Rozehnal is the latest in a long, long line

By Lee Ryder on Jun 26, 07 10:03 AM

David RozehnalIf you joined together the amount of defenders that have tried to rid Newcastle of their infamous dodgy defence, how far do you think they would go around the ground?

Well maybe not as far as the queue did in 1993 when there was a near riot for the scramble for tickets for the FA Cup fifth round tie at Blackburn, but still canny far I'd say.

At least from the Strawberry to the Cafe@St James'!

I mean, and I am just pouring what's in my head out here in no order whatsoever, Franck Dumas, Marcelino (the guy who spent time out with a broken finger for months on end), Jean Alain Boumsong (the guy who lost the plot), Alain Goma (the guy who thought Fulham were a bigger club), Nikos Dabizas, Jonathan Woodgate, the Caldwell brothers, Stuart Pearce, Steve Howey, Darren Peacock, Phillippe Albert, Brian Kilcline, Kevin Scott, Barry Venison (yes he did end up at centre-half), Craig Moore, Gooch Onyewu, Titus Bramble (the guy who could pick out Row J with ease when looking for a team-mate) and anyone else you care to mention, have all tried but failed - for various reasons - to shake off the tag of "dodgy defence".

Seriously though the list of defenders who United have turned too, especially centre-backs, is a huge one with David Rozehnal, the next recruit to try to sort out our leaky defensive ways.

Fair enough, Newcastle did tighten the back four up a little bit last season thanks to the arrival of Nigel Pearson - but it still didn't stop results like 5-1 against Birmingham City!

So is this now a case of arise Sir David?

Well here's the bad news, PSG actually finished lower in the French League last season than United did in the Premiership, 15th compared to 13th for the record.

However, the good news is that Rozehnal won player of the season and arrives here with confidence.

And on top of that, as a regular star in the Czech Republic side, Rozehnal has a wealth of experience at international with a top side.

Surely this can only be a good thing for Newcastle United?

If Newcastle can pair Rozehnal with Steven Taylor to good effect, is this the answer to the defensive nightmare that has damaged our reputation in the Premiership and often left us a laughing stock to those outside of Tyneside?

No pressure like Dave!

Black and White Reunion

No less than 22 former United favourites attending the Black And White Reunion in August which takes place at St James' Park.

Organised by fanzine editor Steve Wraith the night will include backing from former players such as Bob Moncur, SuperMac and John Beresford.

Wraith told me: "We wanted to do a special fundraiser for Leam Rangers YFC and decided to organise the largest sporting dinner the North East has ever seen.

"We have a great cross section of players from the last four decades are will hopefully have a couple of first team players there on the night although they will have to be in bed early as we play Aston Villa at home the next day."

For more details ring 07950608334

TOON SQUAD FOR AUGUST 17: John Beresford, Bob Moncur, Malcolm Macdonald,Kevin Carr,Jeff Clarke,Bryan Robson,Imre Varadi,Mick Martin,John Anderson,David McCreery,Wes Saunders,Mick Martin,Paul Stephenson,Ian Bogie,Alan Shoulder,Martin Thomas,Steve Carney,Billy Whitehurst,Billy Askew,Derek Bell, Warren Barton, Joe Allon.


Radgey Gadgie said:

Lee, you make a good point about the Toon's limited success in recruiting defenders. But then you imply Rozehnal could be the answer. And that's the problem. He might (MIGHT) be great but one defender is never going to mend our goal-conceding ways. We need four good defenders (not to mention more commitment and steeliness all over the pitch). Taylor definitely has the potential to be one of the four but until we see who else comes in, let's not count any chickens. I thought we were past getting over-excited by 'big-name signings'. Structure is what's needed and until we've got that, we'll have fewer clean sheets than a maternity ward. PS Does nobody sub these blogs? Sorry to be a pedant Lee but there's a couple of blunders there that Jean Alain himself would be proud of!

john gilroy said:

Whether we have a solid defence or not is not just down to the defenders. The answer lies with Big Sam. After all BS's reputation stands or falls by how the defence does.


