Tottenham Hotspur head coach Jose Mourinho has explained that his decision to substitute Gareth Bale after little more than an hour in Thursday night’s 4-1 Europa League thrashing of Wolfsberger was in order to save the Welshman for the weekend clash with West Ham.
Bale is yet to complete 90 minutes for Spurs since his high profile loan return from Real Madrid last summer, with fitness issues taking their toll. The 31-year-old has started all seven Europa League games the club has played this season but only two in the Premier League.
Bale impressed against Wolfsberger of Austria, setting up Son Heung-min for the early opener and doubling the lead himself before the half hour mark. Mourinho then saw fit to withdraw him after 64 minutes with an eye on Sunday’s London derby against West Ham.
By doing so, the Spurs boss said he hoped to ‘save miles’ in Bale’s legs.
“One of the reasons why he left the pitch by minute 64 was to try to have him available for the next match,” Mourinho is quoted as saying by the Evening Standard.
“By taking him off at that minute we managed to save him a few miles in his legs. I know the match is Sunday at 12pm but I believe he has a chance to play the match. For him it was important to play and not to play the 90 minutes.”
Earlier in the week, Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett had responded to questions about his client’s apparent declined by suggesting he is coming towards the end of his career.
“He’s towards the end of his career. When they say ‘what’s happened to him?’ He’s won more trophies abroad than any British player in history,” Barnett said at a Financial Times business event.
“He’s done very well financially, and he has enough money for the rest of his life. He has a very good lifestyle, so that is what has happened to him.”