Eric Dier said that Dele Alli dealt with his damaging Thursday night dismissal in the best possible way on Sunday, scoring for Tottenham in their 4-0 defeat of Stoke City.
Alli was fiercely criticised for getting sent off against KAA Gent at Wembley, which gave Spurs too much to do to stay in the Europa League. But Alli apologised to his victim Brecht Dejaegere and to his team-mates, and Mauricio Pochettino defended him afterwards. Yesterday Alli repaid their faith in the best possible way, with his 12th Premier League goal of a brilliant season.
Dier was delighted for his close friend Alli and said it was the best possible response to his bad week. “He has been fine since Thursday,” Dier said. “He was very disappointed after what happened on Thursday and there has been a lot of attention on him, but he is very young and of course he is going to make a mistake. I don’t think it fazes him. He played his game today, scored a goal, and everyone will forget what happened on Thursday.”
Stoke City gave Spurs some robust challenges on Sunday, to Alli in particular, but Dier was impressed by how the young midfielder did not rise to any provocation from the opposition and continued to play his own game.
“He has to expect that from players like Stoke have, experienced players who have been around the block,” Dier said. “He needs to expect players will irritate him, try to get in his head, but he knows that and he handles it very well. It’s only normal he will get better at it over time.”
It is easy to forget that Alli is still just 20 years old and only in his second season of top flight football. Dier said that he may make mistakes again in the future but that that was part of growing up and should be accepted.
“He is very young and that won’t be the last mistake he makes,” Dier said. “He will make more mistakes and the most important thing is he learns from them and reacts in the right way, and he does.”
After the pain of European elimination on Thursday, Spurs won their 10th straight White Hart Lane game on Sunday, keeping them in second place in the table and heading for a strong finish to the season. Dier said their disappointed spurred them on.
“The whole team was motivated to do well after what happened on Thursday,” he said. “We can be very proud of the way we played in the second half on Thursday with 10 men, the way we fought. We need to do that every week. We have set the level and we have to reach that level every time.”