Should Mourinho and Spurs use Dele Alli more? Out-of-favor midfielder must prove his mettle to stage a comeback
Dele Alli has been a topic of discussion each time Tottenham Hotspur make headlines. Four games into the 2020-21 season, it is probably safe to say Alli has fallen out of favor to make the starting side. He's featured in just three games so far with a playtime touching 60 minutes. After playing for an hour in the Europa League qualifier against Shkendija, he then sat out for games against Newcastle and Chelsea. In the recent game where the Spurs thrashed Manchester United 6-1, he featured in the game with 20 minutes left before the final whistle.
The freeze, though, has multiple factors behind it and it may partly have to with the fact Jose Mourinho finds Alli to be "lazy." In the recent Amazon Prime edition of 'All or Nothing' that featured the Spurs, the Portuguese manager called Alli a "f**king lazy guy" in an episode. However, that may not be the only reason for him to let Alli warm the benches. Mourinho has made it perfectly clear that there were deserving players waiting on the bench.
They had put in the hard yards and while all along, there was this sinking feeling Alli was slowing down. It was an exasperated Mourinho when the Spurs played Shkendija in the Europa League earlier. With Erik Lamela showing more promise, the manager decided to go ahead by pushing Alli on the bench. Add to this the speculations that have been rife about his immediate future with the Spurs. The most recent update comes with Alli staying back at Tottenham as the PSG bid was rejected.
Right now, there's a lot of uncertainty around Alli's future at Tottenham. As far as his game time is concerned, The Athletic's Charlie Eccleshare opinion piece has a valid talking point where Alli's role comes into question. With the head coach reckoning, there are way too many midfielders in the side, and Alli falls down the order.
David Webb, the former Spurs scout, has this to say about Alli after the recent developments. "Nowadays No 10s tend to be a bit more fluid," said Webb. "They are expected to drift to the sides — rather than being a No 10 that plays off the striker or can go in behind. Jose was using him really well getting him to run in behind just after he took over, but ideally, he wants the attackers behind to be a bit more fluid so (Harry) Kane can drop deep and players like Son and Moura can run beyond him. But if Kane drops into Dele's space it's a bit crowded. You can see the way he's thinking. In a Jose team, I don't really see someone in that No 10 role."
The arrival of Gareth Bale just makes it harder for Alli to break into the side; however, odds are he might get a full game should he impress Mourinho both in terms of fitness and the spunk he possesses. Adding to this, the Spurs have had a grueling schedule. With a much-needed break this week for the side, Alli has enough time to train and train hard if he hopes to make the Spurs take on Westham on October 18.
Ideally, Mourinho could use more of Alli since he has constantly spoken about the need for rotation. If it has been the lazy attitude or the missing focus, then Mourinho wouldn't worry much as he admitted Alli was training hard and he had the respect fo the gaffer and the team.
The break might just be what Alli needs. A strained midfielder section can be a reason for him to knock the door again. The only question is: Can Dele Alli fight back? Because if he does, then a slot in the starting team is guaranteed.