Dele Alli is “at his best” when playing the role of the “pantomime villain”, according to his Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane.
The Spurs midfielder found himself targeted by the crowd in the 3-0 win at Burnley on Saturday, with a strong early tackle on Charlie Taylor only resulting in a yellow card, before he won a penalty with what some perceived to be a dive.
But Alli was not affected negatively by the special attention he got from the home support, going on to play a role in another of Spurs’ goals and playing up to the crowd as he was substituted in the second half.
It was not the first time that Alli’s on-pitch behaviour has been questioned, but Kane feels his fellow England international is at his most effective when people are jeering him.
“I think it makes him play better,” Kane said. “You saw him against Burnley – I thought it was fantastic. He fed off the crowd.
“He was the pantomime villain out there but he got two assists – the penalty and my third goal. That’s when he’s at his best. Hopefully he continues like that.
“Dele was great. He was aggressive – we were all aggressive and that’s what we said [before the game]. We had to come out, press, make runs behind, be aggressive and brave with the ball. That’s what happened and we deserved to win.
“He’s a great person and he’s a great player. He’s got that aggressive side to him and that’s what makes him who he is.
“I don’t think he stepped over the mark at all against Burnley. I think the penalty was definitely a penalty, but of course away from home you always get fans getting on someone’s back and it was Dele [that time].
“But Dele is staying focused. It’s important for us that he plays like he did – I thought he was fantastic. People are going to talk.
“In football, there’s always someone criticising you and it’s about how you cope with that. I think he’s doing well.”
Tottenham, who sit fifth in the Premier League table, host Southampton on Tuesday.
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