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?