Before Tottenham hosted bitter London rivals West Ham yesterday, there was plenty of attention on Gareth Bale.
The Welshman looked all set to make his second debut for Spurs, having returned to the club on loan this summer.
Many might have expected Bale to start on the right of Jose Mourinho’s midfield, but he didn’t.
Mourinho opted for Steven Bergwijn out there, bringing Bale into the fray with 18 minutes remaining.
At that point, the game was 3-0 to the home side and Spurs were running the clock down.
But West Ham launched an unlikely comeback, clinching a 3-3 draw sealed by Manuel Lanzini’s late stunner.
Just before that, Bale had a chance to seal the game at 4-2, but placed the ball wide under pressure from Andriy Yarmolenko.
After the game, Mourinho explained why he didn’t start Bale, underlining that the winger has not got a given right to be in his first 11.
As per the Guardian, Mourinho said: “The decision not to start Bale was a good one.
“A decision to show that he doesn’t have a beautiful chair waiting for him in the team and he sits there the first time he can.
“It was a message to the team that everybody has to fight for positions. The focus was not on him. The focus was on the game.”
It was clear that Bale, understandably, still needs to work on his sharpness, but Mourinho’s bigger concern will be how his side blew that three-goal lead.