Over the last few years, Dele Alli has regularly been derided by many.
The 23-year-old exploded on the scene throughout the 2015/16 season and over the following few campaigns netted 46 goals across all contests.
However, the 2018/19 season saw him notch only seven times. The fact his position was tweaked was not taken into consideration, at least not by those in the mainstream press. He seemed to be out of shape and, in the opinion of many, out of time.
Some even believed Spurs should cash in on the one-time Real Madrid and Manchester United transfer goal. The injury delayed his start into the 2019/20 effort and his first look did not arrive before the 2-2 draw with Arsenal in September.
Alli had to wait till his sixth appearance of the effort to taste success. Spurs were not performing well but the fact these bad results coincided with Alli’s participation in the starting XI only seemed to strengthen these claims his time with the club was up.
But José Mourinho replaced Pochettino. The Portuguese tactician has a way with gamers: He is either a fan or he is not. If you fall into the former category you are a part of the inner circle. Fall in the latter and you will quickly become a pariah.
The jury was out in respect to that category the MK Dons academy graduate would fall into. On paper, Alli seemed to be ideal for Mourinho’s revolution.
It immediately became evident, however, that Mourinho intended to use the versatile midfielder.
“I asked him if he had been Dele or Dele’s brother? He explained he was Dele. ”’
Though we are only three games to the Special One’s reign, Alli has emphatically backed up his response. He followed up a help against West Ham United with goals in wins over Olympiacos and Bournemouth since the age of Mourinho got off to the perfect start with three wins out of three.
Mourinho has not done anything remarkable with Alli. He has only freed him from the defensive minded role that he was in under Pochettino and gave him the license to get forward.
Match of the Day emphasized it on Saturday night. Throughout Alli’s most prolific season, he regularly timed his run involving right-back and centre-back to perfection. These regions of the pitch are often exploited by broad forward but using the Spurs No.20 doing it from more fundamental regions it was causing problems.
His performances against West Ham and Bournemouth cried classic Alli. Together with the England international dropping between the lines before exploding into space behind. He was, basically, acting as a second ahead.
The sample size is not the biggest but Alli’s goals per 90 records have more than doubled and his anticipated goals average has shrunk under Mourinho. The 23-year-old has gone from using 0.97 shots to 3.75 and Spurs have found their groove in the last third once more.
He’s heavily involved with the box, averaging near six bits per 90 compared to the 1.45 he had been managing under Pochettino this year. Before Mourinho came, Alli averaged 1.45 per 90.
With Spurs playing of a counter-attacking match, Alli has more chances to beat a guy and he is thriving in that function. Given he is not attracted to the ball, he is perfect as this hybrid No.8/No.10 position he is being used in once more. He can do the dirty work required at a Mourinho system but in fact, he is there to facilitate.
It is the role Paul Pogba could have played Mourinho in Manchester United if he was not so interested in being in possession. The World Cup-winner desired to be the player to play the pass and not be the one to complete a move. His reluctance to get past the striker restricted what he could do to help his manager.
He ended up catching the eye for Ole Gunnar Solskjær as a playmaking No.10 rather than a goalscoring one, with nearly all his goals coming from the place. Alli falls into the latter category and it is why he is excelling for Mourinho up to now.