'Forgive and forget'. It might be too little too late for Dele Alli after Jose Mourinho heaped on the praise for his Europa League performance on Wednesday night.
The Tottenham midfielder has had a hard time of things this season. A lack of Premier League action hasn't helped, while the press questioning Mourinho about the England International hasn't done wonders either.
Is it a classic love/hate relationship? Are we finally turning a corner in the Dele Alli saga? There have been many significant moments in this tumultuous relationship.
Here's an oral history of Jose Mourinho's comments on the player.
Amazon Prime, Stirring the Pot
5️⃣ days to go 😛
José Mourinho with Heung-Min Son, @dele_official, @LucasMoura7 & Hugo Lloris at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the #AllorNothingSpurs premiere on Tuesday night 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ko6FCsjBtM
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) August 26, 2020
The first signs of strains in the Mourinho/Alli relationship were found in the 'All or Nothing' series. Amazon were filming behind the scenes during Tottenham's 2019/2020 season, and it made for great viewing.
Almost immediately, when Mourinho takes over from Mauricio Pochettino, aim is taken at Dele Alli. The team are watching back clips from a training session, and Mourinho interrupts.
Fast ball, fast ball and in the space. Okay, I understood already.
Where's Dele? I understood already that you are f***ing lazy guy in training.
It all appears in jest, until Mourinho finds himself in his office having a meeting with Chairman Daniel Levy. The pair discuss Alli's work ethic on the training ground, and it's clear the issue is not taken lightly.
I told already Deli, very directly, he doesn't train well. He's not a good trainer. I'm not saying a disaster, I'm not saying a Harry Kane. Harry Kane trains well.
In the same meeting, Mourinho also adds that Alex Ferguson had given him one piece of advice in two and a half years, and that was to buy Dele Alli. So there's some light at the end of the tunnel.
A while later in the series, Amazon airs the infamous meeting between Alli and Mourinho. The setting is Mourinho's office once again, and he has a heart-to-heart with the player about his commitment and his future.
I think you are a nice kid. I don't want to be your father because you have your father. I just want to be your coach but with a good connection.
Maybe you tell me to f**k off but I have to tell you exactly what I think.
To which he adds..
I have no doubts about your potential. I saw you do incredible matches and incredible things, but I always felt you had ups and downs. One day I think you will regret if you don't reach what you can reach.
Not to go through every Dele Alli moment from the documentary, but it involves locker room spats, advice for brushing your teeth, chocolate bar tiers and much more. An interesting watch.
The Premier League Opener
— Fantasy Football Scout (@FFScout) September 13, 2020
Then we're brought to the start of this current Premier League season. Tottenham host Everton, and fall on the losing end of a 1-0 score line. Dele Alli starts, but is substituted at half-time.
That's my job to make decisions to try to make the best for the team when I am not happy with the performance. (Dele) was quiet, was sad but in the end after the game he was just one of many.
But again, I repeat, he's a good boy. Very, very polite. Good boy, really good boy.
In the same press conference, Mourinho also makes reference to substituting Eric Dier in a Europa League qualifier, citing similar reasons.
A Trip To Macedonia
— TranSPURS (@TranSPURS) September 23, 2020
Almost a week and a half later, the Portuguese manager is quizzed on Dele Alli's inclusion in their Europa League squad. The team are due to play KF Shkëndija of Macedonia. The reporter, in question, references the documentary.
I'm tired of Amazon. I'm not tired of Dele because he's a great kid. But I'm tired of questions about Deli.
The same reporter then asks a question about Dele and is overruled by the Tottenham media team, but then asks it a second time. The neck.
Anyhow, Alli starts against Shkëndija and put up a respectable performance. Though Mourinho was heard shouting at him from the sidelines during an opposition goal-kick.
Dele. Attention Dele. F***ing hell.
Cup Competitions and... Comments
Dele Alli’s game by numbers vs. Marine:
5 chances created
5 duels won
2 big chances created
1 shot on target
He is still yet to complete 90 minutes for Tottenham this season. pic.twitter.com/5FKmlrqgvD
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 10, 2021
With a lack of playing time in the Premier League, Mourinho opts to use Alli more in some of Spurs other competitions. The 24-year-old stars against Stoke in the Carabao Cup Quarter-Final in December.
Fortunately, Tottenham come away 3-1 winners. Unfortunately, Dele Alli misplaces a flick which leads to Stoke's only goal.
For me a player that plays in that position has to link and create and not create problems for his own team. So, yes I was upset.
Alli would have to wait 18 days until his next appearance for the club, starting against non-league side Marine in the FA Cup. The game which saw everyone in their back garden on watch, including a cardboard cut-out of Jurgen Klopp.
Dele Alli played well, and Mourinho responded.
I am really happy with his attitude in the game, of course we didn't want to risk much.
The pitch is a bit dangerous and their enthusiasm can put the creative ones in some risk, but I am happy .Good professionalism, good dynamic from him.
Paris Comes Calling?
Dele Alli is confident that he will seal a move to PSG this month. The midfielder is expecting to join his former boss Mauricio Pochettino in Paris on loan before transfer deadline day. (Source: Sun Sport) pic.twitter.com/9fVfgXeRhP
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) January 19, 2021
An injury sidelined Alli for the end of January. But it didn't stop the press from asking about his future at the club. Paris Saint-Germain were heavily linked with a move for the Englishman, and Mourinho didn't deny nor confirm that a move was in the works.
It's not a question that I am comfortable to answer. Of course I would know how to answer you. I am not ready to make public my vision of the situation.
I am sorry about that but I’m not going to answer.
A manager who wanted to keep his player at their club might have gone out on more of a limb. Alli was later found liking tweets of Harry Redknapp and Paul Merson who were crying out for him to get more game time. Nice.
After the window had ended, Mourinho attempted clear the air, at least for the media.
I had a good conversation with him yesterday, we spoke about this and I think we found a very common ground. It is an important period of the season for the team and for him also.
We need him. We need a good Dele Alli and we are just waiting for him to be back to normality, to training with the team.
The Future Holds...
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) February 24, 2021
And... fast forward to the present. Dele Alli starts for Tottenham in their 4-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg in the Europa League. He scores an overhead kick.
The goal I don't need to speak, because everyone watched it and I believe that all around the world on all these sports TV, people are going to watch it.
Then it's the consensus on his overall performance.
The performance is what matters. He played very well in every aspect of the game, he played very well.
But in this moment when we are going to play every three days, 10 matches in March, to have Dele back at this level is amazing.
So what does the future hold for the Jose Mourinho/Dele Alli saga?
His Europa League performance has spun his name into a positive light. If more opportunities come knocking, it can only be a good thing. But will Mourinho take that gamble? Or will it be more likely he'll be making a move in the summer? Only time will tell.