Jose Mourinho couldn’t help himself taking a needless swipe at Dele Alli following Tottenham’s defeat by Chelsea on Thursday night.
It seems a long time ago that Mourinho’s side travelled to Anfield on top of the league in mid-December, but five defeats from the following nine games has left their league campaign in disarray.
The hosts were without Harry Kane and his absence was felt as they lacked a clear goal threat and the Portuguese now has a job on his hands to reignite the club’s season.
After the game, Mourinho was quick to highlight Spurs’ injury woes while also suggesting that injured Alli – who has fallen out of favour under the boss – has been underperforming for Spurs all season.
He said: “(Sergio) Reguilon means something for our attacking football. Harry Kane means something to our attacking football.
“Giovani Lo Celso means something and a good Dele Alli that we haven’t had yet also means something to that.
“It also is about not having the players to change things. It’s also about the confidence.”
Alli, who missed the Chelsea defeat through injury, faces an uncertain future in north London – but Mourinho claimed this week that the pair had a productive meeting on Tuesday.
Spurs blocked a loan move to Paris Saint-Germain during the transfer window, which Alli was unhappy about having been frozen out under Mourinho this season.
However, the Portuguese said the pair found “common ground” during their meeting and insisted on Wednesday that Spurs need Alli back to his best.
“He needs to recover from his injury, he needs to be back to training and have a fresh start,” Mourinho said. “Because in the last few weeks he couldn’t even train. So that’s the most important thing.
“I had a good conversation with him yesterday. We spoke around this question you asked me and we found very common ground, let’s say.
“It’s an important period of the season for the team and for him also. We need him. We need a good Dele Alli and we’re just waiting for him to be back to normality and training with the team.
“It’s not just Dele. It’s Dele, Kane, Giovani Lo Celso. And without all three players we miss a little bit of creation and magic in the attacking areas. So we need him back and I made that very sure to him.
“Of course, a conversation doesn’t make miracles or put a player in great form without limitations in terms of fitness.
“But I believe the conversation was maybe the extra motivation he needed to be back as soon as possible and become available for the team.
“We play Europa League very soon and we’re playing a couple of Premier League matches every week. We have the FA Cup – I don’t believe he’ll be on time for that one.
“We have a final to play in April. So we need a good Dele back and I believe that when he’s physically ready, he’ll be in a good place mentally to go for it.”