The love-hate relationship between Bale and Mourinho

Mourinho was appointed AS Roma boss recently. After another failed stint in the premier league the portugese star coach returned to Italy to revive his career.

His most recent reign at Tottenham followed a similar narrative where Mourinho singled out some of his players and openly criticized them in the media. One player Jose did not criticize openly but subtly was Gareth Bale.

The relationship between the Welshman and star manager had always been that of love and hate.

When Jose became Real Madrid manager back in 2010, he assembled one of the most devastating counter attacking teams with Cristiano Ronaldo as the focal point in a front three comprising Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria.

Mourinho admired Di Maria’s work rate; his relentless running allowed Ronaldo to prosper in his lob-sided 4-2-3-1. 

But the team looked slightly over dependent on Ronaldo as the primary scorer. Mesut Ozil and Marcelo were the chief creators. It seemed like Real Madrid really needed another strong, powerful, goal-scoring winger.

Here is where Mourinho’s admiration for Gareth Bale began. The Welshman was on the rise in the Premier League. He was an emerging as a supremely gifted left-back, who looked world-class going forward. Under Harry Redknapp Bale scored his first Champions League Hat Trick against Inter Milan in 2010-2011 season. The then left back single handedly dismantled Jose Mourinho’s treble winning Inter side.

Gareth Bale’s performance seems to have struck a chord with Jose Mourinho. The Real Madrid coach tried signing him  in the 2011 season, when he was slowly transforming into an all round attacking threat. Bale ended up with 19 goal involvements in total as Spurs let go of Harry Redknapp after at the end of the season.

Andre Villas Boas, was appointed as coach for the 2012-2013 season . A prodigy and Mourninho’s former protege who was trying to recover from a failed spell at Chelsea took charge and transformed Bale. Gareth Bale became the best attacker in the Premier League by a mile and arguably one of the best left wingers in the world that season. He was unstoppable. Villas-Boas made Bale the tip of every Spurs attack. He won PFA player of the year and got an insane 21 goals from the left wing.

Unfortunately for Bale and Mourinho they could never team up at Marid in time. Mourinho returned to Chelsea and Bale joined Madrid in 2013.

Their paths were destined to cross though. Gareth Bale joined Mourinho’s Tottenham on loan for the current season and their love hate relationship has continued.


Apparently Mourinho jumped at the chance to sign Bale for Spurs. The Welshman was ready for a homecoming as lillywhite’s fans drooled at the prospect of a front 3 comprising Harry Kane,Heung Min-Son and Gareth Bale. Mourinho seemingly had finally acquired the players to deploy his devastating counter attacking system, somewhat reminiscent of his Madrid days.

Unfortunately for the Portugese coach Bale had not played much football in Madrid over the last two seasons.

Jose Mourinho waited patiently as Bale slowly regained his match fitness and awareness. He was hardly used by Mourinho. Bale had to watch from the sidelines as Kane and Son destroyed teams. After the first couple of months of the season Bale was getting better , he was performing well in the Europa League.

But that was not really a surprise , Bale is a four times champions league winner. Mourinho still did not trust him enough to play him alongside Son and Kane. Despite Kane picking up slight niggles along the season Bale was not shown enough faith by Mourinho to share the attacking burden with Son. It seemed like Mourinho did not have a back-up plan that worked.

 Until the Burnley game where in 70 minutes Bale put in a stellar display alongside Kane and Son. It was like watching the old Gareth Bale again, full of energy.

But after the Burnley game Mourinho reverted back to a more defensive system, which did irk the Welshman.

Mourinho stuck to his defensive system which yielded very little for Tottenham as Bale who was once admired by Mourinho for his qualities as a player, must have been thinking he traded a bench in Madrid for one in London.

After a lot of criticism in the media about his tactical set-up Mourinho was sacked in April. He was replaced by Ryan Mason who tried scrapping Mourinho’s defensive shape but really could not. But one thing the young manager was able to do was to integrate Bale into the starting 11.

After Mason’s appointment there has been a proper uptick in Bale’s form. In fact he scored a sensational hattrick against Sheffield United recently, to take his tally to 14 goals and 3 assists this season in all competitions. A respectable return for the ageing winger, who still has the quality that can influence games.

Unfortunately for us we did not get to see Bale in a devastating Mourinho counter attacking set-up, not consistently enough though. It was almost like Mourinho thought of Bale as being a glass cannon, that has firepower but could crumble at any moment.

Hopefully this is not the end of the love-hate relationship between Jose Mourinho and Gareth Bale, because surely the multiple champions league duo could find some synergy.