It has not been easy to be a defender at Tottenham in recent times, generally unreliable at the back, Spurs have always relied on their attacking threat to get out of difficult situations. Under Juande Ramos though, with the loss of Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov, the attacking threat was nullified and at the start of last season, the London club found themselves with only 2 points from 8 games. That was until Harry Redknapp took over and breathed new life into the team, bringing in players to move to a position where they are now this season challenging for a top four place.
Now under the stewardship of Redknapp, the team has become more stable at the back as well as reigniting their prowess going forward. The stability of the team has helped players such as Michael Dawson tremendously. Dawson has been in and out of the team in recent years, some of which is no fault of his own. The injuries to Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King at regular intervals have certainly not helped Dawson’s development as when both Woodgate and King have been fit, they have generally been seen as first choice, but when one or both of them have been injured, which has generally been the case over the last couple of years, Dawson has been expected to fill in.
The 26 year old defender has had an array of centre back partners during his 5 years at the club and it has no doubt been difficult to get a good partnership going with any of them and to create the understanding necessary to develop a solid backline. Dawson’s own injuries have not helped matters but now a regular in Harry Redknapp’s side, it is time for Dawson to prove his capabilities, and with young centre-back partner Sebastien Bassong, he now has a consistent performer alongside him to build greater understanding and better communication.
With both Robbie Keane and Ledley King out of the side, Dawson has been named as captain and we will see over the coming months whether he has the leadership skills and the defensive abilities to command Tottenham’s backline, cementing his place in the team for the years to come and in the process assist Spurs’s Champions League ambitions. If he does prove himself by the end of the season, he may just get the call to go to South Africa. With Rio Ferdinand struggling with injuries and places up for grabs in the World Cup squad, Dawson is hopeful he can prove himself worthy of an England place:
There are lots of top-class centre-halves in this country, but dreams are there to be achieved and it would be a dream to play for England. Under Steve McClaren, I was in a few squads, but I wasn’t capped. Then, for one reason or another, I wasn’t playing and it’s a big factor — you need to be playing regularly for your club to get recognition for the national team. I have been doing that in recent weeks and long may that continue. You never know.
I for one believe that if he continues playing as he is, and helps Tottenham to the much sought after fourth place, it will be hard for Capello to leave him out. Injuries permitting, Dawson now has the chance to seize the moment and make himself one of England’s top defenders, only time will tell whether he has both the required skill and mental fortitude to prove himself at the highest level.