AVB fails to clear up uncertainty
Gareth Bale has been ruled out of action for two weeks by Andre Villas-Boas, but the Tottenham manager failed to clear up the uncertainty surrounding the star's future on the brink of the new Premier League season.
Bale's on-off switch to Real Madrid has dragged on through most of the summer, but if Spurs fans were looking to their manager to clear things up today at the official launch of the new campaign at a school in south London, then they were to be disappointed.
First, Villas-Boas seemed to say, despite his public insistence that Bale would not be sold two weeks ago, there remained a possibility the Welshman could leave.
"Obviously in football anything can happen in the end," the Tottenham manager conceded, in a Sky Sports News interview in which he also said the club "cherished" the former Southampton winger.
Then came a much harder line from the Portuguese in a briefing with the written media in which he suggested Bale was not for sale.
He said: "We have explained to the clubs that have asked for him in various ways that the player is our player."
Then came a bizarre response to a question on Bale's state of mind ahead of the new campaign.
"His mental state nobody knows because the player doesn't speak," Villas-Boas said.
"The only thing that we are able to see, or you are able to see, is the player arriving in and out of the training ground."
The Spurs boss seemed to be talking about media coverage of Bale's continued coming and going from Tottenham's training while he receives treatment on his foot injury.
Then the 35-year-old then appeared to back-track by saying: "It (Bale's mental state) is fine. It's fine."
Another subject Villas-Boas could not clear up was Tottenham's 'partnership agreement' with Real, which was struck up following Luka Modric's sale to the nine-time European champions.
The deal was supposed to herald a new era of co-operation between the two clubs, but Spurs have gained little, if anything from it at the moment.
"I am not aware (of what the agreement involves) because it is something that was involved with contracts between Tottenham and Real Madrid," Villas-Boas added.
"I am sure there was some kind of protocol agreement for youth levels, for players, I think the option on first loans. I am not sure. So it was agreed with the Modric deal."
One thing that Villas-Boas could clear up was that Bale would not be fit for Sunday's curtain-raiser at Crystal Palace.
The 24-year-old sat out Wales' friendly against Republic of Ireland last night because of his foot injury and may not be fit for some time.
Villas-Boas says the forward is likely to miss the Palace game, the Europa League clash at Dinamo Tbilisi on Thursday and the Premier League game against Swansea three days later.
"Well at the moment, he hasn't been involved from the first friendly of the season (on July 15) so pre-season has gone by without him being involved so much," the Spurs boss added.
"So for Palace, for Tbilisi, for Swansea, he will not be in line to threaten to come back."
Should Bale still be at Tottenham in two weeks' time, his comeback game will be the north London derby at the Emirates Stadium on September 1 - the day before the transfer window shuts.