The coach introduced the winger for his second Tottenham debut when Spurs were 3-0 up, but it did not go according to plan
Gareth Bale’s introduction from the bench was not a distraction for Tottenham in their shock collapse at home to West Ham, insists boss Jose Mourinho.
Spurs were cruising to three points in Sunday’s Premier League encounter, with Son Heung-min’s strike and Harry Kane’s double opening up a 3-0 lead after 16 minutes.
But Fabian Balbuena struck and Davinson Sanchez’s put through his own net before Manuel Lanzini’s injury-time thunderbolt sealed a memorable turnaround from the Hammers.
Bale rejoined Spurs on loan from Real Madrid last month and was brought on as a 72nd-minute substitute, missing a golden opportunity when Spurs led 3-2.
However, Mourinho did not believe Bale entering the fray had any negative effect on his side.
“I don’t think so, I honestly don’t think so. The decision not to start him was I think a good decision,” Mourinho said.
“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.”
72 – 2,709 days later….
Gareth Bale plays for Spurs!
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 18, 2020
Back in July, Mourinho said Spurs lacked mental strength following a 3-1 defeat to Sheffield United.
The Portuguese did not want to blame similar reasons on this occasion, citing the fact Spurs have made several additions to their team since then.
“I don’t want to go there. We have new players. We played much better than last season. I can say the same about West Ham,” he added.
“West Ham is a much better team than it was when [David] Moyes arrived. The team is in evolution, we play much better, we know how we want to play.
“Defensively the team is much better than before, that’s why I was saying before to look to our goals, the goals that we concede. It was only Danny Ings. After that, penalty Newcastle, penalty Man United, another penalty with Southampton.
“Today two free-kicks and an own goal. Defensively we’re much stronger but in the last part of the game this happened and it’s difficult to explain.”