Jose Mourinho says that Dele Alli rolled back the years to perform like a world beater during his first game in charge of Tottenham.
Mourinho saw his return to management at Spurs start off with a 3-2 win at West Ham on Saturday where Alli was a key player, even though Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane grabbed the goals.
The Portuguese had taken time to talk to Alli following his appointment on Wednesday, after jokingly asking the 23-year-old if he was himself or his brother given his indifferent form over the last year.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 23, 2019
Mourinho then told him to “play like Dele” and it looked to have the desired effect at the London Stadium as Alli was back to his best, notching an assist and a pre-assist with a brilliant piece of skill in the first half.
After flourishing under Mauricio Pochettino in his first couple of years at Spurs, Alli has had a dip over the last 12 months, culminating in him losing his place in the England squad.
But Mourinho believes he was back to his best against the Hammers.
“Dele was like the team, he was brilliant for 60-65 minutes and then he paid the price of the times, so he went a little bit down,” Mourinho said.
“He was the old Dele Alli, the Dele Alli of a couple of years ago, that impressed not just England, but the world.
“He did exactly what I wanted him to do, with two days of work.
“With important selection of information I tried to make clear for him exactly the spaces where we wanted him to play, offensively and defensively, he is an intelligent footballer to understand what we wanted and very, very important for the team.
“I am really pleased with his performance.”
His sublime piece of skill created his side’s second goal as, taking a loose pass from Eric Dier, he managed to keep the ball in, but having fallen over in the process, somehow managed to hook the ball to Son, who then set up Moura.
Mourinho added: “The piece if skill was amazing, but what for me is more amazing is the mental thing in relation to that.
“You only do that if you are focused, committed, ultra confident, if not you give up when you have bad feeling, sadness, you don’t do that piece of skill.
“It is amazing, but it only comes when from an emotional point of view everything is positive. Fantastic, I am really happy.”
The first goal of the Jose Mourinho era!
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 24, 2019
Given the hype surrounding Mourinho’s return to the game after 11 months out, there was little focus on West Ham, but another defeat leaves boss Manuel Pellegrini under severe pressure.
Late goals from Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna skewed the result and perhaps takes the heat off the Hammers boss, but they have lost five of their last six Premier League games.
Skipper Mark Noble believes they can turn things around, but admits a relegation battle looms if they cannot.
“I have faith, of course I do as I’m the captain of this football club and I have faith in the players and the manager, but we have to turn it around quickly, full stop,” he told the club’s official website.
“If we don’t, we’re going to be in a relegation battle and this club with this squad, we want to get away from that sort of season.
“If we don’t buck our ideas up and get back on the training pitch and do the things you need to do to survive in the Premier League, you’ve got no chance.”