The rock solid foundation of NUFC

Success built on the foundations of defence
So far this season Newcastle United have enjoyed an unbeaten run that lasted for eleven games before we finally lost to Manchester City.

However we bounced back with a mighty display against their City neighbours, Manchester United, at the weekend to gain a point on our 130th anniversary.

There was a true demonstration of our defence when we faced an onslaught of pressure after Jonas Gutierrez was sent off. What is becoming a reliable defence stepped up to the task once again and defended superbly and that is what I think has been key to our success so far in this season.

As a defensive unit we seem a lot better than we have ever done before and this must be partly down to the work that Alan Pardew has done with them. I want to look at how our defence has developed into the mighty machine that it is today.

Goalkeeper: Tim Krul – The Dutch international found his way into the team when Steve Harper became injured last year. He out in some good displays although there was clear room for improvement. However earlier this year he was awarded his Holland debut against Brazil. He put in tremendous display and that seems to have given him more and more confidence. I have nothing against Steve Harper but at times last year I felt he could of done better in some situations.

This season I have noticed that Tim Krul has fantastic reactions. These were on show at the weekend and those sort of vital saves kept us in the game. Having reactions like that have helped us a lot so far this season and is testament to how the Dutchman plays. Along with this he is not afraid to come out and claim the ball which was evident in the away game against Stoke. He was confident and decisive when making the decision to claim the ball. Having a goalie that is not afraid to put himself about in those situations will make the defence feel much more settled as they know that they have a goalie who is playing very well.

Certainly in this particular position we have improved by a huge amount as Tim Krul has been part of the defence that has hardly conceded any goals this season. He has been a key player for us and I’m sure he will continue to make the saves that he has been doing this season.

Right-Back: Danny Simpson – At times I have been a harsh critic of Danny Simpson but he is beginning to win me over. I’m not completely convinced that he is a great right-back but he does the job for us. So far this season he has had, in my opinion, games where he has played well and games where he hasn’t.

One of those games where he played well was against his former club, Manchester United. His goal-line clearance was one of brilliance that stopped them from taking the lead. He had a good display against them and hopefully he can go on from that and begin to play consistently week in week out.

I think Simpson has improved during his time at Newcastle but for me he needs to put the same kind of performance in each game so that he is not left exposed by the opposition.

Centre-Back: Steven Taylor – I have been very impressed with how Steven Taylor has played this season. His role in the defence is to be the one who marks the opposition allowing Fabricio Coloccini to deal with any threats that come over the top of the defence. He has been strong at the back and has continued playing for the club even with a broken nose.

He looks very settled alongside our Captain and there seems to be a strong partnership growing between the pair. You always know with Steven Taylor that he will always give his all for the team and being a Geordie he understands what it means to play in a black and white shirt. He has lost weight over the last year and I think that is down to the way in which Alan Pardew has his players conditioned, they seem to be fitter and stronger allowing them to truly boss the opposition when they are on the attack.

For me, there is something about Steven Taylor this year that seems to be right. He is playing very good football and he seems to be rejuvenated under the leadership of Alan Pardew which is bringing out the best in him.

Centre-Back: Fabricio Coloccini – Our Captain has come on leaps and bounds since his arrival at the Toon. This year he has looked very accomplished leading the defence and the whole team in their Premier League campaign. Coloccini’s role in the defence is essentially to mark but also to mop up any mistakes that may happen during a game. Like a sweeper essentially.

Coloccini has been able to lead from the back and seems to have his defence very well marshalled. That has been key for us and it certainly seems to be working a treat. With Coloccini he is not afraid to bring the ball out of defence in order to rally the troops if we have been under a period of pressure from the opposition.

Our Captain has looked very solid at the heart of the defence and there has been a big improvement in the way that he has developed over the last few years at our club.

Left-Back: Ryan Taylor – When Jose Enrique left the club in the summer, Taylor’s name was not on many peoples lips as the man to take over the left-back position. He has produced assured displays in this position even though he is a right-midfielder. I have been impressed with his work rate in that position and although he may not be the best at the position I feel he has grown into it more and more because of the settled back five that is currently being played in every game.

Ryan Taylor has produced some wonder goals this season and he has begun to attack further up the pitch with the help of Jonas Gutierrez. Although he is not the strongest in that position he is part of a backline that has played together for many matches and I don’t see Pardew disrupting that any time soon. Ryan Taylor has been one of the players this season who has stepped up to the task and he has certainly shown that he is capable of putting a shift in for us.

Certainly our defence is one that has improved over the last year and that is evident in the displays that we have seen so far this season. The fact that there is a settled backline is also a determining factor in our success as the players know how each other play and are able to combine as one unit in order to stop the opposition.

The defence having been key to our success so far this season. No doubt.

About Zoë Vicarage

A lifelong Newcastle fan. Currently exiled in Sunderland studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland Follow me on Twitter: @ZoeVicarage

34 thoughts on “The rock solid foundation of NUFC

  1. Good article Zoe 😛 I think all of that is spot on, with one or two little things missing (only in my opinion of course!)

    1) Tim Krul is a great shot stopper. He is commanding his area (better than Shay or Steve imo), His distibution however leaves a lot to be desired. Every now and then his kicking can be exceptional, but it is not consistent enough and he gives possession away too often at key points in matches when we should be retaining the ball. This is what he needs to work on. If he overcomes this, he will be one of the very best stoppers on the planet. Very promising for one so young and very happy he is our #1.

    2) Ryan Taylor – Definately a workhorse, definately listens to directions from Sylor, Colo and Krul, definately a solid pro with a great attitude, definately a suprise this season. That said, his free kicks are nothing new, he has always done this. His natural ability to defend is lacking. He seems to find it difficult to concentrate fully on tracking a player at the same time as the ball and this has lead to some costly mistakes. He often needs Guti to assist in order to deal with just 1 player, meaning we lose cover elsewhere on the pitch and lose an attacking outlet in the process.

    He is so worth a new contract and is a great player to have on the very edge of the 1st team. He will be reliable enough when called upon, however I believe he is the one main player that will hold us back from competing at the highest level in the long term and we should be looking for a more gifted player in his position.

    That said, for this season he is doing a good enough job and I’m happy enough for him to keep the shirt (for now).

    The player to suprise me the most in recent weeks is Danny Simpson. He is getting better as each game goes on and ironing out those stupid mistakes. He is not worth parity with Saylor, but if he signes fresh terms soon enough, this fan has no issues with him keeping the shirt in the long run – provided he stays focused and keeps improving. 😛


  2. Great analysis of our almost watertight defence Zoe.
    Toonsy I just read that on the nufc website. Have to say I’m very pleased with their plans.
    Unfortunately bein on the breadline, I cant get to the game but will be watching it on the telly and I just hope the whole tribute will be televised.
    I’m feeling all lumpy throated just thinking about it to be honest 🙁


  3. Nice article. Good point about whether this is actually as good a defence as we’ve seen; I think it is in my lifetime. The entertainers were hardly renouned for their backline; they were usually to be found just outside the opposition’s 18-yard box!

    I think we also have options for full-backs which we’ve not had before. If we recruit it’ll be either to replace players leaving (please no) or to introduce more depth. You can’t really criticise a back four with a record like ours!


  4. I cant get to the game either. Gutted as would love to pay my respects with the fans. May try and get hold of a copy of the match programme though. If anyone gets hold of a spare, let me know. He was one of personal all time favourites. Still in shock and gutted 😥


  5. BTW – Leeds put in a great performance in memory of Speedo. Here’s to hoping Newcastle can do the same. 🙂


  6. I still can’t believe we’re 3/1 for the win. Seems generous to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Chelsea are dangerous and it won’t be easy, but 3/1 given their form and our form plus home advantage? 😕


  7. Feck me. Am an emotional wreck picturing the scene on saturday.
    I lost my oldest mate to the same thing in April and its bringing a lot of memories flooding back. Has done since sunday morning.
    He was 33. The most outgoing, confident lad you were ever likely to meet.
    Out with the lads on the sunday, having a laugh and few pints like normal, then i gets the phonecall on the monday that he had took his own life in some bushes near where we live in wallsend. No sign of depression in the 33 years I knew him, no obvious problems in his home life, beautiful young bairn and good job. Then he goes and does something like that. None of us had ANY idea what he was planning. Or why. And we never will.
    I still have a bit whinge when I think about him, which is pretty much every day.
    Nobody ever really knows whats going on in even your closest mates mind
    and after reading about several footballers seeking help for depression in the wake of Speedo’s suicide, I really hope this highlights that just talking to someone can be enough to deter a depression sufferer from planning to take their own life. Something I wish my best mate Fergy sought before he thought there was nothing else but to commit suicide to solve whatever problems he was experiencing.


  8. I don’t like the sound of the contract discussions with Simmo. But if you apply a significant chunk of “press bs filter” perhaps it’s not all that bad. But AP’s quote does suggest there’s some truth in there. I wonder if it’s him being unrealistic (he is ex-Manure) or NUFC not offering a realistic wage…


  9. Witters, cheers for the offer buddy 😀 A fellow good willed samaritan has already stepped up but it’s appreciated anyway buddy 🙂


  10. On topic (see Zoe, I promised) 😉

    I think the organisation between our back five is one of the defining factors of our season to date. It shows that inferior players, like Simpson and Raylor, can actually do a job if they remain organised. Not saying they are inferior, but there is better available kind of thing…

    For me Pardew has to take a large part of the credit for it as it’s he who apparently works with the defence allowing Carver to focus on attack. The other person who deserves credit is Colo. He is Captain and will be responsible for organising them on the pitch during the game.

    Hopefully it continues.


  11. Zoe – you hit the nail on the head there about Saylor looking ‘settled’ alongside Captain Colo. He has had an aweful lot of bad defensive partners in the past, who have held back his development. Rozebhal, Boumsong, Bramble etc…

    We are seeing his true potential now he is playing somebody that can compliment his game and teach him about composure. This is why it would be a travesty to lose Colo. We need to get him signed up, he is massively important to our future.


  12. Yep good write up zoe and I think spot on.

    The key to any successful team is good leadership on the field and also a well drilled team of players , none more so than your back line.

    We might not be world class at the back but we are very well drilled and give 100% with Colo marshalling it fantastically well.

    I particularly like the understanding of all at the back when playing the offside trap as it also looks very well drilled and something that we have been well punished for in the past.

    The fact that this team all give 100% and in each game are getting to know each others ways, even when one or two replacements are added through injury is brilliant.

    The sheer effort put in and the never say die attitude is what can carry this team/squad forward and is testament to a solid base that everyone is working from.


  13. Thanks for all the comments guys, really appreciate them 😀

    Shamrock: RE Saylor he looks so much happier and he has had some dreadful partners in the past and I think it is great that he has formed a strong partnership with Colo


  14. Tiote controlling midfield has helped the defense out as well… come to think of it… whats the latest on tiote? nothing has been in the news about him… has he fallen off the planet? 😕

    I hope he’s not doing an enrique.


  15. Excellent write Zoe….
    Can you see something that i am getting a feeling… Look at the back 5 and we have 2 comming out of our acadamy and look at all the great teams and they will have players from their academy and they will work hard to get the extra miles…. what i am seeing in NUFC now is a well drilled and strict ordered directions.. i can see few more of our academy players pushing in to first team and then we will probably see 5 to 7 regular 1st team players playing and giving it all for us week in week out… Also what Mr.Carr is doin is bringing in players to nufc who can fit into the system as can do, will do, push each other for places and confidence….. i for a long time didnt have this feeling that am having and confident that this team will giv it all game in game out… bring a striker n a CB and will be jumpin off the bridge….


  16. No you get your card through with your supporter number. I just got it but it says you get 5% of tickets and i went to buy tickets for west brom but no money was being taken off. Applied for my membership card about two months ago and it just came today with a poster of jose enrique..


  17. Toonsy, I’ve finished the Chelsea preview. Can always tweak it closer to the game if some unexpeted team news occurs but cant see much changing now. A link needs putting in so watch out for that! 🙂


  18. Jose 😆

    Sounds about right 🙄

    I don’t know mate. Last time it was vouchers for £5 off per home game and you just entered the code when you went to buy them. I’d try ringing them up to be certain.


  19. Skip – firstly, fair play to you for writing that mate, must be difficult, hope youre ok Saturday, slightly easier to understand if there’s a reason, still leaves friends and families hurting but hurt and confusion is far harder to live with.
    Really proud of the club for organising such a fitting tribute.

    Zoe, great article and really worthy plaudits.
    It’s great to see the back 5 congratulating each other for a good tackle or a good save and I’ve noticed, they aren’t having a pop at each other when a goal or freekick or whatever is conceded


  20. ” …I cant get to the game but will be watching it on the telly and I just hope the whole tribute will be televised”

    Same here Skip – I was also a bit worried that they might not show the whole thing on tv but I noticed in that article on the official site that they’ll be asking supporters in the east stand to hold up cards while the hymn is being sung. If I’m not mistaken that’s the side of the ground that the tv cameras are pointing at, so it looks to me like they’re organising things with the tv audience very much in mind.

    Not being Welsh I had to do a quick search on youtube to remind myself how ‘Bread of Heaven’ goes. Now I’m beginning to feel a bit lumpy throated myself!


  21. Sharpy – I’ve noticed that also. There seems to be a collective responsibility as opposed to the general finger pointing that we’ve seen in the past, and still see at other clubs and so.


  22. Hope you ok Skip that’s tough ……. Zoe, do agree with a majority of your comments, partic Simpsonwho I really thought was average but is holding down his position in a good unit – I think pardew will want to keep him and will use ome of his special transfer tokens on him …… Alth Collo is the one i hope he makes most effort with ……Krul needs to work on his kicking


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