Speaking to talkSPORT, Ray Parlour has compared the role that Eric Dier plays for Tottenham and England to that which Gilberto Silva played for Arsenal when they completed their ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003/04.
Parlour said: “What Dier does so well, is that when a player is out of position, he can just sit in. We had a player like that in Gilberto, who was brilliant. He didn’t get all the recognition, like Henry, but he was a very important player. These sort of players don’t get all the recognition, but they’re very important if a team wants to be successful, and Dier did a job for the job for the team which was very good.”
Dier has established himself in defensive midfield this season under Mauricio Pochettino, having been pushed from defence to the middle third of the pitch by the Argentine boss.
Being a natural defender, Dier has shown a great understanding at the defensive side of the game, and rather than trying to convert him into a box-to-box player, Pochettino has the youngster playing in a holding role.
He is being used as an anchor man, allowing the more talented players to take the headlines in the final third, with the attacking stars aware that Dier is sitting behind them ready to prevent any opposition attacks.
This kind of anchor man role has been absent from the top level game for a number of years, and Parlour has compared the role Dier is playing to that of Gilberto Silva in the ‘Invincibles’ team of 2003/04.
Gilberto established himself as an Arsenal legend during his six years at the club, despite his role as the less heralded midfielder in a team full of technical stars.
Rather than trying to score or show off an attacking threat he did not possess, Gilberto simply stayed back, dropping into defence when needed to allow other players to excel.
He would never be in the headlines, and he would win few man of the match awards, but over time, Gilberto’s influence to that Premier League victory has become more and more appreciated.
Tottenham have started looking like a far better defensively sound team since Dier’s conversion into midfield, and if he can have the same impact at White Hart Lane that Gilberto did with Arsenal, Spurs have a truly top class player on their hands.