Whatever high hopes he harbored before the Welshman’s rejoining Tottenham, Jose Mourinho has come to terms with the sobriety of the situation and extinguished hopes that Gareth Bale will rediscover the scintillating form he displayed back in 2013 to captivate Real Madrid. Facing the stark reality, the Portuguese admitted that no player – not even Crist iano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi – can roll back the years.
Bale was among a number of players who disappointed in the Europa League on Thursday night as Tottenham lost 1-0 away to Royal Antwerp, leaving Mourinho furious, admitting he wanted to make 11 changes at half-time, but when Bale’s dismal showing was highlighted, the Portuguese went into philosophical mode when it came to Bale’s second spell at the club.
“I repeat the same – seven years is a long, long, long gap,’ Mourinho said. ‘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.”
Bale is continuing to recover from a knee injury and so has been limited to a peripheral role since joining on loan from Real Madrid and has used the Europa League as a testing ground for his fitness with Mourinho accepting that the Welshman still finds it tough to play 90 minutes.
However Mourinho is unflappably optimistic that, on the eve of Sunday’s game against Brighton, Bale ‘is improving’ and that ‘hopefully he will be back’ to his best soon.
“Every word that I told on Wednesday I believe in them because he is working very, very hard. He is improving,” Mourinho quipped.
“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.”
Tottenham fans will certainly be waiting with bated breath to see Mourinho’s confidence in the Welshman proven true.