Eric Dier was rated a 6.5 by the Daily Mail in Spurs’ 3-1 deconstruction of Chelsea’s unbeaten run. This derby match was one in which many players like Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli shone, gaining higher ratings. Now, this shouldn’t be too surprising since these players both got on the scoresheet.
However, Moussa Sissoko was at a 7.5 rating, despite doing a similar job to Dier in the midfield. Admittedly, Sissoko was putting in a great shift, with lots of the dirty work as well as decent runs forward and all-round general play. Dier was playing as the deeper midfielder of this pivot and put in a good shift too. However, as rated by the Daily Mail, but also by the general reactions of fans after the match, Dier appears to be one of the lesser performers in the team.
Eric Dier’s Future at Spurs
Then Versus Now
When Dier first joined the club, he excelled in his first two seasons. Right from his awesome debut goal against West Ham, he began to seal his name in the team. He moved from centre-back to right-back before receiving a specialist role in midfield. This involved dropping between the centre-halves when required. Then, when recovering possession, he was able to quickly recycle the ball and get play moving forward.
In at least the past year, Dier has seemingly slipped both in form and favour under Pochettino. The team has evolved and developed with Dier outside of the epicentre of the midfield. Instead, he is fielded alongside Sissoko, like against Chelsea, or he will work alongside Mousa Dembélé. His role is far less emphasised in this new look Spurs side.
However, it is arguable that he still is performing the same kind of capabilities. Dier performs all the thankless work like tackling, intercepting and fouling where needed. Midfield players are just expected to do this, though. Furthermore, his first few excellent seasons at the club have boosted up his profile and, thus, expectations. Currently, he is stalling in his progress. Dier has been prone to hesitations, complacency and sloppiness in possession. This wasn’t the same player that initially emerged from the club.
World Cup Heroics: Southgate’s Choice
Despite his far from perfect form, Pochettino and moreover, Gareth Southgate, continue to favour him. All England fans will remember the moment he notched the winning penalty against Colombia. Throughout the tournament, he grabbed 248 minutes, enough to be considered an important player. It is sometimes hard to assess certain players who don’t in real time seem to be performing brilliantly. It is simple to laud Harry Kane for banging in goal after goal.
However, managers deliberately and carefully choose their line-ups. Many fans will fail to see why certain players are included. In midfield, this is because of the ambiguity in what kind of role a midfielder needs to play. Dier has certain defensive and combative qualities that befit the team is selected in for both club and country. These are qualities that often go unappreciated.
The issue is that Dier is a player that is so hard to replace. This isn’t of course in terms of goals and assists. It is mainly because of his flexibility, partly. Dier fills in at right-back, centre-back and as a defensive midfielder. Thus, he acts as almost three players, which saves having to bring in an extra two players. In the modern game, there are few players that are willing and capable to float between positions. Furthermore, Dier is only 24-years-old and still approaching the peak of his career. He has the time to build on his game. Pochettino is a good man-manager and, through his continued faith in Dier, may help him to reach a new lease of life at the club.
Dier’s centrality in the Spurs squad is no more. That isn’t a big deal since Spurs have evolved and outgrown their previous method of playing. But, this doesn’t mean Dier should be written off. Instead, he is a key squad player. He has enough experience in big domestic and European affairs to always be useful from the bench or to rotate the side. Thus, Dier has a future at the club, even if its a lesser one than his early performances first promised.