Eric Dier may not be the solution to any of Spurs’ problems but nor is he the cause

Dave Tickner
Spurs defender Eric Dier wipes his face with his shirt

Spurs released a video about Eric Dier this week. It’s quite nice, all about his undoubtedly unusual journey to the Premier League via Portugal. More about the man than the player, that sort of thing.

A club-produced puff piece with its inevitably rounded edges but nevertheless quite interesting, because Dier’s is an interesting story.

Obviously, it then got shit-posted to death because Eric Dier, uniquely among Spurs players, made some mistakes in a disappointing season.

Now we all know that Twitter isn’t real life – Threads is – but it’s also not as far removed as we might like to try and convince ourselves. This toxicity isn’t just online.

And this isn’t a pop at (only) Spurs fans either. All fanbases are capable of it, and it’s obviously #NotAllSpursFans. Many of them tried gamely to defend Dier only to be told they are not proper supporters if they don’t want him drummed out of the club and paraded down the High Road by a disarmingly tall nun calling out ‘Shame’ as fair and level-headed fans who just want what’s best for our great club throw rotten food and call him the worst player in the Premier League.

‘You don’t deserve success’ was a frequent tilt at fans who suggested maybe someone who’s given a decade of their career to Spurs might maybe deserve the tiniest modicum of respect.

One supporter has got some traction (but also in fairness enormously and righteously ratioed) for proposing the genuinely insane idea that in the 15th minute of Spurs’ first home game of the season against Manchester United all supporters should turn their backs in protest at Dier’s continued existence. Fifteenth minute because that’s his squad number, obviously. It’s the least deranged part of the scheme.

Bit much, isn’t it? When his only crime is not in your opinion being quite good enough for your football club?

These are the sort of people who also ran Postecoglou Out campaigns before he even got the job and will sadly shake their heads and despair that ‘there’s just no loyalty in modern football these days is there’ should Harry Kane leave.

Dier is a particularly fascinating case study. He has demonstrably been quite shit quite a lot of the time but it’s not that long ago that his Spurs form was getting him back in the England squad. When that recall didn’t immediately come, Spurs fans were grumping about it.

Last year was awful, but point us in the direction of the Spurs defender who excelled last season. It was at the very least a collective problem.

We’ve played our own part here it must be said. We have, er, mocked Dier. Quite a lot. He’s a player who has always been easy shorthand for Spurs’ stagnation.

But we’ve praised him too. He still is an underrated and underappreciated member of Spurs’ best Poch teams. He was never first choice in either defence or midfield – because Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama were all rather good – but few played more games for Spurs under the Argentine.

Maybe it is time for him to go. Maybe Spurs should have sold him to United for ¬£50million when Jose Mourinho wanted him. Again, Dier is easy shorthand for Spurs’ long-standing failure to refresh and regenerate the squad when it was at its peak, for the way they let that group of players gradually wither and die away.

But maybe as an experienced and versatile and intelligent footballer be might be useful as a fourth choice centre-back and figure of continuity in a squad finally getting that long-overdue overhaul now it has been pretty much forced upon them. Spurs are very clearly going to sign two centre-backs this summer and also have Cristian Romero. Nobody is suggesting Dier should be uncontested first choice, just maybe that he isn’t the root of all low-block evil.

Whether he leaves now or in three more years – and Postecoglou would not be the first Spurs manager to swiftly identify Dier as a key lieutenant in the squad – he deserves better than wild and unthinking hate.

Dier may not be the solution to Spurs’ problems, but nor is he their cause. He’s given long service and never less than his best. Whether that was good enough is open to serious question, but he is no shirker, does not drip poison or sour the mood in the squad. He might not have made Spurs quite as good as you’d like them to be, but it’s not his fault things got so bad.

Players like Dier exist in every squad. Maybe we should give them all a bit more respect. And we hope he does get a new three-year contract. The headbangers deserve nothing less.