Sometimes, all too easily, football fans give in to nostalgia when rational debate offers the most obvious answer.
Tottenham signing Gareth Bale on loan in Septemeber saw some, but not all, supporters sweep aside his decreasing reputation and form for Real Madrid and dreamt for a moment of their hero returning and firing them to silverware.
It wasn’t unreasonable, history tells us Bale will go down as one of the best British stars in history, no matter if his time in Spain tailed off.
As recently as 2017/18 he’d scored 18 league goals and even the eight goals and three assists from his 2018/19 campaign would be the perfect addition to Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.
Injuries have forced him to alter his game from fleet-footed flyer to measured winger with smart movement and it would always take him time to acclimatise to the fast and furious Premier League after seven seasons in LaLiga.
But, by the end of January, the Bale bubble seemed to have well and truly burst.
It started infamously too, against West Ham – who they face Sunday, live on talkSPORT at 12pm.
He entered the fray with Tottenham 3-0 up with 18 minutes to go, somehow the Hammers turned the game on its head in emphatic fashion, scoring a trio of late goals, including a Manuel Lanzini netbuster to claim a 3-3 draw.
But has Bale’s return really been as bad as it seems? Perhaps nostalgia and rational debate can collide.
In terms of his wages, of course his lack of game time is less than ideal. He took a month to get fit and then had a lay off in December too – tough when you’re getting to grips with the Premier League.
Bale has played just 249 minutes of action in the competition, though – that’s not even three games worth of time on the pitch.
During that period he scored a vital winner against Brighton, looked decent for 78 minutes against West Brom, had 45 minutes as a substitute in a loss to Leicester, which saw their side decimated by injuries to Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso, while his nine minutes against Liverpool were hardly going to see him pull up trees.
Okay, against Brighton he wasn’t great in his second start of the season, but neither were any of his teammates.
His 18 minutes against Man City last weekend offered hope, a moment of breathtaking brilliance, ducking past three defenders before shooting almost saw him reduce the arrears in what would eventually be a 3-0 loss.
As well as this, he’s only appeared alongside star man Kane for more than 46 minutes on one occasion, and on three occasions with Heung-Min Son.
With them both at the same time? Just the once in the 1-0 win over West Brom.
Let’s not forget his contributions in other competitions – Bale was the first Spurs player to have netted in all four – scoring in the Carabao Cup, Europa League, and FA Cup too.
He grabbed a key equaliser against Stoke City in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, a penalty in a 3-3 draw with LASK Linz gave Spurs a lifeline when they were losing 1-0, and he netted in on the stroke of half-time against Wycombe to give them hope of the turnaround they would eventually complete in the FA Cup fourth round.
Hardly the contributions of a flop, Spurs could yet land that silverware too with the League Cup final against Man City on the horizon, while his excellent showing against Austrian side Wolfsberger in Europe on Thursday reminded us all of just how good he is.
A round of 16 place is on the cards after he sent poor Jonathan Scherzer off to grab some wiener schnitzel before slamming home his goal, while he assisted Son for the opening goal of the game.
It was a display, on the back of his City cameo, that’s getting fans dreaming again – it appears even manager Jose Mourinho wants to see more of him – possibly against West Ham.
“One of the reasons why he left the pitch by minute 64 was to try to have him available for the next match,” he said after Thursday’s 4-1 win.
And former Spurs striker Alan Brazil has also got a good feeling about the Welshman.
Brazil said on talkSPORT: “He showed [against Wolfsberger], ‘I’m up for it’, and if he’s up for it Tottenham need something.
“They cannot keep relying on Harry Kane and Heung-min Son – they need something.
“So let’s have a bit of Bale!
“If he’s keen and ready, if he feels fit – he’s clearly not injured if he plays like that last night – give him a go!”
Even former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has told talkSPORT it’s time he gets another crack.
He said: “If this was at the start of the season, and he played like that in a Europa League game, you’d have been saying, ‘this is moving along nicely and we’ll see him in the first-team proper’.
“So why not now? Why not put him in?
“I think Spurs really need him, the Spurs fans need a lift and Mourinho needs a lift now. He needs and wants players out there who can win games for Tottenham.
“It’s a huge game against West Ham this weekend, a game they’ve got to win if they have an aspirations for finishing in Europe.”
Whether he starts or not against West Ham, it’s clear Bale, as well as fellow outcast Dele Alli, deserve more time alongside Kane and Son.
At the very worse, increased game time will allow Spurs greater rotation in the coming weeks as the fixtures come thick and fast.
If it all goes right? Maybe fans were right to indulge their nostalgia and dream after all.