- Premier League
AVB: Bale needs better referee protection
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas believes Gareth Bale deserves more protection from Premier League referees after narrowly avoiding a dangerous challenge in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Norwich at Carrow Road.
Bale, 23, scored the equaliser for Tottenham with a tidy finish after a mazy run through the Norwich defence, although he was lucky to avoid a tackle from Alex Tettey which Villas-Boas perceived as potentially ankle breaking.
On his way to goal, Bale dodged Tettey's outstretched leg and the Spurs boss claims that officials must crack down on hazardous tackles or risk losing some of the game's most exciting players.
"It was a beautiful goal but he was extremely lucky to avoid Tettey's challenge, which could have broken his ankle," Villas-Boas said. "I'm extremely disappointed he didn't get a yellow or red card.
"You have to protect the unpredictability, passion and emotion of the British game but you have to be aware that, if people go over the top, players like Gareth could get an injury that takes him out for six months. I showed the referee my disappointment. I'm extremely disappointed with that incident.
"Obviously pushing and shoving and duels are in the nature of the game but sometimes it gets over the top. It looks like you don't want to referee this situation because you don't really know what is happening, so you just let the game go on and pretend that a couple of fouls are part of the game. But I don't think that is so.
"And there's such a discrepancy of refereeing styles. Credit to them because they bring passion to this league by letting the game go on but sometimes it's just over the top."
Canaries manager Chris Hughton failed to understand Villas-Boas' concerns, claiming his own defenders did not even come close to stopping Bale as he broke through.
"I'm surprised by that [Villas-Boas' comments]," he said. "There didn't seem to be much wrong with [Bale] as he went past everyone."
Tottenham missed a chance to move within two points of third-placed Chelsea after the Blues surrendered a two-goal lead to draw at Reading. Although his side's defence were culpable for Wes Hoolahan's 32nd minute opener, Villas-Boas commended their improved attitude after the break.
"It was a difficult game," Villas-Boas said. "Norwich put in a really good first half performance and our second half performance was very good as well. At half-time the players recognised that they wanted to change their attitude and they really made the difference in the second half.
"It was an extremely good second half - the power, the ambition and playing attacking football in difficult circumstances. After we made it 1-1, we had chances to make it 2-1 and it's a pity that didn't happen. Hopefully the second half will be a good example of what we want to do at West Brom."