Tag Archives: Woodgate

Is Dawson Actually That Awesome?

If there’s one thing I love about Twitter is it’s ability to start a full scale debate from one person’s tweet. At approximately 10.30 this morning a Spurs fan, Kevin Jones, said “As a welshman I’m not bothered but Michael Dawson is not an England captain”.

What has followed in the last hour has seen Michael Dawson’s ability to not only be England’s captain but also Spurs captain come into question. There are those who believe his abilities are somewhat limited and if it wasn’t for the constantly injured duo of King and Woodgate he wouldn’t even be in the Spurs side. Some say the returning Kaboul has shown he’s better than Dawson when he gets a run of games under his belt.

The one thing I was surprised about were the amount of people who held a similar opinion to mine. It’s an opinion I’ve mentioned before in this blog, on twitter and face to face during the pre-match Bell and Hare drink, that Michael Dawson isn’t as good as we spurs fans give him credit for. Now, based on the response from those that frequent twitter during their working day that sentence will have you nodding your head in agreement or frothing at the mouth like a rabid dog, making the assumption I’m actually a gooner in disguise.

Let me make this very clear before I start. I like Michael Dawson a lot. He’s the Graham Roberts of the current side, albeit I’d expect Roberts to think he was better, and he was. As the season was coming to a conclusion last year I was standing on the terraces along with every other spurs fan, clamouring for Awesome Dawson’s inclusion in the England world cup squad or even the team. His performances were very good each week and he constantly gave 100% for the team. However, it’s his commitment to the cause that I believe gets us fans behind him more than his ability.

Just look at Pavlyuchenko. If he gave the same commitment Dawson does, there wouldn’t be the split opinion on whether he’s any good or not. If there’s a 50/50 challenge there’s no one in the Spurs team we’d want more going for it. We know he’ll put his head where others won’t put their feet and his body is on the line whenever it’s needed. He’s the first and last line of defence if asked. However, I’d give even more commitment to Spurs than Dawson does if asked to. That doesn’t mean I’d be good enough (if you’re reading Harry, there’s no harm in giving me a shot just in case).

The one thing that lets Dawson down is his positional sense and concentration. When it comes to the simple things he’s a master but anything else he often falls short. For some reason when he plays alongside an experienced defender like Gallas or King he reverts back to a little kid and seems to need to be told where to stand and what to do. Last season he was seen as the veteran defender in his partnership with Bassong and he performed exceptionally. There’s the argument that he hasn’t had a settled partner for most of this season (since he’s returned from injury) but it’s fairly obvious now that it’s him and Gallas. Maybe it’s the clown (sometimes) behind them that doesn’t install confidence on him?

The point is when, or more likely if, every spurs central defender was fit, Michael Dawson wouldn’t even be first replacement. He’d be behind King, Woodgate and Gallas and quite some way behind them. He’d be fighting it out with Kaboul for a place on the bench and with Kaboul’s superior use of the ball as well as flexibility as a right back he’d probably lose that fight. Of course, that’s all theoretical because King and Woodgate should both have their contracts ended this summer to remove them from the wage bill and Gallas probably won’t be with us any longer than next season so the future is Dawson and Kaboul. Unless of course we sign another defender. A Gary Cahill for example would put pressure on Dawson in my opinion.

The type of game Dawson is fantastic in is against the likes of AC Milan. Against Wigan and Wolves he’s not so great. As strange as that sounds it’s because against a Milan or an Arsenal the defence is going to come up against a lot of pressure so concentration is key for 90 minutes which when he knows that’s what he has to do he will. It’s also very tight which means little room for small, jinking strikers to run into the penalty area. When there’s not so much pressure on the defence Dawson has a tendency to fall asleep and hump the ball long at every given opportunity. Look at his performance against Fulham in the cup this season. It’s the perfect example of poor positional play and a lack of concentration.

It’s very hard to get across what I’m trying to convey. Do I hate Michael Dawson? No. Would I drop him? No, but only because at the moment there isn’t a replacement. Do I worry when I see him in the starting line up? No, but do I think there’s better out there for my club, including others already available for selection? Yes.

As a result I can see both sides of the argument. Michael Dawson is a good player. Not great, but good enough. A captain should always be the first name on the team-sheet and while he probably is at the moment that’s more down to circumstances than ability, and regarding the initial tweet, in my opinion Michael Dawson isn’t good enough for the England team, let alone to be England captain.

