Jose Mourinho has hinted that Real Madrid were to blame for Gareth Bale's slow start after joining Tottenham on loan, while warning reporters he was growing tired of their repeated questions about the Welsh winger.
Bale rejoined Spurs on a season-long loan from Madrid back in September, having been exiled from Zinedine Zidane's squad at Santiago Bernabeu.
The winger only played a bit-part role in the Blancos' title-winning 2019-20 season, with Mourinho admitting that he needed extra time to get back to his best in north London after so long on the sidelines.
What's been said?
Asked why Bale's man-of-the-match display against Burnley at the weekend had been such a long time coming, the Tottenham boss told a press conference: “Gareth again! Maybe he does not play tomorrow and every question is about Gareth! Come on! Just because he scored two goals! Come on!"
Mourinho added: “For the past two years, he had what he had in Madrid.
"Ask them. Maybe if they answer you, you can understand better why he took a while.
“Maybe to be patient was the main reason for him to reach the level he showed in the last couple of weeks.”
Bale's record at Spurs in 2020-21
Bale has only featured in 20 games across all competitions since returning to the club last summer, with just nine of those outings coming in the Premier League.
The 31-year-old has recorded eight goals so far, but five of those efforts have come in cup competitions, and he also has just three assists to his name.
However, Bale sparked back into life by scoring a stunning goal in a 4-0 Europa League win over Wolfsberger last week before putting Burnley to the sword on Sunday.
The Welshman scored twice and set up another during an impressive 4-0 home win for Mourinho's side, lasting 70 minutes before being replaced by Erik Lamela.
Bale is in contention for a third successive start as Tottenham prepare to meet Fulham in a London derby clash at Craven Cottage.
Mourinho stopped short of confirming whether the Madrid loanee will be in his line-up, but did reveal that he is still in peak physical condition after his exploits against Burnley.
Asked if Bale will play on Thursday night, the Portuguese responded: "I think so. Starting or starting on the bench I don't know.
"He's a very experienced player. Good reaction though [after the Burnley game]."