Eric Dier: ‘Tottenham’s Mentality Is More Important Than Any Money You Can Spend’

Tuesday, 4 September, 2018 - 06:45
London - Paul MacInnes

Ithink we’re focused purely on winning,” says Eric Dier. “The mentality is solely focused on that. We’ve been together now for four years and everything else is ingrained in us now, so it’s just really down to winning and I think that’s the mentality within the whole squad. In the past, Man United was the kind of game where maybe we wouldn’t have seen it out, or we might have suffered more in the first half. But we went there and we got the job done.”

Tottenham’s encounter with Watford on Sunday will pit two of the Premier League’s flawless starters against each other. The Hornets’ strong start to the season has caught many by surprise, but Spurs have also exceeded expectations, not least with their on Monday.

After a summer of no signings and delays to the new White Hart Lane (a further twist to which came this week with Spurs attempting to move an Carabao Cup tie to Milton Keynes much to the chagrin of their opponents, Watford), turbulence was predicted for Mauricio Pochettino’s team. But they have confounded those expectations.

“We’ve spoken a lot about how we’ve started slowly in the past three seasons and how that’s hindered us a bit,” Dier says. “From there, you’re constantly playing catch-up. We really wanted to change that this season and so far we have. But it’s still so early, we’ve played three games. We now have another really tough game and we want to win it.”

The words “tough” and “suffering” crop up a lot when Dier, leaning back in his chair at Spurs’ refurbished training complex, lays out his view of where the club is at. He jokes that “suffering is good!” when it comes to overcoming difficulties on the pitch. “We’ve been through difficult periods in the past three seasons, and we’re going to go through difficult periods this season, too,” he says. “We’re going to suffer but we have to know how to get through that, and I think we do.”

As for off-field hassles, however, Dier is inclined to give them short shrift. Like his manager, the midfielder has no time for the idea that this summer’s lack of recruitment was somehow a failure.

“I always see now, when big teams are doing badly, people say they need to spend another £200m or £300m. I just think it’s crazy,” he says. “People are looking at the wrong things if they think they need to spend money to change things. For me, people use it as an excuse.

“It’s just my personal opinion, but I think we are a good example because we have had to find different ways to achieve the same results as other teams. I think in the long run we will be in a better position for it. People love to talk about the fact we have not signed anyone but we have got a fantastic squad. First of all, why sign someone if they are not going to improve that? And secondly, we have got a fantastic atmosphere – we work extremely hard and the manager has instilled that culture in the club, every player has it. If they don’t, they won’t be welcome here. That’s more important than any amount of money you can spend.”

Often giving the impression of being his manager’s avatar on the pitch, all gritted teeth and clear-eyed thinking, Dier was forced to endure a more limited role in another tight-knit group this summer. According to the 24-year-old his time with England at the World Cup taught him how to be a proactive squad member, even if you’re not in the first XI. “Obviously it was difficult for me,” he says. “I didn’t play as much in the World Cup as I wanted to. So I tried to react to that in the best possible way. It’s not nice, not playing, but you have to try and be ready and try to help the team in different ways. That was an experience I learned a lot from.”

Of course there were other, more straightforwardly positive aspects of the World Cup, such as sealing England’s first penalty shootout victory for 22 years. “Whenever I am out and about, it’s the only thing people talk about,” says Dier of his decisive spot-kick against Colombia, the moment that surely caused the greatest excitement in England’s run to the semi-finals. “I spoke to Harry Kane about it the day after, and we were saying that when you’re standing there on the halfway line, you’re nervous. But once I was standing there to take it I was actually quite calm. It was nice. But there were five people that took penalties and there were 15 that played 120 minutes and the whole squad that trained all week to be in the place that we were.”

Confidence, determination, a belief in the collective. When it comes to expressing what he believes in, just as he is on the pitch, Dier does not muck about.

The Guardian Sport

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