DAVE KIDD

THE training-ground footage emerged a couple of weeks ago, via Tottenham’s in-house TV channel.

Jose Mourinho can be heard, off-camera, saying: “You want to stay here? Or go to Madrid and play no football?”

Gareth Bale is enduring a difficult season under Jose Mourinho after returning to Tottenham

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Gareth Bale is enduring a difficult season under Jose Mourinho after returning to TottenhamCredit: AFP

The Spurs boss was apparently telling his backroom staff what he had said in a meeting with Gareth Bale, 31, on loan from Real Madrid, but also playing remarkably little football under Mourinho.

Only a cynic would suggest Mourinho might have been pleased that this clip found the light of day.

Just as those same cynics might have wondered about Mourinho giving a training-ground rebuke to Paul Pogba in front of TV cameras when the pair were in the midst of one of their fall-outs at Manchester United — with the Frenchman having just been stripped of his status as vice-captain.

Then we had Mourinho branding Dele Alli as ‘lazy’ during Tottenham’s Amazon documentary — as well as footage of an argument with Danny Rose in the manager’s office — before Dele and Rose were both frozen out.

These things happen in football. And I am sure you can think of several instances of other elite managers criticising players on camera at their club’s training base.

Although, curiously enough, I cannot. But when Bale was handed his second Premier League start of the season — leading the line at Brighton on Sunday, in the absence of Harry Kane — he might not have felt inclined to run through Lewis Dunk-shaped brick walls for his manager.

After Spurs had been outplayed in a 1-0 defeat which gave the Seagulls their first home league win in 15 attempts, Mourinho claimed he went away with ‘positive feelings’ because of his team’s work-rate in the final 30 minutes.

Bale was substituted in the 61st minute. You do the arithmetic.

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The Welshman had looked way off the pace, under-motivated and, it was suggested on Sky’s commentary, eager to be substituted.

It all fitted the narrative, favoured in Madrid, of Bale as a busted flush, more interested in golf and coasting towards retirement.

Although Bale is regarded at Spurs, and within the Wales national squad, as a hugely popular team-mate and a good professional — it is not an opinion shared by Real manager Zinedine Zidane.

Bale is not the archetypal Mourinho favourite — not a football obsessive with a never-say-die attitude.

But he had enough talent and motivation to become one of the most decorated British footballers of all time, winning four Champions League titles.

There was always a belief that Mourinho was indifferent about taking Bale on loan — despite having tried to sign him while in charge at the Bernabeu.

And a feeling that these were two men of vast celebrity, whose best days were past.

It was difficult to imagine Mourinho as the man to cajole Bale, who had suffered plenty of injury issues in Madrid, back to world-class heights.

Mourinho heard giving Gareth Bale brutal warning in training about being sent back to Real Madrid to ‘play no football’

BENCH BECKONS

But you could still have imagined Bale, at least, as a very useful squad player for Spurs.

Not after Sunday’s fiasco, though. Now it would be a surprise if Bale starts another Premier League match under Mourinho.

The return of the prodigal son had lifted spirits at the Lane in September — even though Mourinho’s side tossed away a three-goal lead against West Ham after Bale arrived as a late sub for his second Spurs debut.

Now the idea that Bale might come to the fore later in the season seems to have been torpedoed and his remarkable career could be drifting towards a premature and unsatisfactory end.

Mourinho’s predecessor, Mauricio Pochettino, was seriously annoyed when Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola once referred to his Spurs side as ‘the Harry Kane team’.

Yet that term looks more appropriate now than it did under Pochettino.

When Kane was withdrawn at half-time, having suffered injuries to both ankles during Tottenham’s comprehensive 3-1 defeat by Liverpool last Thursday, you immediately feared for Spurs.

That was a truly horrible night for the club — Kane’s injury, a defensive shambles and a half-time tantrum from Serge Aurier, who joins Bale, Dele and Rose on a crowded Mourinho naughty step.

Bale’s return was a nostalgic feelgood story for Spurs fans — yet Mourinho was never likely to revel in sentimentality.

Dave Kidd

Two months ago, Spurs defeated Arsenal 2-0 to go top of the Premier League table, leaving their North London rivals in the bottom six.

Tonight, Arsenal can go above Tottenham with victory over Wolves — and even though the Gunners will have played two games more, that is some turnaround.

Earlier this season, Spurs looked impressive — if not thrilling — in a Mourinho blueprint.

Kane and Son Heung-min were dangerous on the counter-attack, in front of a muscular midfield and a well-drilled defence.

But having thrust themselves into a title race, Spurs were too one-dimensional to stay the course.

And they were never good enough to ostracise players as talented as Bale and Dele.

On Thursday, Chelsea arrive at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, looking a more serious proposition under new boss Thomas Tuchel.

Mourinho has a decent recent record in ‘Big Six’ matches — having defeated both Manchester clubs as well as Arsenal.

And while his team are involved in three cup competitions, including a Carabao Cup final against Manchester City in April, Mourinho will not be in peril.

But since that North London derby victory on December 6, Spurs have won just twice in nine Premier League matches.

Against Chelsea, Mourinho will surely start with his useful back-up striker Carlos Vinicius, rather than Bale.

And perhaps this all-time great British footballer will go back to Madrid and play no football until his contract expires in 2022.

But Bale’s uneasy relationship with Mourinho says as much about Tottenham’s manager as it does about the player.

Bale’s return was a nostalgic feelgood story for Spurs fans — yet Mourinho was never likely to revel in sentimentality.

As those watching Spurs TV might have accidentally overheard.

Tweet @davekidd_

Bale has certainly not hit the heights he managed during his first spell in North London

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Bale has certainly not hit the heights he managed during his first spell in North LondonCredit: AFP
Ramos is one of Real Madrid's top earners but is demanding more to stay on for a further two years, claim reports
Ramos is one of Real Madrid’s top earners but is demanding more to stay on for a further two years, claim reports

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