Eric Dier – Renaissance Man
Much like his convoluted journey into English football- Portugal to North London via Merseyside – Eric Dier’s path to becoming what appears to be a highly effective defensive midfielder has been anything but straightforward. Whether his newly appointed position has been unearthed serendipitously, through injuries or the All-Powerful Transfer Elves’ bungled attempts to sign Victor Wanyama, Dier has slipped into the role like a warm moccasin.
In general terms, Dier arrived from Sporting Lisbon as a centre-back. A young, cultured ball-playing defender whose continental footballing education would suit Pochettino’s own blueprint for a new-look Spurs. That was the idea. A little rough around the edges, perhaps, but with a core skill set that could be nurtured and cultivated. He possessed those often overlooked virtues such as being able to control a football and being able to pass a football in a straight line. Witchcraft, in other words.
Soon, though, there was a worry amongst fans that Dier’s versatility might become rather more of a hindrance than an attribute. Much like Phil Jones at United who landed from Blackburn Rovers as a formidable and promising centre-half, but was quickly wrenched in all directions until his brain shutdown and reduced him to a walking facial expression.
Indeed, although the former-Lisbon man was getting minutes on the clock for Tottenham last season, either in his then preferred position at the heart of defence or filling in for Kyle Walker at right-back when injuries and iffy form got the better of him, he was struggling to pin down a regular place at a key stage in his development.
This season, however, Eric Dier appears to have found his calling. Fitter than ever, in his own words, and looking every ounce the polished anchoring midfielder. When you identify his qualities, it’s seems so obvious now: a long-limbed, imposing frame, not unlike Nemanja Matić; the vendor of a robust slide tackle, just the right side of industrial and a consistent passing game which has his completion rate at just over 85% in his eight games so far this season. Interceptions come in at over 2 per game and we’ve not even mentioned his no-nonsense schoolyard haircut and coal-black boots. No bloody messing around with this one. His middle name is Edgar, too. Just in case you’re not persuaded by his credentials as a combative central midfielder.
Dier’s propulsion into the first team and positional reassignment does highlight the importance of coaching above large-scale spending – an axiom perhaps over-egged by Arsène Wenger. Sometimes vomiting cash over a problem isn’t always the most worthwhile remedy, even if it seems the most immediately effectual. There was a huge outcry in the summer for Spurs to address their frailties in midfield- Wanyama, Sven Bender, Adrien Rabiot were all linked- but out of shadows, with some focused training and what sounds like a brutal fitness regime, Dier has emerged as the chosen one. It was Earth all along. It was Eric Dier all along.