Tottenham star Dele Alli has started the Jose Mourinho era particularly well, and the Portuguese coach does not think he could ask any more of the 23-year-old.
After impressing consistently in his first three years at Spurs, Alli appeared to stagnate last season and began the 2019-20 campaign disappointingly.
It was suggested Mauricio Pochettino’s exit and fresh impetus from a new coach could be a good thing for Alli, and Mourinho certainly seems to be getting a reaction from the attacking midfielder.
Alli scored twice in Saturday’s 3-2 Premier League win over Bournemouth, while he also netted in the Champions League on Wednesday, beginning the comeback in the 4-2 defeat of Olympiacos.
It is the first time since December last year that he has scored in consecutive appearances, while his overall performances have been encouraging.
For Mourinho, playing Alli further forward with Harry Kane has been crucial in beginning the former MK Dons talent’s resurgence.
“It’s not [about] a simple style, it’s just the position and the principles of play,” Mourinho told reporters when asked if playing a simpler, direct style of play gets the best out of Alli.
“Every manager has his own ideas and we’re all different. Nobody is right and nobody is wrong but, for me, Dele is not a midfield player.
— Dele (@dele_official) November 30, 2019
“For me, Dele is not a player to play positionally in midfield, he is a player to be like he is playing, close to Harry [Kane], following some dynamics that we train, but a little bit of freedom to associate with attacking players. This I think is the best position for him.
“Dele, I don’t need to speak about. The best thing that can happen to a coach is when you don’t need to speak about a player because everybody speaks, all of you [the media], fans, everybody speaks about him and speaks about him for the right reasons.
“He’s playing really, really, really well. I couldn’t ask for any more from him. He’s playing amazing, scoring goals, assisting, working – fantastic.”
Alli’s attitude had been called into question under Pochettino, but Mourinho defended his character.
“I didn’t know him [before being appointed], I only played against him a few times. [I had] no contact with him,” Mourinho added. “I don’t know the boy, I don’t know much.
“I just know the qualities of the players and that was the direction where I went. A player of such quality, it’s not possible that he’s not performing at a high level.
“Okay, sometimes players are not in the best performance level, but normally, with a little bit of up and down, you need to perform according to your potential.
“I find him a good guy in the group. He’s a group guy, not really this kind of selfish person who thinks and speaks only about himself. Not at all.
“He’s a Spurs boy, a group boy. The group is a good family. They have very good empathy between them. I just feel that now it’s self-esteem coming up and lots of confidence to play.”