It was as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy succeeded in his long-term mission to get Tottenham into the ill-conceived and, shamefully, misguided European Super League that he made the decision to sack the celebrity manager he staked his own reputation on by hiring to replace Mauricio Pochettino in late 2019.
Just a moment when Super League shock waves were ripping through the game, Levy decided the time had come to dispense with his A-list manager, as he sacked Jose Mourinho in a manner that left so many unanswered questions.
Mourinho’s CV references 20 major trophies that give him a gravitas few in the game can match, yet Levy gave up on the manager he staked his own reputation on just six days before they got a chance to win only their second trophy of the 21st century.
The appointment of 29-year-old academy coach Ryan Mason as Mourinho’s successor added to the confusion, yet this story did not explode in the last month, as the tensions between Mourinho and Levy over the use of Bale as a celebrity substitute have been brewing for some time.
Mourinho didn’t learn his lesson from his sackings at Chelsea and Manchester United, as he followed the same ill-conceived script at Tottenham and almost certainly ended his time as a Premier League manager.
Isolating and marginalising star players in the hope that the rest of his dressing room will follow his lead in a bid to avoid a similar fate was a tactic that had failed to work at Chelsea and United and, this time, Mourinho picked the wrong players, as he targeted loan-signing Bale and playmaker Dele Alli.
Placing two of your paymaster’s favourite players in the line of fire and making them the fall guys in a power battle can only have one outcome, as Tottenham’s now former manager will confirm.
Even though Bale is not the player he was when winning Champions League finals for Real Madrid, Levy’s desire to see him integrated into Mourinho’s team has been a point of division for months.
Mourinho’s snipes at Bale in the media may also have been seen as verbal jabs landing on Levy. As a player who is costing Spurs £300,000-a-week during his loan spell (with Real Madrid paying the same amount to complete his eye-watering salary each week), he started just six top-flight matches under the former Special One.
Mourinho’s eagerness to blame anyone but himself for Tottenham’s failings ensured fall guys would be identified after the humiliating Europa League exit against Dinamo Zagreb last month, with Alli and Bale top of his hit list.
Alli did not play for Mourinho again after that dark night in Croatia and Bale appeared for just 10 minutes in what proved to be Mourinho’s final four games as Spurs manager.
Now the chairman, who blocked Alli’s move to Paris Saint-Germain in January against Mourinho’s wishes and championed Bale’s fading talents has plenty of questions to answer as his bizarre move to sack Mourinho and replace him with 29-year-old coaching trainee Ryan Mason a few days a few days before a Cup Final backfired horribly on Sunday as Spurs turned in a shocking performance as they lost the Carabao Cup final 1-0 against Manchester City at Wembley.
Spurs have not won a trophy since Juande Ramos guided a side led by Robbie Keane to League Cup glory in 2008, and while an appearance in the 2019 Champions League final gave the impression that Spurs were a sleeping giant ready to roar, they have quickly resumed their familiar position of slumber since then.
Now they face a few months of uncertainly that may end with their ‘Super League’ status being rescinded if, or probably when, the giants of European football make another cash grab in the near future.
A club with Mourinho at the helm and Harry Kane as their on-field superstar commanded the attention of the football world, but there is every chance both of their most recognisable faces could be gone by the start of next season, with Kane believed to be considering his future at Spurs.
The appointment of a marquee manager to succeed Mourinho may help to persuade Tottenham’s goal machine to stay, yet this is a day when Spurs will reach out for a rare slice of glory.
Mason looked as confused as those interviewing him as he shared his thoughts ahead of just his second game in charge that could end with him becoming the youngest manager to win a trophy in English football history.
With Kane struggling to shake off an ankle problem, Bale looks certain to play a key role for Spurs in the cup final, and that may not have been the case were it not for the managerial change.
After the Welshman stuck the knife into Mourinho when he suggested Tottenham are “a big team and should be attacking more” after he played a key role in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win against Southampton, he could not avert the inevitabilty of defeat for Spurs against Manchester City at Wembley and now the questions need to asked over what happens next.
Spurs were believed to be eyeing up a move for RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, but he is now expected to take over at Bayern Munich, with Levy left to ponder his next move as he battles to fend off a mounting cash crisis after his attempts for find a quick fix solution by joining the Super League came to an abrupt end.
Former Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, and under pressure Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo are among the names being linked with the Spurs job, but they are not names likely to turn around a ship that has been in reverse mode for the last three years.
Levy's fandom of Bale is likely to end when the Welshman returns to Real Madrid when his loan spell ends next month and having witnessed how far Tottenham are from challenging for trophies in the Carabao Cup final defeat, Harry Kane can only conclude the time has come to end his stay at Spurs.
An announcement from Kane suggesting he wants to move on would represent the final confirmation that Levy has failed in his role overseeing Tottenham and his record makes for grim reading.
Managers have come and gone, but one face has remained over a 20 year period that has seen Tottenham win one League Cup and experience near misses aplenty in a failed attempt to convince anyone that they deserve to recognised among Europe's elite list of 'super' clubs.
In truth, Levy's greatest success stories in his time at the Tottenham helm are the overseeing on a fine stadium at their White Hart Lane home and a lovely training ground in the north London enclave of Enfield.
Sadly for Levy, open top bus parades and celebrations among fans are not generally based around such window dressing, so his two decade reign as Tottenham's ruler can only be declared as an abject failure.