Dier not good enough to win another title for Mourinho

Tottenham Hotspur

Eric Dier's first-half substitution against Olympiakos may have been tactical, but Jose Mourinho knows Spurs need a better defensive midfielder.

Dier’s decline from an England regular and key cog in Mauricio Pochettino’s Premier League title-chasing sides to the levels he has produced of late is alarming.

And while Mourinho’s arrival at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium appears to have already galvanised his good friend Dele Alli back into something like the player he was a couple of seasons ago, there hasn’t yet been any uplift in Dier.

It may take a while for the Portuguese tactician to have an effect on the ex-Sporting Club youth player, who grew up in Lisbon.

But, equally, the Tottenham boss will waste no time in bringing in a replacement if he thinks Dier does not have what he feels it takes to deliver the club it’s first and his fourth Premier League title.

Mourinho’s previous English title winners all had effective defensive midfielders at their heart, particularly the team he constructed on his first arrival at Stamford Bridge as a Champions League winner in 2004.

Although he demanded heavy investment in the likes of Didier Drogba, Joao Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Arjen Robben that summer, it was not hard for him to recognise that he was inheriting one of the best holding midfielders ever to play the game in Claude Makelele.

The Frenchman was 31 at the time and started 36 of the 38 Premier League games under Mourinho in that title-winning campaign, during which the Blues only lost once.

Seemingly not content with Makelele, Mourinho then demanded the £24.4 million signing of Lyon’s Michael Essien, ten years the Frenchman’s junior, prior to the following campaign.

The Ghanaian was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year and The Ballon D’Or after his first season at Stamford Bridge in which Mourinho put together a side that defended the title.

And, back at Chelsea for a second spell, Mourinho pushed the club to pay £21million to re-sign a player they had let go three years earlier – Nemanja Matic – to fulfill a similar holding role.

The Serb made 36 appearances in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign of 2014-15, his first full season back at the club, providing an effective screen in front of a back four that no longer included David Luiz – sold off under Mourinho.

Can Dier reach the levels of Makelele, Essien or peak Matic? At the moment it is looking like a tough ask, in which case Mourinho’s search for a new defensive midfielder has probably already begun.