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Jason Pettigrove says Gareth Bale is showing exactly why Zinedine Zidane was right to keep the Welshman on the bench.

It was the homecoming that seemingly everyone bar Jose Mourinho wanted. The prodigal son was returning and from Daniel Levy to the tea ladies, they couldn’t wait to bask in the reflected glory of seeing Gareth Bale back at White Hart Lane. 

The north Londoners ensured that their social media channels were awash with Bale highlights for days before the deal was eventually done, and as transfers go, it’s absolutely understandable why the Welsh flyer would’ve jumped at the chance to get back into the Premier League and have some regular football under his belt. 

Levy too surely sensed the commercial possibilities. 

However, there’s one thing that the chairman clearly never bargained for. That’s the now 31-year-old Bale not being close to being the player they thought that they were loaning from Real Madrid. 

No wonder Los Blancos were as keen as mustard to help his dreams come true, saving themselves a pretty penny in wages in the process. 

Reports in Spain had long suggested a fractious relationship between Zinedine Zidane and his player, but neither publicly confirmed the same. 

Zidane, as is his wont, simply preferred others in Bale’s position, and that’s a line he espoused on more than one occasion during the press conferences when the player was actually fit 

Given the Welshman’s injury problems over a long period, he was never going to waltz straight back into the starting XI in any event, so to mock the club and his manager by pretending to doze on the sub’s bench, or to happily pose in front of a ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid… in that order’ flag is, to put it as politely as this column will allow, unprofessional. 

Though he hasn’t dared go that far with Mourinho yet, neither has Bale impressed him enough to get more than 170 minutes of action since the switch last September. 

A solitary goal in the Premier League is all he has to show thus far, along with two wins, one draw and two losses. Not forgetting the five games he’s missed due to injury, the six where he’s sat on the bench and the two where he wasn’t even in the squad. 

Whatever the party line coming out of the club isit’s abundantly clear that this vanity project was doomed from the start. 

The Special One can be a vindictive so and so at times. But there’s little doubt that Daniel Levy wouldn’t have let him get away with that in this instance. 

To put things into perspective, the last time Bale played 90 minutes was against Getafe on January 4… last year! Thereafter he only managed four more games for Real Madrid before the end of the season, none of which were for the entire match. 

Zidane was castigated for his treatment of Bale when he was fit – which wasn’t often – but the player has done nothing whatsoever to impress Mourinho and his backroom staff since joining Tottenham. 

Even Glenn Hoddle, the arbiter of footballing taste, and a true Spurs legend, has recently questioned Bale’s mental fragility as much as his physical state. That’s a damning indictment on the Welshman. 

Unfortunately for all concerned, this has been an experiment in why you should ‘never go back,’ and it’s difficult to see where Bale fits in during the second half of the season. 

At least now everyone can see why Zidane used Bale so sparingly. It may be six months hence, but a return to the Spanish capital beckons… 

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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