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Gareth Bale shines in the freedom of Jose Mourinho's attacking diamond 

Gareth Bale celebrates one of his two goals for Tottenham Hotspur against Burnley on Sunday.
Gareth Bale celebrates one of his two goals for Tottenham Hotspur against Burnley on Sunday.
Mark Pitman
EXPERT COLUMNIST

Gareth Bale silenced his critics once again on Sunday, as he produced two goals and an assist in a Man of the Match' performance, helping Tottenham Hotspur claim a convincing 4-0 win over Burnley in the process.

With the Wales star named in the starting lineup alongside Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min, the selection of such an attacking quartet represented a positive shift from manager Jose Mourinho; the Portuguese reaped the rewards, as his team delivered emphatically.

Tottenham Hotspurs attacking quartet sizzles

To understand just how effective the Tottenham Hotspur quartet were, it's worth highlighting how the four players were directly involved in all four goals.

It was the perfect return on Jose Mourinho's speculative and surprise investment into attacking football. Tottenham Hotspur fans can only hope that it leads to a permanent shift in his tactical portfolio.

Son Heung-Min provided the assist for Gareth Bale's opener inside the opening two minutes. Gareth Bale then set up Harry Kane for the second with an incredible long-range pass. Lucas Moura added the third before half-time, while Son Heung-Min again turned provider for Gareth Bale to complete the scoring on 55 minutes.

Jose Mourinho saw his Tottenham Hotspur side at their very best against Burnley.
Jose Mourinho saw his Tottenham Hotspur side at their very best against Burnley.

Despite their dominance, this was far from a familiar team selection from Jose Mourinho.

His team selection was far removed from the reserved style that has long defined large swathes of Mourinho's managerial career. His aggression towards the opposition has traditionally been taken forward off the field rather than on it, using press conferences over positional systems to take the game to his opposite number.

But Jose Mourinho is an older and wiser figure than the man who once redirected attention away from his own players with his touchline behaviour and controversial approach to gain the slimmest of advantages. His negative style of play had previously defined his antagonistic character, but the Portuguese is now a different animal.

Jose Mourinho and the pressure to produce

Jose Mourinho has been heavily criticised for failing to get the best out of this Tottenham Hotspur side in recent months. But the return to fitness of key players has brought with it a natural return to form. The manager's experience means he can now find the right balance in this highly-intensive season of relentless fixtures to effectively deliver results.

Balance is the keyword here. Balance is the primary element that has turned Tottenham Hotspur into a side that can produce a dominant performance like they did against Burnley on Sunday. That came despite Tottenham Hotspur combining their Premier League engagements with their chase for the Carabao Cup and the UEFA Europa League honours too.

Jose Mourinho has protected Gareth Bale since the Welshman arrived on loan from Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho has protected Gareth Bale since the Welshman arrived on loan from Real Madrid.

The players that Jose Mourinho needs to succeed are there, but they are only effective when fully fit. The right balance comes from being patient with their recovery time and the ability to remain disciplined enough to not push them further back despite the pressure to reverse a concerning run of results and performances.

Gareth Bale could have been used a lot earlier and a lot more following his arrival from Real Madrid. But Jose Mourinho has chosen to limit and restrict his game-time. On Sunday, Gareth Bale exploited the space available to him, as Burnley struggled to contend with the attacking quartet of Tottenham Hotspur that exposed their limitations quite brutally.

Tottenham Hotspur produce a performance for the purists

There was a confidence and swagger about Tottenham Hotspur, as Sean Dyche's defence was pulled apart, something that has been missing for far too long. This is the style of football that Tottenham Hotspur supporters have been yearning for.

Jose Mourinho had been patiently building towards Sunday's performance, and Burnley proved to the right type of opposition at the right time, as he gave his attacking players the platform to go out and perform without fear. The Tottenham Hotspur manager was rewarded in the best possible way, and a new standard for his side has now been set.

Jose Mourinho was brought to Tottenham Hotspur to win trophies.
Jose Mourinho was brought to Tottenham Hotspur to win trophies.

Jose Mourinho is now 58 years old. While his experience in the game will help him make more right decisions than wrong, his age will have stripped him of the carefree approach that a younger manager would embrace if he had such a valuable and talented attacking quartet at his disposal.

There could be a natural return to a more reserved and defensive team selection and approach to Tottenham Hotspur's future games, and that could happen sooner rather than later. While Jose Mourinho will have enjoyed what he saw from his Tottenham Hotspur players on Sunday, he will still be very hesitant to mirror this selection against superior opposition.

Why Gareth Bale remains world-class

Tottenham Hotspur fans have waited a long time to see the best of Gareth Bale.
Tottenham Hotspur fans have waited a long time to see the best of Gareth Bale.

Jose Mourinho was brought to Tottenham Hotspur by chairman Daniel Levy due to his reputation of being a serial winner. But success cannot be achieved without risk.

Gareth Bale was seen as the perfect addition to the attacking partnership of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min. But Jose Mourinho has seen more long-term value in Gareth Bale's rest and recovery than in playing him every game.

As much as Jose Mourinho would have enjoyed Sunday's performance, he will also be aware that it has set an attacking standard that Tottenham Hotspur fans should not expect to see getting repeated every week. It will remain an option, but the proven philosophy that has elevated him to his current status in the world game does not match such a display.

But for all the talk of Jose Mourinho, Sunday's match belonged to Gareth Bale. This was not the old Gareth Bale; this is what Gareth Bale is right now, and it is confirmation that he can still be a world-class player on his day.

The question now is if Jose Mourinho will adapt his approach to play to the proven strengths of the attacking players currently at his disposal.

Edited by Bhargav
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