BBC Sport pundit Kieron Dyer has defended Tottenham Hotspur ace Dele Alli, claiming he “always gets the most stick” if Spurs have a bad spell or game.
The retired midfielder likened Alli to a striker, saying he’s a player who needs to get on the end of deliveries, and praised his tirelessness, commitment to the cause and miles covered.
Indeed, Dyer mentioned how the 23-year-old Tottenham man runs more than Liverpool’s James Milner, who gets plaudits for his engine.
The BBC pundit spoke ahead of Spurs’ Premier League meeting with Chelsea, a game in which Alli was dropped to the bench by Jose Mourinho.
Alli appeared visibly frustrated as he was substituted by the Tottenham head coach after struggling to make an impact against RB Leipzig in the midweek Champions League defeat.
And despite Spurs’ lack of attacking options, Mourinho opted to name the England international on the bench for the London derby at Stamford Bridge.
“Every time Tottenham have a bad spell or a bad game, Dele Alli always gets the most stick,” Dyer told BBC Sport (11:40am). “For example, if Harry Kane has a bad game it’s because the team isn’t creating the chances for him.
“People must realise Alli is a player who gets on the end of things. He’s like a striker. When strikers don’t play well it’s because they haven’t been given chances and its the same with Alli. He sacrifices so much for the team. Nobody runs as much as him. James Milner gets commended for it – Alli runs more than Milner.”
Alli was brought on in the 78th minute as a replacement for Steven Bergwijn but failed to make much of an impact as Tottenham were beaten 2-1 in West London.
Alli’s performance against Leipzig in midweek was admittedly far from his best, but criticism of the player split opinion amongst fans and pundits alike.
While Ruud Gullit slated Alli, casting doubt over his ability to “raise that team” (beIN Sports), Joleon Lescott noted how his game has likely been impacted by the absence of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min (Sky Sports: The Debate via HITC).
Nonetheless, one can’t help but wonder if Mourinho dropping Alli to the bench, despite Spurs contesting a big London derby against a top-four rival and amid a huge attacking crisis, could well have been a message towards the player – either for his performance, his post-substitution reaction, or both.