This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Eric Dier should have been nowhere near Tottenham Hotspur’s defence at the weekend.
The former Sporting Lisbon ace is something of a Swiss army knife and has been deployed as a midfielder and a defender during his time in north London.
Throughout his Spurs career, he has played 122 times as a defensive midfielder and 67 times at centre-back.
However, this season he has been used somewhat sporadically. He has played 90 minutes four times: against Colchester United in the Carabao Cup, Brighton & Hove Albion and Sheffield United in the Premier League and Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League.
Spurs have won one of those games – the 4-0 thumping of a genuinely atrocious Red Star side in Serbia. They were beaten 3-0 by Brighton, drew 1-1 with the Blades and lost on penalties to Colchester.
One assured performance against some European whipping boys should not have led to his inclusion against Chris Wilder’s men.
Dier was actually booked in the second minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which subsequently cast something of a cloud over his performance, all while Toby Alderweireld watched on from the bench.
Per WhoScored, Dier did not win a single tackle and, while he made seven clearances, his pass success rate of 77% was significantly lower than Davinson Sanchez, his centre-back partner.
It is baffling, then, that Mauricio Pochettino picked him.
Dier isn’t really good enough for Spurs anymore.
Per WhoScored, his best defensive attribute in the Premier League is his ability to clear the ball; offensively, he rarely shoots, averages 0.3 key passes and has a passing accuracy of under 75%.
Dier has been quite open about his struggles with injury and illness, but one has to feel that it has had a negative effect on his overall skill as a footballer.
There are better options at centre-back; Alderweireld, a player who can tackle, block, clear and pass the ball, was sat on the bench, watching on as Dier struggled through the game.
Jan Vertonghen, too, is currently injured but as soon as he comes back to full fitness, he has to be back in the starting XI.
In midfield too, Moussa Sissoko and Tanguy Ndomble are simply far more mobile and dynamic, while Harry Winks offers far superior retention of possession, completing 91% of his Premier League passes this season.
Either way, Dier is no longer a viable option for manager Pochettino and the longer he keeps playing him, the less likely Spurs are to return to winning ways.