Graham Potter says Gareth Bale needs time to shine

Brighton boss Graham Potter believes Gareth Bale’s lack of impact at Tottenham is completely understandable.

Bale received a hero’s welcome when he rejoined Spurs from Real Madrid in September and looked ready to resurrect his floundering career after scoring the winner in a 2-1 success over Albion six weeks later.

But the Wales star, who was frozen out at the Bernabeu under Zinedine Zidane, has done little to warrant the fanfare and finds himself a peripheral member of Jose Mourinho’s squad ahead of Sunday’s return match with the Seagulls.

Potter feels Bale’s limited action during the latter stages of his time in Spain has been a major factor in his Premier League struggles.

“I know that it’s not easy if you haven’t been playing football for a while to suddenly hit the ground running in the Premier League, it’s not that simple, regardless of who you are,” said Potter.

“You need a bit of time, you need to get into that rhythm, adapt to the league, even though he’s coming in having been here in the past.

“If you haven’t been playing regularly, the demands and the intensity of it are quite strong and then he’s going to a club that’s obviously got competition and good players.

“I haven’t given it a massive amount of thought but it’s a lot to do with the challenges of the Premier League.”

Bale has been restricted to just 170 top-flight minutes since returning on loan to north London, with his decisive header against Albion on November 1 his only league goal to date.

The 31-year-old, who scored 55 times in 203 appearances for Tottenham between 2007 and 2013, may now be afforded greater opportunity to rediscover former glories due to the enforced absence of striker Harry Kane.

Wycombe Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Adams Park
Wycombe Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Adams Park

Spurs captain Kane looks certain to miss Sunday’s visit to the Amex Stadium after injuring both ankles in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool, although Mourinho does not consider Bale a central striker or a direct replacement.

Brighton, who sit five points above the relegation zone, are yet to win at home this term and could do with a repeat of last season’s thumping 3-0 win over a Spurs side manager by Mauricio Pochettino to propel themselves away from danger.

Potter says his respect for Mourinho is “sky high” but played down the personal significance of coming out on top against his Portuguese counterpart.

“It would have zero significance for my CV, if I am honest. Not because I don’t respect Jose Mourinho but I don’t think you’re in football for that type of stuff,” he said.

Graham Potter File Photo
Graham Potter File Photo

“For me, it’s more about we want to get the points for the club.

“My respect for what Jose Mourinho has done in his career is incredible, it can’t be higher because he’s won in multiple places – Portugal, England, Italy, Spain – what’s he achieved is amazing.

“If we can get a win that would be great but it would not be for my own personal thing, it’s more for the team.

“And win, lose or draw, my respect for him is sky high.”