In an exclusive interview, Eric Dier tells Sky Sports how Tottenham have more depth, maturity and pragmatism under Jose Mourinho.
Tottenham go to Chelsea on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports, in a battle between two of the most in-form sides in the Premier League. Spurs are unbeaten in eight and have conceded just eight goals since their opening-day defeat by Everton.
Mourinho looks to have stamped his mark on this Tottenham side, and their statement victory over Manchester City last weekend had many pondering whether he could lead them to a first league title since 1961.
Asked how Spurs have changed under Mourinho, just over a year since he replaced Mauricio Pochettino, Dier also revealed an increased competition for places has driven Spurs’ players to improve.
He told Sky Sports: “I’d say this team is probably more pragmatic. I think we still possess a lot of the qualities we had during that spell [under Pochettino], I think we’re all a bit older, a bit more mature, we’ve all seen a bit more, and we’re ready to do different things compared to when you’re younger.
“I feel like it’s a much more mature team, and the depth of the squad is not something I’ve seen during my time here, we’ve got an incredible depth. The amount of quality we have coming off the bench, and not even in the squad, is incredible.
“That competition is definitely driving things, and I think that’s something in the past we struggled with, not having that competition to drive things. You want to have your own self-motivation, but you can’t deny it’s different when it’s a big squad, and everyone is driving each other.
“He’s definitely putting his stamp on the club, on the team and the players individually. He’s definitely implementing the things he wants to see. He wants us to be a representation of himself. Tough is definitely one of the words I’d use to describe him, and this team.”
Dier believes something big is happening at Spurs, and revealed the club struggled to recover from their Champions League final defeat by Liverpool in 2019, seeing this season as a clean slate.
“[Is something happening here?] It definitely feels that way. We had a really bad season last season, after the Champions League final I think it was very difficult to come back from that, having been so close to something so big.
“When the next season came around I felt like the whole club wasn’t ready for it, having been in that moment and not making it. To have a clean slate with the season with the manager, is something completely new. Having a pre-season, albeit a small one, with the manager, it’s definitely the start of something new.
“Last season was just a difficult time, even when the new manager came in, it definitely wasn’t easy. It definitely feels like we’re building something new, I feel like the foundations are there, and it’s up to us to make it what we want it to be.”
In-form Dier has impressed in recent weeks at the heart of Mourinho’s defence, and the 26-year-old feels he is now set on a position, rather than being seen as a versatile player.
Asked about his form, Dier joked: “It’s been a while! I feel very, very good. I’m happy to be playing where I am. I had a difficult time, mainly just through illness, but to be playing where I want, playing regularly, I feel in a very good place. I believe in what I can achieve there, and I am determined to do it.
“You’re always trying to improve, and I’m definitely improving, this is the start of a new chapter for me playing in a new position.”
Asked if he has parked his versatility, he added: “I feel like I have. Last season I had that conversation with both managers, and I made that commitment, I felt like it was the right time. My feeling is that centre-back is where I’ve always felt I can be at my best, and there’s still a lot more to come from me in that position, but I’m very happy to be there now, and I’m solely focused on that.”