Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness has faced a lot of heat for his comments regarding Dele Alli's mid-week horror tackle that saw him sent off against Gent at Wembley.
Alli was justifiably criticised for the act which happened seconds after he lost control of the ball as the England international let frustration get the better of him resulting in a knee-high lunge on the opposition player, but Souness had a different take on the incident than most.
In his Sunday Times column which was published before Harry Kane lead Spurs to a 4-0 win over Stoke City in which Alli also netted, Souness expressed his belief that Alli's reckless tackle was a sign that he has what it takes to be a top player, as the former Liverpool midfielder admired the 'bit of devil' in Dele Alli's game.
It was a nasty and unnecessary tackle, born out of frustration. He really snapped into it, intending to leave a bit on the guy, so he got what he deserved with the red card.
Yet that is also one of the reasons he could become a top player. Alli has a bit of devil in him, an edge that most top players possess. As strange as it sounds, if I was his manager, I would be quietly saying to myself: 'Thank goodness he has got that in him.'
Mauricio Pochettino, his manager, will not be happy that he was sent off, but he will be pleased that Alli cares when things are not going well,” Souness continued.
I've only seen Alli's challenge once but it was a throwback to my own playing days, one you see less and less now. The ball got away from him and he thought: 'Have some of that because the game's not going my way.’
He lost his discipline for a second, but the vast majority of players don't have that nastiness in their make-up. That's why part of me gets why he did it.
That's Souness' view, and he's entitled to it, but Arsenal fans in particular are perplexed as to why when Dele Alli reacts as he did when the game isn't going his way, but when Granit Xhaka did similar, in fact virtually identical, against Burnley a few weeks back, Souness hung him out to dry.
On Arsenal's Swiss midfielder, Souness said the following after his second red card of the season:
What isn’t registering with him? He’s obviously got the exploding head.
I don’t look at him and think, ‘you’re an aggressive player’. It’s a lapse in concentration and he’ll be annoyed he gave the ball away so cheaply.
For me, he doesn’t run around making aggressive challenges. He is the run of mill midfield player for me.
Graeme Souness comments on:
Xhaka vs Delle Ali .
If you're British it's fine to make horrible tackles. pic.twitter.com/DZHVwP27pp
— M1Ö (@MesutOzilClass) February 26, 2017
Seemingly the idea that when Granit Xhaka has a lapse in concentration it makes him a fun of the mill midfielder, yet when Alli does the same thing it marks him as a player destined for the top, has upset many on social media.
It does appear to be double standards, although whether that has anything to do with the fact that Alli is British remains unclear. More likely is that Souness rates Alli highly, and does not hold the same esteem of Xhaka, and thus has tailored his comments to fit those ideas, the problem is when you do that in 2017, someone on the internet will pull you up on it.