Jose Mourinho has revealed the reason why he didn’t start Gareth Bale in Tottenham’s clash against West Ham on Sunday.
Many fans were expecting to see Bale make his first start following his loan move from Real Madrid, but the Wales forward was restricted to a role from the bench, coming on for Steven Bergwijn on 72 minutes.
Tottenham were still leading 3-0 when Bale took the field, but West Ham launched a fightback when Fabian Balbuena headed home on 82 minutes, and the deficit was down to one when Davinson Sanchez scored an own goal minutes later.
Bale had a late chance to make sure of the points after a jinking run through the Hammers defence, but he fired his shot wide.
And Spurs were made to regret the 31-year-old’s miss when Manuel Lanzini fired a last-ditch equaliser in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Mourinho said afterwards he had made the right decision in not starting Bale – as he wanted to make clear that nobody has an automatic starting place.
Asked whether the forward’s cameo role caused a distraction which could have contributed to his side’s late collapse, the manager said: “I honestly don’t think so.
“The decision not to start him was I think a good decision – 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.”
During Bale’s time in Madrid there were often reports that he was a loner in the dressing room, but Mourinho said he had proved a popular figure since his return to Tottenham.
“He’s very well accepted in the group,” said the manager.
“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.”
Mourinho added: “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.”
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