Gareth Bale still seems to be taking a pounding from all sides. Last week Graeme Souness had a go at the Welshman on UK Sky Sports and at the weekend Gareth took a bit of stick once again from Madrid fans - although not as much as Iker Casillas did. However, the latest story to hit the news is that Gareth's agent, Jonathan Barnett has come out in the press and said that the problem at Madrid is because the other Real players don't pass to him often enough.
Added to that, rumours in the English press continue to speculate about a move to Manchester United; which Barnett denies. Another story allegedly coming from Madrid's dressing room is that Gareth's team mates are annoyed that he doesn't speak a high enough level of Spanish to communicate with them properly.
He's not having the best of weeks; and this could well turn out to be another test of Gareth Bale's character. It must seem to him as though it's one thing after another but often in situations like this it's how you react that is the deciding factor.
With regards to speaking Spanish, the English press made a big deal of how Carlo Ancelotti likes to communicate with the team in Spanish; despite speaking English well. As somebody pointed today, why not? Real Madrid are a Spanish Club playing in the capital. Of course the preferred language of the changing room is going to be Spanish!
Real Madrid-Juventus coverage
Real Madrid-Juventus coverage
When he was first presented to the support, Gareth Bale gave a little speech in Spanish and it went down really well with the crowd at the time. However, as anyone living in another country will testify, it's sometimes too easy to lapse into your home tongue when abroad, particularly if people in the changing rooms tend to speak to him in English. If that's the case - and albeit with the very best of intentions - then they're not helping Gareth in the long run.
I know Gareth Bale is as proud a Welshman as can be but he probably wouldn't have found Welsh to be the main language in the Tottenham dressing room so of course he'll be tempted to take the easy option if someone in Madrid speaks to him in English. If he hasn't quite grasped the language yet then he's also likely to be wondering what people are saying about him. He may well know the basics but dealing with the dialects and slang might be a different story.
Going back to his performance in the first leg of the Champions League game, Gareth will be the first to admit that he has played better; and in 48 hrs time he's simply just going to have to go out and play against Juventus as though his life depends on it in order to prove this. If you listen to the media though it appears that his whole Madrid future depends on the Juventus game and that can't be the best preparation for him in such an important week.
The UK press still continue to talk about him going to Manchester United (or Chelsea according to one report) and there's even talk of a return to Tottenham. All these rumours and gossip must be unsettling for him and at times he must be wondering what it's all about. Then as if this wasn't enough, his agent decides to stir things up even more.
I don't think anybody will blame Gareth's agent for sticking up for him but he certainly didn't do him any favours with his comments about teammates not passing to him enough. I just hope that the rest of the Madrid players take the remarks made by Jonathan Barnett with the proverbial pinch of salt; and that Gareth doesn't make matters worse by reacting to them.
Under the present circumstances following the Valencia game and the much-publicised events afterwards, quotes and misquotes will be rife over the next 48 hrs. Sometimes when you try to justify a comment that has been made by somebody else, it can be difficult if not impossible and you can often make matters worse. It's very easy to try to explain something and dig yourself in deeper; it's far better to stay quiet and just get on with the game and let all the other things take their course.
I think it's worth remembering that Jonathan Barnett is, after all, a football agent and that his main job is to promote his clients. If that means ruffling a few feathers in the Madrid dressing room then he's not going to think twice about doing so, especially when his client is the subject of so much talk about moving on. Interestingly enough, Gareth Bale takes every opportunity to remind us that he has no intention of leaving Real Madrid; so these comments about people not passing the ball to him enough may well be just the agent's way of keeping his client in the public eye.
The only comments Gareth Bale needs to listen to at the moment are those of the coach, Carlo Ancelotti, and by all accounts it will be back to the ‘BBC' once again for the Juventus game.