What does Dele Alli need?

Dele Alli is in steep decline. He was probably about the most exciting attacking midfielder in world football at one point. So, what does Dele Alli need to get back to his best?

Robert Tressell 03/06/2022 136comments  |  Jump to last
Dele Alli is in steep decline. He was probably about the most exciting attacking midfielder in world football at one point, with a goal haul to exceed some pretty illustrious strikers. Unfortunately, that’s a while ago.

His best was a Lampard-esque 18 goals and 9 assists in 37 Premier League games. However, that was the 2016-17 season. Since that peak, he’s been increasingly struggling for games and goals.

In the past 2 seasons, he’s managed 37 games (quite a few as sub) and just 1 goal and 1 assist. Hence, he finds himself at Everton, having hit a point where Spurs had no use for him and therefore needed to get his wages off their books.

The problem seems to be a combination of injury and a loss of love for the game. When he got announced to the Goodison crown in January, he looked like a startled crackhead. It didn’t initially look promising. He then didn’t play for ages – prompting people on here to (fair enough) conclude that he’s finished.

A relegation-averting cameo in the second half against Crystal Palace has restored a bit of faith but, in all honesty, none of us knows. What we do know is that peak Dele Alli would be head and shoulders our best player – especially (as seems very likely) Richarlison and possibly Dominic Calvert-Lewin won’t be here next season.

So, what does Dele Alli need to get back to his best?

The combination seems to be:

1. A manager who believes in him
2. Squad unity
3. A team that is well set up for him
4. Quality throughout the squad

Spurs had all of these things under those peak Pochettino years – and as much as Lampard can ape the Argentine manager (rather than the divisive Mourinho) in his belief and squad unity, he can’t currently offer a team that is set up for Alli along with a high-quality squad.

After years of mismanagement, the squad is full of players who don’t knit together and the squad depth is dreadful. We won’t solve squad depth in one summer window, but we can get the team set up much better for Dele Alli to show his stuff. How do we do this?

Firstly, by playing a 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 variant formation – with a couple of players doing much of the dirty work which allows Alli to make his forward runs. For Spurs, this was Wanyama (the muscle) and Dembele (the brains – and also muscle). Both were big strapping players built like centre-halves but with quality.

Dembele was really underrated in that Spurs side. A cracking player who could beat the opposition press with good technique and strength, before playing forward passes through the defensive lines. Both sat, holding a disciplined position in front of the defensive pair of Alderweireld and Vertonghen, which allowed the full-backs to push very high.

In addition, they had a front three of Kane, Son and Eriksen. Kane plays like a typical target man forward but he’s a very good technical player (like, say, Sheringham) with an excellent passing range as well as being good in the air. A player like that ties up a defence leaving space for runners – and can also find those runners with good passing.

Son was one of the runners alongside Alli – and also able to carry the ball forward fast on the counter-attack. Eriksen was a clever player, starting in a wide-ish position but really occupying a half-space between wing, forward and Number 10. His excellent passing range would find the runners or Kane – or the dynamic full-backs, Rose and Walker, to fire in the crosses.

Can we copy this sort of approach?

We have some of the building blocks. Mykolenko and Patterson look like they could be very good dynamic full-backs (although that is more hope than judgement in relation to the latter, whom none of us have really seen yet).

Calvert-Lewin is a poor man’s Kane on the deck, but with much more pace and a better leap. He’s inferior but still effective. The problem is that he could well be leaving. He could be replaced with, say, Zirkzee of Bayern (who was at Anderlecht on loan last season).

He is a big unit and probably more talented than Calvert-Lewin. He’s only 20 and got 15 in 32 last season. It’s just a shame he didn’t sign when he came for a visit aged 16 a few years ago. Sam Hoare also mentioned Evanilson of Porto (14 in 29, age 22) and he’d be good also. These are type we need.

Richarlison gives off Son-like vibes, but is very likely to leave. Anthony Gordon and Demarai Gray are good but not great – not Son nor Richarlison standard. But they at least play in the right sort of way, with plenty of pace and forward intent in their running to stretch the opposition.

Keane Lewis-Potter of Hull is being heavily linked. He seems very like Gordon to me – but certainly has had a great season in the Championship. Ismaila Sarr of Watford would also be the right sort of player.

The other possibility is Lewis Dobbin, and it might be worth holding off signing a big name (and especially an underwhelming one like Stephy Mavididi) to allow Dobbin the game time he would need to develop (with Gray and Gordon sharing the position in the meantime).

It gets harder when it comes to finding an Eriksen kind of player. Callum Hudson-Odoi is gettable, possibly on loan, and is so much more than just a winger. He is seriously talented but just can’t seem to get games consistently at Chelsea. Jesse Lingard and Ross Barkley could conceivably play this sort of position but neither are Eriksen class (and Lingard is more of a runner than a passer).

One option, that I find myself almost incredulous at saying, is that Alex Iwobi might play this position. He was certainly a consistent performer in our darkest hours. I do also wonder if Gordon could mature into this role but I suspect not. I think he’s more of a runner, too.

Just for completeness, I don’t believe Christian Eriksen would join us. I think he’s probably just glad to be alive and playing football in a friendly low-pressure environment at Brentford with a lot of Danish friends around him. I won’t list all of the foreign-based players who could play this position – other than to say there are quite a lot – albeit to find one as good as Eriksen at a good price is obviously a huge challenge.

Possibly the easiest fix, and something that desperately needs fixing, is our central midfield. Assuming Jean-Philippe Gbamin is finished as a Premier League player, we have no natural sitting midfielder in the squad. Delph will soon be released. Allan and Doucouré are hunters / pressers. Davies is Davies… and Gomes is absolutely awful.

To mirror that excellent Spurs side that Alli did so well in, we need two big bruisers who are good at football and disciplined with it. Players like Rodri and Fabinho etc.

One option is already linked – James Garner of Man Utd – a player who has really developed out on loan at Watford and Nottingham Forest and now looks ready for the Premier League.

Ethan Ampadu, on loan from Chelsea to Venezia last season, is also an option for this – and more gettable (possibly to buy, not just loan).

Sander Berge of Sheffield Utd always did look like a big graceful unit with a lovely passing range but I haven’t seen him since the serious injury, so I'm not sure if he’s tailed off.

Other options include Ladislav Krejčí of Sparta Prague and Ivan Ilić of Verona (formerly Man City) who are both talented big left-footers who play a bit like Nemanja Matić. I suppose Matić may even be a good, Gareth Barry-esque option if we bought out the last year of his contract. Ibrahim Sangaré of PSV Eindhoven will also surely play for someone in the Premier League sooner or later. Again, there are lots of others, especially if you look overseas.

The point of the article is not really just to list the names of a few players I’d like Everton to buy, but more to illustrate how we might build the foundations of a good team, a team that can develop and grow with Dele Alli at the heart of it – banging in the goals from midfield as his manager once did. If his heart is still in it, then it is possible.

What we absolutely cannot do is just dip into the transfer market willy-nilly every time a good player becomes available. For example, Billy Gilmour might be available, but he is more of a Xavi Hernandez when we really need a Sergio Busquets. By signing him, we could actually prevent Dele Alli being able to do what he is good at.

And we might also have to accept that we can’t just build the sort of team Spurs had in one window, especially from a starting point of 16th place and not much money. So, if it means we just buy one quality holding midfielder and put up with Allan, Doucouré or Davies for another season (all of their contracts expire June 2023) then so be it.

It might be better to save our few pennies for when the ideal player comes along. With (not that much) patience and a very clear recruitment strategy, we could build something very good for Dele Alli and Everton.

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Reader Comments (136)

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Steven Scaffardi
1 Posted 04/06/2022 at 08:46:43
Interesting if not sobering article which really (once again!) highlights our predicament. I don't necessarily disagree with anything here but it would be a brave man to build a team around Dele Alli.

I thought he showed glimpses of the old Dele when he came on against Palace, or at least he had that guile and bite about him that he once did when he broke through at Spurs. And I can see why Lampard took a gamble on him, certainly as he understands that position better than anyone.

I'm not exactly sure how Frank will want us to play next season, but I am confident we have a manager again that can create that unity you talk about that I'm not sure we've had since the Moyes days.

I also believe he'll target the right type of player rather than a “name” and then try and fit him in. Well, I live in hope anyway! Top article, bravo.

Alan Johnson
2 Posted 04/06/2022 at 08:49:17
Brilliant, Robert. Can this article be forwarded to Frank...???
Tony Graham
3 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:03:53
I know what Dele Alli needs… selling!!!

He's not right for us, and could be far too expensive.

Steve Shave
4 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:04:27
Cheers, Robert, Dele is indeed a conundrum!

I agree we need a specialist No 6 to stand any chance of getting the best out of him. Much depends on our outs.

I imagine our DoF is struggling to form a plan until he is sure of what is happening to the futures of Richarlision and Calvert-Lewin. I desperately want to keep both but if it ends up being a long drawn-out summer where we cling onto them only to lose them to a slightly higher bidder at the end of the window, I choose selling both now and forming a strong plan.

I really like the look of Lewis-Potter (he looked fab against us in the cup, albeit he was playing against a side seriously drained of confidence at the time) but it would be a big pair of shoes to fill if Richarlison went.

We won't get Brennan Johnson now who would have I believe come straight in and set the Premier League alight. Lot's of good wingers out there but foreign imports are always a risk. I actually think Calvert-Lewin is harder to replace in some ways.

Allan is another dilemma, I suspect Frank would prefer to move him on so he can buy his No 6, if we can't sell.

(Why would Allan go? He's on good cheddar and can have his lucrative final contract on a Bosman in the summer.)

Then Allan may have to play purely as the defensive shield. I know he is a hunter but we may have to wait for Gilmour.

Move Gbamin on (not easily done) and buy Gilmour (I think Chelsea will sell as he had a poor season at Norwich) then maybe Allan can be a back-up midfield option.

This still leaves a quality No 8 required to support the Dele revolution: Gallagher on loan all day long for me, we should throw money at Chelsea for that in the view it will pay for itself as it would hopefully bump us up the table.

