This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Jose Mourinho takes his Tottenham Hotspur team to Old Trafford on Wednesday evening and one thing has to happen: He needs to drop Eric Dier.
Many predicted, Football FanCast included, that the defensive midfielder would be a major winner of Mourinho’s appointment.
The Portuguese had tried to sign him when he was United manager and it was widely believed that he would restore Dier to his starting XI, making him a focal point of the midfield he would attempt to build.
Thus far, that has been true.
Dier has indeed started all three of Spurs’ games under the Portuguese, though he was substituted after less than half an hour against Olympiacos in the Champions League with his side 2-0 down. Following Christian Eriksen’s introduction in his place, Spurs went on to win 4-2.
Thus far, that has been his only positive contribution to Mourinho’s cause.
Now, it must be said that Dier is likely rusty. He had played in just three Premier League games under Mauricio Pochettino in 2019/20, with one of those games amounting to 12 minutes of action against Southampton.
But he is struggling.
Against both West Ham and Bournemouth, he made just one tackle in his role as an anchor man, while he also committed two fouls versus the Hammers as well as having two unsuccessful touches. Against Bournemouth, he was dribbled past on two occasions. He did register a key pass in each game but his passing accuracy has maxed out at 77.4% – his highest number this season domestically.
This is not a player who can be trusted in a top-level Premier League game.
Perhaps it is ring-rust and he simply needs to play his way out of trouble, but Mourinho does not have the luxury of time.
Spurs’ win over the Cherries on Saturday moved them into fifth in the table and the former Real Madrid boss emphasised the importance of keeping the pressure on fourth-placed Chelsea prior to their encounter in December. They play one another on the 22nd; there are three league games before then.
The wise move from Mourinho would be to drop Dier to the bench and utilise him in a spoiling role.
If Spurs take a lead against United and are ahead with 20 minutes to play, by all means bring Dier on, but it does not make good sense to start him, such have been his underwhelming statistics.
There are other options; the likes of the precise and accurate Harry Winks as well as Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso and even Victor Wanyama.
Dier was given the chance many of us expected by Mourinho, he simply hasn’t taken it.