After a slow first 45 minutes against West Ham United on Sunday, Jose Mourinho needed to inject some fresh enthusiasm into his side.
On came right-back Matt Doherty for some attacking enthusiasm, and he was joined on the pitch by Welsh winger Gareth Bale, who most fans were quite surprised to see sat down on the bench in the first place.
Having been hooked early after scoring and assisting in the 4-1 win over Wolfsberger in midweek, it looked like Bale was going to return to the starting lineup in the Premier League again. Mourinho decided against it, but having seen the Real Madrid loanee against West Ham, he will be unable to deny him that spot next week.
Simply put, Bale was superb against West Ham. He clearly hasn’t forgotten what they did to him on his second debut for the club. He wanted revenge.
Deployed on the right, Bale was given plenty of freedom to drift around the pitch, with the versatile Lucas Moura happy to swap out to the wing when needed, and it really helped maximise Bale’s skillset.
Now 31 and with years of injuries weighing him down, Bale isn’t the kind of explosive winger the Premier League grew to love eight years ago, but his footwork and intelligence is still there. He might not be able to use his body to beat a man, but he can now use his brain instead.
It led to Bale creating plenty of chances against West Ham. He was his side’s best player in the second half and arguably their top performer of the full 90. Bale tried to drag Spurs back into the contest, doing so with a delightful corner for Moura’s header.
He came perilously close to netting the goal of the season soon after when he sent a thunderous volley crashing against the bar, which was indicative of his performance. Everything was utterly astonishing, but the end product just wasn’t there.
Bale transformed Spurs, and he now has to be inserted into the starting lineup. Mourinho might not have liked what he has seen from Bale thus far, but there’s no denying it now.