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Villa Better In Defence This Season Or Last?

Which back line is better?

Last season our first choice defensive unit was Mellberg RB, Bouma LB, Laursen and Davies in the middle with Carson between the sticks.

Personally I think that was a strong defensive line up let down by a poor and uncommanding keeper whose actual shop stopping was at best, less than average.

This season we are likely to have Young RB, Shorey LB, Laursen and Davies in the middle with Friedel in goal. Is it any better? Well imho opinion, yes and no.

Defensively I think it is weaker down the flanks. Shorey and Young are not the quickest but both have the ability to get forward better than Olof and Freddy. Shorey especially is a corner kick specialist and will undoubtedly provide many assists. Laursen and Davies, if they remain injury free have the potential to be one of the best centre back pairings in the league. Not as good defensively as say Ferdinand and Vidic but much more of a threat in the opponents box.

What will make the biggest difference is having a keeper who is not only commanding but also an excellent shop stopper. If Friedel remains injury free, he will be the one who will make the difference. I think teams will have more joy down the flanks against Young and Shorey than against Olof and Freddy, but this will be more than compensated for by having three, big strong men commanding the centre and in goal.

If I was a betting man, I would put money on our goals against column coming down by about 15 to 20 compared to last season. It will be hard to score as many but overall we will be better off.

What will be an influence will be games. Rangers played 19 European matches in getting to the final last year. We still need a right midfielder SWP or Milner please), cover for Carew (with battering he takes for the team, there is no chance of getting 50+ games from him) and an extra centre half as a bare minimum. Now is the time to invest in two young full backs who are happy to learn their trade as part of the squad, but who will be busting a gut to prove themselves when Shorey or Young are injured or suspended.

This is where a good scouting network would have done the job.

voiceoftheholte




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The Journalist

Writer: voiceoftheholte Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday August 8 2008

