It was eight months ago today...
08 April 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
It seems almost light years ago in football terms that Dele Alli stepped off the bench at Old Trafford for his Spurs and Premier League debut.
It was, of course, only eight months ago today - August 8, 2015 - and that is testament to how far the 19-year-old has come this season.
Dele impressed in pre-season, made the first 18-man squad of the season and his debut at United, scored off the bench in his third game at Leicester and made his first start in his fifth game at Sunderland in September.
Since then he’s started 25 of 29 matches in the Premier League and taken his goal tally to seven - a new club record for goals by a teenager in a Premier League season, beating Nick Barmby’s six in 1992-93 - provided nine assists and, lest we forget, made his full England debut, scored a 25-yarder against Hugo Lloris at Wembley and starred in England’s 3-2 win in Germany!
“It’s been crazy,” reflected Dele this week. “Perhaps when I made that debut at Old Trafford I wasn’t expecting so much to happen this season.
“I worked hard in pre-season and it felt like that was the reward, my debut at Old Trafford. It was a great feeling to be out there. It took a lot of hard work to get there and I have to give a lot of thanks to the manager for putting his trust and faith in me.
“I’ve always had confidence in my ability but I’m surprised by how quickly it’s all happened. It still hasn’t all sunk in yet. It’s going to take a while to realise what’s happened this season.
“When there are so many games you just focus on each game and don’t really think too much about it. I’m sure I will at the end of the season.”
Below: Flashback - Dele's wonder goal at Palace in January
Back to August, and we gave as good as we got at Old Trafford, eventually succumbing to an unfortunate own goal from Kyle Walker in the first half. The teams has nine shots each but tellingly, we had four on goal to United’s one with Sergio Romero forced into two late saves to deny Christian Eriksen.
As we meet again, we’re sitting second, seven points adrift of Leicester City with six games remaining with United fighting for a place in the top four.
“This is a massive game for us and a massive game for the fans as well,” added Dele. “We want to win every match no matter where we are or what we’re fighting for but the fact that we’re up there in second certainly gives it that little more edge and makes us even more hungry to succeed.”