‘Clubs think spend­ing money will make them bet­ter, but that’s so far from re­al­ity’

Eric Dier ex­plains to Sam Dean that Spurs’ suc­cess is down to team bond­ing and build­ing, not sim­ply buy­ing

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football -

just think it’s crazy,” says Eric Dier, who pauses for thought be­fore con­fronting the hot topic of the sum­mer at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur. “I al­ways see now, when the big teams are do­ing badly, peo­ple say they need to spend an­other £200 mil­lion or £300 mil­lion. Peo­ple are look­ing at the wrong things if they think they need to spend money to change things.

“It is so much more down to work­ing with the play­ers you have got, get­ting the best out of the play­ers you have got, build­ing some­thing as a team. The cul­ture you cre­ate at the train­ing ground, the work you put in. The at­mos­phere, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the play­ers.”

Given the to­tal ab­sence of new ar­rivals at Hot­spur Way this sum­mer, when Spurs were the only side in Europe’s top five leagues who did not make a sin­gle sign­ing, it is tempt­ing to as­sume that Dier is toe­ing the party line. He would say that, wouldn’t he? Yet the Eng­land mid­fielder speaks with such clar­ity, and such deep­voiced au­thor­ity, that there can be no doubt­ing the strength or au­then­tic­ity of his be­liefs.

He also speaks from ex­pe­ri­ence. Dier has been an ob­vi­ous ben­e­fi­ciary of this “cul­ture” at Spurs, and he has seen his team-mates grow along­side him over the past four years. He knows what can hap­pen when play­ers are af­forded the trust and the time they need to de­velop, be­cause it has hap­pened to him at the same time it has hap­pened to Harry Kane, Dele Alli and so many of his Spurs team-mates.

“For me, peo­ple use it as an ex­cuse,” Dier says of the mod­ern urge to in­vest, to have what will be deemed as a suc­cess­ful trans­fer win­dow.

“It’s the easy op­tion to say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll just spend £100 mil­lion on a player and ev­ery­thing will be OK’. It’s not the case.

“If you look to the past, and clubs that have been rel­e­gated re­cently, lots of them have spent a lot of money. They think that is what is go­ing to make them bet­ter, but it is so far from re­al­ity. It’s all about the man­ager and the play­ers who are at the club, cre­at­ing that right en­vi­ron­ment and de­mand­ing ev­ery­thing from ev­ery­one ev­ery day.

“Im­prov­ing ev­ery day, im­prov­ing the play­ers you have at your dis­posal and not look­ing else­where con­stantly. For me, you don’t un­der­stand if you think just spend­ing money is go­ing to re­solve things. It’s so far from it.”

Dier’s views on the trans­fer mar­ket have nat­u­rally been shaped by Spurs’ achieve­ments un­der Mauricio Po­chet­tino, but they are also the prod­uct of an an­a­lyt­i­cal mind. Flu­ent in Por­tuguese and with a pas­sion for art, the 24-year-old has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing one of English foot­ball’s more thought­ful fig­ures. He speaks lu­cidly on is­sues rang­ing from the dan­gers of so­cial me­dia to the fi­nan­cial health of the game and, un­like many of his con­tem­po­raries, ap­pears more com­fort­able dis­cussing th­ese wider themes than he is talk­ing about him­self.

“We have had to find dif­fer­ent ways to achieve the same re­sults as other teams,” Dier says. “Peo­ple love to talk about the fact that we have not signed any­one, but we have got a fan­tas­tic squad. 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 in­stalled 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.” That said, it helps if you can spend wisely when you do pull out the cheque­book. Spurs have not al­ways done so un­der Po­chet­tino, but there are signs this cam­paign that pre­vi­ous in­vest­ments are start­ing to come good. The most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple is Lu­cas Moura, last sea­son’s £25mil­lion re­cruit from Paris St-Ger­main, who scored a brace in Mon­day’s 3-0 vic­tory over Manch­ester United at Old Traf­ford.

That win, on that stage and against that op­po­nent, felt like a po­ten­tially seis­mic mo­ment for Spurs, who have won three games out of three de­spite nine of their play­ers go­ing with­out a pre-sea­son after be­ing in­volved in the last week­end of the World Cup.

“We have been to­gether now for four years and ev­ery­thing is in­grained in us,” Dier says. “It’s re­ally down to win­ning and that’s the men­tal­ity within the whole squad. I feel like it’s showed in all the games we have played so far. We have gone into them fully pre­pared to suf­fer if we have to, and to win. The Manch­ester United game, in the past that was the kind of game where maybe we wouldn’t have seen it out. But we went there and we got the job done.”

Get­ting the job done was what Dier man­aged to do, in dra­matic cir­cum­stances, when he scored the win­ning penalty in Eng­land’s World Cup shoot-out against Colom­bia. He ad­mits that mo­ment has since been the “only thing that peo­ple talk about” when he is ap­proached in pub­lic, but he also ap­pre­ci­ates the mag­ni­tude of the coun­try’s first World Cup shootout vic­tory. “The psy­chol­ogy changed Tot­ten­ham for­ward Son He­ung-min has al­most cer­tainly es­caped two years’ mil­i­tary ser­vice by help­ing South Korea to win the Asian Games. Son helped his na­tional side de­feated Ja­pan 2-1 in the fi­nal. when the player be­fore me [Car­los Bacca] missed,” he says. “So I knew I was tak­ing it to win, not to stay in it. That made a mas­sive dif­fer­ence. When I was tak­ing it to win it, I was ex­cited.”

He is also ex­cited about the do­mes­tic cam­paign, which con­tin­ues with to­day’s trip to Wat­ford. Javi Gra­cia’s side have also won all three of their league games and should pro­vide an­other early test be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break.

“I think in or­der to suc­ceed, you have to suf­fer,” Dier says. “Suf­fer­ing is good. We have suf­fered at times in the past three sea­sons. We have been through dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods, and this sea­son we are go­ing to go through dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods too. It’s down to us, what we do and the way we ap­proach ev­ery game, ev­ery day at the train­ing ground. If we do all those things right and we’re in the right men­tal space, then I think any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

Cul­ture club: Eng­land mid­fielder Eric Dier says Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur coach Mauricio Po­chet­tino has in­stilled a hard-work­ing, team-first phi­los­o­phy among his play­ers

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