Jose Mourinho has challenged Gareth Bale and Dele Alli to step up for Tottenham, as they both came on and showed glimpses of their quality in the defeat at Manchester City.
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Bale went close to scoring and Dele made a nuisance of himself against City in a lopsided defeat for a tired-looking Spurs, as they lost 5-4 in extra time in the FA Cup at Everton on Wednesday.
Spurs have a pivotal few weeks coming up as they play against Wolfsberg in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, try to kick on in their top four push and are building up towards the League Cup final against Manchester City in April.
Between now and then, they need big players to deliver.
ProSoccerTalk asked Mourinho if he is keen to see Dele Alli and Gareth Bale kick on and lead Tottenham’s charge in the coming weeks.
“Good players when they are fit and when they are ready and when they can, are always welcome. Always welcome,” Mourinho said. “We coaches sometimes we can make wrong decisions, we all do, but not one of us is crazy. Not one of us says I don’t want this player to help me and help the team when the player has the potential and conditions to do it.
“Do they have the qualities? Yes we know that they have. If they are fit and physically and mentally ready, then welcome because the team needs everyone. We miss Gio [Lo Celso] for a long, long time. We miss [Sergio] Reguilon for a few weeks. If we cannot have them back and can have Gareth and Dele fit and ready to play, it’s a big improvement in our squad.”
Can Gareth Bale and Dele Alli be pivotal?
Both of them have to shake off so much rust, but they can do it.
Dele Alli and Gareth Bale have been handed just a few starts all season long and their form and fitness has deteriorated, so it perhaps unfair that Mourinho is now challenging them to come up with the goods at a pivotal point of the season.
The Spurs boss is also admitting that he has perhaps made mistakes when handling the star duo this season, despite neither really taking chances he has given to them.
They have the quality to make a big difference and Tottenham’s other attacking options haven’t exactly excelled in support of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son.
When it comes to Erik Lamela, Lucas Moura, Carlos Vinicius and Steven Bergwijn, they’ve had plenty of chances. Perhaps the vast Premier League experience of Bale and Dele is what Mourinho needs as Spurs look to dig deep in the top four battle and Europa League knockout rounds?
The duo have overcome questions about their form and quality in the past, but this could be their biggest challenge yet. Let’s see if Mourinho gives them the chance to prove their worth.