Tottenham Have A Massive Problem With Eric.
Someone Tell Him. Now.
It`s never nice when you`re blissful ignorance is burst, you know, when someone tells you what to everyone else is bleeding obvious. Just as bad is when some smart-aleck ( normally just after you`ve bought the latest and greatest and proudly telling the story of the magnificent research and purchasing guile you displayed as you beat the salesperson into submission and left him or her a quivering wreck) then says "if you`d only let me know, I could have got you 30% off, could have saved you a fortune!".
In those instances, in my non-pc World, I`d give my mate (it`s always a mate) a damn good slap, or use very harsh hurtful words, you now the sort, the sort that wouldn`t get past the site sensor at Vital Spurs, err I mean Owner.
If you`re not of the slapping generation, you have my sympathies, there is nothing quite as satisfying as giving a smug so and so a really good stinging slap, or a playful dead leg or arm. There are even (rare of course) occasions when you unknowingly persist in acting like a complete irritating dick; then a reciprocal but much needed infliction of pain can be fully warranted and should be endured with good grace - you just know you deserved that.
Eric Dier needs his best mate, his advisor or even his Dad to give him a reality check and a really good slap. The sort you don`t quite know why you deserve, but quickly realise there must be a damned good reason. It makes you stop and consider your thinking and your behavior.
Unless someone gives him a good metaphorical slap soon, his true potential will just slip away, another much longer period on the bench may be beckoning. He is far better than that.
When we got him, I quickly regaled other Spurs nuts on the player we`d bought, as I`d had the luck to watch him twice in Portugal in their development squad and was originally pointed at him by a couple of Portuguese colleges who asked me if I`d seen this English lad they had - who they all thought was going to be a top class player.
We joked about how the only way to get English players into Europe was if we already lived there. Pithy, painful and spot on it felt at the time.
The problem is Eric believes he can become one of the best Holding Midfielders in the business, his Manager and a very big chunk of me and anyone whose opinion is worth listening to in football also tend to think he`s got this all wrong; Poch believes his true future lays at the heart of defence, as Poch says he can become the best English Centre Back in the Premier League .
When I read the difference of opinion in the book, I was concerned. It was a clear difference of opinion that may well have had a real impact on our acquisition plans and that makes me feel decidedly uneasy.
There are key passages in this book that are gradually building in my mind to the conclusion that this book really wasn't a good idea after all - but more of that later when I finally get about to finishing what I think will be a mixed review.
The question is what should be Dier's focus, his ambition, his burning desire, should it be the best of his English peers in the CB role in the Premier League or should he persist with being a good/above average holding midfield player, but perhaps not a great one?
Eric works for Spurs because we have creative players that will balance out his backwards, sideways passing or even his infuriating ability to pass the ball to absolutely no one or the touchline, I know its not all his fault, possession based football demands control of the ball and that can`t always be forwards, pulling the opposition out of shape can at times me a tedious affair with unambitious moves demanded. But his 'giveaways' can test the patience of a Saint at times.
Both he and Poch surely must know that even holding midfielders have got to do more than press, close down, tackle and pass backwards and sideways?
Winks has shown us that you can shield the ball under pressure you can time a tackle and positively recycle the ball and even develop an attack if you're quick enough, but you do it by not having your back to the opposition goal and look to make another slow safe pass.
It doesn`t mean he cant be positive and pass incisively but bhe needs to work on it and work on it hard., these things just never seems to make them a natural part of his game. Much the same can be said for knowing when to sit and when to run beyond the oppositions midfield to cause them to worry about your movement and pull them out of shape.
Of course, this dilemma is not really Eric`s fault, we bought him as a Centre Back and then injuries demanded we ask him to 'do a job`, his versatility and of course his calm and composure on the ball, got most agreeing he could pull it off, and as far as I`m concerned he really did.
But he`s got real competition for that starting berth now in Victor (ok he's injured but that won't last forever) or even Winks, although there will be many who think that Winks is too lightweight to play as a defensive minded midfielder, I don't. Dier has been labelled a versatile or even worse, a utility player.
Versatility is what helped undo AVB; he tried to pretend it was a virtue in his acquisitions. We ended up with an average or slightly above average hand of utility players that never quite worked. I cannot think of a worse curse on a player than exclaiming his 'versatility`, for me it`s akin to endlessly listening to Gary Lineker trying to be clever when he said "There is no in between - you`re either good or bad. We were in between" - what a genius.
Dier just doesn`t cut it for me, his two recent England performances can be praised for his composure and his leadership and it`s not his fault that Southgate chooses to go with two holding midfielders which belies all his guff about playing without fear he's been spouting over the last few months and weeks!.
He has of course exemplified the qualities needed in a Captain for most of those two games, he did exactly what was asked of him, but I think he could have done much more and the fact that he didn't when the opportunities for positive attacking play were there underline his defensive back line credentials, not that of a midfield general.
Unless he can learn to curb the tendency to play safe - which tends to slow us down again and again, must mean that sooner or later as new squad competition develops (or is bought in) he will, in my opinion, be struggling to hold a starting midfield position down.
As it is, we`ve now bought Sanchez, who has played to universal acclaim and looked like he`s played in the Premier league for years.
You might think that this has completely blocked Diers immediate way back to where he belongs, but I strongly believe that is not the case - perhaps next summer, like it or not, we`ll be forced to sell Toby for a busting gut load of money (I think the decision has been made and informal talks between suitors may already have occurred) and we can then decide that either we don`t need to replace him or we go back out into the market, or perhaps (unlikely so) take a gamble with Cameron Carter Vickers who in fairness has done nothing but impress on his loan, and some are so impressed with his progress that we just might be holding onto him next summer, which is an outcome I have to say I thought was very unlikely.
So someone hurry up and do the wake up and smell the coffee speech to Eric, or if necessary give him a slap and tell him to stop being silly because if he isn`t smart, he could end up being gobsmacked when he`s another Englishman that can`t make the starting 11 moreoften than not.
If that happens it will be a tragedy for us and England, if not him seeking a pretty swift exit.