The Case for the Defence

Things have been going very well lately and the team is seemingly rounding into form now. Several players have continued to improve and we are scoring enough to win most or our games. What is the state of affairs with the defence however? We were concerned about it early in the season. Goalkeeping was an issue with many thinking Sels looked shaky and nervous. Our centre backs and fullbacks were also under close scrutiny. Defenders are a little more difficult to get a handle on, but we can track them through a few statistics. But let’s consider our keep situation first.

Matz Sels: the young (24 year old) Belgian was brought in to bolster the position with both Tim Krul and Rob Elliot out with serious injuries. He has played 9 league games with five clean sheets so far. The 2-0 win against Brighton was generally considered his high point. His handling of crosses has been shaky on several occasions however and overall he hasn’t always inspired confidence.

Karl Darlow: The 26 year old is beginning to come into his own as a senior keeper. He has appeared in 6 matches including cup games this season with 4 clean sheets. The competition for playing time will only increase with the return to fitness of our remaining senior keeper Rob Elliot. Is Karl our keeper of the future? I think the jury is still out as Elliot has signed a significant contract extension.

Rob Elliot: the 30 year old Irish international was our primary keeper last season after Tim Krul’s ACL injury. Considering the state of the club with horrendous management under Steve McLaren he was a solid performer who provided decent goalkeeping but it was far too much to ask for him to add enough to keep us in the Prem. He was rewarded for his performances however with a contract extension that will keep him at the club for four more years. His own ACL injury will be a significant challenge to recover fully from. Will he wrestle the starting job back from Darlow and Sels? My feeling is yes but Darlow won’t be kept on the sidelines for long. As for Matz Sels, I’m not sure if he has a future with us.

I’ll focus on the back four in the future.

About GeordieTwo

Long suffering Newcastle United supporter living in Canada. Retired a few years back. Living in beautiful British Columbia. Suffered through this dismal season and had lost hope until Rafa came along. Now looking forward to a quick return to the Prem!

20 thoughts on “The Case for the Defence

  1. cheers G2, Sels was a strange one for me,its different ball game in the English lgs the lad was brought up and trained in a different type of game,so can he adjust?,will he get the time at this club to do that i have my doubts with 3 keepers plus young Woodman pushing for the first team

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  2. Thanks G2. I think Management were surprised that Sels didn’t hit the ground running. He will struggle to beat out Darlow and Elliot. My preference is Elliot but after a shaky first game I can live with Darlow. I can only judge by radio and match reports as I haven’t been able to see many games recently with the lack of TV/internet coverage.

    It is a good problem to have 3 ‘keepers as I think Sels will improve as he settles. We shouldn’t have any problem selling one of them, plus Krul, if we want to see what Woodman can do. I expect Woodman will go out on loan for the rest of this season and then a full season after that so we really don’t have to make a decision yet.

    There will always be a few duds in the transfer market and considering how many signings we made in the summer we seem to have done OK. We haven’t even seen much of some of them as some of the existing players have stepped up – AND, just when we have the squad to cover injuries we don’t get any.

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  3. Us and Arsenal were always top of that injury list on the website “physioroom”. I wonder how we compare with the same stage over the past few years. I know there has been a vast improvement and it can’t just be down to squad rotation. Must be a combination, with the new pitches, new training methods and new medical staff? It begs the question of WTF we were doing before?

    Maybe the biggest difference is shipping the sicknotes out???? Taylor, Marveaux, Colo, Obertan, de Jong etc.

    And then changing the policy to not buy sicknotes in the first place.

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  4. Spot on icedog mate. I’m not sure where Sels fits in to the longer term plan at the club. We seem to have a good veteran keeper in Elliot, an up and comer in Darlow and a good young’un in Woodman. That appears to be enough for me. There just aren’t enough games to allow four keepers to prosper. Someone will more than likely leave next summer and I’m betting it’s Sels.

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  5. Watched Portland against the Whitecaps on the weekend. The Caps won 4-1. Steve Taylor was terrible, even for the MLS. Portland’s regular CB Liam Ridgewell (I’m sure people remember him?) is much, much better but injured. Taylor is third or fourth choice as a CB with them for me.

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  6. How about that elbow from Sissoko? Suspended three matches for it. He’s a real piece of work that lad. Glad we’re rid of him.

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  7. Bloody typical, they are showing Liverpool/Spurs instead of NUFC/PNE over here tomorrow. Howay man, who is interested in that game! Actually, that is only slightly tongue in cheek as Poch has already said he will be playing the kids. Klopp however, has said he will put out a strong team.

