Mourinho's top priority needs to be turning Eric Dier into a reliable defender
The international break can certainly drag its feet at the best of times but when youíve got the prospect of Gareth Bale playing for your team once it ends, well, it passes at the same speed as that of a dentist appointment. The one saving grace for Spurs fans and this probably applies to any set of supporters who have a man in the England setup, is that you can at least watch on with great pride as they play for the Three Lions.
Although it must be said that is very much the best-case scenario given that any mistakes made by a Spurs player will have you watching the game through your fingers or from behind the sofa, as was the case with Eric Dierís performance against Belgium. Sadly, this isnít a once-off from Dier and questions will need to be asked about his long term place in the heart of the Spurs defence during one of the most crucial seasons that the club has had in quite some time. Indeed, with the Premier League odds on Betfair Exchange indicating that they may struggle for a top-four finish as they are 1/3 to finish outside it, it really does drive home the point that there can be no room for costly errors this season.
Only, errors are something that very much go hand in hand with Eric Dierís game at the moment.
Looking back on his performance against Belgium, it didnít start well after the 26-year-old fouled Romelu Lukaku in the box on 14 minutes to give away a penalty. For England supporters, it was a disturbing sequence of events given that Lukaku first fancied himself in a foot race against Dier, which does raise huge alarm bells when one considers how opposition strikers see Dier. Indeed, the Belgian merely kicked the ball around the defender and left him for dead. More worryingly, Dier panicked and slid to the ground despite the striker being somewhat isolated in the corner of the box, it was if you will, the nuclear option.
Furthermore, at the end of Englandís comeback 2-1 win against Belgium, Dierís stats also made for some uncomfortable reading as he lost 75% of his duels and gave away possession on five different occasions. Of course, one can point to some positive moments but Spurs fans will know that those numbers and his performance arenít necessarily a once-off, and do tell a story that is beginning to repeat itself.
It was only three weeks ago where he gave away a contentious penalty in the last minute of injury time against Newcastle in a 1-1 draw. Many will no doubt argue that his handball should never have been a penalty and maybe there is some truth in that, but you also get the feeling that Dier is outside of his comfort zone at the moment and prone to making mistakes as he finds his feet at the centre of defence.
The reassuring news is that he should have the attributes to make a very reliable defender. At 6 ft 3 and 90kgs, he should be a nightmare to play against and by rights should spend the 90 minutes bullying opposition forwards. The fact that he lost almost all of his aerial duels against Belgium means that he needs help with his positioning and timing.
That is a job that falls directly under Jose Mourinhoís remit and another season under the Portuguese manager should go a long way in ironing out some of his defensive deficiencies. The concern for Spurs fans is how much collateral damage will take place whilst he masters the art of defending.
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