Jose Mourinho had admitted that he always saw Eric Dier as a centre-back and planned to eventually use him in the heart of defence right from his first days in North London.
Dier was in and out of the team during Mauricio Pochettino’s final year and a half at the club, with the 26-year-old not being helped by injuries and illness issues.
While he was reinstated into the team when Mourinho arrived at Spurs, the Portuguese coach continued to use him as a defensive midfielder, the position where he rose to prominence at Tottenham.
However, the Spurs boss has now admitted that he wanted the England international to work on certain aspects of his game before being deployed in central defence.
Speaking about Dier, Mourinho told Football.London: “He had a strange last season and a very strange current season.
“We made a decision together. I told him immediately since my arrival, let’s go together in a certain direction but I think you’re not ready.
“So let’s go back to a certain level being a midfielder but with an eye to transforming you to centre-back, which is where he feels happy and more comfortable.
“During the period when we were just working on the Zoom and when the players came back to the training ground, even during the period of individual work we were totally focused on the direction of being a centre-back.
“We developed a number of skills to adapt him to the needs of that position. And we decided for the Manchester United first match we decided to go with him in that position, using this period to fight for points and objectives in relation to the table but also looking forward to next season.”
The Sporting Lisbon academy graduate has arguably been one of Tottenham’s best players since the restart.
He has not only been dominant in winning long balls from the opposition but his experience in midfield has enabled him to smartly stride with the ball into vacant midfield spaces.
Mourinho is certainly impressed with what he has seen from Dier in his new role.
The 57-year-old said: “I think he played very good matches except against Sheffield (United).
“We all made a few mistakes but in the other matches defensively the team was consistent and he was very, very consistent playing against some of the best strikers.
“We look forward to next season when we have no doubts that he’s a centre-back and going to be an important player for us.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Dier looks like he has all the attributes needed to be a top central defender. Many Spurs fans seem to have a false perception of his pace. He is actually deceptively quick when he gets going.
However, he has not played consistently as a central defender since he was a youngster and it is going to take time for him to get used to the demands of the positions at the highest level. Spurs fans need to be patient with him and should not get on his back the second he makes an unforced error.
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