    The upside of relegation is that we keep winning. The downside is that I do not see it as hardly any games are televised.

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  8. G2: Spurs have a very odd transfer record. Their most expensive transfers are Sissoko, Lamela and Soldado. I think Sissoko will be a 30 mil impact sub. A couple of good games at a major tournament and see what happens!

    Spurs did sign Bale, Alli and Modric to balance their duds.

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  9. I see that Look North was showing the Lee Clark book launch and only one man in a super hero costume turned up. It should be full of interesting anecdotes about his successful time at Huddersfield, Birmingham and Kilmarnock and about the time he almost got the NUFC Manager’s job before they appointed an unknown called Benitez.

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  10. And I have finally figured Troy out. He is a mild mannered boy who lives in a laundry basket by day. But he is transformed into a betruncked and caped superhero when anybody says the word PARDEW!!!!! It is like Captain Marvel from the old comics when he yelled the words Shazam, except The Troysta (for it is he) only has the power to create havoc on blogs.

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  11. G2 – it’s an interesting position to look at really. I think since Rafa has changed Sels for Darlow, we have looked a lot more settled at the back and seem to be playing with a greater confidence. However it also coincides with the introduction of Clark in the back 4 as well.
    The 5 at the back now seem to have a real trust and understanding and seems to have settled on that spine of the team now.
    Darlow has been doing really well since he came in so it will be tough for Elliott to get back in – but that can only be a good thing as for far too many years Krul was safe and probably suffered as a result.

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  12. Up until very recently M’bemba has been the best defender we’ve signed for donkey’s, now Lascelles & Clark have pinched his spot. Plus Scotlands captain on the bench to cover! Real competition now in a weak area where we always seemed to be a player light. We’ve known it for years, Rafa did it.

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  13. I’m starting to realise why Darlow was so highly thought of at Forest. He doesn’t seem to take risks or overcomplicate things, which I like. He gets down into the corners well enough and just seems a good all rounder. He gives confidence to the defence also whereas Sels didn’t really have the experience to play in England.

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  14. Nice one G2, for me Elliot is better than Krul but I do like Darlow a lot. I have zero faith in Sels if I’m honest, he doesn’t look ready for this league and certainly not for PL.

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  15. Psychs.
    The blog is dying a death without my input. ?
    Anyway. What were you wittering on about? Oh yes. Lee Clark.
    Well once again, I was balanced in my argument. I never said anything other than, he was many of managers who could have took over from McLaren when we were heading for oblivion and needed a change of manager til the end of the season to try and and save us.
    10 games. That’s all. Nothing more. Anyway we got a world class manager in to the surprise o the world nevermind the great Eric Sykes. ???
    But, despite the ridicule I took, Clarky has saved Kilmarnock from certain relegation from the Scottish premier league to now having them mid table and the talk of Scottish football by the style of football. He has them playing attractive football.
    As I said, this is his stepping stone to an English championship side and who knows where next.
    But Psychs scoffed. As he normally does. As he did with Pardew who now has an exciting footballing side.
    Wow! Yikes! Ouch!

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  16. Troy: I was testing my theory that if I said PARDEW in a Shazam type way that you would appear. There does seem to have been a big drop off in regular contributors and I have not even been arguing with anybody (not even Aussies who you had already primed before me 🙂 ). Perhaps you should come back on to rile a few people up.

    I haven’t looked at Clark’s current record but will now. Last year he took over when they were 2nd bottom and finished 2nd bottom but did win the play-off against the lower league team. I have got nothing against Clark, I was just wondering what he might say about the last 10 years in his book and whether it would be about the time that Keegan dropped him and shipped him to the Mackems instead? Of course Clark will always be a legend for the SMB t-shirt.

    It is strange that this blog is so quiet when there are 40,000 tickets being sold for a PNE League Cup game.

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  17. Erm… Kilmarnock have won 2 of 10 but are technically lower mid-table. I wish Clark only the best of luck though and was just having a bit of fun with you about him.

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  18. Troy: Palace have 11 points from 9 games so Pards is not exactly pulling up trees, even now. He also has the worst points haul in the PL this year. Even worse than Sunderland after their terrible start.

    Speaking of the Mackems they are the only team in 110 years to not win any of their 1st 9 games in successive top flight seasons (probably because most were relegated who had done that in the 1st season).

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  19. Since Troy has made an appearance how about these stats. When the Pardew Out campaign started at SJP he had only 5 wins in 25 and became afraid to leave the dug out. At Palace they now have 5 wins in 31. He’s such a successful manager he doesn’t even justify Troys claim to be an average PL manager. Don’t know why I bother with this . . .

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