Time: 11:00AM

Your Comments

Dont agree, think it is much better. Friedel as you say is the biggest improvement. But Young and Shorey are better than Mellberg (as much as i love the guy) and Bouma (as much as others love the guy). I think Bouma may struggle to get back in the team when he returns to fitness, reckon Shorey could be a superb signing.
young_jonah
Far better this season I think. Shorey and Young are two good buys. I just hope that Laursen and Davies can stay fit. If we have luck with injuries at the back and with Friedel in goal I think we will concede far fewer goals this season. Be nice to have a few clean sheets, got sick of our always seeming to concede a goal in the 89th minute last season.
jonah
In fairness we didn't let many shots at our keeper last season , it was just that every shot the oposition had seemed to go past Carson. Friedel will make a huge difference ! Defensively we will be better balance , attack wise not sure about defensively, time will tell
Villan57
If as you suggest Shorey and Young aren't as good defensively as bouma and mellberg, then i'd suggest we are in big trouble this season. We were a counter attacking team which often left us wide open at the back for return counter attacks. Whilst we were good going forwards we weren't good defensively. I think Friedel will be the world of difference, and I hope you're wrong about our new full backs as i feel they will offer the shoring up our defense has needed for some time. Build from the back as they say.
johnnyuk
I think we are much better look at any of the players in our back line (excluding knight) and friedel in the sticks and one word comes to mind for me SOLID. We let in a lot of goals last season, with players playing in actual positions instead of having 4 CB and a dodgy keeper we will concede far less guaranteed.
Tez86
Great article mate. I agree about the young full backs, and also the RM/CF thing.
evoflash
Last year we had a hell of a big back four, with Mellberg and Freddie covering when balls were pumped into the box. Can't see it happening as much this year. Laursen and Davies may find themselves a bit more exposed. Lost count of the times last year when Olof went inside from full back at set pieces. He'll be the biggest miss even though he was crap going forward.
AMS78
It is unarguably stronger - Friedel will boss the backline, and lets face it, Melly was awful going forward - his long passing and crossing just wasn't there!
paranoid_ormandroyd
We know Mellberg was a CB but Bouma would be better off as a CB or played on the left of a 3 man defence.A RB and a LB need plenty of pace and the ability to get foward,these attributes were not what Melly and Bouma were naturally strong in.Very good tacklers and readers of the game though.
Pking
the switch in keepers is a no brainer, and a proper right back in place of melly, is also a better option, and even though it's hard to say, i think shorey will be a better all round left back.
eltoro
I can't help thinking what a team we would have if mellberg and barry had both stayed, shame really,mellberg and laursen in front of friedal, wow
eltoro
I think we may have young eager full backs from the Academy. What's the point in bringing them through, to then go and buy similar players from elsewhere. Steiber and O'Halloran can fit the bill in a backup roll.
AVGD
I think we will be stronger. Shorey will definitely provide better distribution/crossing/shooting than Bouma. Not sure about whether he is as good defensively, but it will be interesting to see who stays first choice when Bouma is back...
AVGD
Gibson [Middlesbrough chairman] has said we paid 6m for Young! That does seem a bit steep but I'm still glad we have him!
AVGD
I would also agree we're stronger. If O'Halloran recovers from that bad injury, then surely he's our long term 'youngster coming through' at LB, and Bouma provides superb cover for us at CB. I would actually hope that if we end up signing Kaboul, then i'd like to see us offload Knight, as I think he's the only weak link. Cover at RB would be good, but worst case is we've got Gardner as cover in emergencies, and I understand Curtis Davies can also play at RB is required - so looks like we've got way more options now that before. Keeper is 100% better with Friedel. So are we likely to see Zat and Taylor on the out list sooner rather than later?
YatesyVillain
Better this season no doubt, natural right back,a left back with who loves to get forward and provide Young with overlapping runs. As mentioned Friedel is the biggest improvement.
JOHN.CAREWS.CREW
How can so many complain thatMON won't spend money and then people start to question 6 million for an England fullback? Unbelievable!!!
Villan Of The North
Just the addition of the two Brads makes upm for the loss of Olof.
col8
Cant wait to start the season, Agree as well we need another striker to help Carew & Gabby out. Ashton wouldnt be a bad signing if what the Norwich site is going through, still thought we should have bought him before he signed for West ham! MELLBERG = LEGEND, young has big boots to fill and I hope he does live up to the Mr Consistent' the boro fans labelled him as
Upthevilla_83
AVGD - Stieber is a CM, an attacking one at that - he won't do the f/back role. Yatesy: We need to keep Taylor and Knight for cover or we'll be threadbare again... This defence is much better: It's younger, fitter, faster, better at crossing and shooting. No brainer. With Davies coming back you can expect to see by about game 15 - a superb defence gelling on all fronts. Now aslong as we ger a good midfield sorted to take pressure off the defence then it should make for an interesting season. Throw in a powerhouse like Bent or Ashton and we'll be rocking. come on MON - a MF, a CF and a left or right winger and we're actually gonna be easliy fighting for the top 5!
koolbill
by far. fair play to oneill, i doubted his ability in the transfer market. he just needs to add a few more now and we have a very solid squad.
Stig
Oneil always knew he had to bring the players through, he couldnt rely on another injury free season - our squad is growing now, other than Barry there will not be any other players leaving. No doubt M'ON is working on bringing in more, A RB, CB, MF, FW - 4 more players and no doubt we can do well this season, cant wait for it to begin!
JOHN.CAREWS.CREW
I think we will concede less this season, I'm happy with the defense now. Mellberg even though i loved him he was never a right back and we will be more of an attacking force down the right flank with a true RB and Shorey will be good for Ashley.
chris the villan
If the 6mil report is true then it seems like MON is realising that he has to pay over the odds from time to time to get what is needed. Maybe Randy has told him to stop being so cautious. Either way we now have 2 full backs, not centre backs doing a different job. We will see how good Laursen and Davies are now because they won't get as much cover but this s a far better line-up just because the clueless excuse of a goalkeeper Carson isn't there. 10 mill my arse.
Villan444
We will be far stronger in defence this year than last season.For a start we have not got dracula carson in goal(he hates crosses!).Davis and laurson looked class together and bouma was one of the most improved players of the season and will hopefully step up again know he has competion.Mellberg was great in defence but could not get down the wing and cross so it will make a change to see a full back flyin down the wing.Would love to see SWP down the villa.
Mr A Villa
sitting in the upper holte last season, i cant remember carson saving a one on one, i remember downing scoring from boro and thinking how did he not get to that. friedel is by far the better keeper, lets just keep him fit. if not i hope guzan is up for it, must be if he is the US no.1 and if not then taylor, still not a bad keeper i dont think
Upthevilla_83
Dracula Carson! Excellent! Just want to point out that our flanks may be more secure defensively this season, defending at fullback is very different from the CB variety
NorthcliffeBandit
Young not bad in the air either
NorthcliffeBandit
I'm sure Steiber played at full back against Reading?!
AVGD
As a RB, Mellberg was poor - too slow on recovery, no attacking brain, poor distribution and crossing. Gardner was better in all Mellbergs deficiencies but his natural desire to get forward was often to the detriment of his defensive responsibilities. Luke Young, imho combines the best of both Mellbery and Gardner (when playing out-of-position, as RB's). Bouma is excellent defensively but is usually poor at passing and crossing. Shorey has what Bouma Lacks ie attacking "nouse". Laursen with Davies will more than compensate any defensive qualities that Shorey may lack; so if Shorey does have traditional "defending" deficiencies it should not trouble us with the dynamic duo of Laursen and Davies alongside him. Friedel/Guzan -v- Carson/Taylor - no contest. If we can add one other quality defender (Kaboul, Ferdinand or ???), I believe, under O'Neill's mentoring the defense will be 1000% better than last season and will certainly be reflected in both the "goals against" and the "points" stats. Well done Mr O'Neill, very well done!
villacross
Koolbill - Steiber played at left back again tonight!
AVGD
AVGD, cheers mate. Hey, who cares as long as he's the danglys! Up The Villa.
koolbill
As much as Bouma and Mellberg are cult heroes and loved by all they were centrebacks converted into full backs the two new guys are better in their respective positions and will improve us no doubt. They both have international caps so aren't crap players. Friedal won Blackburn so many points last year he is arguably MON best signing to date if he can recapture last seasons form.
iomvilla
On paper at least this seasons defensive line-up looks stronger, I guess we'll find out for certain when the real business gets underway. Obviously last seasons cause wasn't helped by the antics of Scott Carson, but I think its fair to say that there was lot more to it than that. We conceded way too many goals, that highlights the fact that all was not well, and personally I dont think we ever had a solid look about us. We always looked likely to concede, something we did in most games.
glensider
Friedel in goal, the return of Curtis Davies, and having a specialist right full back will all definitely be a big plus, while Shorey I think could well prove to be a better all-round player than Freddie. All speculation of course, but we are about to find out the truth. Should be an interesting ride.
glensider
I wanna know what "Shop Stopper" is
TuBBz
Hopefully we will be able to eliminate that problem that has been with us for endless seasons now, that annoying habit of conceding late, late goals, something that turns wins into draws for us, draws into defeats.
glensider
It will take a few games for this new look defence of ours to gel, so I wouldn't be surprised if we concede a few for as long as we experience the teething problems.
glensider
 

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