Jose Mourinho has revealed his delight at the manner in which Dele Alli has taken information regarding spatial awareness on board during his short time as Tottenham manager.
The Portuguese was appointed as Spurs boss just a day after Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking earlier this week and as such, has had little time to work with his squad.
Can Mourinho bring the best out of Alli? Five things to know…
- Alli scored 32 goals in 96 games during his first two seasons at Spurs.
- Since then, his form has been far more inconsistent.
- But Alli has shown recent signs of improvement and played a key role in Spurs’ 3-2 win over West Ham.
- Ahead of that game, Mourinho challenged the midfielder to “play like Dele Alli” and not his fictional brother.
- And the new Spurs boss has lavished praise on the 23-year-old’s performance against West Ham on Saturday.
Despite such a small timeframe to work within, the Lilywhites beat West Ham 3-2 during Mourinho’s first game in charge on Saturday and initially took a 3-0 lead before being pegged back.
Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane provided the goals for Spurs but midfielder Alli also impressed at the London Stadium, providing an assist for the opener and playing a key role in the second courtesy of an instinctive flick whilst on the floor.
And speaking after the match, Mourinho heaped praise on the England international’s intelligence to take on his instructions in just a couple of days.
“Dele was like the team, he was brilliant for 60-65 minutes and then he paid the price of the times, so he went a little bit down,” he told reporters.
“He was the old Dele Alli, the Dele Alli of a couple of years ago, that impressed not just England, but the world. He did exactly what I wanted him to do, with two days of work.
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“With important selection of information, I tried to make clear for him exactly the spaces where we wanted him to play, offensively and defensively, he is an intelligent footballer to understand what we wanted and very, very important for the team.
“I am really pleased with his performance.”
“You only do that if you are ultra-confident”
Alli’s piece of skill and ingenuity in the build-up to the second goal was particularly eye-catching, with the 23-year-old managing to swivel and flick the ball down the line, despite being on the floor.
Absolutely ridiculous from Dele Alli 😳
That is SO good! 😍👏pic.twitter.com/Hdr35KtH6n
— BT Sport (@btsport) November 23, 2019
And Mourinho believes this sort of inventiveness only comes about as a result of Alli playing with his chest out and boasting a positive mindset.
“It was just in front of me. The piece of skill was amazing, but what for me is more amazing is the mental thing in relation that,” he added.
“You only do that if you are focused, committed, ultra-confident. If, not you give up when you have bad feeling, sadness, you don’t do that piece of skill. It is amazing, but it only comes when from an emotional point of view, everything is positive. Fantastic, I am really happy.”