It’s not too farfetched to conceive of the notion that Tottenham will be forced to start Eric Dier in just over two weeks when the season gets underway.
Such is the precarious, even desperate situation the Lilywhites find themselves in.
With apparently no centre-back reinforcements forthcoming, at least in the short term, Ange finds himself between a rock and a Dier place.
But would starting Dier beside Cristian Romero be as awful as many profess?
I’m the first to admit that Dier makes more mistakes than a freshman on Friday night. But that wasn’t always the case. He is capable of being an elite centre-back, even if he hasn’t consistently demonstrated it.
One might be surprised to hear that Dier’s most decorated season as a centre-back came in 2016-17. Ok, so I know what you’re thinking. And yes, I realize that was seven seasons ago.
For the life of me, I can’t quite recall why Mauricio Pochettino shifted him into central defence, especially considering it was his only consistent stint in that role before Jose Mourinho’s arrival.
Dier made 36 Premier League appearances that season, 23 of which in central defence. His stabilizing presence helped Spurs finish second, behind only the Antonio Conte-led Blues.
Excuse me while I dry-heave.
Dier was a central figure during that close-but-oh-so-far run, helping Spurs keep 10 clean sheets in those 23 appearances.
That season set a precedent, providing Mourinho with all the ammunition he needed to permanently shift Dier into the heart of defence in the latter stages of the 2019-20 campaign.
The subsequent season was Dier’s first as an exclusive centre-back.
Spurs finished seventh in 2020-21, keeping eight clean sheets in Dier’s 28 centre-back appearances. He even returned to Gareth Southgate’s good graces, albeit fleetingly.
When did Dier catch a case of the yips?
But that’s when the mistakes became more commonplace. It wasn’t just the number of errors but their poor timing and overall costliness.
It wasn’t a good look, particularly considering it was his first full season at the heart of the rearguard.
Unfortunately for Dier and Spurs, things haven’t improved much since.
He shows moments of composure, sporadic glimpses of top-tier know-how. But just as he injects hope, he takes it way, usually by committing an inexcusable hare-brained blunder.
And so the vicious cycle perpetuates.
Ange is renowned for eliciting the best from his players and for his ability to extract every ounce of goodness. So maybe there is hope where Dier is concerned.
Though I fear having to put that theory to the test, as even if Ange finds a way to elicit the best from the 29-year-old midfielder-turned-centre-back, history suggests an egregious, inexplicable blunder is never far off.
If Tottenham can’t source reinforcements in short order, we’ll find out whether Ange’s magic is powerful enough to cure Dier’s interminable yips.