Tottenham’s Eric Dier discusses his new role as a holding midfielder
Tottenham’s Eric Dier has been pleased with his performances in his new role as a holding midfielder, but he admits he doesn’t know if Mauricio Pochettino will continue to play him there.
Dier showed his versatility last campaign, playing as both a centre-back and a right-back in his first season at Spurs – and he has now been given another position, starting all four of the opening games in central midfield, protecting the back four.
While he initially struggled in the first half on the opening day at Manchester United, the 21-year-old has grown into the role and put in an impressively solid display against Everton on Saturday as the Lilywhites kept their first clean sheet of the season in a goalless draw at White Hart Lane.
Given that Spurs have signed two centre-backs and a right-back, while selling central midfielders and so far declining to sign a new one, it seems Dier’s move could be a permanent one. Yet the player says he has not been told what his role will be in the long-term.
“I don’t know, you’re asking the wrong person, it’s up to the manager,” he said. “I think I’ve done quite well since I’ve played there for these four games. Hopefully the manager will keep his trust in me and I’ll keep trying to do well in there.
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“I played there for one manager at Sporting Lisbon. I hadn’t played there for a long time but I have played there before so it wasn’t completely new to me. I’ll just do my best.
“I’m happy to play anywhere, I’ll play in goal if he wants me to. The manager has shown a lot of trust in me, I just want to repay him.
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“The main difference is that there are things behind you. At centre-back and right-back, everything is normally in front of you, so the fact that there is lots of stuff happening behind you, I think that’s the main thing to try and get used to.
“Maybe when I watch football I’ll look a little bit more [at the holding midfielders] now, as I did when I was playing centre-back and right-back. That’s naturally what you do in your head - when you watch football, you watch people playing in your position.”
While Dier says he has not received any specific instructions, he has brought a valuable physicality to Tottenham’s midfield - and he believes he can offer something in possession as well.
“I haven’t really spoken to him [Pochettino] about it a lot,” said Dier. “He has put me in there and that [physicality] is one of my attributes so I guess that’s what they’re going to get. I just try and play my game in there and do my best.
“I think I can do something on the ball too. I’m not going to be like a No10 – I’m a holding midfielder and try my best to break up play. But when I’ve got the ball I try to distribute it as well as I can.”
While Dier can reflect on his opening four games with some satisfaction – particularly Saturday’s game against Everton – there is some frustration around the Lane as Spurs go into the international break without a win.
They had 20 shots on goal at home against the Toffees but the game ended 0-0, leaving Tottenham with their third successive draw and sitting 15th in the early-season standings.
“I think we did well [against Everton],” said Dier. “We defended well and got a clean sheet, which is important - we needed that. Not to get the goal is disappointing because we had a lot of chances, that’s all we needed really.
“Was it our best performance so far? I think so, if you don’t count not scoring the chances. Apart from that, I think for 90 minutes we played really well, as the manager wants us to, with intensity. We dominated the game for most parts. [Arouna] Kone had a header for Everton but I think that was about it.
“Against Man United, I think we played well - we didn’t really have any chances but I think we played well. Obviously it was a disappointing goal we conceded there but it was no-one’s fault – it was a freak goal really.
“Against Stoke we played really well for 70 minutes – I thought it was our best game until this last one, and in those last 20 minutes we just lacked a bit, probably mentally. We needed to be stronger and hold on.
“Then at Leicester again it was the same thing – we played well for 80 minutes and just needed to hold on at the end. We have got to do better with that, we know we have.
“Against Everton we played really well and it was the opposite really. We defended really well, did everything right and just haven’t managed to get the goal.”
Tottenham have only scored three goals in their opening four fixtures and Harry Kane – who struck 31 times in all competitions last season – is yet to get off the mark.
But Dier said: “I don’t think anyone should be worried, I don’t think Harry should be worried. We’re not worried. There’s a lot of pressure on him now but I’m sure once he gets that first goal, he will score loads.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs