Little or nothing has changed about Dele Alli in the last two seasons despite how hard he is being pushed to rediscover himself. Dele was once a bright footballer who many thought would be one of the greatest things to happen to English football.
He was more or less a beast under the former coach of Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino. During the reign of the Argentine tactician who is now the coach of Paris Saint Germain, Dele Alli hardly missed games.
In the five years reign of Pochettino at Tottenham, Dele Alli who joined the North London club in 2015, played 194 games. In those games under Pochettino, the 25-year-old attacking midfielder scored 55 goals and provided 50 assists.
His consistency under Pochettino earned him an England national team call-up on October 9, 2015. He went on to make 37 appearances in which he scored three goals.
But immediately he started struggling at Tottenham Hotspur in Pochettino’s last season at the club, he lost his place in the national team.
When Jose Mourinho became the coach of Tottenham Hotspur in November 2020, Dele Alli showed signs of being a rejuvenated player by scoring three goals in Mourinho’s first 8 games in charge of Spurs.
At that point, it was looking like Dele Alli has finally gotten his form back and might return to the peak of his career. Unfortunately for his fans, he ended up on the bench again.
“I told already Dele very directly that he doesn’t train well, he is not a good trainer”, Jose Mourinho told reporters in a press conference during his time at Spurs (2020 and 2021).
“I am not saying a disaster but I am not saying Harry Kane, Harry Kane is a very good trainer.
“Sir Alex Ferguson gave me only one bit of advice in two and a half years (when Mourinho was serving as Manchester United coach between 2016-2018): Buy Dele Alli. ‘That guy, with that mentality, the way he plays, the aggression he has in mind. This guy is the Manchester United player. Buy Dele Alli’.
“And he [Ferguson] has an eye for a player. But he [Alli] is not a good trainer, we need to find motivation for the guy.”
Jose Mourinho face to face chat with Dele Alli
When Jose Mourinho was the coach of Spurs between November 2020 and April 2021, he tried to find a motivation for Dele Alli by calling him to his office to have a chat with him which was featured in Tottenham Hotspur’s “All Or Nothing” documentary.
In the chat, Mourinho told Dele Alli how he did not doubt the player’s potential but reminded him that the player has been having ups and downs in his football career.
The Portuguese coach who had coached Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Manchester United before he came to Tottenham, urged Dele to analyze himself to find out what gave his career the initial acceleration.
“Maybe, inside, you are telling me to f*** off, but I have to tell you exactly what I see,” Mourinho begins.
“I have no doubts about your potential. I saw you do incredible things in incredible matches. But I always felt that you had ups and downs.
“There is a huge difference between a player who has consistency and a player who has moments. That is what makes the difference between a top, top player and a player with top potential.
“It is something to analyze yourself for you to realize why your career has been MK Dons, Tottenham, national team… bang!
“Then, when you reached the top, why do you have these little ups and downs.”
“I don’t know if it is to do with your lifestyle – if in one period you were an amazing professional but in another period you felt you had become a party boy,” Mourinho continued.
“I have no idea – only you can know that.
“I am 56 now and yesterday I was 20. Time flies. One day I think you will regret it if you don’t reach what you can reach.
“I am not expecting you to be the man of the match every game. I am not expecting you to score goals every game. I want just to tell you that you will regret it.
“You should demand more from yourself. It should not be me demanding more from you.
“Nobody else. You. You should demand more from yourself.”
Dele Alli’s career after his one-on-one chat with Mourinho
Despite the one-on-one chat Dele Alli had with Jose Mourinho, nothing much has changed in his career. He has continued to struggle to get regular game time at Spurs and has not been invited back to the national team since then.
Exactly the way he struggled under Jose Mourinho, was the same way he struggled in Nuno’s era at the club which means that the problem is with him not with coaches.
Tottenham now have a new coach in Antonio Conte and one of the coach’s first press conference as Spurs’ coach, he vowed to play Dele regularly if he deserves it.
Hence, the career of the out-of-favor England international is still in his hands. He could still become the Dele Alli that took the Premier League by storm during the 2016-2017 season in which he scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists in 50 games in all competitions.
Dele’s contract with Tottenham Hotspur which reportedly earns him £100,000-a-week will expire on June 30, 2024.