Mauricio Pochettino says Dele Alli can handle the hype
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 01/04/16 11:09am
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is confident Dele Alli can handle the hype after Sir Alex Ferguson described him as the most talented midfielder since Paul Gascoigne.
Alli has seven goals and 12 assists already in his debut season in the Premier League and he impressed on the international stage last weekend with a commanding performance in England's 3-2 win over Germany.
England boss Roy Hodgson has likened Alli to former midfielder Bryan Robson and Ferguson has added his own praise for the 19-year-old, believing him to be among the best young midfielders to emerge since Paul Gascoigne.
Pochettino has been eager to play down the hype his young star has been garnering but the Argentine has no concerns about Alli wilting under the weight of expectation.
"It's very good praise from one of the best managers in football history. I can only agree with him," Pochettino said of Ferguson's comments.
"Am I worried about the hype? No, you can see the whole season how he has managed the pressure. He is very calm, very mature.
"He has managed the pressure and the popularity and how to be a senior player and play for the national team. He is very calm.
"We always need to be aware and look after him. We have a lot of control about that. Only he can go down if you are not aware but we look after him in a good way.
"Now he is fresh, at a good level, he has a good mentality. He is mature enough. We have no worries about his future."
On Saturday Night Football Spurs take on Liverpool, a club Alli came close to joining when he was on the brink of leaving MK Dons.
Alli was driven up to Anfield by Dons manager Karl Robinson and even met then-manager Brendan Rodgers, only for the Merseyside club to stall on the deal.
Liverpool's loss has been Tottenham's gain but Pochettino admits even he has been surprised by the speed of Alli's progress.
"There is always a question mark with a young player," he added.
"You can assess his left and right foot, his performance on the pitch and in training. But how a young player can be affected by the big things that happen in football, being a senior player, being in the national team, this is always a question mark.
"You can be aware and try to support him but I think that all the same it has surprised us how he has shown maturity."
Victory at Anfield would see Tottenham reduce the gap behind Leicester to two points, with the Foxes facing Southampton in the first match of Super Sunday.
It is the only time in the run-in Spurs get to play before the league leaders but Pochettino insists his side must focus purely on their own performances.
"We need to try and win every single game and wait for Leicester to drop points," Pochettino said.
"But we have no focus on the seven games, we are focused on Saturday, the most important game. We try to win the game and wait to see what happens in another stadium.
"We are focused on our game try to perform well and win and wait to see what happens because it doesn't only depend on us but 99 per cent it depends on us to fight until the end of the season for the title."
Meanwhile, Pochettino has been given a welcome injury boost, with news Toby Alderweireld has recovered from a stomach bug and is expected to be fit to face Liverpool.
Fellow defender Jan Vertonghen is back in training after overcoming a knee injury, and while this weekend will come too soon for the Belgian, he could be available to face Manchester United on April 10.
Watch Liverpool v Tottenham on Saturday Night Football. Coverage begins on Sky Sports 1 HD at 5pm. Or watch live for £6.99 without a contract, on NOW TV.