Never Dier Alone

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Image: SpursWeb

No, this is not the title of the next Bond film in the pipeline, it is an introduction of a new Spurs era and a blockbuster performance by a budding English talent that looks destined for the very top. Dier. Remember the name.

What was a season opener for us was more like a cup final for West Ham. They really love playing us. The fact they have beat us thrice in a row seemed to fire them up more than usual to make it four wins on the bounce at the Boleyn Ground. The last time Spurs were beaten four times in a row by West Ham, England won the World Cup! Finally though, Tottenham fans were salivating at the prospect of witnessing the slick, eye catching attacking football Pochettino was appointed to implement.

In the opening exchanges of the game, West Ham saw more of the ball in promising situations. Their zealous attitude actually looked more likely to carve out the opening goal. Downing looked a constant threat with fizzing crosses that kept putting our backline under serious pressure. Kouyate on his debut for the hammers had a header that flashed just wide. Prior to the game, we had only won just four of our last 16 opening matches and it looked like we may be on the losing side again when Naughton got sent off on the back of a penalty. We had Kaboul sent off in the same fixture last term and we went on to lose that day, so the omens were not looking good at that stage. Dier got moved to right back whilst Capoue slotted in alongside Kaboul.

To our joy, Noble who is a reliable spot taker missed his cue and screwed his penalty wide of the post. Sam Allardyce must have known his 400th game in charge was in jeopardy after that. They pinned us back as they had the extra man but despite creating decent chances the Hammers could not make their numerical advantage count. At this point, the attacking guile of Eriksen, Lamela and Lennon was hampered with the team being pinned back in a more defensive shape.

The tide turned more in our favour when Collins got sent off for West Ham in the second half. The introduction of Holtby and Townsend added a lot more energy into our midfield. We started to create chances of our own and came close on a couple of attacking moves. But Lloris had to move like Flash Gordon to deny Noble a point blank shot that was destined to go into the net. Lloris looked set to get his first clean sheet ever against the Hammers.

As the match fizzled out a draw looked like the most likely outcome. That’s until a Cheltenham born lad, that got raised in Lisbon decided to make a marauding run past a snoozing West Ham defence that played him onside. What happened next was the stuff dreams are made of. Diers graceful first touch cushioned the ball past a stranded Adrian who looked on helplessly as Dier rolled the ball into an empty net with his left to the acclaim of the Spurs support. If that was a taste of things to come from the lad, then I would like to see a lot more of that. With the exception of maybe Super Jan or maybe Chriches when in form, there are not too many centre backs we have that would have the impetus and skill to score a goal like that. Sheringham, sitting on the bench as a West Ham coach would have been proud of that himself.

Dier is not jet heeled with devastating pace or blessed with an imposing physique with brute strength. What he has is an intelligent footballing brain that provides him with unbelievable positional awareness. His composed technical ability is unreal for a defender and also makes him versatile enough to play in positions other than his native centre back position.

Sam Allardyce has his problems compounded with that loss. The bickering coming from within his camp about his dire long ball tactics and bad results will only fan the flames of those that want him sacked. With their move to the Olympic Stadium only justified by being able to fill it out (ideally in the top flight) hammer fans are wondering if Sam can produce that sexy football they have been drooling after. It’s just, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. West Hams football is about as sexy as Allardyce with a bikini on. It could be a long season for them.

It was nice to hear Pochettino in his post match conference stress the need for the team to keep believing and to laud their efforts as a group for hanging on against a robust West Ham side. We need to create a team that has depth in quality and ability. Setting up around one super player as happened with Bale becomes counter productive when/if they depart. But it looks like we have a young squad with talent all across the pitch.

Our victory was not without it’s flaws though. We did not see much of the swagger style of play Pochettino had with Southampton. Not yet. It’s still early days but more of a rhythm will surely come as time goes on. Roll on QPR.

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