If you were to cut Michael Dawson, I dare say he would bleed white and blue, such is his love for Tottenham Hotspur. Since his arrival from Nottingham Forest in 2005, the defender has gone from perennial outsider to club captain and doing so with the passion that has endeared him to the White Hart Lane faithful.
However, while wearing his heart on his sleeve, it will only go so far in the modern game. Without beating around the bush, Dawson simply doesn’t have the capabilities to be an ‘Andre Villas-Boas player’.
His lack of a footballing brain and pace has seen the defender drop from possibly second in the pecking order to fifth, evident by the club’s willingness to sell him to QPR in the summer. However, any move was scuppered by a knee injury to Younes Kaboul, which leaves the Frenchman sidelined until next month at the earliest.
Nevertheless, regardless of the protracted sale falling through, Dawson insists he is willing to work hard to reclaim his place in the team, which is an epitome of the Spurs centre-back. Nevertheless, as hard as he works, it still won’t be enough for the former Nottingham Forest trainee.
If you were to cut Michael Dawson, I dare say he would bleed white and blue
It’s become obvious of the system that Villas-Boas is looking to implement at White Hart Lane. The 34-year-old prefers his centre-backs to be able to play the ball out from the back and press high up the pitch. With that in mind, Jan Vertonghen, Steven Caulker and Kaboul all match his plans perfectly.
The trio are quick off the mark, able to read the game well, as witnessed through their distribution capabilities, while playing the game in a very ‘continental’ way. William Gallas certainly fits the bill, regardless of his lack of pace, but his ability to read the game and experience is the reason that Villas-Boas has appointed him as a captain.
With the combined talents of the quartet, it is no wonder to see Dawson labelled Spurs’ fifth choice centre-back. This is apparent by the fact that the 28-year-old has made just two starts for the North London side this season; in the 3-0 Capital One Cup win over Carlisle United and the 1-1 draw with Panathinaikos in the Europa League on Thursday.
Fans may be distraught that the fan favourite, and club captain, has been relegated to the bench and was on the verge of being sold, but from a footballing perspective; it makes complete sense. As mentioned earlier, Dawson doesn’t have the capabilities to make it as a regular under Villas-Boas.
The 34-year-old prefers his centre-backs to be able to play the ball out from the back and press high up the pitch
It’s no surprise to see Caulker and Gallas occupy the starting spots in the heart of the Spurs defence, with Vertonghen pushed out to left-back until first-team regular Benoit Assou-Ekotto returns from his knee injury.
All three, in one way or another, fit into Villas-Boas system and it is likely he is going to revert to his first-team regulars for the upcoming encounter with Aston Villa. The Midlands side haven’t come away from White Hart Lane since 2008, where goals from Nigel Reo-Coker and Ashley Young condemned Spurs to their worst start in Premier League history.
As many will tell you, it was part of the miserable time under Juande Ramos, which was swiftly brought to an end two weeks later when Harry Redknapp was drafted in. Since then, Villa are yet to pick up a win away at the North London side, with last season’s encounter a relatively straight forward 2-0 win for the hosts.
Spurs are likely to come up against a more difficult Villa side this time round, with Paul Lambert taking over the helm from the sacked Alex McLeish. It hasn’t been an ideal start for the Villains, but Lambert is, tactically, astute, as witnessed by Norwich City’s win when he was in charge last season.
The Midlands side haven’t come away from White Hart Lane since 2008, where goals from Nigel Reo-Coker and Ashley Young condemned Spurs to their worst start in Premier League history
Villas-Boas is likely to field another strong side as Spurs look to make their second best start to a Premier League campaign in their history. This means Dawson is likely to be relegated to the bench once again following his start against Panathinaikos, which means Gallas will again captain the side.
Villa may only have scored six league goals this season, but Lambert has players capable of making an impact in the front-line, most notably in the form of Gabby Agbonlahor, Christian Benteke and former Spurs Darren Bent, the latter of which will want to get one over his former club.
All three of the Villa stars are all quick off their feet, which would render Dawson useless, especially if they expose the space behind him that Villas-Boas’ system undoubtedly leaves. And unfortunately for the 28-year-old, it means that his playing time is expected to be limited further, with Caulker having seemingly leapfrogged ahead of him in the pecking order.
More great tales to come out of White Hart Lane
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