THE FULL ENGLISH: Dele-ting Our Pride?
Selhurst Park, London, the 84th minute in a hotly contested derby between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur. With Spurs at risk of losing ground on their title-chasing rivals, something special was needed to break through a resolute Palace rearguard.
Something special is what they got! With a deft touch, flick and thumping volley, Dele Alli etched his name into Tottenham folklore. But what’s in a name? Quite a lot in my opinion.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight, Dele Alli is a brilliant young player who has taken to the Premier League faster than anyone could have possibly imagined. We’d all seen him dominate the lower leagues, drawing praise from all quarters and attracting a host of suitors in the process, but the top tier of English (thus European) football is another beast entirely. Show me someone that saw this coming, and I show you a specialist in bulls***!
But what of the goal, and more importantly the build up to it? People are falling over themselves to heap praise onto Alli, but where have the accolades for Harry Kane gone? Were it not for his sublime cross-field ball, the goal would never have happened, and that’s a fact.
Harry Kane was the name on everybody’s lips last season, but despite actually surpassing that performance level this year, he seems to have been forgotten.
When you take to the stats, an even more insidious agenda starts to rear it’s head. Here’s Alli pitted against fellow Englishman and supposed ‘waste of talent’ Jack Wilshere:
As you can see, Wilshere is ahead in every department, it’s worth noting that Wilshere’s stats are taken from last season, given his current injury status. But regardless, perhaps it’s an unfair comparison, this is a player who has spent his early years under the tutelage of one of the game’s finest managers in Arsène Wenger after all.
So how about this for size:
Yes that’s right, in every single department, Alli has been outperformed by a player widely regarded as a laughing stock. The former Manchester United starlet Tom Cleverley, deemed by many as ‘not good enough’ for England, makes a strong case for himself here.
But once again, perhaps that’s unfair? Cleverley, like Wilshere, spent his formative years being coached by another one of the game’s greats in Sir Alex Ferguson. Let’s try and find ourselves another example shall we?
No you’re not having a funny turn, no need to adjust your browser settings or delete the cookies. The saviour of English football, Dele Alli, isn’t even hitting the same performance level as the so-called ‘blunt instrument’ Lee Cattermole.
Now this isn’t intended as a personal attack upon Alli, who as I said at the start of this piece, is a fine young footballer. My point is this. Such is our forever offended, PC society’s desperate yearning to be seen as ‘inclusive’ and ‘progressive’, is it more palatable to champion a lad with the name ‘Dele Alli’ than it is ‘Lee Cattermole’?
On this evidence it would seem so.
This isn’t just confined to players either. Seeing the mess the lofty German Jurgen Klopp is making up at Liverpool, makes the concerns that Sam Allardyce has for young British managers and their lack of top job opportunities even more galling.
Imagine if it were Big Sam or Alan Pardew that had resorted to sticking Steven Caulker up front to get on the end of a barrage of long balls, all after their side had shipped 4 goals to Norwich City? The fancy coffee shops and delicatessens of Islington and the like would be rife with sneering and scoffing about ‘typical’ English managers.
It’s time to take back our pride, and remember who invented this great game. We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.