May 16, 2021

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When I’m happy I play well – Bale is happy to enjoy his football again after scoring a hat-trick


Gareth Bale says the key to his improved form is playing more consistently since Ryan Mason replaced Jose Mourinho as Tottenham boss.

The Welsh international scored his second Premier League treble, and the first since December 2012, in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

He was a second-half substitute in last week’s EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City, but the forward started both league games under Mason, scoring four times in total.

That compares to five goals in 14 appearances under Mourinho in the Premier League this season, of which only six are debutants.

And Bale, who is due to return to parent club Real Madrid at the end of the season for the final year of his contract, is happy to be enjoying his football again.

“You have to take your chances when they come to make me feel good,” he told Sky Sports.

“I just needed to play games and have a series of games and I’m doing it now. I’m happy and when I’m happy I play well.

“Winning always makes everyone happy and gives the locker room a winning mentality. It won’t happen overnight, but I think we are taking a step in the right direction.

“It seems like a while ago since the last hat-trick, so it’s good to get it, but it’s more important to get the three points.

Bale’s three goals against Sheffield United came from six shots in total, including five on target as he became the sixth Welshman to reach 50 Premier League goals.

Mason, who follows Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Glenn Hoddle to win his first two Premier League games as Spurs boss, is unsure whether ‘world-class’ Bale will remain.

“It’s a conversation for the end of the season,” the acting boss told BBC Sport. “The priority and the main objective is now the next game at Leeds.

“When you hit a hat trick, you get the headlines. Anyone who has watched football in the past 10 years knows what it can do. Its finish was exceptional.

Son Heung-min rounded the scoring for Tottenham, having ruled one out for a marginal offside, as they moved within five points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Spurs have won back-to-back league games for the first time in two months and Mason was pleased with the response following last week’s Cup final loss at Wembley.

“It was a disappointing game last week,” he said. “We had a very good week of training which allowed us to work with the team. Today’s attitude and desire was exceptional.

“To couple it with some of the quality, it was a really positive performance. The attitude, the competitiveness, the first balls, the second ball, the desire to fight for 90 minutes.

“We stayed together and had some real quality moments. It was a really enjoyable performance and a positive evening.

Despite his team’s comfortable margin of victory, Mason felt that John Fleck was lucky enough to avoid a red card for catching Giovani Lo Celso in the face with his crampons at the start of the second half.

“I’m so shocked it wasn’t a red card,” he said. “I’m shocked the VAR team didn’t at least tell the referee to take a look. I think it’s a red card.

“I don’t think there is a clearer red card. You see the replay once and it put an opponent in danger. I can’t believe it wasn’t given as a red card. It is preventable.

Already relegated Sheffield United have collected just four points out of a possible 51 away from home this season, losing 15 of their 17 such appearances.

United have lost 27 of their 34 Premier League games this season – the most they have suffered in a single Football League campaign in all of their history – and interim boss Paul Heckingbottom is not looking for excuses.

“Spurs were ruthless on the counter, but where we lost the ball on some occasions and how we conceded goals was mediocre,” he told BBC Sport.

“It’s not a performance we want to see. It was so passive and I can’t wait for the fans to come back because at a stadium like this it’s absolutely dead. We tried to create our own atmosphere in the second half, but the game got away from us.