Tottenham Hotspur He defeated Stoke City 1-3 at bet365 Stadium in Stoke on Trent to advance to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup. They did so with seven changes from the team they lost to Leicester On the weekend it might not be entirely surprising – Stoke made a good lead to reach the quarter-finals, but they are still the seventh team in the tournament. Tottenham were a comfortable pre-match favorite and despite the tension a few minutes after Jordan Thompson’s goal, Tottenham comfortably ended up winning.
If you watch the match, you will likely notice the performance of Dili, who made a rare start under Jose Mourinho after apparently knocking out the Tottenham manager’s plans entirely. One wonders if his start was really due to merit – he played well in the short cameo he played recently – or more due to the fact that both Giovanni Le Celso and Tangoy Ndombele were struggling with the punches that kept them out of the match.
However, Dele looked … good! He was brilliant and lively with the ball and he was shooting really well in spaces within 66 minutes of play. He cut a frustrating character at times, as many of his shots or offensive moves didn’t quite pay off, but objectively it was the kind of cheering performance you’d expect to see rewarded with extra time in the line-up.
But not if you are Jose Mourinho. Tottenham coach Dele tore through an accident in the second half in which Dele lost the ball and, Mourinho claimed, equalized with a Stoke goal. This is how the Telegraph described the accident As it happened:
After the home side leveled Gareth Bale’s opening goal in this quarter-final, Jose Mourinho ran to the touchline to unleash his anger at Ali for having seized the ball in the match with an exorbitant flick.
The Tottenham manager said: “The click gave us this goal.” Moments later, Alli was replaced.
Jim White, The Telegraph
Naturally, Mourinho was asked about the incident which was clearly audible as the match took place behind closed doors. This is what he said about Dili In the post-match press conference:
“For me a player who plays [in the hole] He is a player who should connect and create, not create problems for his team. In this case, an objective counterattack would likely end with a goal, and end with a counterattack behind the defenders.
“We were out of balance because when you were in possession you had a wide back and another line player in a different line and they lit us on a counterattack and changed the outcome of the match that was completely in our hands, so yeah I’m upset.”
really? Is this what happened? Let’s take a look at this play. Here’s a clip of the accident, from moments before Dele tapped the back of the rear wheel via Thompson’s equalizer.
So let’s start with the obvious: Yeah, Dele was trying something cool and unsuccessful, and yes, play led (eventually) to Stoke’s goal. However, when re-watching that play, it seems extremely difficult to indicate that Dele’s flick was the only thing that precipitated this goal. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Mourinho has made Dele a blatant scapegoat due to other players’ failures.
Mourinho has a good (albeit small) point – if Dele had made a different choice, the result might have been more successful. Dele chose the back-heeled dramatic shoe for Son, who he knew was behind him, rather than passing it on to Lucas Moura. However, to hear Mourinho say so, Dele’s donation resulted in an immediate counterattack that took advantage of the Tottenham defense, as they expected Tottenham to advance in the attack.
But this is not what happens at all. Instead of lifting the ball up and waiting for his teammates to push forward at the counter, the ball deflects the Stoke player into space, and is eventually played to Andy Lonergan on goal. Lonergan has enough time to take a few touches before digging a long kick right up to midfield. With a combination of good passes, alertness and some terrible Tottenham defenses, Jacob Brown can shoot a long ball to Thompson who overtakes Hugo Lloris on the back post.
Upon rewatching this play, the ensuing goal was the result of Tottenham’s defense that was more at sea than anything Dili had done. Once Lonergan launches the ball, the following happens: Ben Davies is absorbed midfield in the first part of that play. Moments later, Eric Dyer is caught unaware and completely roasted by Brown, who skips over with acres of space to work with her. Davinson Sanchez is forced to cover Brown’s path, and last defender Matt Doherty watches the ball and fails to track the Thompson who touched the ball once past Lloris, who could have done better, on the far post.
It is clearly ugly. I still struggle to figure out how Guilty Dele is to the point where he deserves the media outrage and tongue at his manager. There was more than enough time after Dili’s flick for Spurs to come back and re-defend. It may have begun with a gift, but it’s not Dilly’s fault at all.
Deli player of taste. This is what we expect of him, and is one of the reasons why he is so exciting to pursue his career at Tottenham. Obviously, he saw Son running behind him and knew he wouldn’t have time to turn the ball and play a forward pass to Sonny’s feet. So try a bold heel pass. Maybe it was the wrong decision. Did not work. But what if it is?
Dili is one of the few attacking midfielders for Tottenham Hotspur who will walk out and do a fair Try things out. He’s probably the only guy on the team who might consider trying the flick of jogging to Son Heung-Min being run in this situation, and honestly I have no problem with that. I definitely have more confidence in Sony with the ball at his feet than Lucas Moura.
Mourinho clearly does not agree, and his reaction may lie in the reason behind his falling out with Dili this season. Many have argued that Dele is not the type to excel at Mourinho’s tactical system, but it is also true that Mourinho now appears to be looking for things to keep Dele out of the team for reasons beyond my address.
Mourinho’s scapegoating for Dele and the subsequent anger is bad enough, but what infuriates me most are his comments to the press. Dele was thrown completely under the bus for this play, in a way that symbolizes Mourinho’s worst qualities as a coach. “Create problems for his team”? Where was Mourinho’s public criticism of Eric Dyer or Matt Doherty? Why not go for Harry Winks to run backwards instead of pulling an ass for a defensive stunt? Instead, it is Delly who is under attack for a play that did not start until 12 seconds after he clicked “The Problematic”.
This is the thing that made me hate Mourinho when managing other clubs, and what prevents me from fully embracing him as a manager at Tottenham. Sometimes he feels unhappy unless he has a player who serves as a vessel for his mortal scorn. Last season was Tanguy Ndombele. This year I think Dele’s role, and that’s not true.
Dele will very likely leave Tottenham in January. As much as I love him, I hope he goes. This is not because I think he is no longer good enough for Tottenham Hotspur, but because it is unfair for him to stay in a club where he does not have the trust and respect of his manager. By all accounts, Dele was a hard-working coach and was waiting for his chance with the first team. If he is in the midst of a good performance in the League Cup, he is scapegoated by others’ mistakes, then he must leave, because the club has let him down, not the other way around.