McGhee making plans for Bale

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee has been picking up tips on how to restrict Gareth Bale.

Last Updated: 18/03/13 at 19:13 Post Comment

Bale: Star man for club and country

Bale: Star man for club and country

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee has been picking up tips on how to restrict Gareth Bale - but he feels it is equally important that his team look to inflict damage on Wales rather than focus on stopping one man.

Bale is the obvious danger man from a Scotland point of view ahead of the World Cup qualifier at Hampden on Friday night.

The Tottenham star has scored 11 goals in as many games and McGhee believes he is as influential for Spurs as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

The 23-year-old's threat was reinforced to the Scotland players in October when they suffered a 2-1 defeat in Cardiff that ensures they are bottom of Group A and which effectively cost Craig Levein his job.

Bale won and converted a penalty equaliser and struck a sensational 25-yard winner in the final minute.

But McGhee and manager Gordon Strachan will remind their players that they got themselves into the driving seat and had a goal wrongly disallowed while 1-0 up, before Bale intervened.

McGhee said: "I've watched a lot of him recently and we obviously realise he's a huge threat.

"Any management team in the world at this moment coming up against Gareth Bale would give him serious consideration and, of course, we will do that and will plan to deal with him as best we possibly can.

"But we are at home, it's a World Cup qualifier and we feel that by exerting our influence on the game then that can possibly undermine his chances of being a big influence on the game."

Scotland hero Joe Jordan last week said his and Harry Redknapp's QPR team had kept Bale "very quiet" during a goalless draw against their former club in January, and McGhee feels he has spotted methods of doing that.

"Even this afternoon we have been going through DVDs that we will be showing the players, and some of that includes situations that we felt teams had done certain things tactically that caused Gareth Bale a problem in terms of trying to find space and get on the ball," he said.

"That's what we have to do but, as importantly, that when we do win the ball back off Wales, we are positive with it."

Bale has scored four of his country's last five goals but McGhee stressed that Wales have other threats.

One of them, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, produced an equally impressive individual display as Bale did in October when Scotland visited the Cardiff City Stadium in a 2009 friendly.

McGhee said "I said this a couple of weeks ago when we had a meeting: 'Let's imagine Gareth Bale isn't playing. you still have a very, very difficult game on your hands.'

"He is not the only player on the pitch we have to consider. We have to consider Wales as a team and a country trying to qualify for a World Cup. So we take them very seriously with or without him.

"We must do the same, we must be a team and the team effort and the combination of the strengths together can overcome Gareth Bale or anyone else."

The former Motherwell and Aberdeen manager added: "I have never played in a team or managed a team that did a man-marking job.

"It's a rare thing and players as good as Gareth Bale will overcome that. I don't think you can man-mark him, as a team you have to overcome him."

While Scotland currently lack the individual threat of Bale, especially after Celtic winger James Forrest pulled out through injury, McGhee offered James McFadden, their talisman of the recent past, real hope that he will return to Scotland duty.

McFadden produced a superb individual performance for Motherwell on Friday night, scoring a vintage solo goal and creating two others in a 4-1 victory over Hibernian.

The match was McFadden's first 90 minutes since he suffered cruciate ligament damage in September 2010, and McGhee feels he will have to wait until next season to get back to his best.

McGhee said: "We are all great fans of his, we really are, but we also know that on Friday he played the first 90 minutes he has played in three years.

"There is absolutely no doubt about it that if halfway through next season, if James McFadden has played every game, then I would be amazed if he has not won his way back into the Scotland squad. He is 29, he's not 39.

"So he must be considered to be someone who has an international future, but he has to play games firstly like anyone else."

McFadden, who has scored 15 goals in 48 internationals, has seven games left to make his mark with Motherwell but McGhee suspects that will not be enough to make Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Croatia on June 7.

"It's a big ask," he said. "Were we to get positive results in these next two games and go to Croatia thinking that we had some sort of chance, imagine how massive a game that would be.

"And at that stage that it might be too early for James.

"But in the long term I would be surprised if he doesn't get his 50th and beyond caps."


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