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The difference is at the back! - 03/02/2002

The difference is at the back!
   Nikos Dabizas
   Shay Given
   Aaron Hughes
   Andy O Brien
   Sylvain Distin
   Newcastle United

I’m quite often asked why the team has improved so much this season. Last year we had more serious injury problems, but it’s not just that, after all, we’ve still had a few problems this year! Basically, we’ve getting more from our defence, both defensively and offensively. Shay has done very well, but the return of Robbie Elliott, and the development of Andy O’Brien and Aaron Hughes, and with Nikos and Sylvain doing very well, it’s in this department where the most improvement is.

Not only are we a more solid unit, but the full backs are getting forward well. Aaron Hughes has been outstanding and I think he’s benefiting from playing on his natural side. He was a good left back, but occasionally his distribution wasn’t so good, but this season his distribution is a strong point. He’s putting in some excellent crosses, and has assisted in few recent goals. The ball he put across for Bellamy’s goal against Bolton was a great example of both his new confidence and had technical ability.

The other factor is we have strength in the squad. Olivier Bernard and Andy Griffin can both come into the side and play well. You can see that we have four very good central defenders in Dabizas, O’Brien, and Hughes and Distin with these last two also capable of filling in at full-back. This gives us quite a bit of flexibility, and with the back four being relatively settled, this also benefits communication.

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