Wednesday, February 22, 2006

In defence

There's a popular belief that Newcastle can't defend: that Boumsong and Bramble are to defending what Laurel and Hardy were to piano moving.

It's bollocks.

Looking at the league table as it stands today (before our game with Charlton) we've played 25 games, and conceded 29 goals. More than a goal a game, and obviously not ideal. (Of course, ideally we'd have conceded no goals and be miles ahead of Chelsea at the top of the table).

Looking at the league, the following teams have better defences than we do:

Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Bolton.

That's it.

The top five teams in the league, and Fat Sam's bunch of cloggers who currently sit in ninth.

This year we've kept eight clean sheets, conceded one goal on seven occasions, two goals eight times and three once (away to Chelsea). Yet the the myth remains that we can't defend.

I'll accept that there have been times when we've shot ourselves in the foot - but to say our defence in porous is absolute rubbish, and does us (and in particular Shay Given) a massive disservice.

You might argue that but for the Irishman we'd have conceded a load more goals, which may well be true.

But firstly that's what he's paid very good money to do and secondly if you employ that argument you could equally say that Arsenal's defence is less effective without Campbell, Liverpool's without Reina, Spurs' without King, Chelsea's without Terry or Cech and Man Utd's without Ferdinand. It's true, because they are some of their best players.

We've already seen something of an improvement in results since Roeder replaced Souness, and hopefully the improvement will continue, but the biggest difference he has so far made to our side is have us create more chances and score more goals. If we can continue to do that and combine it with our solid defence, we'll keep climbing up the table and give our defence the league placing that their efforts deserve.


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