‘He was never a midfielder’: Dele Alli must play close to Harry Kane to get back to his best at Tottenham, insists Jamie Carragher… while Jamie Redknapp believes Antonio Conte’s system may suit him
Dele Alli has been told he could provide a foil for Tottenham talisman Harry Kane after impressing on his first start for his side since September in the 2-2 draw at home to Liverpool in the Premier League.
Former England international Alli had gone 11 league games without being named in the starting lineup before he caught the eye in the entertaining showdown at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.
Alli came close to scoring and said he had ‘loved being back out there’ following an all-action display that suggested his future looks brighter under new boss Antonio Conte.
Antonio Conte (right) is the latest Spurs manager to show faith in Dele Alli to find consistency
Alli made his first league start since facing Arsenal on September 26 when Liverpool visited
Ex-Reds defender Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports: ‘When you talk about Dele Alli getting back to his best, when was Alli at his best?
‘Dele Alli, for me, is not a player who does amazing things with the ball. He gets into the box. We talk about him being a midfield player; he was never a midfield player, he was a second striker.
‘He played really close to Harry Kane and made runs off [him]. It was scoring goals and pinging the danger in. Fifteen-to-20 goals, that was his game. It wasn’t about getting on the ball, making teams tick or making passes.
‘He was aggressive, which is what we all love, but he kept making runs into the box that we don’t see midfield players make an awful lot in the game right now. That’s his big strength and that’s what he’s got to get back to.’
Former Three Lions midfielder Jamie Redknapp believes that Conte’s system may suit Alli because of the Italian’s deployment of an extra man in midfield.
Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp feels Conte’s midfield system could suit Alli
Alli used Twitter to say that he was looking forward to a Carabao Cup game against West Ham
Redknapp explained: ‘If they play 3-4-3, then that is more difficult because you’ve got the two [holding] and three up the [pitch].
‘In a three in midfield, as long as he keeps running out to the full-backs and arriving into the box, you’ve got the defensive solidity of a Harry Winks – it works perfectly for him.
‘He’s just got to make sure he keeps himself fit. There’s a chance for him in this team.’
Tottenham are now unbeaten in five league matches since Conte’s arrival, winning three of them – and Carragher has warned Alli that he is in the ‘last-chance saloon’ with his latest chance to reward a coach’s faith.
‘Every time Spurs have a new manager, we say “he’s got to get the best out of Dele Alli,”‘ reflected Carragher.
‘All the managers can’t be wrong: they end up picking him to start with because they think, “he made those runs under [Mauricio] Pochettino, I can get the best out of him – I’ll get Dele Alli back. And it doesn’t happen. It’s down to Dele Alli, it’s not down to Conte.’
Jamie Carragher has suggested that Alli could be in the ‘last-chance saloon’ at Tottenham