sport news MARTIN SAMUEL: Is Alli losing appetite for daily grind

Seventh was probably not the Brave New World Mauricio Pochettino was contemplating when he came up with the title of his autobiography-diary.

Aside from a little hiccup at the start of this campaign when the table was barely formed, it is Tottenham's lowest league position since October 2015.

One imagines it will be temporary, too. Tottenham have too many good players to be falling long. Yet they need Dele Alli; and, increasingly, he is deserting them.

He is young, and young players can lose form; but what is most troubling about Alli this season is the inconsistency. He rises to the occasion against and then slinks into anonymity in a mundane league fixture.

England star Dele Alli has blown hot and cold ion Tottenham colours so far this season

England star Dele Alli has blown hot and cold ion Tottenham colours so far this season

Pochettino discusses Alli in his book. He writes of being concerned by the avatar picture on his WhatsApp page, which depicts a young man surrounded by enemies.

'People who all want a piece of him,' Pochettino notes. 'The danger remains, as is often the case, that he will forget what has got him to this point. I have had to repeat to him this season.

'The other risk is whether those around him know how to treat a top-level professional. I often think about the WhatsApp photo. John McDermott (the head of Spurs' academy) says that when the trough is full, the pigs come from all over to feed. 

'The coach used to be the dominant voice but now the player listens to so many others, especially those who promise the world.'

Certainly, Alli's decision to search for a new agent this season makes him particularly vulnerable to ambitious sales pitches. 

What 21-year-old would not find appealing talk of moves to the biggest clubs in Europe, and freedom from the restraints of Tottenham's wage structure? 

Pochettino's thoughts seem particularly apt given what he has seen of Alli this season — but these printed opinions relate to the previous campaign, when Alli's form was strong. 

Pochettino sounds like a man who knows what is coming — and knows the consequences of just one underwhelming season, too.

Given the options being placed before Alli, whether genuine or not, Tottenham must be in the Champions League next season.

West Ham nearing lowest ebb

There is a perception of West Ham as a yo-yo club. It isn't quite true. Consider Crystal Palace. 

They started the 1960s in Division Four, by 1969 had worked their way up to Division One. Went down in 1973. Went down again in 1974. 

Came back to the top division in 1979. Relegated in 1981. Promoted in 1989. Relegated 1993. Back up in 1994. Back down in 1995. Promoted 1997. Relegated 1998. 

Back to the Premier League in 2004; back to the Championship in 2005. They have been a Premier League club since 2013-14, with a couple of scares, and are currently bottom of the league.

They're a yo-yo club. No insult in that. They can't all be Arsenal. Many will go up and down and even if they hang on, as Palace have for four seasons now, nothing is guaranteed.

West Ham have been relegated, too, but not regularly. The club were promoted in 1958 and didn't fall out of the top division until 1978. There was one relegation in 1989, none in the 1990s, another in 2003. 

Unless manager David Moyes improves their fortunes West Ham could become a yo-yo club

Unless manager David Moyes improves their fortunes West Ham could become a yo-yo club

West Ham have spent just eight of the last 60 years outside the top division. The present administration took over in 2010 and the club were relegated the following season, 2010-11.

Meaning, if West Ham go down again at the end of this campaign — and looking at their fixtures it is hard to imagine they will not be bottom by Christmas — it will be the first time the club have ever been relegated twice in a decade in their history. That is why the atmosphere around the place is increasingly fractious.

Far from making the great leap forward, West Ham are in great danger of becoming a yo-yo club. And that bit where it spins back up: that's far from guaranteed, either.

Has Fireman Sam missed the big fire?

Such is the bunching at the bottom of the Premier League, Everton's win on Wednesday has put them 13th. 

It would appear the club have appointed their fireman, Sam Allardyce, just at the moment when the fire has died down somewhat. 

One hopes some of the young players, who have always been so integral to Everton's identity, do not find themselves similarly extinguished.

Sam Allardyce took charge at Everton on Thursday despite them moving up to 13th in the table

Sam Allardyce took charge at Everton on Thursday despite them moving up to 13th in the table

The FA got it right over Romelu Lukaku. If there is an element of doubt on the review panel, no charge can be brought. 

Video technology is meant to be the end of human guessing games. 

For the same reason, Moeen Ali should not have been given out in Brisbane.

If you're gay, don't hold hands, if you fancy a drink, keep it to one — the Russian World Cup already comes complete with travel tips that make it sound about as welcoming as a wet weekend in, well, Repino, where Gareth Southgate and his England players will be holed up in what appears to be a remake of The Shining, with borscht. 

Not all nonconformist behaviour is frowned upon in Russia, however.

Implication in a systematic, government-backed athlete doping programme appears to be no hindrance to free passage at all — or at least it doesn't in the case of deputy prime minister and head of the Russian football federation Vitaly Mutko, who will be playing a prominent role in Friday's World Cup draw, when he should be banned from every sporting event on the planet.

Rugby can't allow top clubs to shut the door 

Up for discussion again, the scrapping of promotion and relegation between rugby's Premiership and Championship. Only two clubs have ambitions to go up, Bristol and Yorkshire Carnegie, it is claimed — and only Bristol can afford it.

Yes, there is a precedent in the rise of Exeter Chiefs, but others who have trod their path to the Premiership couldn't wait to come down again and cut the budget. 

One can certainly see the economic arguments, particularly if a review process is also established, so that a genuinely ambitious and successful Championship club still has the right to be considered.

The scrapping of promotion and relegation in English rugby has been up for discussion again

The scrapping of promotion and relegation in English rugby has been up for discussion again

Yet, as always, this is a moment in time. We could freeze any league in any given season, and what wonderful dreams and stories would be crushed? 

If there was another Exeter in, say, five or 10 years, could we rely on the Premiership club owners to acknowledge their worth to the sport and welcome them in?

The protectionist instinct is very strong among wealthy men. They are not natural

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