Spurs boss Pochettino: We can’t expect Alli to produce the goal tally of a striker
Mauricio Pochettino says he is happy with Dele Alli’s goal return and insists the midfielder should not be expected to score as regularly as a striker.
Alli has found the net in two of his last three games for Spurs, most recently at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, when he struck the late equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
However, that followed two costly first-half misses, and both he and his manager admitted after the game that he needs to be more clinical.
On Tuesday the 20-year-old failed to convert a free header as Spurs drew 0-0 with Bayer Leverkusen, and he has now had 10 attempts on goal without scoring in this season’s Champions League - the joint highest number in the competition. But Pochettino has defended his player.
“When you see it live [the header] looks easy but in the game it was a very difficult action,” said the Spurs manager. “It was a great cross from Kieran [Trippier] but Dele arrived a little bit pushed and it wasn’t easy.
“Of course he works a lot on his finishing but the situation was difficult in that moment because when he connected with the ball he was not balanced. There is nothing to say about Dele. I am more than happy with him, the effort in every game. “He plays a lot, he brings to the team many positive things, and if he scores every chance that he has, maybe we are talking about someone like a Van Basten or a Batistuta - a striker, not an offensive midfielder or a No10.
“He works hard, he presses, he scores, he creates chances. I think it is unbelievable all the effort he makes in every game. It is not easy to be fresh in every action, but I am more than happy with him.
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“He has the characteristics of a number of different players. He is one of the best offensive midfielders in England now but he can still improve. It is very difficult to compare him to other players because he is special – different to other players.
“When you watch every game, the chances he has he can score. He is capable of creating his own chances.”
With four goals for club and country so far this season, Alli is on course to eclipse last season’s tally, when he netted 11 times for Tottenham and England.
He also picked up 11 yellow cards last term and was banned for the final three games of last season after punching West Brom’s Claudio Yacob in the stomach – an incident which was missed by the referee. Yet the youngster has only been booked once so far this season.
“It is all a process with the younger lads to be more mature, with more experience, now more focused on playing football,” said Pochettino.
“It is like when you have a wild horse and you need to put it in a box and domesticate it. He is a big talent but he was a little bit wild. Now he is more domesticated. But you can never lose that wild side - that side may make him a special player.
“He is a special guy, a great guy. We have a very good relationship. He sometimes looks cool but he is a very emotional person and I think we all love him.”
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