José Mourinho has made it clear that Gareth Bale’s minutes must still be managed with the utmost care and said he was undecided about whether to start him at Fulham on Thursday.
Bale, on a season’s loan at Tottenham from Real Madrid, has finally found some form and rhythm, catching the eye to varying degrees in his past five appearances. He was dangerous as a half-time substitute in the 2-1 defeat at West Ham before scoring twice as a starter in the 4-0 home win against Burnley on Sunday.
It has led to the feeling in some quarters that Mourinho must be ready to unleash Bale in what are the season’s decisive months. But Mourinho, who grew exasperated at being asked a handful of questions about the winger, suggested caution had to be the watchword.
Bale suffered from a lack of action across the previous two seasons in Madrid – partly because of injuries, partly because of a fall from favour – and he had barely played in the eight months leading up to the first appearance of his Spurs loan. It was always going to take time for him to recover his match sharpness and Mourinho also believes it remains vital for Bale to listen to his body.
“When a player has injuries, I believe he always has scars and many times they are not just physical ones, they are emotional scars,” Mourinho said. “After a player is injured, for him to be free and clean emotionally takes some time and you have to be patient.
“At the moment the happiness is there. He is happy, he is clean and, hopefully, we all can manage his minutes, his matches, his feelings. He is responsible, we give him that responsibility because he is the one that has the knowledge of his body. Our communication is very good and we are managing the situation the best we can.
“Start the game [against Fulham] or be on the bench – I don’t know. We have to decide. He’s such an experienced guy that, of course, his opinion is very important. He’s had a good reaction and recovering sessions [after Burnley] and he will be involved.”
Mourinho said Bale’s future beyond the end of the season was a matter for Madrid. Bale is under contract at the Bernabéu until June 2022.
“In relation to that you should contact your colleagues in Madrid and they should ask [the manager, Zinedine] Zidane,” Mourinho said. “Because Gareth is a Real Madrid player. He is not a Tottenham player. So Real Madrid has everything in their hands. They have the player. I just have a player on loan and I’m trying to take the best out of the player for Tottenham.”