So many what-ifs, so many problems. I don't envy Frank and our DOF.

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:10:44
Good article, Robert, you mention dozens of players who made Dele the player he was 5 years ago, and those who can make him the player he was a long time ago.

He definitely made Everton come alive in that second half versus Crystal Palace, maybe buoyed by the reception he received when introduced at half-time when he came on.

The player must take a good look and ask himself what he wants to do with the rest of his football career? Does he want one? If he does, he must start getting into peak condition for a start, he looked far from 100% in the games he played for us or indeed for Spurs in the last 2 years.

He can be helped by the players around him, along with the coaches, but he has got to recognise it all starts with himself – nobody can help him if he doesn't start helping himself.

His skill was obvious in small parts of the games he played but Everton need more than bit-part spells. Hopefully he will come back after his holidays and really make an attempt to get his football career back on track again. He is being more than amply paid to at least make a determined effort.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:12:08
He is a confidence player and needs better players around him, Robert, if we are going to draw out the potential in him. It's a cliché, but you don't need a team full of superstars, you just need the right blend in order to bring out the best in those who are blessed with talent.

I do think there has been a dip in confidence and attitude. Harry Redknapp (obviously close to Lampard) called it out recently. That is on him to sort out. Desire & commitment. Only he can generate that as an individual.

But the talent, ability and potential is not in question. We need to surround him with better players.

He changed the game against Palace but then disappointed when given a start at Arsenal.

Interesting take on Eriksen. I'd take him tomorrow; yesterday even. But I agree, is he content in London and the Danish enclave that has developed at Brentford?

The Kane v Calvert-Lewin comparisons are what I've commented on a lot. Kane gives you more outside the box whereas Calvert-Lewin is an in-the-box striker. I never like to make like-for-like comparisons, but Kane is the closest I've seen to Graeme Sharp. He can do it in the box, with his head but also weigh in with long-range shots taken first time. We don't get them from Dominic.

It's all rumour so I won't read too much into it, but I see the talk is of Lampard using his Chelsea links to bring in Gallagher and Gilmour. I'm not going to second guess, but that would be welcome.

Final point on Dobbin. I haven't watched him as much as you may have but, from what I've seen, although there is a natural tendency to play him wide when promoted to the first team, I see a future Number 10 in him.

Richard Nelson
7 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:14:36
The old adage: "form is temporary, class is permanent" might be applicable to Alli... but turning up in a Rolls-Royce, and coming on the pitch like a "Tramp" says a lot...!
Steve Shave
8 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:15:50
I could add to my post and in response to the question "What does Dele need"? Prior to the Palace game, I would have said he needs a rocket up his arse!

It's a risk to keep hold of him after one good half but boy was that a good half, he transformed the match and saved our season.

Maybe give him a good pre-season and until Christmas, if he looks like he is not interested, then stop picking him, tell him and his agent that he won't play a minute longer than the 19 games he has, and save on our first £10M down payment, move him onto the MLS on the cheap.

Mike Doyle
9 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:19:48
Robert, your final para is advice the club should heed.

Though it pains me to say so, Liverpool identified St Virgil and Becker as 2 players who would improve their side – and were prepared to wait 12-18 months to get them rather than recruit inferior alternatives.

Hopefully our DoF and Frank will have formed a plan for how they'd like us to play (and identified the type of player required) or created a contingency plan to get us through next season.

Bill Gienapp
10 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:22:11
This is a well thought-out article that lays out cohesive team-building strategies and suggestions that I expect the club will do absolutely none of.
Gary Jones
11 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:23:08
Great article.

“Two big bruisers who can play” - yes, yes and more yes!!

Whilst 99% of rumours are utter horseshit of course, it's worrying that we are seeing links with more Dele, Gray, Gordon and Iwobi types than the Wanyama and Dembele types so far.

Certainly praying that our new DoF has an iron in the fire somewhere!

Tony Hill
12 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:29:08
Robert, I agree that Iwobi has the capacity to play as a passing midfielder. We have not seen him given a proper go in that role. I think he sees a pass quicker and better than most in our squad – indeed better than any, apart from Alli himself at his best.

I would love to see Alli succeed with us. As Dave @5 says, he needs to decide on his own account. The answer to this article's question is: clarity of mind and fitness of body.

Steve Shave
13 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:38:46
Bill 10 :) that made me chuckle. What a team we support eh? I suggest a review of the club effective immediately, Robert and Sam in charge of recruitment and my 9-year-old son as Chairman. I suspect we would improve exponentially.
Ian Jones
14 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:39:39
I'd keep Alli for his footballing nous. The role he played in the Calvert-Lewin winner when he cleverly but only slightly blocked one Palace defender was enough for me.
Christine Foster
15 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:41:00
I have to say, in days gone by, there was always the comparison between Dele Alli and Ross Barkley, and I never warmed to Alli as I did to Barkley.

I confess I still feel the same: if we were given the choice between either, I would probably say neither now, but if I had to take one it would be Barkley. Tuchel praised him for his work and professionalism after the FA Cup Final and his nerve with his penalty.

Dele Alli to me has lost his desire, his hunger and his drive to stamp his mark on any team. I don't believe he is a player who will fight for his place or the team when the chips are down. But what do I know... words to be eaten like humble pie? Perhaps…

Bobby Mallon
16 Posted 04/06/2022 at 09:53:46
Dele Alli needs to go and give football up he has lost his desire.
Brian Harrison
17 Posted 04/06/2022 at 10:13:24
All managers believe they can be the manager that helps turn around a player who seemingly has lost their way, and yes occasionally it does work. But given that 2 serial winning managers in Mourhino and Conte couldn't get a tune out of Dele should have set the alarm bells ringing, but the young inexperienced Lampard believed he could be the catalyst to turn Deles form around.

That could be either a brilliant decision or a complete financial disaster, we have a player on £100,000 + a week and so far the manager who bought him seems reluctant to play him. He has signed a two and a half year contract and if he gets to play the 18 games required to instigate the first £10 million down payment to Spurs, the alternative is Lampard decides the gamble hasn't worked and tries to sell him, good luck with that. So if nobody comes up with a package that Dele fancies we will have to pay him his wages even if we don't play him at all to avoid paying Spurs anymore money.

Tony Everan
18 Posted 04/06/2022 at 10:17:58
Robert, thanks for the article.

Dele needs discussion, especially when we have to start paying the forthcoming transfer fees. Is it money well spent? Decisions, decisions.

Dele is one of the most talented and instinctive footballers in the Premier League. He can ghost into positions, had good technique, can assist and score.

That's the good bits… at the moment, though, I'd classify him as a luxury player. Why? Because of the changing nature of the Premier League. It is faster, more aggressive and constantly demanding due to the now near-ubiquitous pressing game.

All teams, especially those who have comparable squads below the Top 6, cannot compete unless you can match or be better at this physical energy component of today's game.

You just cannot have any passengers, no matter what good stuff they can bring. The sublimely skilled James Rodriguez comes into his category, the Premier League chewed him up and spat him out.

Forward players now need a fervoured tenacity as well as all the skills and techniques. Richarlison are Gordon are growing towards it. Calvert-Lewin, when fully fit, is a beast of a worker whilst contributing goals.

Back to Dele Alli, someone playing behind the forwards. To be a regular starter he has to contribute physically to the midfield like say Kevin De Brunye does. Different players but I'm trying to attach the physicality to the creativity necessity argument.

I don't think that Dele has ever been this type of player but maybe he can learn to be. To contribute more to the prattles whilst retaining his attacking threat.

Up to now, what I've seen is that he is a useful tool from the bench to change the dynamic of a game. Frank will be hoping he can be a lot more influential than that and – before we start forking out the four staggered £10M transfer fees – so will we.

Stu Darlington
19 Posted 04/06/2022 at 10:20:17
A thought-provoking article, Robert, and I don't disagree with any of it.

I would add a couple of things to your list of what he needs however:

1) Self-belief; and

2) Iron in his soul to prove his critics wrong and show the talent that made him an England player.

Sure, he needs the right players around him, but the big challenge to me is to get his own mental attitude right. Dave Abrahams @5 sums it up very well.

I'm afraid getting even a few of the names you suggest to complement his game is going to be an uphill battle given our financial situation.

Paul Hewitt
20 Posted 04/06/2022 at 10:24:04
He's only 25 but has clearly lost his way. He just needs someone to get him on the right path again. There's still a world class player in there I'm convinced.
Michael Kenrick
21 Posted 04/06/2022 at 10:24:16
Can anyone recall when it was that Frank Lampard hinted it was in Dele's hands and that he needed to show more of what was needed in order to get a starting place? It must have been a pre-match presser 5 or 6 games before the end o the season...


Robert Tressell
22 Posted 04/06/2022 at 10:28:10
Bobby, you might be right. The truth is that none of us know.

Dele Alli himself may not know.

I think Mourinho was a terrible manager for him (as he was for Luke Shaw and others) - and ground the confidence and enthusiasm out of him.

What gives me heart is that the adversity of the Palace match - and the absolutely incredible atmosphere created by the crowd - seemed to reignite his passion.

Lampard is not as tactically astute as Mourinho but he has certainly improved the mood in the squad. You don't dig yourself out of a hole (the late goal against Newcastle, the results against Man Utd and Chelsea, coming back against Palace) without a cracking team spirit.

Mourinho is also very, very particular about what players do on the pitch. Alli played best with freedom because Wanyama and Dembele had the discipline. Mourinho hates any kind of freedom because it interferes with his tactical / defensive shape.

So the key, as well as cheering the guy up, is to give Alli the discipline behind him (two holding players, not just one) so that he has the freedom to be a (brace yourselves) Raumdeuter (space interpreter) as Thomas Muller once described himself - exploiting gaps and space in the attacking third to score and assist all those goals.

Michael Kenrick
23 Posted 04/06/2022 at 10:57:55
Ah, finally found it buried in that Rumour Mill piece which looks a bit daft now, claiming Everton were looking to sell him – that was just before the Palace game – but Frank had said this just a few days earlier, before the Brentford game:

“I have had those discussions with him. He'll be very clear as to where I am and at the moment I'm much more concerned about the collective, getting over the line as a group.

