Fitness, form and fundamentals - a special interview with Eric Dier
Tue 12 October 2021, 16:00|Tottenham Hotspur
An international break ‘at home’ is a relatively new experience for Eric Dier.
Capped 45 times by England before the age of 27, captain five times, World Cup semi-finalist in 2018, scorer of the decisive penalty against Colombia in the Round of 16 in Russia, the defender featured in just about every international break from his first cap in November, 2015 until his most recent in November last year.
How did he cope with not being involved after five solid years of pulling on the Three Lions? “I’m not happy, put it that way!” he said, naturally wanting to be part of Gareth Southgate’s plans. “But for us to win before an international break is huge for the atmosphere, otherwise you have to wait for a long two weeks for redemption, so that’s nice.
“For me, it’s just a chance to work on things, things I want to get better at - it’s a great opportunity to do that. It’s also another hit of fitness work - that also helps. It’s also a chance for a break. I’ve been playing a lot of golf, and training. It’s not a time to just sit there. I see it as a chance to get more work in, which is difficult during the season as there are games every three days.”
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One of many experienced players in the group, 287 appearances in all competitions for us now since his arrival in August, 2014, it felt like a good time to run the rule over the season so far…
A good place
Having started all seven matches in the Premier League - in fact, a run of 14 in our last 15 - it was suggested that Eric must be in a good place at the moment…
Eric: “Yes, I feel good, really good. I felt really good after the first three games of the season, three wins, three clean sheets. Obviously, the injury at Palace (11 September) set me back a little. I’m just starting to feel 100 per cent again after that. It was a dead leg. I felt good against Villa, and I’m happy with my performance, there's always things to build on and improve, but I feel good. I’m staying calm, building into the season, and trying to get better and better as the season goes on.”
State of play
A crucial win against Villa after three losses followed a superb start in the Premier League. Where did Eric see the team as we prepare to step back into action this weekend?
Eric: “It’s been a difficult period since the last international break, two very contrasting periods from three wins out of three, the international break, to this period now. It’s been a tough one for us. There are so many factors in that… Palace (3-0 loss, late goals), that can happen under those circumstances, down to 10 men, a couple of injuries. We went into that game in a great place but then got hit by a lot of adversity. Chelsea (3-0 loss, 0-0 at half-time), that was a game of two halves, really, and you could say we didn’t take our chances in the first half, and they took theirs in the second half.
"Arsenal (3-1 loss) was nothing but disappointing. But the best way to get past that is the reaction, and we showed a great reaction in the way we played in every way against Villa (2-1 win), with and without the ball, the commitment, the approach to the game, the attitude, everything was good. That was really important for us as players to show that reaction for ourselves, not anyone else, but ourselves. We are a lot better than what we showed at Arsenal, and there were things lacking at Arsenal that were nothing to do with quality or tactics or anything else. The basics were missing, so we had a lot to prove to ourselves.”
Okay, that game…
Eric has been at Spurs for over seven years, he’s tasted highs and lows against Arsenal, including scoring as we let a 2-0 lead slip at the Emirates in 2018/19. It’s safe to say the first half this time around hit hard…
Eric: “It hurts because it’s more than a game. It does bother you a lot. There were sleepless nights after that game. But I believe over the course of the season, and I’ve said before after results like that, I still believe we’re a good team and we will show that. That one game does mean a lot, but it’s not all or nothing. It’s early in the season, we have to stay calm and by ‘we’, I mean ‘we’ - we have to work together, improve together, gel together and I think we will. I think we’ll get into a good place with all the players up to speed.”
After Arsenal, every player knew we had to bounce back, first against NS Mura, a 5-1 win and then Villa last time out, a positive, deserved 2-1 victory…
Eric: “I’m a strong believer in that there are fundamentals that should always be there. Mistakes happen, you win or lose, that happens in sport, but the fundamentals have to be there and we’re a team where generally they are, we just need to find them on a more consistent basis. They were definitely there against Villa, you could feel it from the energy in the stadium. We need to build a base for ourselves from home where there is that connection between the players and fans. It’s give and take. We need to give and there are times where they’ll need us to lift them, and times where we’ll need them to lift us. It was great to get back on track.”