Former Tottenham striker Darren Bent believes that Gareth Bale is making a big difference to the Spurs changing room but expressed his doubt as to whether the Welshman is capable of getting back to his best on the pitch.
After an ineffective second-half performance in the 2-0 defeat to Leicester City last weekend, Bale was handed a start in Tottenham’s Carbao Cup quarter-final against Stoke City on Wednesday.
The Welshman opened the scoring for the away side in the 3-1 win when he produced a deft header from Harry Winks’ cross, showing that he very much still retains his goalscoring instinct.
Bale was withdrawn at half-time, with Jose Mourinho confirming after the match that the 31-year-old had a calf problem.
Bent previously warned that Mourinho might run out of patience with Bale if he does not improve soon (talkSPORT Breakfast) and he has now said that the Real Madrid loanee’s performance against Stoke left a lot to be desired despite his goal.
However, the former Spurs striker acknowledged that the returning superstar’s impact extends beyond just what he can do on the pitch.
Bent told Football Insider: “His impact on that team has not necessarily been on the pitch.
“At times last night [Wednesday], the Bale of old would have got the ball and opened his legs up, push the ball and you could get nowhere near him.I wonder, can he still do that?
“Other than his goal, I don’t think Bale pulled up any trees. But he gets the goal and papers over the cracks.
“He showed flashes but I feel like I’m still yet to see him open up and sprint. I wonder, is there still a little bit of an issue there? Is he potentially a little bit unsure in his body because he doesn’t want anything to break down?
“But his impact has been off the pitch in the changing room: it’s his winning mentality.
“You’ve got a manager there who’s a serial winner and you’ve got Bale who’s a serial winner.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Given what we have seen from Bale so far, it can be argued that Tottenham might get the most out of him by using him as a goal-poacher rather than starting him out wide and expecting him to create chances. He does seem to have declined physically but he certainly seems to know where the back of the net is and still seems like an instinctive finisher.
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