“If Dele plays his part in these three games then great. He's come on at times and done good things for us. It's an area of the squad where we have other players that have been playing, that's just the reality of the situation.

“He needs to just keep training hard and stay really well focused and fight for the opportunity.”

I thought it was telling at the time that Dele Alli played no part in the Brentford debacle right after that.

I'm with Dave @5 on this – it really is about getting the player himself to recover his zest for the game – he needs to read and then act on The Inner Game of Tennis or such like.

Alan McGuffog
24 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:02:08
Tony Kay, Sandy Brown, Jimmy Gabriel and Dennis Stevens had similar problems with self-belief / motivation.

They solved it by running around a football pitch scoring goals and kicking people up the arse.

Colin Malone
25 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:09:31
A shrink.

I mean no disrespect to Dele Alli but he never had a settled childhood according to Wikipedia. Most young people of Dele's age go through mental problems, with the past catching up with you.

With him being a millionaire, he ain't got a care in the world, which is definitely not the case.

Brian Williams
26 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:09:49
What does Dele need?

Well what he doesn't need are amateur TW psychologists trying to analyse him from his choice of clothes and car to his lost desire. Only he knows what he needs and only he can sort it.

Doesn't matter who plays around him in whatever team he plays for. He knows what he needs to do if he wants to become again the player he once was. It's just a matter of whether he wants it and wants it enough.

Paul Birmingham
27 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:12:16
I hope Dele sorts his mind out and finds the inner belief and confidence that any footballer needs to succeed.

For me, based on performances and feedback from some Spurs fans I've kept in touch with for years, the Mourinho factor is believed to be the issue.

Other players' careers have been scuttled due to Mourinho's demeanour and style of football. But this is Frank's challenge amongst a massively important pre-season after the great escape last season.

Belief, chemistry of the team, and time to gel is needed.

Statute is the constant support of Evertonians but the players must individually and collectively be up for playing for the Everton shirt, every match, friendly or competitive games.

I hope Dele succeeds at Everton as he showed his class when he came on v Palace. But cameos can't be accepted by any Everton player, so let's see what happens.

All have a great weekend.

Arild Andersen
28 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:18:21
Interesting article, Robert.

You mention Sander Berge, he was definitely set back by the injury, but judging by the playoff finals, where I think he was one of Sheffield Us best performers, and Norway's game in Serbia in the Nations League (won 1-0).

I'd say it looks like he soon is back at full speed. Could be a very good signing if we went for him. Will be interesting to see him against Sweden tomorrow.

Kevin Molloy
31 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:34:07
He's hardly kicked a ball for us. But then the Palace comeback. He turned that game on its head with 45 minutes of pure snide. Cheap free kicks. sly elbows, blocking off defenders, it was a masterclass in the dark arts nobody else in the squad can get near. I think it's worth playing him next season to see if he can replace Richarlison.
Joe McMahon
33 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:38:04
I think there is similaraties with Rashford. Both have ability, talent and goals. However by mid 20s they are multi millionaires, they then lose interest. Money, Cars, girls it's the LA Lifestyle.

There is no love or desire to improve, and while you are driving a £300k car, and endless "babes" that are attracted to an easy lifestyle, the players lose interest. A few players wanted to be the best, and fortunately for us, one is our manager and another one is on the coaching team.

Sir Bobby Robson said when he was manager of Newcastle, that these young men have too much money but hadn't done enough in life to deserve it.

Tom Bowers
34 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:48:40
So many questions about so many big names Everton sign and managers too.

Alli joins the list of a few who promised so much and have not produced. Barkley and Walcott are another couple.

Joe McMahon, you could be right about the lifestyle changes that some younger players cannot handle.

It's not just Everton of course. Anyone remember Peter Barnes of Man City, who had the world at his feet and talent to match, but didn't last.

These kind of players need guidance but so often won't listen. I did think Wayne Rooney was going that way but fortunately he got smart and look what happened.

Richard Nelson
35 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:50:53
Nice to see some of the "professional" TW Psychologists seem to think "respect" is a dirty word...!

Bill Gienapp
36 Posted 04/06/2022 at 11:52:39
Steve (13) - Indeed. I applaud Robert and Sam and others for putting together these diligent articles concerning potential transfer targets and team-building strategies. I just wish the club's recruitment team would take notice.
Robert Tressell
37 Posted 04/06/2022 at 12:01:17
A kick up the arse etc will work for many, not for all. Billy Kenny, Royston Drenthe, Andy van der Meyde, Jose Baxter etc etc etc all had plenty of ability but probably needed more than a kick up the arse, or something different entirely.

I deliberately focused on external factors rather than Dele Alli's state of mind in the article, because state of mind is a whole other issue.

I would say, though, that any club that better handles those with mental health and neurodiversity issues will give itself an advantage and save a few careers in the process. Whether Dele Alli falls into this sort of category is unknown to us.

Steve Shave
38 Posted 04/06/2022 at 12:31:35
Robert, also meant to say that Sander Berge came back from injury and, when 100% fit over last 8 games of the season, was absolutely outstanding. For £15M, I would prefer him over Gilmour as our No 6 as, although not as mobile, he has a good eye for a killer pass and would bring a threat in the box with his height.
Frank Crewe
39 Posted 04/06/2022 at 12:51:49
The lesser spotted Delph put in a couple of cameos in the last few games but it didn't make up for the 3 years of barely putting in an appearance. The same applies to Alli. One decent half isn't enough.

The club has had enough problems with injury-prone players. We don't need more with players having mental health problems.

If he has "fell out of love" with football, I'm sure he certainly hasn't fell out of love with the six-figure salary he's getting.

If he thinks he can't play at the top level, then we need to let him go and spend his salary on players committed to the cause. We don't want another season like the last one so everyone has to be up for the fight. There must be no room for passengers.

Right now, with a bunch of big salary players' contracts ending, Everton have a great opportunity to strengthen the squad with players who aren't crocked most of the time. We have to grasp this chance.

Everton are a Premier League football club, not a rest home for has-been players to run out their careers.

Brent Stephens
40 Posted 04/06/2022 at 14:12:06
Great article, Robert. I learn so much from your wide knowledge of footballers near and far.

For me the sad part of all this is that the guy is still only 26. I can hardly believe that. There are years left in this guy, if we can just get him back into self-belief and form.

Chris Hanrahan
41 Posted 04/06/2022 at 14:19:48
Reading utterly depressing articles like this makes me feel we just shouldn't bother next season. But then I remember the power and emotion of going to a match at Goodison, and playing great football, no matter who's in the team.

I'm sure Frank Lampard has a much better idea of what to do than any of you self styled "experts". So why don't we just let him get on with it and pick whoever he wants for the team?

The secret of being a good Everton supporter is to get behind the team no matter what, and not waste everyone's time with your supposedly brilliant ideas about footie. Where's your passion, people?

Ed Prytherch
43 Posted 04/06/2022 at 15:16:15
One thing I like about Dele Alli is that he cannot be intimidated and he can take a whack or two. I hope that he re-discovers his mojo.
Kim Vivian
44 Posted 04/06/2022 at 15:51:29
Couldn't stand Alli when he played for Spurs but the reason I didn't like him is the reason I do now. As someone else said – he's a snarky get – just what we need.

I think that second half against Palace and indeed a couple of his fleeting cameos before that (remember Leicester and the injury time equaliser?) has shown us that Frank, with the respect he commands and deserves, and his actual knowledge of the game, can probably get him back towards where we know he can be.

Christ, if he can find life in the extinction-threatened Iwobi, there must be hope!

Mike Gaynes
45 Posted 04/06/2022 at 15:55:33
Robert, this is a great article, but as mentioned in other responses, it almost misses the point. Dave #5, Tony #12 and your own post at #22 are closer to the truth in my opinion -- he will have to find what he needs inside him, not around him on the pitch.

And I would agree with you over Brian's comment at #26 that he knows what he needs to do -- he may not, in fact, have a clue what to do in order to find his love of the game again. Hopefully Lampard is the guy to help him work this through.

Colin #26 may be right that he could also use a sports psychologist -- seeing one has helped Pickford immensely -- but I vehemently disagree that loss of love for a sport constitutes a mental or emotional problem. Lots of young athletes, whether they be footballers or tennis players or figure skaters, simply burn out. Dele played nearly 150 games in his first three seasons at Spurs, all before he turned 22, and he clearly lost his passion for the game. But burnout is not a mental illness.

As to "Assuming Jean-Philippe Gbamin is finished as a Premier League player", let's not assume that just yet. He just played 13 straight games at CSKA with no hint of injury problems, and since he is contracted to us for two more years with no market to sell him into, he could very well get a chance with Frank. Let's see if he joins the USA tour next month.

Ben Howard
46 Posted 04/06/2022 at 16:05:40
My word, there's a lot of assumption and pop psychology going on in this thread. Talk of his lack of desire to be a footballer is over the top. What do we know of that? His performances have been under the level of the most exciting English footballer he started out as, and his confidence will have suffered as a result, but I hate it when a player is accused of not caring or trying.

A more limited (technically) player, but with greater physicality, can play himself back into form by tearing around like maniac, but Dele doesn't have that profile. To expect him to do that is unfair and actually could make him a liability. The pressure to come on in a game and do something amazing must be immense and to be fair that's what I saw him do in the Palace game.

Alli is supremely talented but does need to have a solid central holding partnership behind him, in my opinion. If we get the right pieces playing to strengths, we just might get the best out of him and if we do we'll have some player.

John McFarlane Snr
47 Posted 04/06/2022 at 16:07:49
HI Alan [24],

I'm quite surprised to learn that Tony Kay, Sandy Brown, Jimmy Gabriel and Dennis Stevens lacked self-belief. I must confess that I was never aware of any such failing. I can only imagine that your comment was tongue-in-cheek and the complete opposite to what you truly believe.

