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Is Newcastle Priority One (Or Two…) New Centre-backs?

6 years ago
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It is no coincidence that Newcastle United have won nothing for 45 years, when manager after manager sees investing  in our back line as the least important area of the team/squad.

The fundamentally flawed thinking that unless our main target man is single-handedly capable of scoring a large set amount, the team as a whole will fail. Even harking back to seasons past, our most productive recent eras under Keegan and Robson, were ultimately unable to make that final step, regardless of how well the attack fared.

I’m not by any means suggesting that we should become a defensive team, who play week after week for dull, stifling 1-0 wins home and away. Far from it, we are on the whole, a fan base who love to watch attacking, flair play, individual brilliance and off-your-seat action. But can’t we have a strong defensive line at the back, at the same time?

Shipping 50-70 goals per season puts so much pressure on the team, that it’s no surprise when things capitulate, as spectacularly as they did last season. Indeed we surpassed relegation form in that second half of the season. There were reasons, there always are, but ultimately conceding too many goals was something which simply could not be overlooked. Yet so far, once again, it has been (overlooked)!

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In Given and now Krul we have managed to get solid goalkeepers who on their day are as good as anyone, we also have a couple in development who may well in time, be regarded just as highly. Yet we continue to protect them with centre-backs who simply aren’t good enough. It’s akin to putting your most prized possessions in a safe and leaving the door unlocked, or storing a Ferrari in a garage with doors that barely close and held shut with string.

The transfer window is still open for quite a while, and who knows, maybe this year we’ll see a top quality centre-back brought in, perhaps the powers that be will even shock us and buy two.

What has been shown, if not simply by the goals against columns of recent years, is that our central defence is simply not up to the task. Indeed at best, none are worthy of more than a place on the bench and simply don’t fit into the quality the rest of the starting 11 possess.

Solidity at the back will bring confidence to the rest of the team, that will equate to less defensive-minded play and more flow to the game. There will be less of a reliance on set-pieces to create chances and more goals from open play.

Less pressure on strikers to score with every touch will probably increase their productivity too. All in all the type of game we, as Toon fans, love to watch.

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