Tottenham winger Gareth Bale appears to have taken a swipe at Jose Mourinho’s cautious and negative style, saying the team needed to re-find their attacking pattern.
The London club announced on Monday that they had parted company with Mourinho, who had overseen a disappointing period in charge of Tottenham with the team sitting in seventh place when he was sacked.
Tottenham dropped 20 points from winning positions under Mourinho, with the ‘Special One’ heavily criticised for his back-foot, pragmatic approach particularly when holding onto a lead in games.
It was the reverse situation on Wednesday under the interim boss Ryan Mason as they came from behind – the first time they have done so this campaign after trailing at the break – to beat Southampton 2-1 and keep alive their hopes of Champions League qualification.
Bale, who found himself on the fringes during Mourinho’s reign, netted an outstanding equaliser for Tottenham in an adventurous and up-tempo second-half performance from the team.
Speaking after the game – in which he was named Man of the Match – Bale said Spurs had been working on playing more offensive football and pushing higher up the pitch in what appeared to be a swipe at the approach under Mourinho.
Asked what needed to change after Mourinho’s exit, Bale told Sky Sports after the match: ‘Just to be on the front foot a bit more. We want to attack, we’re a big team, we have great players.
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‘We need to attack more, we need to try and stay higher up the pitch. I think we did that today.’
And, despite players like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min – who netted the winner against Southampton – sending messages of thanks and good luck to Mourinho on social media after his sack, there was no such comment from Bale and majority of the first-team squad.
Despite enjoying an incredible run of form at the turn of the year, Bale lost his place under Mourinho and only played a peripheral role in the manager’s final matches, though he played down the significance of his goalscoring return to the lineup.
‘It’s important for me but more so for the team and club and fans. It’s not about me,’ he continued.
‘Everyone talks about me a lot but it really isn’t about me, I don’t care about me I care about trying to help Spurs and it was important to get the victory. We still have a chance for top four so we will fight to the end for that.’
On the controversial European Super League. He added: ‘Us as players all we have been focussing on is trying to get the new manager to settle in, the matter’s closed as far as I’m concerned – it’s not happening so we’re all good and we can carry on as normal.’