Hi Brian [26] & Chris [41],

I agree entirely with your posts: a) the solution lies with Dele Alli himself, and b) if there is a lack of self-belief, there are professional people to help him. We as supporters can play our part by encouraging him following any mistake he makes, and not using him as a whipping boy. Obviously a groan of disappointment following a mistake (by anyone) is a natural reaction, but a barrage of insults which often happens, is not my idea of support.

Alan McGuffog
48 Posted 04/06/2022 at 16:21:56
John Mc...I know you will have enjoyed watching those aforementioned players. And so yes, I was attempting to inject a wee bit of humour. Maybe we could add Bobby Collins and Roy Vernon to that list. What d'you think?
Robert Tressell
49 Posted 04/06/2022 at 16:25:32
Mike # 45, like I said (somewhere in this thread) I didn't really want to get into the mental side because none of us have a clue about that.

There may be qualified psychiatrists etc reading but hard even for them to judge from afar.

As to the other points, I disagree that the team structure is not the point. He's a very specialist player. Like Sigurdsson, you can push him wide or deep and he loses all impact. Conte can't accommodate him in the 3-4-3 / 5-2-2-1 Spurs play, for example. We couldn't accommodate him in a midfield alongside (let's dream) Gallagher and Gilmour.

With Gbamin, it is very difficult to tell what is going on. Absolutely he seems to have performed at CSKA Moscow but something is obviously up. It would be a lovely story for him to return to Goodison and be one of the two big footballing bruisers we need behind Alli but I'll believe it when I see it.

John McFarlane Snr
51 Posted 04/06/2022 at 16:31:35
Hi Alan [48],

The first name to spring to mind is Dave Hickson followed by Peter Farrell, and in later years Mick Lyons, and Andy Gray. I'm sure that there are many others who would qualify, if we took the time to deliberate.

Mike Gaynes
52 Posted 04/06/2022 at 16:49:13
Robert #49, perhaps I was imprecise in my phrasing. I don't disagree for a moment about the importance of team structure to Dele's success. I just think "squad unity", for example, is far less important than rediscovering his love for football, and no setup or personnel changes are going to do that for him. He's got to do that first, before any midfield setup will have any impact.

As to Gbamin, I posted here in 2020 that his top-level career was probably over, that I couldn't find even one case where an athlete had suffered the same two catastrophic tendon injuries he had, let alone recovered from them. Well, he has proven me wrong so far. The Russian league ain't exactly the Bundesliga, but it's top-level competition and he thrived there. And he didn't miss a minute to injury.

I'll believe it when I see it too, but I no longer dismiss it as an impossibility. Having had three Achilles blowouts myself, I can tell you that the rehab is long, slow and discouraging. Gbamin's work ethic and self-belief must be off the charts.

In fact, he might be a good influence on Dele.

John Pickles
53 Posted 04/06/2022 at 17:14:04
Ever since we bought Pienaar (first time) we have been trying to replicate that by buying every lost soul known to man, hoping to achieve the same level of success. To a man, it has been a dismal failure.

Moyes's Everton had an incredible team spirit with strong characters who would not have been out of place in Kendall's all-conquering squad.

That has never been the same since. The recent squads have had nowhere near that level of team spirit or determination. Sending mentally suspect players to Everton nowadays is like sending troops with PTSD back to the front for rehabilitation.

Roger Helm
54 Posted 04/06/2022 at 17:40:07
The game is littered with young men with enormous talent but not the psychological strength to exploit it – we have had more than a few in our club. Although you can support and help them, in the final analysis, they have to do it for themselves.

If someone has "fallen out of love with the game" and already has enough money for the rest of his life, I'm not sure anyone can do much about it.

Talent is only one part of a successful footballer, and not the most important part.

Stu Darlington
55 Posted 04/06/2022 at 19:28:36
Surely the only relevant question should be:

“Do we want to spend £40M of a limited transfer budget and take a punt on a player who may or may not recover his past form?”

For that money, I personally wouldn't.

Raymond Fox
56 Posted 04/06/2022 at 19:53:50
If you read about Dele's childhood, he had it really tough.

Frank will have a much better understanding of where the player is. My money is on him staying.

Andy Meighan
57 Posted 04/06/2022 at 20:53:58
A startled crackhead. Brilliant that, Robert.

I'm not sure what Alli needs to be honest, he certainly looks to have lost half a yard of pace from his halcyon days at Spurs. I worked with a Spurs fan for the whole of last season and he was delighted that we took him off their hands.

As others have alluded to, he seems to have fallen out of love with the game. That said, he did look hungry in his cameo against Palace and was a major factor in the comeback.

It's a melon scratcher alright, this one – a complete enigma. Maybe Lampard will bring out the best in him… who knows?

Paul Jones
58 Posted 04/06/2022 at 20:57:01
Great article, Robert. Certainly thought-provoking.

Like the last few posters, I tend to take a starting point of "What do Everton need?"

In my opinion, we need hungry young players who are starting out in the game and have not just the skill but the desire to perform on the big stage. Think of a Richarlison type player when we signed him from Watford.

Alli just doesn't fit that bill. Despite being ejected from a Spurs team like a busted flush, I've not noticed any inclination to prove there's still a player in there who has got a point to prove.

His lack of appearances for us since his transfer suggests the same thing. The best players in the world aren't just performing on reputation; they have indomitable spirit and self-belief.

Alli seems a distraction to me. Other less prominent players in the squad could look at him in his Rolls-Royce and lose heart about their relevance at our club. That cannot be allowed to happen.

Kristian Boyce
59 Posted 04/06/2022 at 20:58:02
I made a comment on another forum about him losing his desire for football and him going downhill pretty quickly.

Had a bunch of Spurs fans chirp in that he was having hamstring issues for the last couple of seasons, which hampered his play and effectiveness. I guess it took a while for recovery and, during that time, Spurs had a change in playing style and formation.

It's felt like that we've been easing him back too. I don't know if this is to do with the rehabilitation or keeping him below the rumoured 20 game clause kicking in, but if we can get him back to his best, he'll be a great signing.

Robert Tressell
60 Posted 04/06/2022 at 21:26:12
Stu #55,

I agree with a lot of that. He's precisely the profile of player I think we should avoid – being established but downward trajectory Premier League players.

That said, he's now our player. We are committed to paying his considerable wages until June 2024, so we might as well try to get a tune out of him.

Even if we offload him, we'll still be paying the lion's share of those wages. And I'm not sure who would take him off our hands.

Paul Kernot
61 Posted 04/06/2022 at 22:45:51
Tony #18.

I agree he's a luxury player. I likened him (in that respect at least) to James when we had him. A brilliant game-changer in flashes but, unless you have the players around him to complement – or more like compensate for that, he's a risk. We have neither the current squad, time nor money to accommodate him next season.

Barry Rathbone
62 Posted 04/06/2022 at 23:23:24
Certainly shouldn't be going for him on the basis of half a game particularly one that was (to all intents and purposes) a cup final.

If not up for bread-and-butter games, he isn't what we need which I'm sure Frank and his staff have sussed watching him in training. Plus it's a struggle to think of a successful player reinvention when so long in the doldrums.

I honestly doubt it will work out here.

Alex Fox
64 Posted 04/06/2022 at 23:25:51
Interesting thread. Shows football's a game of opinions.

Personally, I'd love to see Dele given a proper run in the team. Remember watching him torment Real Madrid in a Champions League match a few years back. Snark, physical presence and outrageous talent: I really thought he'd go on to become the best in the world.

I might need to temper those expectations… The fact he couldn't get off the bench during the dour goalless draw against Watford suggests he isn't showing enough behind the scenes. But if Lampard can get him anywhere near the levels of 2016-2019, he'd be a huge asset.

My understanding is that we owe Spurs £10M for every 20 league games up to a ceiling of £40M. He's on 11 games so far. Put some faith in him and give him a run until Christmas. The £10M we'd pay is a gamble worth taking given the talent we know is waiting to be unlocked.

And I agree with all those calling for Berge. We missed out on him a few years ago, and have been in need of a physical presence with passing range in the middle of the park ever since. A midfield three of Allan, Berge, and Dele or Iwobi has a nice balance to it.

Sam Hoare
65 Posted 04/06/2022 at 23:44:20
Good article, Robert.

I've low hopes for Alli at this point. If he cannot motivate himself after ending 2 wasted years of not playing by moving to a big club historically under a successful and well regarded ex-England player who shares his position, then I don't see how he will ever motivate himself.

Frank took a good look at him and decided he wasn't up to it even when we were down to the bare bones.

If he trains hard and starts showing some real application (like Iwobi did), then we can talk…but at the moment I'm not sure he deserves all this talk of how to get the best out of him.

Colin Malone
66 Posted 04/06/2022 at 23:59:52
Mike #45,

Colin #26 may be right that he could also use a sports psychologist.

Nothing to do about sport Mike. It's life in general. The lad needs a nest of love around him.

Paul Birmingham
67 Posted 05/06/2022 at 00:09:52
No holds, back to square bashing and basic medical. Dele wants and believes he is a footballer, else he is dreaming.

If so game over, and Everton get a replacement.

Desire to be a footballer, as the basic requirements, confirmed, of a proven professional footballer.

Paul Birmingham
68 Posted 05/06/2022 at 00:20:24
Ed, agreed.

Give the player, a chance, and build him into the team this pre-season. Dele can do it.

Smart players with guile, skill and vision are needed in Everton's midfield.

Dele should start in replacement of Sigurdsson.


Mike Gaynes
69 Posted 05/06/2022 at 00:59:11
Colin #66, don't we all?
Colin Malone
70 Posted 05/06/2022 at 01:20:15
Mike #69.

Yes, definitely.

But we are men, Big boys don't cry… Fucking bollocks!
We all suffer, mate, whether rich or poor.

Andy Kay
71 Posted 05/06/2022 at 01:28:41
He probably needs a couple of 14-hour shifts as a porter at the local hospital to appreciate what a lucky, entitled, privileged position a modern-day professional footballer is.

