Spurs' Eric Dier brought back down to earth with error versus West Ham

Eric Dier was brought right back down to earth as Tottenham defender was at fault for West Ham’s equaliser in Carabao Cup clash… but Antonio Conte can still get the best out of England’s forgotten man

  • Eric Dier has been a key player for Tottenham under Antonio Conte recently
  • Tottenham’s new boss says Dier can become one of the world’s best defenders
  • But Dier was at fault for West Ham’s equaliser against Spurs on Wednesday
  • Conte can still help Dier return to form and get a recall to the England squad 

An ‘Eric Dier apology form’ popped up on social media this week in which any Tottenham supporters who previously criticised him could tick the boxes that explained their actions.

Among the options were ‘I didn’t watch the actual games’, ‘I do not know football’, ‘I miss Jan Vertonghen’ and ‘I support Arsenal’. All in good fun, but it emphasised his terrific turnaround.

Dier had hardly put a foot wrong at the centre of Antonio Conte’s back three. His manager even said he could become one of the world’s best defenders at his pre-match press conference.

Eric Dier (right) helped Tottenham reach the Carabao Cup semi-finals at West Ham’s expense

 Antonio Conte has been a big fan of Dier in Tottenham’s defensive line via a back three

Perhaps we can chalk it up to curse of the coach then, because amid the outpouring of praise came a reality check for Dier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

In the space of a calamitous 10 seconds, Dier tried and failed to pass out from the back, with Jarrod Bowen proceeding to spin him inside out before scoring.

It was a reminder that, as superb as he’s been this season, the 27-year-old remains a work in progress and one mad mistake can interrupt your run of form.

Conte wants Dier to be his David Luiz – the central defender who is comfortable with a ball at his feet and can be a direct link to the forwards. The statistics say he is already approaching as many passes played into the final third this season as he managed in all of last.

Dier’s (right) role in Jarrod Bowen’s (left) equaliser for West Ham shows he is a work in progress

Luiz looked better with a defender on either side of him at Chelsea and Dier suits that extra protection, too, with Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo’s back fours leaving him exposed.

With Conte’s high praise of the defender came a caveat. He stressed that there is room for improvement and he had much to teach him. It is the sort of silly decision-making like last night’s attempt at pinging a pass into a busy midfield which he will want to coach out of him.

To Dier’s credit, he got back to wanting to be on the ball, despite his first-half error. He didn’t shy away and start passing sideways. He constantly looked to take it up the ladder and break through West Ham’s lines.

Dier (left) could earn a recall into Gareth Southgate’s (right) England squad if he gets in form

Dier’s last cap for his country came more than a year ago – in a 4-0 win over Iceland with him featuring in the centre of a back three. That is still a formation Gareth Southgate likes to use.

Having Conte as a manager might represent Dier’s greatest chance of a return to Southgate’s squad in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Conte worked wonders with Luiz, and Leonardo Bonucci, whose long passes are a signature of his style of play, spoke very highly of the Italian when he left Juventus. He knows what it takes to create a solid centre back, and Dier can benefit from that.




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