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Let’s not take anything away from our back four, six, eight, whatever it is…

1 year ago

I played in goal as a kid and was a consistent recipient of man of the match, month and season awards.

I’m under no illusions now, that this was mainly due to me playing behind one of the most horrific defences ever to pull on a pair of boots. Okay, four pairs of boots!

You have never been conflicted until the opposition manager tells you how good you are…and it was a miracle you managed to keep it down to 11 goals.

That is why, while I’m a huge fan of Martin Dubravka, when everyone was shouting about how great he was because he had made 75 saves in a season, I was having flashbacks to the time when I had five goals put past me by a neighbouring school team who had turned up with only nine players…and one of them was girl (which back in the day was unheard of, unlike these more inclusive modern times)!

When you are top of the “saves made” league table, there is a problem in front of you.

Similarly, a lot has been said about how brilliant Nick Pope has been recently, having conceded only 11 goals so far in the Premier League, and having kept an impressive 16 clean sheets in 24 games.

Of course, the usual mob insist he should be Southgate’s first choice for England, but there’s something I can’t get right in my mind about all this.

One day our Newcastle United defence is getting the credit for our impressive Goals Against figures, then the next it’s Pope. So which is it gonna be?

In a game where the opposition don’t even register a shot on target, where is the logic in heaping praise on the keeper for keeping a clean sheet?

Then of course, against Southampton he made three impressive saves and deserves all the praise he gets.

As one of those sad, lonely goalkeeping individuals myself, it pains me no end to say that when it comes to only 11 goals conceded, and 12 clean sheets in the league, I would have to push the praise a little more towards the Newcastle United defence than the keeper.

Pope has been almost faultless when called upon BUT it is because of the defence, that those times are few and far between. And when I say defence, with the amount of tracking back that our midfield do, where do you draw the line?

Can we say with any certainty, with the fitness levels and shape of the team, that we wouldn’t be in the same position, or even better off, if we’d had Martin Dubravka between the sticks? I’m not so sure.

Nick Pope has been brilliant, but let’s not take anything away from our back four, six, eight, whatever it is.


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