That may make him realise he's only got about 6 years left in his career and to make the most of it while he can.

How to motivate a millionaire? Get him to do a job like ours for a spell.

Laurie Hartley
72 Posted 04/06/2022 at 02:10:36
I am not ready to write him off - he is a very talented footballer. I have learnt my own personal lesson from the resurgence of Alex Iwobi who I had decided was a waste of space. How wrong that opinion proved to be.

I watched Dele Alli very closely in the replay of the Crystal Palace game. He got into good positions to receive the ball, kept his composure when he did receive it, and that perfectly weighted first-time pass round the corner to Gordon on the right wing was a thing of beauty.

What he needs in my opinion, is to play as a foil for the centre-forward – whoever that turns out to be next season.

Steve Shave
73 Posted 05/06/2022 at 08:56:24
I too have vented words of frustration towards Dele on a number of occasions following some of his less successful cameos last season, so I would be a hypocrite to say I hadn't. In fact, further up this thread, I have expressed some concerns about us getting caught up in the payment structure of this deal.

However, after seeing some ignorant comments above, I feel a need to post from a different angle. As a psychotherapist who specialises in treating psychological trauma, I hope we can start to see a shift in footballers talking about their mental health more. Calvert-Lewin spoke bravely recently; others have in the past – though usually once they've retired when it feels safer.

There is physical health and there is mental health, we all have both and they fluctuate. They are intrinsically linked. Both are as important as one another; however, despite positive changes in public perceptions around mental health in recent years, it still seems much easier for footballers to talk about one and not the other.

In my world, they are spoken of in the same breath and it is liberating. There are many reasons for this which I won't go into but the legacy of two world wars and subsequent narratives around emotions – eg. "Don't feel, don't complain, stiff upper lip, get on with it" – continue to silence and burden us as a nation.

It's easy for us to say Dele is finished; it's easy to call Dom a shit-house who doesn't care about us because he made about 8 appearances last season. We wouldn't say these things if they had a torn muscle or a leg break – something visible to soothe our judgments. If footballers felt empowered to speak about these problems openly, then it would create a better understanding amongst the club, the fans and players.

I'm not getting on my high horse – I am a flawed emotional fan like the rest of you. I am merely commenting on something (one of the only things actually!) I know something about. Now I am not Dele, nor am I his therapist but I want to put this to you all… imagine the following scenario, imagine you are Dele:

You are born into a chaotic home, your mother has her own trauma history and suffering which has not been healed, she jumps from relationship to relationship. She has 3 different fathers to her children. She falls into drugs and alcohol spirals. Dele witnesses a lot of domestic turmoil (much of this has been well documented), abuse and experiences neglect as a child.

You are wrenched between your mother and father, Nigeria, USA and back to the UK where your mum is abusing alcohol and drugs to an extent you are about to be removed by social services. You are falling into the local gang culture for a sense of cohesion and connectivity, there's a lot of concern about you and football is the only positive outlet in your life.

A local family (parents of your footballing chum) take you in aged 16 to stop you going into care and they oversee your rise to footballing stardom. You just concentrate on football without healing any of the above (this is pure speculation of course, I have no idea if he saw a therapist or indeed if that was effective) and you suddenly find yourself out of form for the first time and Mourinho as your manager.

You are scapegoated, embarrassed, humiliated and 50k adoring fans turn on you, saying that you don't care, you are finished. I would imagine this was extremely triggering to his past traumas around neglect and invalidation (pure speculation of course, all in the spirit of trying to change a few opinions) – all this time, you haven't healed from the past. Then you arrive at Everton in the midst of the most toxic fan revolt we've seen in years and guess what, they are saying the same things. All this time, you haven't healed.

They are human beings who are trying to doing a job; yes, there are some who probably don't care about the club they are playing for, just like that guy coasting along in your office who the whole team carries. Let's not make assumptions about someone's attitude when their form drops off a cliff.

When past trauma catches up with people (it inevitably does) it's horrible, it can cause people to have flashbacks to the past, strong uncontrollable emotional outpourings, relived past terror, dissociated numbness… and the only way people often feel able to cope is through avoidance of the world around them and numbing strategies.

You are Dele and you've only mustered one good half for your new team, just one start, and before the new season has even begun, many of your fans think you are a waste of space.

Ian Bennett
74 Posted 05/06/2022 at 09:52:11
I think he's done and, with a near-certain sale of Richarlison, we will be desperate to bring in consistent and reliable goals.

We have never been blessed in that area, but we will have lost James, Digne, Sigurdsson and Richarlison from the assists and goals. That has to be replaced to avoid another relegation scrap.

Jonathan Tasker
75 Posted 05/06/2022 at 09:59:30
There is zero chance of Alli staying at Everton.
It was always a free transfer.
It’s all over for Alli.
League one next season if even that
Rob Dolby
76 Posted 05/06/2022 at 10:04:39
Steve 73. Fantastic post.

A lot of young footballers have similar backgrounds that form their resilient character to deal with being a footballer at any level.

As a club do we employ sports phycologists? If not we should.
Didn't Pickford mention that he went to see a sports phycologist to help him.

In Ali's case he arrived with us as Spurs have written him off. At 25 years of age he still has the ability. As a club we need to try and get him back in the game emotionally and physically.

As a footballer he is on a different level to anyone else that we have in the current squad.

Brian Harrison
77 Posted 05/06/2022 at 10:10:43
Jonathan 75

The only way Alli leaves is if someone is wiling to pay him the same or more than we are which I believe is £100,000 + a week, he has a contract in his back pocket which means he is here for another 2 years. I don't believe there is a club out there who will take that risk, so we have to hope that Frank can work his magic which he hasn't done so far, to reignite Alli to the player he was.

Mike Allison
78 Posted 05/06/2022 at 10:33:21
A really intelligent and well written OP, however I disagree with its basic assumption that it’s worth trying to fit everything around Dele Alli.

Frank wants to play 3-4-3, which doesn’t suit many of our players and it certainly doesn’t suit Dele Alli. I much prefer a back four but I really don’t think we’ll see much of it next season.

Dave Carruthers
79 Posted 05/06/2022 at 10:57:57
To John Mc (51), Alan and others on our past players. Surely the best example of confidence ( which sadly moved to over confidence and one of the, allegedly, number of reasons, he left) was Alan Ball. Those first few seasons when he conducted that brilliant young team with a relentless self confidence supplemented by a set ( at the time) of unmatched skills, remains unmatched in my 50+ years of watching the Blues. Of that team I suspect the only player who perhaps suffered from a sense of insecurity was Jimmy Husband. For anyone who hasn't read it, try and get Gavin Buckland’s excellent book about Everton in the 60’s called “Money can’t buy me love”. You forget how unpopular we were during the early 60’s but Gavin captures Bally’s departure extremely well. Its a wonderful, or ssd read, depending on whether you want to dwell on the season just gone.
An excellent, insightful post Steve (73). There are many different pressures around now that would not have been dreamed of during Bally’s time!
Gary Jones
80 Posted 05/06/2022 at 11:04:21
Steve’s post at 73 makes some exceptionally good points. Especially in highlighting these boys are human above anything else.

Deles maestro performance against Palace was a reaction to the crowd showing him some real love warming up at half time. We need to do this more as fans: show the players some love.

Iwobi recently stated that there was a turning point for him when he ballsed up a through ball, and the crowd gave him a clap anyway for what he was trying to do. He realised he CAN make mistakes, but still be loved for trying to make a difference. His uplift in performance since has been remarkable.

WE (us fans!) really need to learn from this. Shouting dogs abuse from the stands (or writing them off on forums) to our own players helps no-one. We’ve got real history in it, with everyone from Hibbert and Osman, to Barkley and Lukaku, to Keane, Davies and Iwobi getting real venom shouted at them from the stands.

Opposing teams know that as much as Goodison can be an asset, it can equally be an anchor if they can force a few mistakes and turn the venom on.

Really hoping the unconditional love that kept us up over the last 2 months carries on deep into next year. Blue smoke, packed goodison road, fireworks at the hotel, cheering the players warming up….just genuine proper love. The Goodison Gang…..

Come on Dele lad, legend status awaits and that plane to Qatar still has seats!!

Tony Hill
81 Posted 05/06/2022 at 11:16:25
Yes, a fine post from Steve @73 and also from Gary @80.

I was watching Alli warm up at half-time against Palace and you could see that the reception he got from the fans came as a great surprise. He then proceeded to demonstrate how much better he is than anything else we’ve got.

A truly gifted player who could make a serious difference for us. Faith is required all round, not least from Alli himself in his talents. I hope he gets the support he needs.

Robert Tressell
82 Posted 05/06/2022 at 11:43:59
Mike #78, you may well be right about 343.

Clearly Lampard prefers this despite being unable to get results this way.

It is also precisely the formation Conte uses which left Alli surplus to requirements at Spurs.

It was interesting that England used this formation last night against Hungary and looked awful, only coming to life in the last 10 mins when we switched to 4 at the back.

Nothing wrong with 343 (or 5221 which I think describes the positions better) but it relies on a couple of central midfielders of discipline, intelligence and passing range (eg Neves and Moutinho, Bentacur and Hojbjerg). I thought Rice and Bellingham looked really terrible together last night as a duo.

Our central midfield is really poor - with Allan and Doucoure being completely unsuited to what is expected required in 343 (and not especially good in any formation).

If we can get the two ball playing, disciplined bruisers in midfield that would help Alli - and it helps the rest of the team too even if Alli is a flop - because we could switch to the 343 Lampard prefers.

Jonathan Tasker
83 Posted 05/06/2022 at 11:54:51
Brian @77,

My understanding was it will cost Everton £10M if he plays 20 games.

Everton won't want to pay this so he will end up playing no more than 19 games surely.

Danny O’Neill
84 Posted 05/06/2022 at 11:56:24
Gary @80, I think that is a really good point.

I often say to those around me who criticise a mistake that the player had the right idea and was trying to do the right thing.

