EPL

When I am happy I play well - Bale glad to be enjoying his football again after netting hat-trick

By Sports Desk May 02, 2021

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

The Wales international scored his second Premier League hat-trick, and first since December 2012, in Tottenham's routine 4-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

He was a second-half substitute in last week's EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester City, but the forward has 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, just six of those being starts.

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 glad to be enjoying his football again.

"You have to take your chances when they come so I'm feeling good," he told Sky Sports. 

"I just needed to play games and get a run of games and I'm doing that now. I'm happy and when I'm happy I play well.

"Winning always makes everyone happy and gives a winning mentality to the dressing room. It's not going to happen overnight but I feel we're taking a step in the right direction.

"It seems a while ago since the last hat-trick so it's nice to get it, but it is more important to get the three points."

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

Mason, who follows Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Glenn Hoddle in winning his first two Premier League games as Spurs boss, is unsure if "world class" Bale will stay on.

"That's a conversation for the end of the season," the caretaker boss told BBC Sport. "The priority and main aim now is the next game at Leeds.

"When you score a hat-trick you'll get the headlines. Everyone who has watched football over the past 10 years knows what he can do. His finishing was outstanding."

Son Heung-min rounded off the scoring for Tottenham, having earlier had one ruled out for a marginal offside, as they moved to 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 on the back of last week's cup final loss at Wembley.

"It was a disappointing game last week," he said. "We had a really good training week that allowed us to work with the team. The attitude and desire today was outstanding. 

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

"We stuck together and had some real moments of quality. It was a really pleasing performance and a positive night."

Despite the comfortable margin of his side's victory, Mason felt John Fleck was fortunate to avoid a red card for catching Giovani Lo Celso on the face with his studs early in the second half.

"I am so shocked that it wasn't a red card," he said. "I'm shocked the VAR team didn't at least tell the referee to have a look. I think it's a stonewall red card. 

"I don't think there's a clearer red card. You see the replay once and he's endangered an opponent. I cannot believe it wasn't given as a red card. It's avoidable."

Already-relegated Sheffield United have picked up just four points from a possible 51 away from home this season, losing 15 of their 17 such matches.

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

"Spurs were ruthless on the counter, but where we lost the ball on occasions and how we conceded the goals was poor," he told BBC Sport.

"That is not a performance that we want to see. It was so passive and I can't wait until the fans are back in because in a stadium like this it's absolutely dead. We tried to generate our own atmosphere in the second half but the game ran away from us."

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