Thursday, April 12, 2012

Simp-ly the best?

This has been a season when even our lesser lights have managed to shine. Hell, even Perchinho has battled hard to become a valued squad player and make that moniker more apt than mocking. But, all the same, surely it's going too far to claim that Danny Simpson - solid and dependable, but not that much more - is the best right back in the Premier League?

We've commented on Ronny Gill hack Lee Ryder's fondness for bigging up our Manc defender before, but, as unlikely as it might seem, he actually has the stats to back up that bold claim.

The headline figure is the seven vital goal-line clearances Simpson's made this campaign - the most recent at home to Liverpool when his upper arm may or may not have been involved (depending on whether you can tune out the bleating of Kenny Dalglish and embittered Scousers adamant there's some kind of nationwide conspiracy against their club). But it's equally noteworthy that at the time of the article, prior to the Swansea match, he'd lost just nine tackles.

In fairness to Simpson, he's proved himself to be a tidy and modestly accomplished defender, though he doesn't carry the same sort of attacking threat as many (most?) Premier League full-backs, an attribute essential in the modern game when it's those areas that teams are most able to exploit. On the other flank Davide Santon, by contrast, isn't quite so good when faced with defensive duties, but offers much more in the opposition half - indeed he's looked our biggest threat at times, when games have been tight and strikers and creative midfielders have been shackled.

Ryder appears to be engaged in a protracted campaign to sway public opinion of a player many feel to be hard-working but ultimately of limited talent, and particularly aggrieved at the abuse Simpson's suffered as a result of his failure to agree a new deal. While Ryder's hard sell is somewhat irritating, he's right to criticise those whose personal comments caused our right-back to shut down his Twitter account last month (something I hadn't realised). Instead, perhaps, we should be celebrating Simpson as symbolic of our season: a player procured on the cheap who is performing to the absolute best of his ability.




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