Bale-Mourinho feels like a match made in hell: Neil Humphreys
Ageing attacker and cautious manager won't work at Spurs
Jack Reacher knew better than Gareth Bale. Never go back. It rarely ends well.
In fact, Jack Reacher's movie Never Go Back didn't end particularly well at the box office either. Sequels are not a guaranteed success.
The thought of a triumphant homecoming is often clouded by sentimentality.
For every Ian Rush at Anfield, there was a Joe Cole at Upton Park. Club legends rarely elevate their reputations second time around.
Some things are best left alone.
Bale is no longer the dazzling winner that left Maicon in another postcode back in 2010. Jose Mourinho is no longer the omnipotent coach that won the Treble at Inter Milan in the same year.
But even if that wasn't the case and Mourinho retained his mojo and Bale still glided past opponents, the two are polar opposites. Their styles are like repelling magnets. They don't go together.
Nothing about the rumoured loan deal between Bale's former club Tottenham and his exasperated paymasters Real Madrid makes sense, even if all the insurmountable obstacles can somehow be cleared first.
Spurs' chairman Daniel Levy loves the smell of a desperate club in the morning and the stench drifting across from Madrid is unmistakable.
The frustrated Spaniards are reportedly prepared to pay up to half of Bale's £600,000-a-week salary, as long as Spurs make up the other half.
But Spurs are skint. While their gleaming stadium remains empty, Tottenham cannot surely entertain the prospect of lavishing £300,000 (S$500,000) a week on a 31-year-old fading superstar more interested in golf than galacticos.
Levy has already intimated that the north Londoners will lose £200 million in 12 months, thanks to the pandemic.
Fortunately, Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett has popped up to insist that money isn't a primary motivation and his client simply wants to play elite football, which is presumably why they chased a £1m-a-week deal in the Chinese Super League last year.
The deal collapsed.
A year on, Barnett feels compelled to test the market again, dangling his pony-tailed bait to see if any gullible targets will bite.
Barnett is exploiting the English Premier League's warm nostalgia towards an ageing legend, knowing that less attention is paid to players once they leave English shores.
EPL devotees rarely concern themselves with the small print of La Liga statistics, which is rather handy in Bale's case.
Since the Spanish league resumed after the coronavirus break, he featured just twice for Real, playing only 100 minutes out of a possible 990. He scored only two La Liga goals last season, both of which came in the previous September.
Recently, the Welshman appeared to take greater pleasure in mocking his employers than playing for them.
The infamous "Wales, Golf, Madrid" banner tickled him. He feigned sleep on the subs' bench. He appeared in a British TV commercial that made fun of his indifferent persona.
If nothing else, Bale retains a sense of humour. Whether he retains a hunger to compete for the top four with Tottenham is anyone's guess.
But for the sake of argument, let's assume that he does. Let's imagine that Bale joins Spurs as a reinvigorated campaigner pushing for regular selection (he made just 16 appearances last season in all competitions). What happens next?
Bale's unstoppable force meets Mourinho's immovable object.
Before the winger counts the zeroes on his Spurs contract, he might want to count the Zs in Tottenham's sleep-inducing slog masquerading as an EPL contest against Everton last weekend.
Two holding midfielders, four cautious defenders and an isolated striker - all operating on the strict instructions of an eternally conservative manager - leave little room for Bale's exploits in his heyday, let alone a winger past his prime.
Mourinho's track record when it comes to mercurial artists is famously patchy. They drift in and out of contests, a scruffy reality that has always troubled his tidy mind. Just ask Joe Cole, Kaka, Eden Hazard, Anthony Martial and even Dele Alli last weekend.
According to reports, the Tottenham manager and midfielder have fallen out already (Alli was substituted at half-time).
Mourinho has supposedly taken issue with Alli's apparent lack of work rate. Has the micro-manager not seen Bale play recently?
Of course he hasn't. No one has. That's the point.
Moaning about Alli's inferior work rate and then signing Bale is like complaining about misogyny and then voting for Donald Trump.
Ironically, Bale's flair and fame make him an archetypal Spurs player. But those qualities do not make him a Mourinho player, quite the opposite in fact.
The homecoming hero may warm Tottenham hearts, but Bale and Mourinho feel like an awkward mismatch.