Jose Mourinho has defended Gareth Bale after the winger’s lacklustre display in the 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp on Thursday.
The Tottenham boss said before the game that there were signs in training that the Welshman was getting his sharpness back but the wide man failed to show much evidence of that on Thursday.
The 31-year-old was replaced by Harry Kane just before the hour mark in what was just his second start since arriving in North London.
Since returning to Spurs, Bale made a cameo off the bench against West Ham and missed a golden chance and claimed an assist against LASK, as well as last night’s performance.
Mourinho admitted that Bale was a different player to the one that left North London seven years ago but insisted that does not mean he will be less effective.
The Portuguese coach told Football.London: “I repeat the same – seven years is a long, long, long gap.
“So which player in the world is the same as he was seven years ago. Sometimes they’re not better or worse, they’re just different players.
“For example, you look to Ronaldo and Messi, and compare them with seven years ago. They play in different areas, different positions. They transform their qualities to try and explore their qualities in other responsibilities in the tactical system of their teams.
“I think it happens with the majority of the players, so for sure he is a different player.”
Mourinho also doubled-down on his pre-match assessment and claimed that Bale will get his sharpness back with more game time under his belt.
He added: “Every word that I told yesterday I believe in them because he is working very, very hard. He is improving. He doesn’t have one single injury since he came back from the last one. He didn’t miss one single training session.
“To play 90 minutes is still hard, to play high intensity is still difficult, but he is improving. He is improving, and hopefully, he will be back to a better level soon.”
Spurs fans will be desperate to see the winger back to somewhere near his best in North London, but there have been few signs of progress just yet.
Spurs Web Opinion
Given how little football Bale has played over the last couple of years, it was always going to take time for him to get up to pace. Spurs fans, on the whole, seem to be pretty patient and no one seems to be too critical of his performance yesterday. It is only a few pundits who seem to be jumping on the ‘Bale has lost his pace’ bandwagon. Hopefully, he will show what he can do with a few more games under his belt and shut the critics up.
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