mauling at Arsenal which all but ended their hopes of winning a first Barclays Premier League since 1961.

The defeat also left Tottenham looking over their shoulders at Arsenal and Chelsea, who trail by just seven points.

Despite challenging for the title for most of the season, Spurs' chances of bringing Champions League football will take a severe hit if they lose their upcoming games against United, Everton and Chelsea, but Redknapp is confident that will not be the case.

"The Arsenal match was a blip, a one-off. It's done and dusted, history, and the players have all moved on," Redknapp added.

"All the big teams have had bad days this year.

"We occasionally will have a day like that where everything went wrong and we have to put it right this week."

Redknapp is confident that Rafael van der Vaart, who was reduced to a second-half substitute role last week because of a calf injury, will be fit for Sunday's game and he also hopes that Ledley King and Kyle Walker will have overcome their respective knee and ankle complaints.

Redknapp has endured a difficult time this season, undergoing a heart operation in November and recently having to clear his name in a 13-day long trial against tax evasion charges - a case which he won.

The popular Tottenham boss, heavily tipped to take over as next England manager, turned 65 today - an age which many associate with retirement.

Redknapp has no plans to quit just yet, however.

"I'm not retiring, no. Not yet, no," he said.

PA

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