Liverpool’s U23 assistant coach Gary O’Neil has claimed that Tottenham Hotspur and Jose Mourinho are facing a major dilemma in deciding whether or not to give Gareth Bale a run of games in the side to help him build some momentum.
Bale has not had the impact that Spurs fans would have been hoping for since returning to North London, with the Welshman largely being restricted to appearances in the Europa League.
He has only made one Premier League start for Spurs this season and still looks considerably off his best when he has seen opportunities come his way.
O’Neil believes that re-signing Bale always came with a risk for Tottenham given how little football the 31-year-old has played over the last couple of years.
The former West Ham midfielder told talkSPORT (12:39 pm, December 21, 2020): “I thought there was some risk attached to the signing at the time. I did think it would work out.
“I still think it possibly can but there is a risk attached when you sign a superstar that has fallen from grace. It can be difficult to resurrect them and get them back to the level that they were at.
“He has only started four games on the trot once from early 2019. So he has not had a real run of first-team football for a very very long time.
“When Spurs signed him and said he will be fit in a month, that meant he will recover from his injury in a month. Doesn’t mean he is going to hit the ground running and be one of the best players in the world again. It takes an awful lot of time.
“Then you get to the vicious cycle of, he needs first-team football to get himself up to speed but Spurs do not have the luxury of putting him in for six weeks, waiting and dealing with some sub-standard performances while they get him up to speed.
“I think the risk of the signing is sort of showing at the minute. I think it’s a difficult one. I still think there’s a player in there. He is only 31. He is by no means over the hill.”
O’Neil believes that Jose Mourinho and his coaching staff now face a big decision on whether or not to give Bale a run of games to help him build his confidence and form even though it could cost them on the pitch.
He went on to add: “Now you end up with a conundrum. Do you leave him in the side for a while and hope that he gets up to speed and accept that the team’s performances might suffer since he is not quite there yet.
“Or do you keen using him sparely, like they are at the minute, and then he doesn’t quite get up to speed. It’s a tough one for Spurs at the moment. It is not going well for him but the thing is results on the pitch are going well.
“Up until the last couple (of results), Spurs were up there where I thought they would be this year.”
Spurs Web Opinion
I think the approach we took by easing Bale into the team was the right one but I believe that he should have come into the team a couple of weeks ago (maybe after the Manchester City and Chelsea games). If Mourinho does not give the 31-year-old a run of four or five games in a row, the Welshman is never going to be able to build any momentum and reach the expected heights.
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