Dele Alli hits back at claim Tottenham are ‘soft’ ahead of Rochdale FA Cup clash

DELE ALLI has hit back at accusations that Tottenham players are “soft” after the club demanded improvements to Rochdale’s pitch ahead of their FA Cup fifth-round clash on Sunday.

After Tottenham became the first away team to come from two goals down at the Juventus Stadium to snatch a result, the England international insists Mauricio Pochettino’s side are ready to face up to their League One opponents on any surface they like.

“We’re not soft,” he said. “A lot of us grew up playing on worse pitches than that. A lot of us grew up playing on concrete and surfaces like that so I don’t think the pitch is a problem.

“We’ve just got to go there and be professional and put on a good performance to win the game. It’s going to be a very difficult night for us. It’s important we don’t go there and think it’ll be an easy game. We know it’s not going to be easy.

“We saw that against Newport in the previous round when we played them – it was a difficult game and we had to play them at our place and get the win there.

“It suits them a lot more being at their place but we want to go there and play well, put on a good performance and win the game.”

Alli has the benefit of having played there before, featuring in a 3-2 win in his second-last game for MK Dons in April 2015 before joining Tottenham.

“I can’t really remember it,” he admitted. “I’m a different guy now. It’s going to be a tough game and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for it.”

Rochdale fans are unlikely to hold much truck with excuses about the state of the pitch if Alli goes to ground too easily on Sunday – not after he was shown his third yellow card for simulation against Liverpool last Sunday in two-and-a-half seasons with Spurs.

Alli got enough abuse on Merseyside when Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren posted a picture on Instagram of him standing above Alli, promising team-mate Andy Robertson, standing in the background: “Robo, I will tell him…”


Plenty of other Liverpool fans took to social media to “tell” the 21-year-old in a concerted attack that became increasingly personal. But it is water off a duck’s back for Alli.

“I’m not focused on that, I’m focusing on the football,” he said.

“I don’t get brought into whatever people are saying, I just keep playing.

“I am not surprised at the fuss. People always react to things. But I just want to keep improving as a player and keep going. I try not to let anything bother me. I just keep going and focusing on the team and playing well.”

There has been plenty of attention, too, recently on Pochettino – not least in terms of speculation linking him with a move to Spain and specifically Real Madrid. Christan Erikssen, though, insists there is no fear of any of that in the Tottenham dressing room as they believe the Argetinian, under contract until 2021, will want to finish the project he started.

“What’s he’s building here he would like to be part of it,” said Eriksen. “That’s what he showed when he signed the new deal, a long term deal.

“Of course there will be interest from other clubs because he’s doing really well and hopefully he’ll stay. We don’t really think about that.”


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