I'll criticise for mistakes, but not for trying to do the right thing. That has to be recognised even when it doesn't come off. It's how I coached players. Teach them to keep trying to do the right thing otherwise they become afraid of the football and it becomes the proverbial hot potato that they just want to aimlessly get rid of as soon as they receive it.

Dave Lynch
85 Posted 05/06/2022 at 11:59:41
I'll tell you what Dele needs… he needs to give his head a wobble.

He needs to realise that he has been blessed with a talent very few are blessed with.

He needs to realise that he is a very privileged young man who is on astronomical wages.

And he needs to realise that he has a duty to use those talents for himself, the club, and the fans.

Robert Tressell
86 Posted 05/06/2022 at 12:00:43

Even if he sticks at 19 games to save us the £10M fee, we still have to pay his considerable wages till June 2024.

We can't just release him on a free - we have to pay those wages because no-one else is going to.

So freezing him out after 19 games is a strange sort of way to save money – and may even result in us having to pay more than £10M and even more wages on another new recruit for the midfield.

Barry McNally
87 Posted 05/06/2022 at 12:09:38
The best we can hope for is a 2-year loan deal in which Everton pay half his wages, unless he can turn things around.
Laurie Hartley
88 Posted 05/06/2022 at 13:06:35
Jonathan # 83,

I would pay £10M for a 26-year-old Alli who had rediscovered his mojo — which he surely would have done if he had played 19 games.

Ed Prytherch
89 Posted 05/06/2022 at 13:34:00
Thanks for that excellent post, Steve. How often do we ever know the whole story behind lack of form, whether undisclosed injuries, mental problems, etc?
Barry Rathbone
90 Posted 05/06/2022 at 13:55:33
Steve Shave @73

Surely if half what you say applies, the lad shouldn't be in a high-profile job like that of a pro footy player immersed in the bipolar commentary of fans.

Let us not lose sight of the fact we are a togger club trying to progress – not a rehab centre.

John McFarlane Snr
91 Posted 05/06/2022 at 14:24:52
Hi Danny [84],

I found that in the 50s, if a player was a fan's favourite, and a misplaced pass was executed, fans would agree that "It was well meant". But woe-betide the less favoured player if he did the same. I think it's much like that today.

Dave Lynch
92 Posted 05/06/2022 at 14:32:29
Exactly Barry.

I've been a mental health nurse and specialist practitioner for 40 years.

Mental health is used too much and too freely as an excuse for peoples functioning.

We all get sad, pissed off and fed up with life at times. Calvert-Lewin was not depressed – he was suffering from a reactionary low mood due to being out of the game for a while.

Clinical depression is an awful and debilitating condition that is with a person for life; reactionary low mood is not – society is disabling people, stripping them of their coping mechanisms. We don't allow people the time to grieve when we lose a loved one, we tell people it's okay not to feel okyy, then pump them full of antidepressants which serve no purpose and don't address the problem or the situation.

Tony Hill
93 Posted 05/06/2022 at 15:09:09
Dave @92, is anyone suggesting that Alli or Calvert-Lewin is clinically depressed?

Barry @90, isn't the point that, if Alli can be brought to value and focus upon his talents, then we will improve as a football team?

The mental health and strength (terms being open to definition) of sports performers is surely a factor worthy of serious consideration and, where possible, of trained support.

David Hallwood
94 Posted 05/06/2022 at 15:51:33
Interesting, thought-provoking article, Robert. I've been an Evertonian for feck knows how long, so I've seen many false dawns and clutched at many, many straws.

But looking back to the 2nd half performance vs. Palace – yes, it was only 45 minutes… and yes, it was only Palace, who thought they had the game won and came out with a holiday brochure under their collective arms.

But the 3 of Dele, Doucouré and Iwobi looked like a functioning midfield. Now these days we talk about No 6, No 8 and No 10, but that looked like a throwback to the days when midfielders attacked when necessary and defended likewise.

Maybe they would struggle against better teams, and of course if Lampard goes with 3-4-3 or a variation on 3 at the back, then 2 all action, athletic midfielders will be vital. There would certainly be no place for a Dele in there, unless he played a 3-4-1-2 with Dele being the 1.

Interesting times ahead.

Mike Gaynes
95 Posted 05/06/2022 at 16:06:04
Steve #73, Gary #80, Tony #81/#93, well said all.

Dave #85/#92, with all due respect to your professional opinion, I could not disagree more. Dele has no "duty" to use his talents, for himself or especially for others. Your belief that he doesn't understand how fortunate he is comes off as ridiculous -- of course he does. But he is not obligated to leverage that good fortune to make you happy, or me, or Frank Lampard.

His obligation is to himself, to be the best person he can be for Dele Alli. If that involves football, great, but that's up to him, not some warped idea of what he owes to the world because of his talent.

Also, to my knowledge, he hasn't claimed to be a victim of clinical depression or anything else, and he has made no "excuses" to anyone

Simply losing the love for what you're doing, no matter how good you are, doesn't mean there's something wrong with you, or that you're abandoning some obligation. Bjorn Borg and Ashleigh Barty know that. (So did Greta Garbo, Bill Withers and Tom Lehrer for that matter.)

Tony Hill
96 Posted 05/06/2022 at 16:25:16
Ah, Tom Lehrer. One of your best, Mike.
Tony Hill
97 Posted 05/06/2022 at 16:28:44
Notwithstanding 'The Vatican Rag'.
Mike Gaynes
98 Posted 05/06/2022 at 16:31:05
Tony, my cellphone ringtone used to be "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park." My wife made me change it.
Brent Stephens
99 Posted 05/06/2022 at 16:31:21
Tom Lehrer. Brilliant. Always in his element.
Mike Gaynes
100 Posted 05/06/2022 at 16:43:38
Tony #97, my dad's professional mentor (and my honorary uncle) was The Very Reverend Monsignor Thomas J Holbrook.

He loved "The Vatican Rag". Thought it was hilarious.

Bill Gall
101 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:04:41
I think that Alli has what he needs, and that is a manager who believes in his abilities, but is strict enough with him to let him know that you don't get in his team on a reputation or history of what he is capable of, and he has to work hard consistently in training to earn a position in the team.

His performance in the second half against Palace proved that his skill is still there, but he has to prove that he can continue over the 90 minutes.

To keep him, to me, depends on the transfer market. If we are able to get a midfielder with the skills and quality (for example, like Zinchenko), then I think they will let him go.

Tony Hill
102 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:19:32
Mike @100; it certainly is.
Billy Roberts
103 Posted 05/06/2022 at 17:28:29
Mike @95,

I am not going to add to the speculation about Dele Alli"s mental well-being as I have no idea how it is.

I would have to strongly disagree with your assertion that he has no duty to the club, the manager or the fans. What is he doing or thinking when he signs his contract? He is surely signing to do just that. He has a duty to his teammates.

Bjorn Borg done the honourable thing, but there is nowhere to hide in tennis, golf, boxing etc. I'm not sure Dele Alli has fallen out of love with football but I do know what clothes he wears or car he drives tells me nothing also.

In a literal response to the opening question "What does Dele need?" …

Maybe a conversation with a player who came back from the dead... Christian Eriksen, his old teammate.

If his circumstances can't inspire him to find his old self or say "You know what, I just don't enjoy this anymore." I don't know what could help.

David Bentley was a very talented player who openly admitted in an interview that he just couldn't be arsed with it all anymore... he done the right thing, he walked away.

Just like Dele Alli, no-one had a gun to his head, the choice is all theirs.

Steve Shave
104 Posted 05/06/2022 at 18:31:55
Barry 90 you are all heart! You missed my point entirely, what I am saying is that, although mental health is a lot less visible than physical health, it doesn't mean it isn't there.

People don't get to choose if and when they unravel, some just do. Sometimes there is a catalyst, sometimes the past just catches up with them. Sports stars are humans, they can struggle too and after all, it's just a job. Friends, family, physical health and connectivity are just as important as being happy at work.

Your suggestion that Dele should just have done something else is ludicrous, it's probably all he has ever known and probably has (until perhaps more recently) been a consistently positive aspect of his life.

Dave 92, I really have no idea what you are trying to say. On the one hand, you seem to be saying "Hey I've been a mental health practitioner for 40 years" therefore implying you have loads of insight into it before going on to say that people just use it as an excuse!

You then go on to add that usually medication is often the professional answer (no arguments from me there!) which doesn't solve the issue. Of course this is exactly the point I was making. If (and it is an 'if' because I don't know him) he has been seriously affected by his childhood, then he is only human and would need a space to heal. So which is it, Dave, does he need to heal properly or is it just an excuse?

Might I also point out, of course, that this is all conjecture because Dele has not come out and said anything about his mental health. We are just speculating.

The wider issue I feel which has evolved from Robert's excellent post is that we never really know the story behind a player's struggles. Yet there are many of us who tend to jump to a conclusion that they are a shit who doesn't care or are somehow just taking the piss out of the club and fans.

Ray Said
105 Posted 05/06/2022 at 19:31:15
In my opinion, this is a really thoughtful and perceptive article, Robert. Nice work and I hope you will do a few more on individual players and how to get the best from them.

Steve (73), a great post, also very insightful and written with concern for the human being – not just the footballer.

Robert Tressell
106 Posted 05/06/2022 at 21:10:26
Thanks Ray, comments on my articles rarely get into double figures (!) so it's refreshing to get requests.

I'll have a think.

Andy Crooks
107 Posted 05/06/2022 at 22:17:55
If only head wobbling made it all better.
Dave Lynch
108 Posted 05/06/2022 at 22:29:25
Steve @104.

I didn't use the word ‘Hey’! And yes I have been a mental health practitioner for a long time, I've worked in forensics and nursed some notable and distasteful individuals.

I was a CPN for many years as a prescriber and also in addictions.

The point I'm trying to make is "mental health" is used too freely today to describe someone who "hasn’t" got a mental health condition, moreover suffering from a life event that is affecting their thought process or ADLS, there is a massive difference.

