Dele Alli may have found himself nodding along in agreement when Luke Shaw’s comments about Jose Mourinho became a hot topic on Monday morning.
The Manchester United left-back lifted his lid on his frustrations with his former boss, who he worked with between 2016 and 2018, after receiving public criticism from Mourinho.
Shaw found himself the subject of comments from the Portuguese over his “dreadful” set-piece deliveries for England at Euro 2020, with Mourinho working as a pundit.
He hit back, telling Mourinho he needs to “move on” and said he “didn’t understand” why his former coach singled him out.
“He just needs to move on. Hopefully he can find his peace with that and finally move and stop worrying about me,” Shaw said.
“Clearly I am in his head a lot and he clearly thinks about me a lot.”
It was merely a continuation of the theme of treatment that Shaw had experienced at Old Trafford during the tactician’s tenure. Alli may argue he has fallen victim to a similar psychological tactic.
Once Tottenham ’s golden boy and a regular in the England international setup, Alli has seen his stock plummet at an alarming rate over the past 18 months.
But with Mourinho now starting a new adventure with Roma, Alli can set about reinvigorating his playing career — using Shaw’s words of wisdom to dismiss the previous murmurs from his former coach.
Fallout with Mourinho
Should Tottenham sell Dele Alli this summer? Have your say in the comments section below.
It had all begun so pleasantly. Initially, Alli was one of the players to shine under Mourinho. The attacking midfielder proved himself with a run of five goals and three assists in Mourinho’s first eight games at Tottenham.
But playmakers who do not necessarily work hard either get with the Mourinho programme of working tirelessly in defensive shifts or sit on the bench.
Just ask Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Mesut Ozil.
As it happened with Alli, Mourinho was left unimpressed with his efforts in training, calling him “lazy” in a tense one-to-one meeting with the Spurs boss.
He repeated those remarks during a pre-match team meeting and in conversation with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. That public humiliation was similar to what Shaw had described.
To make matters worse, Mourinho’s views were aired for millions to see on the Amazon fly-on-the-wall documentary, ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’.
Alli was not about to back down and it was during the interval of their Champions League clash with RB Leipzig that the midfielder questioned their tactics, speaking indirectly to his team-mates.
The fact Alli only made seven starts in the Premier League — and 15 appearances overall — without scoring suggests Mourinho had at least some reason to keep him out, while Shaw’s fitness problems were more subject to interpretation.
Reviving his Spurs career
It seems odd to suggest that Alli could benefit from Harry Kane’s departure. But if the England international does get his wish to join Manchester City this summer, the 25-year-old may be able to step in.
Alli did score 18 Premier League goals in the 2016-17 season and struck eight in 24 appearances in his injury-hit 2019-20 campaign.
He is a different player now and lacking in confidence. But with Tottenham set to appoint a new manager, Alli could be given a more attacking role if Kane departs, with no other obvious striker options for the north London outfit.
Chairman Daniel Levy is searching for a manager who prefers to base their coaching philosophy around attacking football, which would undoubtedly suit Alli’s style of play.
His intelligent movement off the ball can help Spurs unlock opposition defences and perhaps playing him further forward, where he is not required to defend as much, may help him regain his confidence on the pitch.
A change of scenery
Even if Spurs hire a new coach this summer, Alli may decide to seek a new challenge elsewhere after six years with the club.
His former boss Mauricio Pochettino is in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and it was claimed Spurs rebuffed an approach to take the 25-year-old on loan in January.
There is no question such a move could enable Alli to rediscover his passion for football. Who wouldn’t enjoy playing on a weekly basis alongside Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria?
The only question is whether Spurs would be willing to let him leave, especially if Kane heads for the exit.
Shaw could have quite easily demanded a transfer after being belittled by Louis van Gaal and then Mourinho, but to his credit, the former Southampton trainee kept focused on turning his fortunes around.
Alli may feel that with his career at a crossroads, he may benefit from a transfer elsewhere to suit his graceful style of play.
If he rocks up in the Serie A, Mourinho and his Roma side may need to watch out.