Mauricio Pochettino admits Dele Alli looked a Premier League star from the moment he saw him in pre-season after the midfielder’s goal helped Tottenham to a 3-1 win over Aston Villa.
Villa’s new manager Remi Garde, whose appointment was confirmed a few hours before kick-off, was watching on in the stands as goals from Mousa Dembele, Alli and Harry Kane sealed a valuable three points for Spurs.
Jordan Ayew had given Villa hope when the substitute’s 79th-minute strike made it 2-1, but Kane wrapped up the win in injury time with his fourth goal in two games.
England manager Roy Hodgson, also in attendance at White Hart Lane, would have been pleased to see Kane’s return to form continue, but it was Alli who sparkled with a man-of-the-match display in midfield.
The 19-year-old, who made his England debut against Estonia last month, found the net with a composed volley on the stroke of half-time and produced a dynamic performance throughout the match.
“I don’t want to lie to you,” Pochettino said.
“In football it is always day by day. We saw big potential in Dele Alli but youngsters have to develop their game and mentality.
“We always give youngsters the possibility and the tools to improve. It is always up to them.
“Every player is different. Some players need more time and others less time.
“It is true Dele Alli from the first day of pre-season started to show he was capable of playing in the Premier League.
“Because of that we gave him the chance to play, he took the chance and he plays now because he deserves to.”
The victory extends Tottenham’s unbeaten run to 10 games in the Premier League and takes them up to fifth in the table, five points off the top.
It also gives Pochettino’s men the perfect start to a demanding week that will see them host Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday night before Sunday’s north London derby at Arsenal.
“Today was not easy – playing against a team with a new manager when they are very motivated,” Pochettino said.
“Only at the end when we made a mistake and conceded a goal we suffered a little bit but I think we deserved to win.
“We are in a good position in the table. We are a young team and today was fantastic.”
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