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"As soon as he hit it, where I was, I went: 'Oh no.' ... As soon as it was five yards off his foot I went: 'Oh, that's it, it's in.' ... We've really been beaten by Gareth Bale, haven't we, really?"
Savour, for a moment, the idea of expressions as uncouth as "oh no" and "oh, that's it" passing the delicate lips of Samuel Allardyce. Given the bleakness of his surname, a Dickensian "gadzooks" would perhaps be credible; but this outburst? Look forward to future post-match interviews where the West Ham manager's sainted aunts get a mention.
Yet this light comedy was well short of the high point of Monday night's entertainment. Derbies are often best left to those involved and West Ham v Spurs has not always been enticing. With Bale in his present form, though, this was a game that surely lured in more neutral viewers than usual, most of whom will not have made my mistake of nipping out just as the Welshman was scoring the first of the night's goals.
News of the opener came via a doleful text from a friend; not a West Ham fan, though, but a Spurs fan ever more convinced that each such strike merely adds to the likelihood that Bale will be on his way in the summer, with the sole consolation the addition of the odd million here or there to the fee.
For the rest of the night few will have risked looking away whenever the Welshman was on the ball or anywhere near it, even when he was on the floor - as was the case moments before the goal that took Allardyce back to the Edwardian drawing room. It will not be Tottenham's loss alone if Bale does leave White Hart Lane this summer.
Earlier in the day the speculation had surrounded a Dane, Michael Laudrup, in the wake of Swansea's Capital One Cup success and a poll of Real Madrid fans suggesting he would be the ideal successor to Jose Mourinho (should the club wish to move away from the surly, vindictive and paranoid style of management). Some Mailboxers seek to diminish Laudrup's League Cup triumph, in part because of the quality of the opposition, but the league performances from a team that many felt would be succumbing to second-season syndrome prove that he is an adornment to the English game.
This is not a vintage season, this is not a high-quality Premier League; Manchester City's failings combined with Manchester United's virtues have ensured that envisioning a proper title race requires imagination, while if Mourinho's men are on their mettle and there is no Munich miracle for Arsenal then the Champions League quarter-finals could be an all-continental affair. Some of the teams in the relegation scrap have little fight in them and, a year after a campaign that had everything, we could be reduced to overanalysing the race for third and fourth. Financial fair play is necessary but a byproduct could be to leave United out on their own domestically, reducing the Premier League's appeal even as it gives well-run clubs the edge over those owned by the profligate.
Still, while there are players underperforming everywhere - my Tottenham-supporting friend hoped the sale of Bale would pay for a new back four - there are still figures of imagination, enthusiasm and endeavour across the division. Newcastle's labours cannot hide the quality of their francophone contingent; Luis Suarez may be a target of Roberto Mancini but his inspiration masks a multitude of sins (including some of his own) at Liverpool; David Moyes is hoping that Marouane Fellaini can cope with the kickings dished out to Everton's talisman. And everyone is wondering quite what Romelu Lukaku is doing at The Hawthorns when he could be shaking up Stamford Bridge.
The clubs are seeking to ensure next season's latest leap in Premier League income does not simply create wage inflation and, for all the self-interest at work, there is a great deal to be said for wage restraint. Much of the money is handed out to players who add much to the gaiety of local night spots and car dealerships but little to that of supporters, let alone the wider football public. However, there are playing and managerial talents that are worth trying to bypass agents for, or even worth 'matching the ambitions of'.
If Spurs do not reach the Champions League then their hopes of keeping Bale are probably forlorn; he deserves the biggest stage a Welshman can realistically find. The saga of his future may well come to bore me in the summer. But at this vantage point all but the most one-eyed Gooner should be hoping that his club, and others, cling on to those who can beat opposing teams on their own.