Alli’s disciplinary record has improved greatly this season — he has collected five bookings in
2016-17, compared with 10 at the same stage of last term — but his red card against Gent last month proved there is still work to do.
Alli was sent off for a tackle on midfielder Brecht Dejaegere at Wembley as Tottenham were eliminated from the Europa League, leaving the England midfielder feeling “horrible”.
But after scoring from the penalty spot in yesterday’s 2-1 win over Southampton (left), Alli vowed to retain his competitive edge after several conversations with Pochettino — who has always defended him.
“He knows who I am and that I am not going to change, no matter what,” said Alli, speaking in detail for the first time about his low point of the season.
“We have had a few talks and he has been really supportive. It is nice to have a manager behind me who backs me and trusts me as much as he does.
“I am still young. I am 20, and there are going to be a lot of ups and downs in football. That is the way it is. But it is important that if things don’t go my way, I learn from them and keep improving.
“I think I have definitely calmed down a bit this season but I am never going to take that [aggression] away from my game. I am never going to say sorry for wanting to win and for trying as hard as I can. Sometimes things happen and you have to learn from them but I always want to win.
“There have been so many things to learn from this season for me, as there were last season. Everyone makes mistakes and it is important you bounce back.
“I felt horrible straight after the red card against Gent but it was important I put it behind me and kept improving.”
Alli has certainly improved in front of goal. He scored 10 in all competitions in 2015-16; this time around, he has 17 — seven fewer than Harry Kane, who is likely to be absent for at least another month with damaged ankle ligaments.
In Kane’s absence, Alli played further forward than he is used to, close to main striker Heung-min Son.
He also revealed he has his sights on the 20-goal mark for the campaign. “With Harry out it was important we all stepped up and checked in with the goals,” he said. “After I won the penalty I was confident I would put it away.
“We’re a young team and it is important we help each other out all we can. If there is something to be said, nobody is scared to say it.
“I always want more and I’m always hungry to get goals. It is important we maintain this run.”