The lesson Harry Kane taught Gareth Bale on his return to Tottenham
If Gareth Bale needed any indication of what is required of him at Tottenham Hotspur he need only have looked across at Harry Kane during the draw with West Ham United, as reports the football.london.
Bale has been there and done it all, having won the Champions League four times, La Liga twice, the Club World Cup three times, the UEFA Super Cup twice and the Copa del Rey.
However, it was made very clear to the 31-year-old by Jose Mourinho, following his second Spurs debut, that despite his hard work in training he was not guaranteed a starting spot because of what has come before.
“The decision not to start him was I think a good decision,” said the Spurs boss.
“A decision to show that he doesn’t have a beautiful chair waiting for him in the team and he sits there the first time he can. It was a message to the team that in this team everybody has to fight for positions.
“He’s very well accepted in the group. Everyone likes him, and I believe he also likes what he found here.
“So everything is positive and the focus was not on him. The focus was on the game and he was on the bench for 65 minutes or so and I don’t think so, I don’t think at all.
“It’s a pity that he couldn’t score that fourth goal which was a beauty and would have killed the game, but that’s football.”
In all Bale played for 22 minutes, including stoppage time, and he touched the ball just 11 times during that cameo.
One of those was an early free-kick he took and many of those touches came during that big chance Mourinho spoke of, when he showed skilful feet to jink into the box only to fire just wide from in front of goal.
What was noticeable was that Bale did not work particularly hard in a defensive sense. To be fair, that may have been part of the extensive instructions he was getting from Mourinho before he came on, a good couple of minutes’ worth of them, or it could have been simply fitness related.
However, the Wales international need only look across to Kane to realise what even the team’s top stars need to do in a Mourinho team.
Kane, who has probably been spurred by the arrival of Bale into upping his game, was everywhere against West Ham.
One minute he was in the opposition box and the next he was sliding into a block in his own area and then the next covering for one of the full-backs.
The requirements placed on Bale may be different, as he is four years older than the England captain, but he is also in great shape and will get fitter and sharper.
Either way a Mourinho team will not carry anyone and with some in Spain criticising his off the ball work for Real in recent years, the Welshman will have to put in a shift for Spurs.
He’s got nothing to prove to anybody with his attacking ability and mentality but Mourinho has shown repeatedly that he has no issues with leaving out superstars who will not give everything to the cause.
In fact the Portuguese has a habit of prodding and provoking his stars to see how they react and Bale will not be treated any differently.
Spurs have seen the best versions of Kane and Tanguy Ndombele among others this season and if they get an even better version of the Gareth Bale that left them seven years ago as he gets fitter then he will help Tottenham tear up the Premier League table.