Let me leave you with this thought, if Michael Dawson was so good wouldn’t other clubs be interested in signing him?

Injury Crisis

So apparently William Gallas got injured with the last kick of Friday’s training session and will now be out for 2-3 weeks. Thankfully we’ve got an international break coming up which might mean we’re not down to 1 centre back and Corluka for too many games.

Our injury list to key players is becoming a bit of a joke. It feels like we’ve been transported back to the mid nineties when we were constantly beset with them and most Saturday’s ended in disappointment. It certainly seems so. However, as I said on Saturday our current form or lack of can’t be blamed on injuries alone. Or put another way, it’s contributory but so have our dealings in the transfer market and our current squad.

Last season Dawson and Bassong formed a very good partnership which was disrupted every other week when Ledley King was fit. I said at the time I didn’t think this was right, especially as King doesn’t even train. Defenders get better at their craft with practice and playing together. They learn to instinctively know where their partner will be, much like strikers. The simple but important things like defending set pieces are worked on in training. If a player who hasn’t been involved in those discussions and practice sessions walks into the team on the Saturday errors can happen. An excellent player when fit without doubt but at what point do we say enough is enough?

We bought William Gallas in the summer. When I say bought I mean got on a free, paid him a fairly high wage even though we knew he’s been injury prone over the last couple of seasons. Why do we do it all the time? We did the same with Woodgate and that got us 1 season and since then we’ve been paying for him to be slowly put to death. I feel sorry for these guys I really do, well not Gallas, but King and Woodgate have more ability than Sol, Ferdinand and Terry put together but they’ve never been able to prove it. However, we’re constantly being told football’s a business nowadays, but it seems to me we’re a business with some members of staff who are on the sick way too often and it’s effecting everyone.

Saturday saw us having to play Bassong and Corluka centrally. Yes another different partnership. In the 10 games we’ve played so far this season we’ve had 8 different central partnerships. EIGHT!!! Only Dawson and King have played together more than once. Is it any wonder we’re conceding goals and looking a shambles defensively? Obviously had Dawson not got injured with England he would’ve played most if not all of the games but that probably still would’ve meant his partner being swapped between Gallas, King, Kaboul and Bassong every week depending on fitness. In an ideal world you want 3/4 central defenders who are fit all of the time and pushing each other with another looking to push on, a Kyle Walker or Steven Caulker perhaps. Unfortunately this is something we don’t have. Even last season we only realistically had Dawson and Bassong with others around them playing when they were fit enough. We then send players like Walker on loan and more worryingly Caulker on loan AFTER we find out Gallas will be out for a while. This just doesn’t make sense to me. Walker performed well in pre-season and has the experience of the championship already so what’s the point in sending him out when we’re short for central defenders and in form right backs, both positions he plays naturally?

In the summer we should’ve been looking to buy in quality, none injured players. Not William Gallas. We should’ve been looking at the Brede Hangeland’s and Gary Cahill’s of this world. Players currently at “smaller” clubs who would love the opportunity to possibly play in the champions league.

I’m not saying we need to cancel King’s contract and tell him thanks but no thanks but with his injury problems players like him, as good as he can be, shouldn’t be walking back into the team whenever he can. Like anyone else he needs to be biding his time and taking his chance when he gets it. A settled defence is always better than one that needs chopping and changing every week. Gallas was brought in to offer us experience in the champions league but as of yet hasn’t played in one of the 3 games we’ve had and is out of our 4th on Wednesday. We’ve bought an injury prone player to help cover for another injury prone player. It didn’t make sense at the time and doesn’t know.

Corluka on current form shouldn’t even be playing in his favoured right back position. When Alan Hutton looks like he might start making the first team regularly you know you’re not playing well, so doesn’t the fact that Charlie played at centre back show what a lack of quality cover we have in one of the most important positions on the field? Add that to the fact we appear to lack any sharpness in attack and we look like we’re turning into Arsenal. We’re very pretty on the ball and our midfield at times looks amazing but we don’t really offer any real threat.

We’ve had major injuries to key players right throughout the side. Gomes, Dawson, Modric and Defoe but players like King, Gallas and Woodgate can’t be included in that list because they’re always injured. Their sole purpose is to make the physios and doctors earn their money. With a lack of depth in quality in important positions like defence and attack and an apparent lack of transfer activity in those positions in the summer is it any wonder we’re now struggling with a couple of injuries?