A few short weeks ago I guess many of us were wondering Eric Who? And why have we just spent around 4 million on an unknown English kid who has lived in Portugal for most of his life.
Well now know. His debut at home in the friendly against Shalke a week ago was assured if unspectacular. But then defenders are not meant to be spectacular. They are meant to be effective, hopefully they are anonymous in what they do (especially if we keep a clean sheet) and for the most part he was.
Today Eric Dier did what he had to do. He was efficient for the first 30 minutes in his accustomed role at centre back but then following the sending off (and I will come back to that later) he had to adapt to an unfamiliar position but he looked like he had played there all his life.
Positive in his positioning, athletic and direct in the tackle and with the ball at his feet, he was everything a young footballer should be. But then…
But then he surged forward and on a very rare foray into the opposition box he found himself one on one against the opposition goalkeeper.
Lest we forget, this is a 20 year old rookie in his first competitive game for the club. He has been played out of position for more than half the match, and yet – when it came down to it – he had more composure and the most clinical finish that you will ever see.
Even our dear departed Jermaine Defoe would have been proud of such a finish. For God´s sake, Gary Lineker, Teddy Sheringham, even Jimmy Greaves would have been proud of such a finish. It really was that good.
Put this into perspective: A few years ago we purchased a very raw young brute of a teenager who no-one had ever heard of. He had pace, he had talent, he had an 8 million price tag (twice that of Eric) yet it took Gareth Bale many, many games to establish himself and to create the legend that now surrounds him.
Could Eric Dier be our next Gareth Bale? Maybe that is going a tad too far – but I am sure you get the picture.
Somewhere done the line we have finally unearthed a player who is exactly what is says on the tin.
But enough of Eric Dier – what of the previous 90 odd minutes of our well earned win against WetSpam?
We dominated the first 15 minutes playing the high line high pressing game that we were expecting but then allowed them to gain a foothold and with it they began to dominate possession and chances – although they did not really threaten until what could have been a game changing moment in the 30th minute.
It was handball – no doubt about it. I thought so the moment I saw it on the TV, even before any replays. But was it hand to ball? Was it a player putting his arms up to protect his face? Was the ball going in, so did it deny a goalscoring chance? Most importantly, was it deliberate?
I would answer – Yes, Yes, Maybe, No.
Therefore was it a penalty? Possibly. Was it a sending off? Absolutely not.
The referee did not see it – that much was obvious so the linesman (I refuse to call them referee´s assistants because they are not good enough to be referees and they do not assist) had to make the decision – the wrong decision.
That we were spared being one-nil down is due to an enormous slice of luck as Noble managed to screw the ball wide of an empty net when a goal seemed more certain. Did Lloris´s exhorbitant dive really put him off that much?
WetSpam dominated possession without – again – really threatening, but the real game changer came with two moments of utter stupidty from their defender James Collins. First he deliberately pulled back Lamella when inside our half to earn a rightful booking and then moments later body checked Adebayor in full flow.
In neither case did he stop a clear goal scoring chance – this is Lamela and Adebayor we are talking about remember – so neither challenge was warranted but he had to go. And with it parity in numbers was restored and from that moment the momentum of the game swung back in our favour.
And from there on there was only one winner – his name Eric Dier.