Cartilage Free Captain is reviewing each of Spurs' first team players and evaluating their season. The series continues today with Tottenham Hotspur defender Eric Dier.
Minutes played: 2,921
What went right?
Quite a bit. Coming into this season, Dier was expected to be a fringe player who got a few Under-21 games plus a lot of Europa League and cup starts. He was supposed to be a fourth or fifth central defender in the Premier League, a break glass in case of emergency option. Dier ended up playing in 36 games, more than his first two seasons as a pro at Sporting Portugal combined, including 28 Premier League games.
Unfortunately, a lot of those were at right back, but most of them weren't. When he played in central defense next to Federico Fazio, he looked pretty solid. When he played next to Jan Vertonghen, he looked truly excellent for a 21-year-old with a minimal amount of professional experience. While Dier had his moments of madness, he exceeded expectations in his first season. He's gone from being an intelligent, cheap punt on a talented youngster to one of the top young defenders in the Premier League. He's someone Spurs are going to count on to develop into a rock solid first choice player.
What went wrong?
All of that time spent at right back. Kyle Walker spent huge stretches of the season injured, Kyle Naughton was sold in January and DeAndre Yedlin wasn't ready for Premier League action yet, so Dier played way more in that spot than he should have. He was pretty bad at it, often looking lost on the flank and offering very little going forward, except for that one amazing moment against West Ham.
There was also the strange spell of time where Mauricio Pochettino basically banished him to the Under-21s after a couple of really, really bad games at right back -- which, again, isn't his fault. He's a good center back! It is OK if he is a bad right back.
Hopefully, Poche understands that he's a bad right back now, we have two real ones next year and Dier never plays there again. The four-man central defense rotation of Fazio, Vertonghen, Kevin Wimmer and Dier sounds like a pretty solid and promising one. Dier should get some time with all three of those players, and thanks to Spurs qualifying for Europa League again, there will be time for all of them. Poche's going to take some time to figure out his best central defense pairing, and with the information we have now, we have to guess that it's Dier and Verts.
Grade: 4 Chirpys