Gareth Bale’s former manager warns people not to write off 31-year-old too soon

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Gareth Bale’s former Wales manager, Chris Coleman has said that it is too early to write the winger off and that the Spurs star could still come good once he gets his sharpness back with a run of games under his belt.

After Bale’s disappointing performance against Brighton last week, Jose Mourinho left the wide man on the bench for Tottenham’s last two games against Chelsea and Brighton.

The on-loan Real Madrid star looks some way of forcing himself into Spurs’ starting eleven, but Coleman insisted that he could be a match-winner for the side once he gets his rhythm back.

The former Wales boss told Sky Sports: “He’s been out for a long time and he’s finding it hard to get back in and get his rhythm.

“We all know what a world-class player he is. He can win a game, he can score a goal from nothing, he’s got a last pass.

“But when I’m watching him now it looks like he’s always on his first game back after an injury. Obviously, we expected him to be in the flow of it by now but he clearly isn’t.

“He’s only 31 so I wouldn’t write him off. I don’t know what’s happened at Tottenham but knowing Gareth, he’s a very serious boy about his football and he loves playing football.”

Some pundits have questioned whether Bale has the hunger to succeed at Tottenham but Coleman insisted that the 31-year-old’s desire has never been in question.

He added: “I’ve heard comments that maybe he’ll be happy to be on the bench. He won’t be happy on the bench – not the Gareth Bale that I know.

“He will very much want to be in the heart of it and if he’s not quite there yet, he’s either not ready physically or maybe mentally there’s a lack of confidence.”

The 50-year-old suggested that the difference in intensity between the La Liga and Premier League might have something to do with Bale’s struggles and felt that the experienced winger needs a run of consecutive matches under his belt.

Coleman said: “Whatever game plan I had, he would want to know about that. We would have meetings and he was very vocal. He would like to understand what the plan was and what everybody’s role was.

“I can’t talk about what he’s like at Madrid or Tottenham, I can only say what he was like with Wales and as a person.’

“He’s really serious about his football and he doesn’t want to be treated any differently. He was right in the middle of it with everybody. Even when he wasn’t fit, he was there, in amongst it.

“Maybe it is a confidence thing. You have to remember the Premier League is tougher than La Liga, week-in, week-out. The intensity is different, the physicality is different.

“Maybe he hasn’t found that yet. Maybe if he had two, three or four games, we would see something different. But he’s not getting that because he’s obviously not back at the level where we expected him to be.”

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Bale’s desire when he puts a Wales shirt can never be questioned but based on his body language during his time at Spurs so far, I believe questions about his hunger and desire to succeed are certainly valid.

As Coleman suggests, it is likely that the Welshman’s struggles are to do with his lack of fitness and a lack of confidence. He might well improve if he gets a few starts in a row and a chance to build some momentum but Mourinho cannot afford to throw him in at this stage of the season as results are paramount.

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