Michael 'Hammer' Dawson striking a blow for Spurs boss Redknapp

27 January 2009 10:20
Rising to the challenge: Michael Dawson is becoming one of Tottenham's most important players   More. Ramos lets rip Former Spurs boss slams money-loving Levy Harry's neat tap dance: Spurs boss Redknapp laughs off claims of stealing rival stars SPURS FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB But the moniker could equally effectively describe the bravery, determination and ability to dominate opponents that Dawson has displayed during Harry Redknapp's three months as Spurs manager. A look at Spurs' previous meeting with Stoke this season, a 2-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium on 19 October, provides a neat illustration of how drastically Dawson's fortunes have changed since that fixture. No more than a fringe player under former coach Juande Ramos this term, Dawson was brought on as a 77thminute substitute, only to be shown a straight red card in stoppage time for a reckless lunge at Mamady Sidibe, a gesture which left a ragged, distressed Spurs side with only nine men. Dawson's White Hart Lane career looked in jeopardy, but since Redknapp replaced Ramos as coach on 26 October, the 25-year-old's standing has improved to such a degree that he is now probably the club's most important player. Spurs have not won a League match since 8 December, and are above the relegation zone on goal difference alone. But Dawson's form has been so good that the frequent absences of captain Ledley King, who can play only once a week due to knee trouble and is currently out with a hamstring injury, has not been felt as keenly as it might have been. Redknapp has frequently praised Dawson's steely, uncomplicated attitude and his durability, traits which persuaded Paul Hart to give the Yorkshireman his Nottingham Forest debut at the age of 18. Hart was manager of Forest from 2001 until 2004, and also turned Dawson's current Spurs team-mate Jermaine Jenas, Sunderland's ex-Spurs midfielder Andy Reid and Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood into firstteam regulars at the City Ground. Good character: Michael Dawson during his spell at Nottingham Forest Hart said: 'Michael was always a great kid to work with. We had him at Forest from the age of 11 or 12, so I saw him develop right from the start. 'I put him in the first team when he was very young, but having worked with him as youth-team coach for the previous five years, I had no doubts about him. 'His character is ideal for the situation Spurs find themselves in at the moment. He has a strong personality, and will say his piece in the dressing room, but he tends more to lead by his example on the pitch. 'As soon as I put him in the first team, he made rapid strides, and it does not surprise me that he has now become such a key player for Spurs. 'I made him captain not too long after he'd broken into the first team, but it was never a risk for me. I knew he wouldn't flinch from the responsibility.' Dawson was part of the Forest side which almost gained promotion to the Premiership in 2003, when they were beaten by Sheffield United in the playoff semi-finals. He joined Spurs four years ago with Reid in a joint£8million deal, and has played in two England 'B' internationals, as well as being named on standby for Sven-Goran Eriksson's 2006 World Cup squad. The year Forest almost went up, Dawson formed a partnership with Des Walker, who was approaching the end of his playing days after making 59 appearances for his country. But Hart reckons it is the current England captain whom Dawson should seek to emulate. Impressed: Former Nottingham Forest manager Paul Hart 'In terms of playing style, he is not too far away from John Terry,' said Hart, who is now director of youth football at Portsmouth. 'I think [England coach] Fabio Capello likes that type of defender. 'He is a fantastic header of the ball, but he can pass like a midfielder. His only weakness is that he struggles to pick up pace over the first few strides, but that's the case for a lot of big guys. 'I keep in touch with Michael when I can, as I do with all the young players I had at Forest. He is probably benefiting from a manager who shows more belief in him.' Redknapp needs Dawson, who captained Spurs in their 2-1 FA Cup defeat by Manchester United on Saturday, to stay at his sharpest to get the club out of their current malaise. The dynamic performances which marked Redknapp's early weeks in charge at White Hart Lane are now a thing of the past, and the optimism which accompanied his arrival has been replaced by an apprehension among the Spurs fans. Spurs have lacked the appetite for a battle in recent weeks, something they must regain if Stoke - level on points - are to be beaten. Redknapp acknowledged: 'It will be a difficult game, but Michael Dawson has been terrific. He, Ledley King - if we can get him fit - and Jonathan Woodgate are the backbone of our team. 'His contribution in the dressing room is excellent, and he is fearless on the pitch. He puts his head in there, and wants to defend for his life.' Against a Stoke side known to be as hard as nails, Redknapp needs his team to follow the example of "The Hammer".   More. Ramos lets rip Former Spurs boss slams money-loving Levy Harry's neat tap dance: Spurs boss Redknapp laughs off claims of stealing rival stars SPURS FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB  

Source: Daily_Mail