Alex McLeish has admitted he is surprised Gareth Bale is still yet to hit the expected heights at Tottenham after another “frustrating” setback for Jose Mourinho.
The former Rangers and Scotland boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted the Portuguese manager had no choice but to leave the 31-year-old out of the 5-4 loss to Everton after the winger raised concerns about his own fitness.
Speaking after Wednesday’s defeat, as quoted by Sky Sports, Mourinho revealed Bale had felt some discomfort in a muscle and had chosen to remain working with the physios rather than travel to Goodison Park.
The Portuguese boss admitted the issue had come as a “surprise” and refused to call the Wales international’s problem an injury.
Bale has played 15 times across all competitions for Spurs since his return on loan from Real Madrid, although he has only started twice in the Premier League.
McLeish admitted he had expected the winger to dazzle for Tottenham this season and suggested Mourinho would be tearing his hair out over his current absence.
McLeish told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “That is a frustrating thing for the manager, no doubt about that. What can you do? You can’t say you’re kidding on, you’re alright.
“Bale’s been around for many, many years – he’s been a talisman for Wales, he’s been a talisman for Spurs, he’s been the match-winner for Real Madrid and all Spurs want is to rekindle that kind of fire, that energy and quality that undoubtedly Gareth has.
“For some reason or other, I don’t know, we don’t know the workings of what goes on at the club. It is a surprise to me that we haven’t seen a revitalised Gareth Bale.”
Mourinho told Sky Sports: “On Monday I was a little bit surprised by him wanting to have a scan because he was not feeling comfortable with the muscular area, so he didn’t train on the Monday.
“On the Tuesday he trained with the team, but I was informed that his desire was to work with the sport science to strengthen the area he was not feeling comfortable with. I would say that it feels uncomfortable, and because of that the training session couldn’t be 100 per cent, but I don’t think we can speak about an injury.”