Mauricio Pochettino: Dele Alli naughty but nice

Mauricio Pochettino admits Dele Alli is “a little bit naughty” — but wants his young midfielder to stay that way.
Mauricio Pochettino: Dele Alli naughty but nice

The 19-year-old England international could have easily been sent off in Tottenham’s 1-1 Europa League draw at Fiorentina on Thursday night after kicking out at an opponent.

Now he is ready to go up against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fifth round at White Hart Lane tomorrow, just a month after being accused of stamping on Yohan Cabaye.

Alan Pardew claimed Alli had put the boot in on the France international in Tottenham’s 3-1 win earlier in the year.

But, after his latest misdemeanour in Florence, Pochettino has said Alli’s aggressive streak reminds him of his own playing days, and insists he likes the fact Alli has that side to his game.

“He’s still very young and needs to learn a lot, he came from League One,” Pochettino said.

“He’s a little bit naughty. But it’s good. I like it. I was like that. I was naughty like him.

“I was sent off a lot in my career. At Espanyol, in 10 years or 11 years... 13 or 14 red cards. It was a record.

“He’s calm. He played the whole second half with a yellow card. He’s clever. Like me.

“Always my first action was a yellow card, and then I played better, I always played better with a yellow card than without a yellow card.”

Alli could yet be taken out of the firing line for the visit of the out-of-form Eagles tomorrow, with Pochettino not short of options.

But one man who is almost certain to play is former Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor — who will be making his first return to White Hart Lane after a somewhat acrimonious departure in September.

He has since joined Palace, although Spurs still pay a portion of his wages, and Pochettino insists there was only ever good feeling between the pair despite the Togo forward not featuring in the first team all season.

“We had a very good relationship with him for one year,” he said.

“Always we spoke like men. I like him. But you know sometimes in a professional side you need to split and take a decision, but always we have a good relationship.

“I think our fans will give a good welcome to Ade.”

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