Gareth Bale’s first Premier League hat-trick since 2012 helps sink sorry Sheffield United

It’s been a baptism of fire for Ryan Mason in his short time as Tottenham’s interim manager and, after losing to Manchester City at Wembley, he now has to deal with the psychological fallout of the League Cup final.

It only takes a quick glimpse at Spurs’ results after losing the Champions League final in 2019 to see how difficult it can be for a team to recover from such a setback. Last weekend’s defeat to City might not have been quite as devastating but, regardless, it was a dramatic anticlimax.

Having missed the chance to win the club’s first trophy in 13 years, the players must be wondering when they will get the opportunity to make amends. Some may be pondering their futures, with Spurs’ search for a new manager ongoing and the club facing another period of transition.

Amid all that turmoil, Mason is now tasked with lifting a flagging squad as they attempt to secure European football for next season over the course of their last five games. While a meeting with rock-bottom Sheffield United might seem ideal in the circumstances, the Blades beat Brighton last weekend and could be deceptively tricky opponents.

Asked about the mood in the Spurs camp ahead of the match, Mason said: “It’s been okay this week. The lads have been excellent in training, they’ve been bright, good intensity, which is good. Everyone is fit and raring to go.

“Obviously last weekend was disappointing. It still hurts, the pain was there, and still is. I don’t think that ever leaves you, but we have a very important match this weekend and we’re all professionals.”

As for the threat posed by Sheffield United, he said: “They are a good side, competitive, aggressive, so we have to match that. Last season, they had a really good season.

“They’ve kept the same style, the same philosophy, so the foundations are there. They know what they are doing.

“Listen, this weekend is about us. We’re at home, so we need to be full of confidence, we need to be brave, we need to show real energy and, hopefully, give a positive performance.”