EPL

Dele Alli blames himself and not Mourinho for decline

By Sports Desk July 05, 2021

Dele Alli insists he does not blame Jose Mourinho for his decline in form that has left him struggling for game time at Tottenham and out of contention for England selection.

The 25-year-old, who joined Spurs back in 2015, was rarely involved in key matches prior to Mourinho being sacked in April and was linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain that would have reunited him with Mauricio Pochettino.

Alli played five times for England at World Cup 2018 but his lack of match action and reduced production meant he was not a candidate for Euro 2020 selection.

Mourinho was often questioned for his decision to rarely use Alli even as Spurs struggled to a seventh-place finish.

But the player insists he does not blame his former boss, who has clashed with multiple players, for his fall from prominence over recent years.

"The only person I blame is myself," Alli said to Goal.

"I should be performing at a level where it is difficult to not put me in the team or not play me. 

"I don’t blame anyone but myself. Working with Mourinho was a great experience and one I learned a lot from.

"It has been a tough few years but I have been working hard and analysing what I need to do to get better.

"I have been training a lot on most days of my holiday. I didn't feel I needed much rest, so it is just training the whole way through."

After a protracted search for a manager to replace Mourinho, Spurs eventually landed on ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Having been brought back as a regular starter when Ryan Mason took temporary charge towards the end of last year, Alli is relishing a fresh start.

The playmaker added: "He [Nuno] has done a great job at Wolves.

"I am looking forward to speaking to him and working with him. He is a great manager and it is exciting times.

"I want to make this year one of the best I have had. A lot of people have said I need to find the form I was in a few years ago. 

"For me, I don't even want to get to that, I want to go past that and reach my full potential to be the best player I can be.

"Everyone is looking for that extra few per cent, so you have to keep up. I am feeling good and the best I have felt in a long time."

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    Milan battled back to claim a point in Sunday's Serie A clash at Allianz Stadium after Ante Rebic headed in 14 minutes from time to cancel out Alvaro Morata's early opener.

    Without a number of key players through injury, including strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Giroud, the Rossoneri struggled in the first half and could have been further behind.

    But they took more control of the game in the second half, when seeing 62.7 per cent of the ball, and almost snatched the win late on through a well-saved Pierre Kalulu strike.

    The draw ended Milan's perfect start to the league season, but they are level on points with champions and early pacesetters Inter after four matches.

    Pioli, who guided the Rossoneri to second place last season – their best finish in nine years – is pleased with the way his side recovered to avoid defeat in Turin.

    "We came here to win the game," he told DAZN. "We found a better opponent than us in the first 20 minutes especially, but we did much better in the second half.

    "It was definitely a positive performance from us on the whole. Maybe last year to win these games we had to hope for a miracle; now we are aware that we can win these games.

    "We tried until the end to claim the victory."

    Rebic led the line in the absence of Giroud and Ibrahimovic and responded with his second goal in as many games, having also netted in the 3-2 Champions League loss to Liverpool in midweek.

    The Croatian forward is the first Milan player to score against Juve in three successive Serie A games in the three-points-per-win era (since 1994-95) and Pioli heaped praise on Rebic.

    "Ante has immense intensity and quality to his game," Pioli said. "He can play in more or less any role and he helped us today. He is a very important player to break games open.

    "I've always seen my players ready to overcome any limitations. They have quality and work throughout the week with a sense of belonging. 

    "The opposition might be better on the day, but we will always give it our best shot going for the victory."

    Rebic's header from a Sandro Tonali corner ensured Milan avoided defeat at Juventus in a match they trailed for the first time since February 1996.

    While Milan are well positioned at the top end of the table, opponents Juventus are winless after their first four games for just the fourth time in their history.

    Despite boasting an eight-point gap on Massimiliano Allegri's men, who are inside the relegation zone, Pioli insisted it is too soon to look at the league standings.

    "We are only four games in," he said at his post-match news conference. "There is time for every team to improve their position. But of course were are satisfied with what we've done."

  • Benzema and Vinicius celebrate as 'indomitable' Real Madrid go top Benzema and Vinicius celebrate as 'indomitable' Real Madrid go top

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    The 33-year-old said: "I think it was a difficult game for us against a great team who are always difficult to beat here. 

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    Madrid are unbeaten in their last 18 away trips (W12 D6) in LaLiga, which equals their best such run in the competition's history, having previously reached 18 games unbeaten in 1997 (W11 D7) and 2016 (W13 D5). 

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    For the second week in a row, Spurs lost 3-0 to London rivals in the Premier League, although they were initially more impressive against Chelsea than they had been at Crystal Palace.

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    Spurs had 14 pressed sequences on Sunday, having averaged 10.3 per game so far this season, as they adopted a far more aggressive approach before half-time.

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    He added: "If there's only one positive today, that was the first half."

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