Arsenal legend Martin Keown has backed Gareth Bale to achieve big things at Tottenham on his return to the club but warned Jose Mourinho that he has to manage the Welshman’s game time carefully.
Bale’s return appears from the outside to have completely changed the atmosphere at the North London club, with the team having enjoyed an impressive run of form since his arrival.
The 31-year-old has been watching on from the sidelines following his switch from Real Madrid due to a knee issue but Jose Mourinho revealed yesterday that he is fit to make his debut against West Ham, although he did not confirm if Bale will start (Football.London).
Keown knows what it is like to come back to a club one has left as a player, as the defender left Arsenal in 1986, before returning seven years later.
He wrote in his Daily Mail column: “When I went home to Arsenal after seven years away, I found next to nothing had changed. Apart from the odd alteration, Highbury was the same and so was the training ground.
“I didn’t need a tour. I knew where everything was and it felt like I had come home.
“Gareth Bale has arrived back at Tottenham after seven years to a brand new stadium and a state-of-the-art training base. It is very different to what he will remember when he said goodbye in 2013.
“But Bale is being welcomed back with open arms. He’s the superstar who left so that he could win everything with Real Madrid.
“This is his honeymoon period, but I’m sure he realises the supporters will be looking for something special from him on the pitch.”
The 54-year-old warned Bale that it will not be easy to get accustomed to the demands of the league, given the lack of football he has had over the last couple of years.
Keown added: “I found myself trying too hard in my first few matches and Bale has to be careful. Anyone who has appeared in both the Premier League and LaLiga will tell you which one is the more demanding and the Welshman hasn’t played regularly for some time.
“I’m sure Jose Mourinho will be thinking about managing his minutes and Spurs’ medical team will be all over it, too.
“They handled Harry Kane’s return from a nasty injury with great care. Bale will have watched his new team tear apart Manchester United — the club he could have joined instead — and felt he made the right call.
“He will want to get on the pitch and join the party but he needs to go easy. At 31, he is young enough to achieve big things with Tottenham.”
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