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Saturday 21 July 2018

Pochettino: Expectations on Alli shoulders too high

Swansea v Tottenham H Live Sky Sports, KO 7.45

Spurs’ ace Dele Alli. Pic: PA
Spurs’ ace Dele Alli. Pic: PA

Dele Alli can hit top form in 2018 but cannot always be expected to produce “unbelievable” moments, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs boss Pochettino feels Alli has turned a corner after a patchy run in late 2017, and has tipped the England star to return to his best.

Tottenham take on Swansea at the Liberty Stadium tonight, with striker Harry Kane hoping to overcome a cold to feature in Wales.

Pochettino believes Alli is ready to thrive in the second half of the season, but has moved to temper expectations around the 21-year-old midfielder.

“Dele has been good in the last few games, he’s started to improve,” said Pochettino.

“And we’ve started to recognise the player again who has achieved so much in the last two seasons.

“For me there’s no doubt about his quality and potential.

“But because he’s young, he needs to breathe sometimes, take some time, then again perform in the same way.

“From day one when he started to play here at Tottenham and achieve, not one other young player of his age (has achieved as much). Not Cristiano Ronaldo, not Frank Lampard, not Wayne Rooney, massive players, great players - he has achieved more than all those big names.

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“The problem is the expectation. We expect from him in every touch, every action, unbelievable things. And sometimes that’s not possible.”

Asked whether his 2018 resolutions included winning a trophy this season, Pochettino insisted Spurs can only focus on building a consistent run of victories.

“Dreams, always,” said Pochettino when quizzed on Spurs’ trophy chances.

“It’s good to dream, but of course if we want to win some trophies we need to beat Swansea, West Ham and then Wimbledon in the FA Cup.

“The most important thing is to go step by step and try to win every game.”

Meanwhile, Oli McBurnie has challenged Swansea to start 2018 the way they finished 2017 as they attempt to drag themselves up the Premier League table.

The Swans climbed briefly from the bottom of the pile after Saturday’s 2-1 win at Watford, only to slip back barely 24 hours later following West Brom’s battling 1-1 draw with Arsenal.

Carlos Carvalhal’s men know the degree of difficulty will increase markedly tonight, but McBurnie is hoping a significant corner has been turned.

The 21-year-old said: “Belief and confidence are some of the main things we need to re-install in our game in 2018.

“The luck has gone against us at times this season, but I think that changed a little with Saturday’s win. We have to push on from here and take the belief from Watford into the Tottenham game. It will be a very tough game, but it’s a challenge we can look forward to.”

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