Eric Dier once again failed Tottenham Hotspur and their supporters with a shocking display as the north London outfit crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Jose Mourinho’s side were embarrassingly beaten by Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb after Mislav Orsic bagged himself a spectacular hat-trick, leading the managerless outfit to a 3-0 win after extra time.
In the absence of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – a ‘captain without the armband‘ – someone needed to step up and fill his leadership void and, in this case, the Portuguese boss turned to Dier – one of their longest-serving current players, in defence over someone like Toby Alderweireld, who appeared to be rested.
This was a decision which ultimately cost them dearly as the 27-year-old dropped a pathetic performance in the heart of Spurs’ backline.
Dier’s mistakes against Chelsea, Manchester City and then West Ham in the Premier League had been enough to finally see Mourinho axe the Englishman from his starting XI, so perhaps his inclusion in such a big game should’ve come as a surprise.
However, according to the ‘Special One,’ his defenders were well prepared for the threat of Orsic.
Mourinho: "The goals Orsic scored I watched them all, my players watched them all. I don't know what to say. All I can say is I saw his goals before. I prepared my players to play against Orsic, I gave them all the information about Orsic. Congratulations for him" #THFC
— Jonathan Veal (@jonathandveal83) March 18, 2021
The £22.5m-rated centre-back was the epitome of the side’s overall struggles and he continued the recurring theme of individual defensive errors costing the club greatly.
Evening Standard reporter Dan Kilpatrick summed up Dier’s outing pretty perfectly in his post-match ratings column, where he graded the 6 foot 2 colossus as Spurs’ worst player. He wrote: ‘Defensively all over the shop and passing was poor. Gave away silly fouls.’
This echoed the thoughts of Alasdair Gold at football.london, who claimed Dier was ‘all over the place’ when the ball was played into the box, and that merely reinforces the fact that he was particularly error-prone throughout the 120 minutes.
The £85k-per-week star was still among Spurs’ most influential players in the match, as he recorded the second-most number of touches (98). Having someone who has let the club down time and time again on the ball so much is a recipe for disaster.
And indeed it was.
Dier made only three of his nine long balls (33%), lost possession 11 times and committed a game-high four fouls. In fact, that was double the number of any other visiting player on the night, as per SofaScore.
The Spurs defender was hugely wasteful in giving the ball back to Zagreb, both through his misplaced passes and his inability to successfully prevent the opposition from getting through – he also won only eight of his 18 duels (44%).
This was a genuine chance for Spurs to go one step closer towards ending that barren run without silverware. They held a two-goal advantage going into this tie and should have seen this off with ease.
Dier should know all too well how much it means to the Hotspur faithful – after all, he’s been here since 2014 and in that time, the closest he’s ever come to winning a trophy was that Champions League final in 2019 – that competition now seems a distant dream.
Once again, Mourinho was badly let down by several of his key players and Dier has been one of the chief suspects.