For the footballing romantics amongst you, Dawson is probably one of the first names on the team sheet. A passionate leader and loyal servant of Tottenham, much of the debate about Michael Dawson is driven by emotion above all else.
In an era of foreign signings and Premier League footballing mercenaries you can understand the appeal. Dawson lives and breathes Spurs, experiencing each and every moment as both a player and fan. You only have to stay past the final whistle of a game to realise how much this club means to Dawson. Club loyalty is a commodity highly valued in the modern game and something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Dawson probably suffered the most in the aftermath of the City game, but he was the first to come out with a rallying cry:
“We’re all pulling in the same direction,’ said Dawson in the Daily Mail. ‘We all want the same things. The manager’s 36 and he wants to be successful, like we do as players, and he wants to lead us to that success.”
“Losing any match is hard but to get humiliated — and that’s how it felt — it was my worst day in a Tottenham shirt,’ said Dawson. ‘You can’t describe how you feel after losing like that.
‘We know we’ve got to go out there and perform —and we’ve got to do it better than we did it last Sunday. I usually watch Match of the Day, but I couldn’t last week. You can’t enjoy that.”
The problem for Spurs is that they are beginning to select with their hearts rather than their heads. There are thousands of fans out there with the same commitment to Spurs as Dawson, which alone shouldn’t be the reasoning for first team selection. Dispute it or not, Spurs have come a long way since Dawson joined the club back in 2005, back then he was a class above most of his team-mates, but now the landscape has changed.
Like so many other Englishman, Dawson doesn’t come under the category of cultured defender. A centre half that relies heavily on his strength and aerial ability above anything else, he typifies the old school English defender. The perfect man for a scrap, a body on the line backs to the wall type footballer that suited Spurs back in the Martin Jol days.
Under AVB things are different, a new onus on the complete ball playing defender that is able to build attacks from the back and who is comfortable with the ball at his feet. It isn’t surprising that AVB has been quick to bring in the likes of Jan Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches; both excellent footballers as well as solid centre halves.
If Spurs want to challenge at the very top this is the way they have to go, and sadly someone like Dawson is going to eventually be left behind. The City game was a perfect example of the problem, Dawson was constantly fooled by the intricacies and attacking guile of the ‘Citizens’ forward line and ended up looking a bit of a fool by the end of it. The game wasn’t a physical one but a highly technical one, the likes of Navas, Aguero and Negredo time and time again found it all too easy to ghost past the Englishman.
This isn’t something Dawson can work on, he just doesn’t have it in him. As assured as he looks against the lesser teams, he looks woefully out of his depth for those with any degree of attacking originality.
AVB may well be indulging Dawson, keen to avoid the destabilisation that he endured at Chelsea, keeping the club captain in the side may be a sound move in the short-term. A fit Danny Rose may change all this though, with the ability to play to move Vertonghen back into the middle, Dawson’s days may become numbered.
Dawson is a cut below his defensive teammates and his mistakes against the top sides are beginning to hold Spurs back. A fan favourite and loyal servant to Spurs, his departure will always be with a heavy heart. The time for nostalgia is over, if Spurs want to compete they need to be ruthless and decisive, and this sadly means the end for Michael Dawson.