Paul Kossoff
109 Posted 05/06/2022 at 23:33:09
What does a multi millionaire need? A fucking good kick up the arse and a dose of reality, that's what he and most of this squad need!
Paul Kossoff
110 Posted 05/06/2022 at 23:54:15
Steve 104,

Most of the players we sign are taking the piss out of the club and us. They are wrapped in cotton wool from day one, and couldn't cope in an ordinary life situation, unemployed, skint, and a 100 other things.

Save your pity for the ones who need it, it's certainly not professional footballers.

The squad we have were allowed to get into a relegation position because we supported them regardless. They win one game and everything is forgiven. I doubt we will get out of it again next season if we give them another free pass.

Anthony Jones
111 Posted 05/06/2022 at 23:59:39
Let's be honest. Goodison Park, when things are going badly, can be pretty toxic. Not the ideal place for a man with serious self esteem issues.

And yes, plenty of other football grounds can turn into a den of vipers for the home side if the fans lose patience.

Mike Gaynes
112 Posted 06/06/2022 at 01:41:39
Paul #110, can't wait to see what you would suggest instead.
Jerome Shields
113 Posted 06/06/2022 at 02:01:47
Steve #73,

Thank you for your expert opinion. I think part of the reason that Dele Alli came to Everton was because of Frank Lampard. Someone who knew and showed some understanding of him. Frank in turn has a player that if turned around could advance the playing style at Everton he wanted.

One thing overlooked by many was Frank's commitment under sever pressure to play the way he wanted from the start, with slight adjustments for a relegation dogfight. Dele Alli was played in cameo roles in the second half of games to advance Frank's style of play. He did do that on occasions.

Dele Alli not playing in the Brentford game is difficult to understand, since that game was crying out for the skills that he has. Obvious there was something happening between Dele and Frank at that stage and it took, in Frank's opinion, Alli to be dropped for that game.

In a relegation dogfight with a makeshift squad, it is difficult to manage at best and even more difficult to manage a creative player. But having survived relegation, the scenario has now changed.

I don't expect Frank to build around a central figure at Everton, but I do expect him to continue to push forward the style of play he wants. Dele Alli has the potential of the necessary skills but it will be up to him to play himself into the running for that. Frank has made that clear to him right in the middle of a relegation dogfight. What's more, he made the effort to do that, which might help in the scenario you, Steve, have informed us of. Thank you, again.

Alan McGuffog
114 Posted 06/06/2022 at 07:06:57
Going away on my tangent from the immediate issue of Dele. Dave @92, may I thank you for your comments, especially as they come from a source of expertise.

It annoys me greatly when emotions such as anger, disappointment, annoyance, being pissed off, are bracketed as "mental illness".

A great friend suffered depression for many many years. It wasn't nice for him or his loved ones.

Wembley '68, Old Trafford '71, Maine Road '77, getting my wotsit caught in my zip... all gave my feelings of sadness, fury, pain, you name it. Those instances did not affect my mental health.

My heart goes out to those who suffer clinical depression.

Eddie Dunn
115 Posted 06/06/2022 at 08:02:11
When Dele arrived at Finch Farm, they videoed him being shown around the place. He asked to see the gym and on seeing it, he looked less than impressed.

I wonder whether, in his case, he has simply hit some heights, earned stacks of money and now finds it difficult to get motivated.

Perhaps he has fallen out of love with the game.
I am sure there have been others who have done the same thing but are good enough to get by even at 80%.

The problem such players find is that the modern Premier League is played at such pace that even the most gifted players can be seen as a luxury a team simply can't afford, eg, James Rodriguez.

Steve Shave
116 Posted 06/06/2022 at 08:23:31
Dave 108 you didn't use that word, I flippantly used it to lay my point, apologies. I have worked in forensics too, I have respect for anyone in that field. If you will allow me to make a final point on this and then I will leave it as there has been a lot of conjecture.

I merely was offering a potential view on Dele from a trauma informed lens, I know that forensic secure units particularly and all inpatient facilities generally don't tend to look at things this way and instead look at the presentation and behaviour. So not a criticism, just a different way of looking at things.

At no point have I mentioned depression (for either DCL or Dele) so I don't know where that has come from on this thread. Of course I really have no idea how his childhood has affected him but given that we are all impacted from our childhoods in some way it was an educated guess, a clinical hypothesis. Some suffer great hardship and are able to push on undeterred, others less so. With trauma what we know is it is not what happens, it's the meaning of what happens to the individual.

My final points then I will leave it. For those who seem to only hear my compassion for Dele's situation as "pity" or that I am "making excuses" for him, I'll say this: I merely wanted to offer a different perspective and challenge a few black and white thinkers on here.

Moving away from Dele's problems (be it attitude or mental health) to a much wider lens, Robert has opened an interesting discussion. Mental health is just as important as physical, yet apart from DCL recently (and a few other brave players before him) it's not the done thing for footballers to talk about it whilst they are still playing.

It's easy to say Pickford saw a sport Psychologist so everyone should, that might have been all he needed (and maybe some Ritalin) but some others (say Gary Speed for example) most certainly need more than that. Many of us would benefit from addressing the past so why would footballers be any different?

It's not something I've thought much about until this thread but judging by some of the comments there appears to be a good reason why footballers don't talk about present mental health.

Some people will say "depression, what have you got to be depressed about?!! You are on £100k a week playing the beautiful game for the greatest club on earth. Come and spend a week in my shoes..." etc etc. Whilst I find that an exceptionally invalidating stance to someone who has had a rough upbringing, I understand that some will see it that way.

As someone rightly posted earlier in the thread, some of these players had a really tough start in life, that doesn't just go away because someone pays you a lot of money.

Massive respect to that lad who came out and told the footballing world he was gay the other week, that took enormous courage. If half of this thread is anything to go by, footballers being allowed to have emotional problems will have to wait a while. Sigh.

Danny O’Neill
117 Posted 06/06/2022 at 09:15:43
I thought I'd come back to this one.

As a manager, I always believe in the thought of line that whilst you manage the team or the collective to achieve the objective, you also have to manage individuals to make sure they can contribute to the team. And each individual is different, so requires a different touch to get the best out of them. You can't manage everyone the same way.

Some need a royal kick up the arse. Some need a bit of tough love and harsh words. Others need an arm around the shoulder and coaxing to install self-belief and realise their potential. But as much as you manage the team, you have to manage individuals.

Mourinho tried the hard line. That's not a criticism, it was what he thought would work. It seemed to backfire. I suspect Alli requires the more patient but softer approach. Coach and mentor him accordingly and there is no doubt there is a player that can be a benefit to Everton and his career.

He seems like someone who, having grown up in the modern bubble of the football academy system and having unrealistic expectation placed on him at a very young age, has had a wobble of confidence. It's what we and the media do in the UK. Build someone up to knock them down. We can't help ourselves. He is 26 years old, a very good footballer and still has the potential to get better, with many years ahead of him.

Those of us from older generations may not like it, but this is a generation that has many individuals that need to have their egos and confidence massaged rather than dictated to. Shouting at them won't always work like it did for us.

It's down to management and I think Lampard might be a manager who can manage Alli. And Everton.

From someone who was on the fence when he was appointed.

Brian Harrison
118 Posted 06/06/2022 at 10:00:05

I agree that, although the team is a collective, within that collective there are many complex individuals who all respond to different methods used to get the required response.

But I think, for Alli to have failed under Mourhino, Santos and Conte, it's more to do with his mindset than how each of these 3 managers would have tried to get him back to the player he was.

Also, I think each would have tried the arm-round-the-shoulder approach as well and found neither approach worked. Also, let's not forget a man who believed in him and has had him for over 3 months couldn't get a tune out of him really highlights the problem.

So this is solely a problem that Alli needs to address although with still 2 years left on a contract that is paying him £100k per week.

I would suggest that the club have a bigger problem. We have a player who is not performing to the level that the manager was expecting but, whether Alli is selected or not to trigger a further payment to Spurs is the least of our problems.

As even trying to give him a free, who in their right mind would sign a player who is so demotivated and on wages that only a Top 6 club can afford?

Danny O’Neill
119 Posted 06/06/2022 at 10:17:28
Fair counter, Brian, and a sobering thought.

The more I think about it, he is a classic example of the modern academy system.

Built up and bigger up from a young age to the point they don't think they have to work hard and don't realise their potential. Our very own Ross Barkley is another good example.

But if okay with you, I'll retain my coaching and management point. I don't think Ross was coached properly as a youngster.

Look forward to catching up next season.

Dave Lynch
120 Posted 06/06/2022 at 10:19:44

I think it was reported that Calvert-Lewin was "depressed" in an article; apologies from me if I intimated you used it.

If we're going down the line of upbringing, then we're going into PTSD territory which is a whole different ball game.

Stay safe buddy. NSNO

Andy Crooks
121 Posted 06/06/2022 at 10:56:07
So much of what we debate on this site, actually on any supporter site, is based on conjecture. It's part of the fun of it.

Guessing why Dele appears disinterested has led to some very interesting and informative posts. We may be miles away in our ideas but it's a good discussion.

I leave for work in 10 minutes. I've a sore back, neck, leg, head and – apart from that – really can't be arsed today. Is there a point in my remuneration at which I will suddenly become "arsed"? Not today, even if someone tells me how lucky I am, even if I know how lucky I am.

Brian Williams
122 Posted 06/06/2022 at 12:04:35
Andy, it sounds like you're in need of some treatment or therapy.

Luckily there is hope. It's an established and highly successful treatment which has been used since it was first produced at St James's Gate in Dublin back in 1759.

There are thousands of cases like yours whose lives have been transformed and now live pain-free. Freely available without a prescription, dosage depends on seriousness of symptoms.

I suggest three to four measures at first and see how you go.

Barry Rathbone
123 Posted 06/06/2022 at 13:54:24
Steve Shave @104.

"You missed my point entirely." What a bizarre comment since I never addressed it.

"Your suggestion that Dele should just have done something else is ludicrous." Again your lack of comprehension kills you. Your inference that means getting out of footy is utter bollocks, he could remain at a less stressful level.

I do hope your judgement isn't this bad when dealing with patients.

