(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino feels Dele Alli is an “easy target” after the playmaker was criticised for diving during the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Against Crystal Palace Alli went to ground under the challenge of defender Patrick van Aanholt and again while chasing the ball near goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. Neither incident led to a penalty or a yellow card for Alli for diving.
Pundits and supporters hit out at Alli for diving with some even calling for the Football Association (FA) to take retrospective action against the 21-year-old.
“He is an easy target for everyone,” Pochettino said after the match. “We need to stop saying too much about him to stop helping people, the fans, creating this reputation.
“He’s so competitive and played very well today but Dele is an easy target.”
Palace manager Roy Hodgson also defended the England international, saying that Alli’s previous reputation was driving fans to label him as a cheat.
“When all the talk in the mass media is about players diving, the public jump on the bandwagon to get as much advantage as they can,” Hodgson said.
Spurs full-back Serge Aurier recorded three foul throws at Selhurst Park but Pochettino was light-hearted about the Ivorian’s errors.
“We are going to practise every day, I promise you,” the Argentina boss added after Spurs climbed up to fourth in the table. “I promise our fans too. The fans are very disappointed, so we will practise.
“... I said to him: ‘You are going to get me sacked. It looks like we are so bad we don’t even practise throw-ins.’”
Tottenham host 14th-placed Huddersfield Town in the league on Saturday.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly