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Echoes of the Past - 29/11/2002

Echoes of the Past
A good friend and I back him entirely
   Alan Shearer
   Craig Bellamy
   Robbie Elliott
   Lee Carsley
   Thomas Gravesen
   Newcastle United

We all saw Bellamy walking off in tears, and I have little sympathy for him. His nature isnít going to change, but lets hope heíll curb the stupid stuff and mature a bit. Iím a fan, and Iíd love to see him terrorising defenders with his pace Ė rather that anything else. The Inter defence was terrified of Shearer and Iím sure the special attention Materazzi dished out to Bellerís was evidence that it wasnít just Big Al who they were concerned about. They simply didnít know how to play Shearer, his strength frightened them and thatís why Cannavaro was desperately trying to keep a hold of Al. I have to say that he was lucky to stay on the pitch, the ref said he didnít see the incident Ė more like he didnít want to see the incident! Sending Bellemy off was one thing, following that with the club captain was have caused a riot. I think the background to the incident was based on frustration, 1-0 down and his partner off, having to plough on by himself for the rest of the game. But with video evidence coming into play, the likely ban is going to cause big problems. Missing both first choice strikers is a massive blow.

Looking at the defensive performance, you have to have sympathy with the back four. Iíve heard about Robbieís article and I certainly understand and support him and the rest of the defence Ė not because heís a mate and itís the Ďdefenderís unioní speaking, but because itís a simply fact. You play attacking football and youíll score goals but also concede them Ė simple.

It takes me back a few years and the same things were being said. The Inter game was a disaster, and although four goals were conceded, you canít blame the defence. After six minutes the match was effectively over, one goal and one man down Ė you donít come back from a deficit like that when youíre playing teams of this calibre. Iím disappointed, because I honestly thought we had a good chance to win it. Even before the sending off the players weíre really up for it and I think, especially with our previous record, we could have come back. Weíll be facing Everton on Sunday and their midfield of Pembridge, Gravesen, and Carsley will protect their defence. Robert, Solano, and Dyer will be looking to push forward at every opportunity. Now for me, Iíll tell you that weíve got better defenders than Evertonís, although theyíve conceded no goals in their last FIVE Premiership performances (but three against us in the Worthington Cup). But we concede more goals because we donít protect them.

Criticism is unfair, TV highlights donít help. Youíll never see a great tackle on the half way line, or defenders picking up clever runs from centre forwards Ė because thatí not good TV. What is good TV is a defender missing a tackle in the box, or failing to pick up a run Ė itís a fact of life that defenders are given a hard time. Such criticism simply increases pressure and it all turns into a viscous circle. It wouldnít be a bad idea for the other players to give a bit of praise to the defence. Itís a team game after all.

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