Jermaine Jenas believes that Roy Hodgson should make the most of the Tottenham thread running through his England squad during Euro 2016 and that no one should try to soften the Spurs midfielder Dele Alli’s punchy approach to the game.
Jenas, who will be doing punditry work for the BBC during the tournament, likes what he sees at his former club, despite their limp end to the season, and hopes Hodgson does too.
“If England do well at the Euros, Tottenham will have a huge influence,” Jenas said. “They have just had a phenomenal season in terms of the club’s development and that has been a blessing for Hodgson.
“There’s no way he had any inkling that Dele Alli would go on to the level he has and even Eric Dier, there was questions mark over him last summer – he was a right-back, centre-back… It wasn’t quite happening for him but now he looks like one of the most accomplished holding midfielders in the league. Then there’s the continuing form of Harry Kane.
“Spurs will have a massive influence not just because of the players but because of the way they play. There was glimpses [when England beat] Germany. Danny Rose on the left knows exactly where Dele Alli wants the ball, Alli knows where Kane wants it. They have got a very good understanding.
“Hodgson should tap into that. If he can get enough people on the pitch committed to playing that way, he can do it. You need [people with energy] to press high up the pitch. Then you need full-backs who can do what Kyle Walker and Danny Rose do for Spurs. Whether he picks them or not is another matter but he would be daft not to tap into that and I think he will.”
Jenas is a huge fan of Alli, who could return to the England side for the Portugal friendly on Thursday having sat out the 2-1 win over Australia, and doesn’t mind that his combative style of play has landed him in trouble. The 20-year-old missed the last three games of the season serving a suspension for punching West Brom’s Claudio Jacob in the stomach in an off-the-ball incident. But Jenas is reluctant to temper the midfielder.
“Do nothing at all,” is Jenas’ advice. “Leave him alone. Let him be the player he wants to be. It’s what makes the top players great and the minute you start taking it out of them, you are diluting them. I hate that. It is part of his make-up and he will learn.
“Roy will have a word with him. It is almost a blessing that [the ban] has happened towards the end of the season. It will be a reminder. It was just petulance rather than anything nastier than that. The last thing I want, though, is for somebody to take that out of Dele. He might need somebody to tell him to tone it down a bit, someone like Rooney who has gone through every single emotion as an England international.”
But Jenas predicts a bright future for Alli. “He is a special talent,” he said. “Very. He can be one of the best young players at this tournament and I will be surprised if he does not come out of it a huge European star.”
Which may be a mixed blessing for Tottenham and their supporters who are too used to seeing their top talent sold on, albeit for some extraordinary fees. Think Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale over recent seasons.
“He will be on the radar of some big clubs after this tournament but Spurs are at a point to say: ‘enough’. It’s time for them to become a team that wins titles. They don’t want to be spending big money on new training grounds and stadiums otherwise. Top clubs have smashed their wage structures and it’s time for Spurs to take a risk.
“They need to add players this summer. Manchester United and Chelsea are two years behind Spurs at the moment. It’s a big opportunity for them to take some risks.”
The BBC will provide extensive coverage of Euro 2016 across TV, radio and online from Friday 10th June 2016
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