KEY POINTS

  • Gareth Bale made his second debut with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday
  • The Spurs suffered a late-game meltdown against West Ham
  • Jose Mourinho said Bale still has to fight for his position in the English club

Gareth Bale could be relishing his return to Tottenham after seven years, but team manager Jose Mourinho stressed that the veteran winger still has to earn his spot with the Spurs.

In the aftermath of the Lilywhites’ stunning meltdown against West Ham on Sunday, October 19, Mourinho was questioned particularly on his decision to field in Bale late in the match.

The Welsh winger entered the game at the 72nd-minute as the Spurs were comfortably leading, 3-0.  But in a sudden turn of events, Mourinho’s side was struck by a curse and blew the advantage in the final eight minutes to settle to an anticlimatic 3-3 draw.

"(It was) 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,” the legendary coach told Goal.

Asked if he thinks Bale's introduction from the bench created some sort of distraction, Mourinho answered, "I don't think so, I honestly don't think so. The decision not to start [Bale] was I think a good decision."

Bale’s second debut with the Spurs was highly anticipated, only to be spoiled by the late-game collapse. But Mourinho refused to focus the narrative on the 31-year-old.

"He's very well-accepted in the group. 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 Portuguese boss said. “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.”

Son Heung-min and Harry Kane connived in establishing the early cushion within just 16 minutes for Tottenham. But all their efforts went into the drain after West Ham came from behind to snatch a standoff.

Despite the frustration, Mourinho offered no excuses for the collapse.

“I think you can imagine how frustrated I am and how frustrated the players are, but that’s football,” Mourinho stated, per Yahoo Sports. “Unfortunately, it’s football for us in a negative way and in a positive way for them but that’s football."