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The Mail Bag

Better 'Layt' than Neville...

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I have just been looking into our defensive stats and they make very interesting reading.

Ok, we all know that without the Yak, we have been very focused on our scoring prowess, or lack thereof, but yesterday was our third clean sheet in a row and I don't think our defense is getting the plaudits it deserves!

In fact, in our last 10 premiership games, we have 7 clean sheets(!), conceded just 7 goals (2+4 to ManU+Arsenal,plus Jags unfortunate o.g against Wigan).

Howard is the 'Actims' 4th best keeper, Lescott the 3rd best defender and Jagielka has gone from 'damn, we should have signed Bramble instead' to 'Can he Really be better than Lescott?!'

With Baines out, Lescott is able to play LB, where he is always outstanding and thus allowing us to play Jag and Yobo in the middle. These three on form are 3/5ths of a world class defence.

Now I'm no Hibbo-hater (bless the guy, 110% every time but lacking going forwards) but
Neville is his superior in that department and perfectly decent at RB (and hence the title of this article i.e. I'm glad it wasn't Neville we had to do without as LB is far better covered than RB).

Howard also gets slated on here regularly but just look at the stats people! Great keeper, big Tim Howard fan here!

Neville has been able to drop back into defense since we loaned Manny back (yes he has been under par so far, but give him time, and plus an off-colour Manny is better than Nev or Jag covering that role!) so well done Moyes for shipping out Stubbs as we do have 3.5 good CBs now, got a midfielder to replace Neville in CDM, previously a major weak point of our formation, and once Peanut is back in action we will have good competition in midfield to be able to play those on form.

My point is this, everyone is getting anxious that our forwards aren't producing, but missing the fact that we are back to being a rock solid unit, which we weren't at the start of the season.
We are an improved side from the previous CL qualifying side with more attacking prowess (A crocked Peanut and a sulking Yak are still better than Beattie and Bent on a good day!)

So, Chelski to beat the shite later, Man U to win the derby, Arsenal on top tomorrow and us to beat SK Braan midweek and our season is back on.


Viv Sharma, Northampton     Posted 10/02/2008 at 12:35:21

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ed casey
1   Posted 10/02/2008 at 19:15:00

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Shouldn’t that be better Leight than Neville?

Agreed though - top defensive performances have been a key in our successful run. Lets hope that the story I read recently regarding Yak (that he went to visit his sick father and came back with his tail between his legs and made some grovelling apologies to manager and team mates) are true and he’ll be back scoring sooner rather than later!
Dan McKie
2   Posted 10/02/2008 at 20:40:34

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I hope you didnt go to the bookies with your game predictions Viv :0)
Matthew Lovekin
3   Posted 10/02/2008 at 21:29:49

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I’m full of optimism too...unfortunately chelski didn’t beat the shite and Man U lost the derby. Therefore it’s pretty much status quo as far as the race for 4th goes. Let’s hope your other predictions are right instead.
Stewart Oakes
4   Posted 10/02/2008 at 22:17:20

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While i agree with you about the other 3 members of the back 4, i have to disagree with about Neville. Please tell me what he does better than Hibbo, because inspite of what you say it’s certainly not his defending. Tony Hibbert is on of the best defensive right backs in the league.

The service down the line to Arteta or Leon from Hibbert is quicker and more often than not in front of them to run onto than with Neville who also try’s to play that little dink pass down the line that 9 times out of 10 he slices out of play.

So then it must be his forward play, well no actually because again when he does get to the by line once again that dink pass comes into play which is easy to defend and more difficult for attackers to get any power onto, this is the 1 area where Tony is weak, if he hits the cross first time it’s usually ok but when he take’s a touch it tends to be poor.

Which brings us to captaincy, this is the most likley reason Phil gets the nod in front of Tony, but did you spot our captain driving the team on yesterday, no.

Tony’s one of our’s, Phil cost us money and is a great pro, which means Tony has to play so much better than Phil to get a game which is a real shame because we look a better and more balanced side with Hibbert.
Steve Carter
5   Posted 10/02/2008 at 23:11:06

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Agree 100%, Stewart. I’ll say it ’till I’m blue in the face: (a) Hibbert’s employed to defend the right flank, (b) he does that well, he does that better than Pip, (c) there is a struck match between the two of them in terms of going forward and passing - both fairly ordinary, (d) with Arteta doing his stuff wide on the right we hardly need your classical wing-back and (e) yes, Pip is a "hail fellow well met captain" lacking the killer instinct and even pleads the case for the opposition (eg. v Manure). Moyes should make Cahill captain: I’ll bet he’d have a touch of the Steve Waugh Aussie-style steely determination about him.
Dick Fearon
6   Posted 11/02/2008 at 00:31:38

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Hey Viv, two of your four picks down the pan already, tch, tch. I hope your next two are on the money.
Terry Mcloughlin
7   Posted 11/02/2008 at 08:48:20

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You must be having a laugh Viv. If Hibbert played as bad as Neville did on Saturday, he would get slaughtered. They say that Neville gets picked before Hibbert because he?s better going forward? All he did was give the ball away, and when he even tried to cross a ball it ended up in the crowd. As for being the captain... What a joke!
Wayne Smyth
8   Posted 11/02/2008 at 10:25:33

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Neville was dire on saturday. Everytime he got the ball it was passed to a reading shirt, his defending was hardly much better either. When he got forward his crossing was off mark too.

I’m no Neville-hater but his performance was woeful. Even though many other players played badly on saturday he stood out for me.

I wonder sometimes for all his professionalism whether he has got complacent and taken his position in the team for granted. If hibbert isn’t good enough to displace him, then it would be good to see the new lad Gosling get a game.....or maybe we should move lescott there. He seems to play a blinder whatever position he’s used in!
Dave Dawson
9   Posted 11/02/2008 at 11:16:44

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Is Lescott going to get cheesed off playing at LB? It’s not doing his England chances any good.

Chris Masey
10   Posted 11/02/2008 at 12:49:56

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Well hooray some positivety back, an enjoyable read, and totally 100% agree. Part of becoming a good side is winning when you play crap, and saturday was certainly that. We’ve been playing rubbish and picking up results!
Damian Wilde
11   Posted 11/02/2008 at 12:54:23

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I agree that the defence has been superb. It gets you thinking, if we can get scoring again like we were, you would think we will finish 4th. Even with not scoring many, out form is better than Liverpool’s.

Neville might be an okay defender, but his passing and crossing lately has been dreadful. Long term, we should get rid of him. Thing is, he is one of Moyes’ favourites. He should never be played in midfield. As for who is better at RB (him or TH), I’m not sure.
Ben Greenwood
12   Posted 11/02/2008 at 13:17:11

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David Moyes must be the best manager in the world if the fella next to me at the match is to believed.
  • He says we play with ten players when Neville plays.
  • He says we play with ten players when Carsley plays.
  • He says we play with ten players when Howard plays.
  • And he says we play with ten players when either Fernandes or Johnson plays.
To get fourth when we only play with six players each week is an amazing achievement! It's like sitting next to a ray of sunshine at the match listening to my neighbour shout get Neville off, et cetera.

Neville did play badly but I don't see why he gets such a slagging. I mean it is not like shouting "You're shit" at him is going to make him any better. Beside, he is a good player. He has, after all, managed to get to the top of his profession.

helen thompson
13   Posted 11/02/2008 at 23:46:21

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Ben do you sit near me in the paddock? Row 12 .Because the so called fans nearby must give their wives a few hours of peace each matchday.Moan, moan and more moan.

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