Michael Dawson – Tottenham’s 4th Choice Centre Back?

By on November 8, 2011

Some fans say the best form of defence is a good offence. That can be said for some of the great Spurs sides of past, Ossie Ardiles’ mentality of ‘if you score one, we will score two’ may have given fans exciting football to watch at the best of times, but when push comes to shove, backs against the wall stuff like at Fulham on Sunday, then the best form of defence is often, well, a great defence.

The likes of Steve Perryman, Danny Blanchflower, Sol Campbell (yes, he may be a judas, but he was superb at the back during his spell at Spurs before joining them lot down the road) and our own Ledley King have all put in performances of the highest quality in our own third and are fondly remembered by old and new fans alike as legends at White Hart Lane, Campbell perhaps not as much. Spurs currently posses a fine array of defenders including the aforementioned King, Younes Kaboul, William Gallas and Sebastien Bassong, who goes onto the list due to his excellent maiden campaign with the North London side alongside the next player on the list; Michael Dawson.

Now, Dawson, who is currently ruled out until next month with an Achilles problem, has often won the plaudits at White Hart Lane for his passion, his never say due attitude and his willingness to put his health on the line for the team. More often than not has the former Nottingham Forest trainee found himself on the end of any long ball sent goal bound by the opposition, especially when said oppo are throwing the kitchen sink, and then some, towards the back four.

Many feared for the future of Tottenham’s back four when it was initially announced that the England centre-half would be spending a prolonged period on the sidelines with the aforementioned Achilles problem, an injury that is ultimately difficult to recover from. It isn’t the first team either that Dawson has been forced onto a lengthy lay-off, suffering a knee problem at a similar time last season when on international duty in a friendly at home to Hungary. Fortunately, King was on hand to step into his place alongside Kaboul and the rest, as they say, is history.

But, will his injury blow prove to be more detrimental to the player than the club this time? Last year, when it was announced Dawson would be out for two-and-a-half months, fans feared what would happen without him in the side. This year, however, with Kaboul showing excellent form next to King and Gallas now returning to fitness, the Achilles problem may have seen Dawson jettisoned down the defensive pecking order from 1st choice centre-back to 4th.

Some of the Spurs faithful also believe Dawson has been found out by many of the Premierships quicker forwards. Easily dealing with the robust front-men, your Drogba’s and your Berbatov’s for example, is simpler for the defender but when it comes to the likes of Sergio Aguero, Robin Van Persie or Javier Hernandez, this is where Dawson really begins to struggle. A lack of pace has been exploited a number of times this season and it is no surprise that with Kaboul alongside him, a warrior-esc defender similar to the England man, Spurs shipped eight goals in just two games at the beginning of the season.

Granted, the City deficit could have been considerably less had Scott Parker been signed before the 5-1 mauling by the league pace-setters, but with Aguero, Edin Dzeko and David Silva all running riot on the day, the defence without any real leadership were always going to struggle. The advantage of King and Gallas as part of the back- four is that both have a wealth of experience between them and while both pack this in abundance, it is also the duo’s positional sense and ability to successfully read the game that means when either Kaboul or Dawson play, one of the two are likely to be alongside them, injuries permitting.

And since Dawson suffered his injury, Kaboul has stepped his game up a notch, especially alongside King. The partnership is similar to a captain leading a warrior and it works to superb effect, as evidenced by Spurs’ eight game unbeaten run. With the Frenchman now considered by many first choice at Spurs, with Gallas and King vying for a spot alongside him, Dawson will struggle to now reclaim his place in the starting XI.

His strength will come in handy against the more robust teams such as Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers, but up against teams that attempt to play football on the deck, United, City and Arsenal for example, Dawson is more suspect to errors and rash challenges that have lead to silly penalties or red cards in the past which, unfortunately for him, means he simply won’t be walking back into the Spurs starting XI when available for selection when he recovers from injury next month.

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7 Comments

  1. King Spur

    November 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Are you deluded? Dawson 4th choice? He’s our 1st choice when fit. Look, I get the Gallas/King argument but both have fitness issues that mean you simply cannot rely on them. Kaboul is vastly improved but he still has consistency issues and poor concentration – He has, undoubtedly, been superb in the past 7 games but he was very poor against Fulham and shocking in both Manc fixtures. When everyone is fit it has to be Dawson and 1 of King or Gallas. The thing about Daws is he compliments the others perfectly with his no nonsense, all or nothing defending. The others are all quick, technical CBs, Kaboul is somewhere in between, but Daws is the 1 who’ll stand tall when needed. When we’re playing great, Kaboul looks like a world beater but, when we’re not doing so well, he goes AWOL when we need him most.

    Dawson will have to win his place back once he’s fit again, I believe that is important in this Spurs squad, but he should be able to do that no problem

  2. Glenn Hoddle

    November 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I’ve read the first paragraph of this and you’ve mentioned the judas scums name in the same breath as Perryman, King and Blanchflower??!!…go and have a long look at yourself in the mirror, then question whether you really, really do support Tottenham Hotspur FC, then pack your keyboard away and call it a day. Ta

  3. Ray

    November 8, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Good article and indeed, Dawson has got a fight on his hands to regain his place in the starting line up. I disagree with King Spur that Kaboul was poor against Fulham, Kind Spur must have been at a different game or blind. Does he remember Dawsons performance against the same team last season at Craven Cottage. Kaboul and the rest of the team were under the cosh in the second half against Fulham on Sunday and I place the blame on the management for not bringing on Sandro earlier to shore up the midfield as a replacement for VDV who was very poor, particularly in the secong half allowing the Fulham midfielders to run riot. If it wasnt for the stout defending by Kaboul & Co at the back, throwing themselves infront of shots and making crucial blocks, we would have been f**ked good and proper. Even Modric did his part to a degree however, I digress, Dawson is not going to find it easy just to waltz back in preference to Kaboul or King and it’s evident that Dawsons partnership with Kaboul isnt working as it should be therefore if Kaboul is fit, he plays if King is injured and Gallas is fit, he plays, it’s as simple as that. Some will disagree so will agree.

    • TonyRich

      November 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Dude he wasn’t watching another game because I concur with him about Kaboul vs Fulham. We held out defensively not due to performances by the defenders, but due to a fantastic effort by the keeper – and the whole team mucking in. I have it on “tape”, and I will watch again to confirm

  4. TonyRich

    November 8, 2011 at 10:23 am

    As King Spur says, Kaboul was our weakest defender vs Fulham. And showed silly indiscipline when he got needlessly booked for dissent. Would you see King or Dawson do that? I don’t even think you’d see Gallas do that. Kaboul was actually pretty good vs Man U. But Dawson is not 4th choice…the thing is that we are not likely to have the best 4 all fit at the same time!

  5. domain

    November 8, 2011 at 11:26 am

    King and Dawson every day of the week when both fit.

    Gallas and Kaboul very good back ups

    and Bassong in the bin

  6. Jake

    December 5, 2011 at 9:37 am

    King and Gallas are injured so many times they count as one experienced defender. Dawson and Kaboul as one and a half inexperienced defender. Leaving Spurs needing another experienced defender to man the fort along side Dawson and Kaboul.

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