Jermaine Jenas believes Gareth Bale would have been ‘disappointed’ to have been substituted in Tottenham’s Europa League victory against Antwerp, with Glenn Hoddle insisting the Welshman looks fragile.
The 31-year-old played his part after taking the free-kick which led to Carlos Vinicius opening the scoring at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Bale hit a trademark free-kick which was tipped onto the woodwork before striker Vinicius, 25, tapped into an empty net on the rebound.
Jermaine Jenas believes Gareth Bale would have been ‘disappointed’ to have been substituted
Bale took the free-kick that led to Carlos Vinicius opener in Spurs’ win against Antwerp
Vinicius tapped home after Bale’s dipping free-kick was tapped onto the post by the keeper
But a minute later the Real Madrid loanee was replaced by Jose Mourinho for Son Heung-min, and commentating on BT Sport at the time, former Spurs midfielder Jenas stated that he would be slightly disheartened at being withdrawn.
‘If I’m Gareth Bale, I’m disappointed I’m coming off in this game,’ Jenas said.
‘Especially after just hitting that free-kick, I’m sure the confidence has gone through the roof there. I think Jose probably watched the first 10 minutes [of the second half] and thought “I’ve seen enough” and the free-kick didn’t change his mind.’
After Spurs’ win – which also saw Giovani Lo Celso net with the outside of the foot – former Spurs midfielder and manager Glenn Hoddle added that he felt the Welshman was being ‘tentative’ and playing within himself.
But just a minute later Bale was withdrawn for Son Heung-min as Jose Mourinho made changes
And on commentary Jenas believed that Bale would have been disheartened with the decision
‘By now, I would expect him to be ahead of where he is, he looks fragile and tentative when he goes in and when it is tight,’ Hoddle said.
‘He still seems unsure of his body, he hasn’t quite got that change of pace. It is getting there but whether he gets it back again is the big question mark, and that was the big risk bringing Gareth back to Tottenham.
‘But I feel there is more to come, which will elevate Tottenham’s performance as well but it just feels like he is on the back foot.’
Hoddle also called on Bale to convince Mourinho to start in the Premier League fixtures, and that if the player that has lit up White Hart Lane and the Santiago Bernabeu during his career can recover his best form the current Premier League leaders could become even more dangerous.
Glenn Hoddle meanwhile claimed Bale looked ‘fragile’ and was playing ‘tentatively’
‘I’d like him to show a bit more intent and aggression in his mind and prove to Jose ”I need to be in the first team in the Premier League”. I don’t see that at the moment,’ Hoddle continued.
‘If that player is still in there anywhere what he was like two, three or four years ago, then Tottenham go into another gear.
‘I am surprised he has not created more, I thought he would have a bit more creation about him. It was a shame he went off after he took the free-kick.
‘I found it very strange that Jose wanted to take him and Vinicius off at that point, just give him another 10 or 15 minutes because that might have given him that confidence to go out and really perform and we haven’t seen that yet.’
He also urged Bale to show more aggression and force his way back into the league side
Fellow BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves meanwhile insisted that Bale would benefit from a change of position from out wide to a more central spot.
However, he concurred with Hoddle that if Bale can demonstrate his Ferrari-like qualities, Tottenham could raise their game to the next level.
‘I think he is still finding his way but he shows what he can give you in a blink of an eye,’ Hargreaves said.
‘You just need to get him touches where he can affect the game, I don’t think playing wide suits him right now.
Owen Hargreaves however insisted that Bale can be a Ferrari for Spurs with his runs
‘I think if he plays central and closer to Harry [Kane] if Son doesn’t play, then I think he could play in that pocket and he won’t have to track back as much. He could be a flair player and decide a lot of games in there.
‘Father Time is undefeated. He might not be as explosive as the old Formula One car but he can probably still be a Ferrari or something like that.
‘It is still there but just not in the frequency it used to be with those runs. I think he could even take them from this level to the next one if he can get those opportunities.’
Hargreaves was no stranger to physical issues as a player, with a number of crippling injuries forcing him into retirement at the age of 31.
Hargreaves also sympathised with Bale’s history on injuries and said he is still finding his way
Bale has also had his own set of fitness issues in recent years, but Hargreaves sympathised with the slow progress the Wales star has made in his second stint back in north London.
‘It is the worst feeling ever [getting injuries], like Gareth I was explosive, you go from being the quickest on the pitch to not being able to sprint, because when you sprint you are worried about something going on you.
‘I think he is still finding his way. He is building confidence slowly, the right way, but everyone wants to see him burst and change gears.’