Following Jose Mourinho’s comments in the wake of Spurs’ FA Cup tie with Everton last week (via Football London), Tottenham fans would have been forgiven for wondering whether Gareth Bale may have already made his one of final appearances for the club.
Bale’s loan has not worked out thus far. And his absence and Mourinho’s subsequent comments at Goodison Park seemed ominous.
However, the 31-year-old was back on the bench for Saturday’s trip to Manchester City. And perhaps surprisingly, Mourinho decided to turn to the forward for the latter stages of the game.
With 18 minutes remaining, Spurs were 3-0 down. And they had struggled to lay a glove on the Cityzens as Bale replaced Erik Lamela.
Ultimately, the score did not change. But Bale produced a cameo that arguably has the potential to be reflected upon as a turning point in his Tottenham spell.
There was a moment on the edge of the box when Bale danced around several City players before getting a shot on goal away. It was a reminder of the player he can be.
And his statistics from the game back up the idea that the forward did bring something to the table.
As shown by Whoscored.com, he completed four dribbles in total. No player on either side managed more. And both of the players who matched that tally – Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva – were on the pitch for five times longer.
Meanwhile, Bale also made two successful tackles. Just three Spurs teammates managed more, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg leading the way with five.
It may not have been a performance Tottenham fans will be getting carried away with at this stage. But there were flashes of what Bale can do.
Manchester City are, by far, the best team in the country right now. But for a couple of moments, Bale threatened to steal the spotlight – at long last.