José Mourinho believes Gareth Bale “is arriving” at his best and it is only a matter of time before he performs at a high level for Tottenham. Bale will start the Europa League game at Royal Antwerp on Thursday as Mourinho rests players.
“We all have not just the feeling but also the data that Bale is arriving,” the Tottenham manager said. “He’s working very hard. He’s been quite a great example for everybody. A big guy like him travelled to Burnley, stayed on the bench for 90 minutes, didn’t play one minute. His behaviour as a team guy is incredible. His behaviour as a Tottenham man is remarkable and he is coming.
“I can see just with my eyes but then the scientific data is also coming and he’s working very well. He’s improving a lot and I think tomorrow we can see already Gareth at a good level and hopefully he can fly because he’s working very hard.”
Bale’s start has not been ideal. After arriving with a knee injury, his second debut was overshadowed by Spurs squandering a 3-0 lead to draw against West Ham. He then played for 38 minutes in the 3-0 win over Lask. Mourinho has navigated Bale’s return by frequently lavishing praise on the forward’s attitude, evidently helping to build confidence and trust.
Asked about Bale’s reputation in Madrid, he underlined Bale’s quality by unfavourably comparing his own Champions League title haul to that of the 31-year-old.
“One thing is reputation, another thing is facts,” Mourinho said. “I would love to have his reputation and four Champions League. I have only two. So the facts with Gareth are that he made a difference at that club. [It] was a club for years and years and years and years, without even a quarter-final of a Champions League. Then, a big jump in front with three consecutive Champions League semi-finals. And when he arrived, they won four in five. So, for me, these are the facts. And him with us? Amazing.”
Dele Alli returns to the squad after being left out against Burnley and Mourinho was apologetic to those who continue to miss out of a place in the squad in his highly competitive team.
“These boys, all of them, they are making my life easy in a way that I have everybody available and in conditions to play. But they are making my life difficult, because every time I have to make a selection, it hurts me. In Europa league you are able to select almost everybody and to have a bench of 12 players, but in the Premier League only with a small bench you leave lots of people behind and I have to confess that that hurts me deeply.”