David Midgley
124 Posted 06/06/2022 at 16:48:30
So many interesting and informative comments here about Dele… it's perplexing, isn't it? Like having a car that will do the ton but you can't get it past 60, everything seems okay but something isn't quite right.

I've always liked him as a footballer and was always a bit apprehensive when he was playing against Everton.

He had skill, talent, self-belief and arrogance n a footballing way. He probably wants to regain those assets as he probably knows better than we do where he is now to where he was previously.

It might seem like a stupid statement but whether he's on £1,000 or £100,000 he would still be in the same place regarding his footballing situation. He was probably a millionaire when he came to us so his wages weren't the issue.

I would think he wanted to find the old Dele. Otherwise why would uproot himself to come here?

We all have talent and ability and we all want to succeed, however, we haven't all been able to harness it and get ourselves on the right road.

Let's hope for his sake primarily and for EFC someone at the club can help him and bring out that footballer that we all know is in there.

After all we are a caring People's Club.

Paul Kossoff
125 Posted 06/06/2022 at 17:38:16
Mike @112.

If Dele Alli is suffering from mental issues, I have all the sympathy in the world for him, as I would for anyone, millionaire or not. No one has said he is.

All I said is, they are all wrapped in cotton wool from day one, they have no way of dealing with problems, even an injury, that is taken care of for them. So, when they think things are a bit difficult, they make mountains out of molehills. In other words, they can't cope.

I used to laugh at clubs being told they should have mental health specialists to deal with players, but I believe that is a must now.

Michael Kenrick
126 Posted 06/06/2022 at 18:26:29
The thing is, Paul, your central premiss:

They are all wrapped in cotton wool from day one, they have no way of dealing with problems, even an injury, that is taken care of for them. So, when they think things are a bit difficult, they make mountains out of molehills. In other words, they can't cope.

I am very curious how you know this (the bold bits). Wouldn't you have to spend many hours in the company of every single one of them to know that any of that was even remotely true?

Steve Shave
127 Posted 06/06/2022 at 19:02:38
Barry @123,

I could have been more polite but yes, I do think you saying that Dele shouldn't be a footballer if he has mental health problems, was missing the point.

As for the other comment, again, I could have expressed it more politely, no offence intended. If football is all you have ever known and it got you out of a hole and into this affluent goldfish bowl and you were 26 knowing that you had 8 years left (tops) to earn that kind of money, how easily would you walk away from it?

Of course once again, I feel a need to state, we have no idea if his mental health has suffered or if he has fallen out of love for the game. The payment structure for our great club in relation to Dele is a precarious and risky one. I hope Frank and the team can help him rediscover his form as this would be a huge asset for us and could represent one hell of a transfer deal in the long run. A big if.

David @124, your car analogy is a good one, Everton sign a player who is capable of going 100 mph but can't get past 60, sounds to me like you just surmised Moshiri's tenure at the club.

Tony Everan
128 Posted 06/06/2022 at 19:40:45
Steve, thank you for that insightful post earlier in this thread. Things are never black and white.

It makes me think of Ferguson signing Eric Cantona (another complex personality) and the way Sir Alex handled him. I don't think Dele has the potential to be that influential but he is on the Cantona scale somewhere, for sheer natural talent waiting to be tapped. However, I think the way this deal is structured could scupper his future with us.

There is a real danger we will decide we don't want to pay the first £10M as he's not shown enough. (Or just not getting games due to our preferred system.)

What happens then after game 19 for us?

Barry Rathbone
129 Posted 06/06/2022 at 19:44:00
Steve Shave 127

Sorry mucker, but I just didn't say this:

"I do think you saying that Dele shouldn't be a footballer if he has mental health problems."

As for a supposed difficulty in walking away from the top dollar of a Premier League set-up, then I'm afraid I agree with others that perhaps his guessed-at mental condition isn't quite as dire as supposed.

I repeat: we are not a rehab centre; whatever his issues he needs to sort it out pronto or move on.

Steve Shave
130 Posted 06/06/2022 at 20:02:56
Barry @129,

You said "surely if half what you say applies (relating to my post about the possibility of mental health problems being a root cause of Dele's poor form) the lad shouldn't be in a high-profile job like that of a pro footy player immersed in the bipolar commentary of fans".

This sounded to me like you are saying he shouldn't be a footballer if he has mental health problems, in roundabout terms anyway.

If I have misinterpreted that, I apologise. I don't want to get into tit-for-tat as I hate it when others do that on here. I have been contributing to this website for 4 years now without getting into any major disagreements. Let's just say we see this differently.

As for your comment on us not being a rehab centre, this actually poses another interesting topic. If you were an employer of a large organisation and about to tie your star sales hotshot down to a 3-year contract worth £5M a year in wages, would you only review his past sales history or would you want to know how they'd get on with the rest of the team as well?

Barry Rathbone
131 Posted 06/06/2022 at 21:05:41
Steve @139,

We're dealing with the elite of the elite here. Premier League football is the top of the professional tree, these fellas are essentially trying to get into the equivalent of the SAS.

No stone is left unturned in the regiment weakness, physical or mental, is dealt with the same way – "Sorry, soldier, it's back to the unit for you".

It may seem cruel but, such is the way at the very top of most industries, it is one of the reasons this club flounders. We indulge "problems" rather than ruthlessly cull, then pay the price long term. High time it stopped.

Andrew Keatley
132 Posted 06/06/2022 at 21:30:31
Going back to the main thrust of Robert's interesting article, the road to reinvigorating Dele Alli – and helping him to rediscover something like his best form – seemingly has lots of moving parts. Fitness, form, desire, formation, tactics, management style, training attitude, team unity, quality of team-mates, mental state, trauma, and off-the-pitch distractions are all amongst the things that have been mentioned. It makes for a very tricky constellation to wait for if everything has to align precisely.

I like Dele Alli a lot. Come match day I think he is more comfortable with the ball at his feet than anyone else in our squad. He finds beautiful pockets of space. He looks to pass the ball progressively, to the feet of his team-mates, in positions in which they can hurt the opposition. He takes risks. He has a strong competitive spirit. He is a fantastic footballer – at something close to his peak. I don't think he's as far away from that peak as others seem to.

I'd like to see Dele given significant minutes and starts across the first 20 games of next season. Let's see what he can do given some freedom to express himself when we're not shoulders-deep in the relegation cesspit.

If we don't have to pay Spurs any more than £10 million for him until he plays his 40th game for us (as some reports claim) then I think we should give him that time to really stake a claim. Maybe he'll fall short, and the subsequent 18 months of his contact will be spent away from our first team – or he'll find his feet again and we'll have a terrific footballer in our midst once again.

So, provided he is suitably prepared and capable, let him play – and maybe that can be the catalyst to get him back into the form and fitness that saw him amongst the most exciting players in world football. Or we could play André Gomes and Tom Davies. I know what I'd prefer to see.

Howard Sykes
133 Posted 07/06/2022 at 14:37:37
I think it would be best to return Dele to Spurs. We don't need another high-price (potentially £40M if all the price triggers are hit), high-wage player of currently questionable ability. Haven't we had enough of those over the past 5 or so years?
Brian Williams
134 Posted 07/06/2022 at 15:59:31
Howard. I don't believe we bought him on a 'sale or return' basis, mate.

We bought him… we can't return him unless they buy him back!!

Robert Tressell
135 Posted 07/06/2022 at 16:59:19
Andrew # 132, I think that must be right.

As Brian says, he's our player. Since we are not blessed with bags of talent, we must surely play him if he's fit.

We'll have a good idea of whether it's working before large payments are triggered.

If he succeeds, we gain a brilliant player at low cost. If he fails, what have we lost?

£10M and the chance to see an inferior talent do equally unremarkable things in our midfield.

Howard Sykes
136 Posted 07/06/2022 at 17:05:52
Brian 134,

My understanding is that we haven't paid a penny and we don't pay a penny until he has played 20 games. So if he doesn't play 20 games (ever)…

So maybe I'm wrong, in which case, the Moshiri era of buying old players past their sell-by dates is still alive and well.

Brian Williams
137 Posted 07/06/2022 at 18:01:22
Howard. He's signed a 2½-year deal. When/if he's played 20 games, we pay £10M to Spurs.

If he never reaches 20, we can't just hand him back but we could try to sell him. Spurs would reportedly receive 25% of the price we get for him.

I think he was a risk worth taking. He certainly made a difference in the Palace game which secured our survival.

Dennis Stevens
138 Posted 07/06/2022 at 18:03:49
So if we pay another club £8 million to take him on his high wages, Spurs will have to pay £2 million of that?
Brian Williams
139 Posted 07/06/2022 at 18:13:36
If only, Dennis. :-)
Gary Jones
140 Posted 07/06/2022 at 18:29:00
Apparently, once he hits 20 games (on 11 now?), we have to pay £10M. We then, apparently, have to pay another £30M if he hits 80 games in total.

There's also, apparently a 25% sell on clause option too… although I doubt that's not subject to at least the first milestone being hit.

Feck me, we don't make this shit easy.

So, options appear to be:

a) If the 25% sell on is valid now (doubt it!), we can sell him this summer and likely make a profit.

b) Pay the £10M, and there's up to 69 more games we can use him before paying any other chunk (best part of the remainder of his contract).

c) Banish him to the wilderness and suck up the wages without triggering the £10M.

For me, if these details are correct, b) is a no brainer. Even plus wages he's minor in comparison to the wedge wasted on Ramirez, Sigurdsson, Klaassen, Bolasie, Schneiderlin et all.

Given the likes of Hull are asking for £25M for Lewis-Potter, this is the lesser of the two risks.

Robert Tressell
141 Posted 07/06/2022 at 18:47:33
Gary # 140. I agree that, having signed him (b) is the only logical way to use him.

I disagree that (a) is viable. If we attempt to sell now no-one in their right mind will pay a fee. It would just be another version of (c) where we move him on but keep paying some / all of his wages.

Howard Sykes
142 Posted 08/06/2022 at 16:30:07
Lets all hope he regains his mojo and contributes to Everton then.

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