Opinion: The 4-2-3-1 system Mourinho could use to provide Dele with a path back

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Dele Alli, once a key member of the Tottenham Hotspur squad, has struggled to work his way into Jose Mourinho’s plans this season.

He has only gathered 472 minutes in all competitions, with only 104 of them coming in the Premier League (Transfermarkt).

His fall from grace has been one of the most fascinating sub-plots of the Premier League season. He was even heavily rumoured with a move to PSG in January but it never became reality. 

In a recent press conference, Mourinho had this to say about the attacking midfielder:

“I had a good conversation with him yesterday, we spoke around this question that you asked me, and I think we found very common ground. It’s an important period of the season for the team and for him also. We need him. We need a good Dele Alli.”

This provided optimism that it is still possible for Dele to return to the team, and even more so after the 4-2-3-1 system that Mourinho implemented during the 2-0 win against West Brom seemed that it would extremely suit him when he returns back from fitness.

Erik Lamela, Son-Heung Min, Lucas Moura provided good energy and movement behind Kane. But you can’t help but feel that Dele would be incredibly suited to one of these roles.

The 24-year-old, during his peak days under Pochettino, thrived in a similar role. He is an excellent operator within the lines – possessing the ability to receive the ball in tight areas and to make the right pass or shot to create a goal.

At his best, he can act as a shadow striker to Kane: getting beyond him, making intelligent runs in behind the defence and clinical when the chance falls his way. His dual ability to score and create was what put him right at the very top.

If he can get a run of games playing in this role, it could benefit Spurs massively, especially with Tanguy Ndombele and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in a double pivot behind them.

Ndombele’s progressive passing is one of his best qualities, and while Hojbjerg gets lots of plaudits for his defensive work — his forward passing goes a tad under the radar. He slipped in a lovely ball through to Kane for the opener against West Brom, for example.

My point is that Dele would get good service and he’s a player that thrives getting on the ball as often as possible.

Dele in this role, with the quick, direct movement in a wide player like Bale, Lamela, Bergwijn or Moura could provide a really nice balance alongside Kane and Son’s lethal partnership.

Mourinho has been rightly criticised or his negative approach to games, but this system — with Dele behind the striker — has the potential to bring some success.

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