For Dele Alli, being left out of Tottenham’s matchday squad against Sheffield United on Sunday with Gedson Fernandes preferred on the bench was the final insult.
Alli may be a lot of things but a bad pro isn’t one of them.
You may think he hasn’t kicked on, you may believe he’s lazy in training, you may believe he’s off to pastures new.
But if you think someone who has been a serious player in Spurs’s best team of a generation deserves the indignity of having someone who has done absolutely nothing for the club in front of him on the bench then you need to give your head a wobble.
It’s almost unforgivable from Jose Mourinho.
Don’t get me wrong, the manager’s criticism of Alli isn’t without merit.
We’ve spoken about Alli being an overgrown kid and I stand by that, and Mourinho sees him every day in training and obviously sees something he doesn’t like.
But I’m yet to see something that Alli has done that would put him in the ‘treat him with utter disrespect category’, and that’s what makes this treatment of him disgraceful.
Usually, a manager would just say to a player: “Look, fella, you’re not my type, have a word with your agent, and if we can get this money for you, you can go”.
But putting Fernandes on the bench ahead of him Alli was as close to a hostile act as you will get from a manager who is telling you to get the hell out now.
I can only sympathise with Alli, because his position reminds me of when John Gregory got rid of me from Aston Villa.
He’d have you believe he did everything to make it work for me and keep me onside, like giving me the No.9 shirt of my hero Peter Withe after I’d initially worn 11.
But then in a meeting at the Birmingham Hyatt with Gregory and my agent Paul Stretford — who I later found out was doing some work with Gregory as well, which would have been nice to know — he essentially said, ‘Look, I want you out, go and find another club’.
And then he had me training with the kids for a few months until Martin O’Neill took me to Leicester.
I was out in the cold and it’s not nice.
People will say, ‘Boo-hoo, you’re earning lots of money’, but as a professional footballer there’s not a lot worse than training every day not to play week in, week out.
This is the vindictiveness I often speak about when it comes to Mourinho manifesting itself.
It’s not enough to tell someone they need to do more then show them the way forward, he has to rub a player’s nose in it, time and again, wherever he goes.
While it’s working, he’ll have supporters eating out of his hand.
But mark my words, treating Alli — a fundamentally good kid who is liked at lot at Spurs — like a dog will someday bite him on the backside.
Because although players tend to be sheep in the face of a dictator like him, they never forget.
That’s why Mourinho had better keep winning, because his Spurs exit egg-timer has started.
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