Ryan Mason believes that Gareth Bale will never lose his ability in the final third, but wasn’t able to comment on whether he could stay at Tottenham permanently.
Mason had Bale to thank as the Welshman’s hat-trick sent Tottenham on their way to victory against Sheffield United. Son Heung-min added a spectacular fourth to round out the win. It ensured Spurs bounced straight back from the disappointment of losing last week’s Carabao Cup final.
Now, a top-four challenge is still within reach, as Spurs rose to fifth thanks to the win. Some of their rivals have a game in hand but they did all they could to claim three points.
Bale was the architect of the victory with his first hat-trick since returning to the club on loan from Real Madrid. But it was an overall solid performance from the team.
Mason was delighted with the way his players competed in their individual battles – and was glad that Bale made the impact he did.
The interim boss told Sky Sports: “The attitude, the desire to compete, to keep competing over 95 minutes [was good]. We had some real moments of quality but the bravery to play in every duel, every action is most pleasing thing.
“Last week was disappointing for everyone. We had a week where we could train and work on the players. We defended strongly as a team. Some of our play was absolutely outstanding.
“I said all along Gareth Bale hasn’t and won’t lose that ability in the final third to produce moments of excellent. He’s a world class player – he’s proved that over many years.
“The most pleasing thing about him tonight was his attitude, his running for the team. You feel confident he’ll take the chances.
“I think that [whether Bale could stay] is a discussion once the season is done. Our priority is the next game.”
Another player who got a chance to start was Dele Alli, who was frozen out under Jose Mourinho earlier this season. Mason said he got his chance due to impressing in training.
The ex-midfielder explained: “Dele Alli had an excellent attitude – he trained his way into the team.
“He had a really good training week. He gave 100% and had some moments.”
Mason was also pleased with his defensive players as they kept a clean sheet. But one of the back four had a significant impact going forward too, as Serge Aurier recorded two assists.
It wasn’t his main job, though, insisted Mason, who said: “The clean sheet was important, the defence was excellent. It was a very pleasing night for us.
“Serge is a defender first. The priority is to defend and he did that with the rest of the team.”
Mason shocked by refereeing decision
One aspect Mason wasn’t happy with, though, was the referee’s decision not to send off John Fleck early in the second half after he stood on Giovani Lo Celso’s face.
He said: “I am so shocked that it wasn’t a red card.
“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. In my eyes it’s a red card, no doubt.”