The Jose Mourinho era at Tottenham has begun in scintillating fashion. The Special One’s side were 3-2 victors against West Ham, a fixture that has typically caused them problems in the past. The performance was encouraging from Spurs, with Son, Harry Kane and Lucas Moura getting on the score-sheet. But the shining light, particularly in the first half, was Dele Alli.
The Englishman has been poor for the last two seasons after bursting onto the scene in 2015. His lack of consistency and inability to have an impact on the game has frustrated the fan base. It’s even affected his England place. But in the game today, we saw the Dele Alli from 2-3 seasons ago. Something Mourinho promised to bring back.
Mourinho’s man-management of Dele Alli
“I asked him if he was Dele or Dele’s brother. He told me he was Dele. OK, I said. ‘Play like Dele”Mourinho on what he said to Alli ahead of the game
As simple as this quote was by the Portuguese, it worked at the London Stadium. Alli was unplayable in the first half. His movement was so effective, finding the pockets of space to run into to then pick out inch perfect passes for the attackers to finish.
The Hammers were given the warning sign when the midfielder slipped a ball in to Harry Kane who was just offside, despite a fantastic finish. The MK Dons youth product played a crucial role in Son’s goal too. A ball into the feet of the South Korean who fired in with his left foot to get the Mourinho era off the mark in London. Roberto had to do better. But Alli was off to a brilliant start.
The 37 time capped England international looked a completely different player to the one we’ve seen recently. He was pressing hard, great body language, driving through midfield with ease. Polar opposite to the lethargic and anonymous player we saw a couple of weeks ago. Trying to impress the new manager? Or has he got that prompt that he needed, from Jose Mourinho.
Then, the confidence the former Manchester United manager gave the 23 year old was evident. Incredible improvisation to flick the ball to Son while on the floor put the winger through on the left, before playing a ball across the box that met the feet of Lucas Moura. Fast break away and transition, with Dele Alli at the heart of it all. He’s back.
Almost perfect first half
The second half was far more quiet for the England international. He played a great ball into Moura, who’s indecisiveness meant he scuffed a cross-cum shot wide. However, he faded from the first 45 minutes.
So much so, Alli was substituted around the 70 minute mark. But his performance in the first half was extremely encouraging. That same intelligent, technical and powerful central midfielder we saw score 22 goals in 2016/17 was present. I fully back Jose to get the best out of a talented player.
Can he be the former Chelsea boss’ Frank Lampard for this Spurs side? Perhaps a bit premature. But the early signs are very promising.
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