After signing a new long-term contract with the club this lunchtime, Rafa Benitez has heaped praise on NUFC left-back Paul Dummett, explaining to fans why he is so ‘important for the team’ and such a ‘consistent’ left-back ‘you can trust’.
Dummett is anything but a modern day left-back, but what he gives us defensively can not be overlooked – although I still believe several fans somehow see him as one of our poorest players!
Since he’s returned to the side, we’ve been unbeaten in 7 of our last 9 games (with Man City being the only two defeats both home and away). Not only that, we’ve conceded just 8 goals in these nine games, highlighting how much we’ve improved defensively upon his return.
Rafa Benitez clearly recognises this, having the following to say after he committed to the club until 2022 today:
“If you talk about players that are important for the team, normally people talk about goalscorers, midfielders and number tens but in modern football, there are not too many consistent left-sided full-backs.
“Paul is exactly that; he understands the game and you know what you can expect from him week in, week out. That’s important when you have a lot of big games. He’s a player you can trust.
“He was unlucky to miss the first four months of the season through injury, but he’s a player who is quick to learn and knows his job really well. His return has given us more competition in a position where we did not have too much before, so we’re really pleased to keep him.”
Don’t get me wrong, there’s times where his lack of offensive instincts limit us going forward, but it’s rare these days that full-backs are as solid and reliable at the other end as he is.
He’s one of our most improved players under Rafa’s reign and Benitez clearly sees what he brings to the team week in week out. Maybe it’s time that some of his critics at St James’ Park appreciated this too?