Dele Alli has unmistakably improved since José Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham.
The England international has been reminded to show his true self under the Portuguese manager, having tweaked his game to play deeper and accommodate the immaculate brilliance of Son Heung-Min the last couple of seasons.
The 23-year-old quite simply suffered in a bid to become a better all-round player. Indeed, terrible luck with hamstring injuries have hampered his progress in the last 18 months.
Mourinho’s simple demand that he go back to doing what he does best has worked wonders. With a cute flick – when on his backside – to set up Son on Mourinho’s debut was a sign of things to come.
A consistent run of games in his favoured position behind the striker is paying dividends. Spells of Intricate passing and incisive dribbling have reminded everyone of the Alli who broke through at Tottenham in the 2015/16 season.
Alli’s exuberance and natural attacking instinct are coming to the fore. With 10 shots -more than double his previous five games combined- and six key passes in four games under Mourinho as per Whoscored.
The result of that is four goals and one assist in those games (Transfermarkt).
In the 2-1 loss at Manchester United, Alli was clearly Spurs’ brightest player, netting the equalizer with an outrageous piece of skill.
Plucking a loose ball from the air with a first touch that left Fred for dead, Alli turned expertly and finished past David de Gea. The off-the-cuff moment of brilliance showed the confident mood the young attacker is in getting Spurs an underserved equalizer.
He would go on to create two big chances in the game as well. At full-time Alli admitted the rest of the team lacked the ‘confidence and arrogance’ required for the occasion; and perhaps so, Spurs’ quality could have prevailed against out-of-form United if Alli’s teammates were in quite the mood he’s in.
Alli is performing with fire in his belly at the moment, geared by the desire to do what he loves, which is score and create goals. Mourinho would be looking to channel his new-found hunger into Tottenham’s push for the Champions League places.
He is hoping to do so while proving a point to England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of EURO 2020.
Mourinho was in full praise of the midfielder after he scored twice against Bournemouth.
The best thing can happen to a coach is when you don’t have to speak about a player because everyone else does and for the right reasons,’ said the new Tottenham manager. ‘[Alli] is playing really, really well, scoring goals, assisting and working hard.’
Already, he has equalled his league goals tally from last season (five) in 17 fewer appearances this season (Whoscored).
If Dele Alli can continue his reborn form and maintain a steady charge, he could pretty much be one of the key players in the Tottenham ranks as well. His five goals mean he is only behind Harry Kane (7) in Spurs top scorers in the league so far despite playing only 632 minutes of action.
Mourinho still has a lot to rebuild with his new side but firstly he already looks to have done just that to the 23-year-old midfielder.
Welcome to the new Dele Alli, the real one.