Shane said:

i haven't seen much of rozehnal to be honest but anyone's gotta be an upgrade on bramble!

Dave C said:

Apart from Brambles obvious blunders, my main concern with NUFC defence last season was the full backs, or should I say lack of them. I feel that Taylor and moore (when he was fit) were a good central pairing and looked pretty solid. What let us down IMO were Babayaro and Carr. Both went to ground fart to easily and looked like they could not give a hoot most of the times they played.

Consiquently, most teams knew all they had to do to beat us was play down the wings where we were most vulnerable and supply plenty of crosses into the box. This coupled with Brambles lack of concerntration lead to us being a bit of a soft touch defensively. In addition, the fact we had no cover for the full back positions meant that we were trying to fill the gap with Solano or other cerntre backs.

Sam needs to buy both left and right full backs (2 on the left preferably) as well as replacing Moore and Bumble.

Siomi said:

I believe a good defence is all about organisation, understanding and confidence, not all about individual talent. I reckon that Onyewu had the potential to be a great addition to the side, but often didn't seem to have a clue what he was supposed to be doing - not his fault necessarily if the training and tactics were hopeless (Nigel Pearson doing a good job? Yeah, right!). He wasn't able to build up a good understanding with Bramble, Taylor or Moore, partly coz of poor team tactics and indicision over selection and also because of injuries. And then of course his confidence went. Shame. And we lost that long throw too! Lets hope that Rozi doesn't join the long queue of frustrated defenders you referred to, but I suspect that the future of our solid defence won't necessarily lie in his hands, but in the hands of those who organise and train the defence.

oxboy said:

The usual tabloid rubbish regurgitated again with the sheep following behind.

Our goals against was reasonable last season but the goals for was an almost reocrd low but we still blame the defense and especially Titus.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good moan.

Hugh Gallagher said:

Tell your chronicle mate, Oliver, Lee that geremi scored a free-kick against the Toon in that game and not a header. And ask why is he spinning an Emre move away line.

Chris said:

Peacock, Howey, Albert...

The best defence we have had in many a year. The common misconception is that we had a terrible defence and we challenged for the title by constantly out scoring the opposition in 4-3 thrillers etc etc.

Rubbish. Our goals against record in these seasons was something like second best, third best and fourth best in the league.

Defence is not just about individuals, ok its important but not the be all and end all. The team needs to play together, in defence and attack. Every player needs to be pulling in the same direction and have the same work ethic in order to succeed. Yes individuals are important (as highlighted by the likes of Brambles complete ineptitude) but you could take the best 4 defenders in the country and they could still look like a shambles without tactics, work ethic and commitment, something sadly missing from any Newcastle team over the last few years.

Ryder's reply: You are kidding me Chris. That season probably shaved about two years off my life (1996/97)with some of the dodgy defending on offer.

How would you explain this selection of results?

Man United 0-4
Liverpool 3-4
Monaco 0-3
Southampton 2-2 (2-0 up with two minutes to go)
Boro 1-3
Ferencvaros (Hungarian minnows) 2-3
Villa 2-2 (another 2-0 lead tossed away and Villa missed a pen)
Leicester 0-2
Forest 1-2 (1-0 up in a cup tie)
Southampton 0-1

Yes Chris it was terrible!!!

zulu said:

Agree that defence has been rubbish, but most fans want to see creative, attacking football. Not something akin to the old Arsenal. Yes we do need two good fullbacks, but feel Big Sam knows exactly waht we need and is not prone to throw good money after bad. Said months ago Obe will go to Arsenal, watch this space.

Ted Kane said:

Have we had a long line of duff defenders or a long line of defenders who were unable to click? In SOME cases, I think the latter is the case. Howey was great for us until injured; then he came back and was poor - yet he was good again at Man City. Distin was far better at City than he was for us; Moore was better for Australia than he was for us; Bramble was... okay, not that great, yet he has had outstanding games one minute and has been dreadful the next; same with Ramage. Without wishing to diminish the importance of the topic, there were some horrendous defensive errors last season, but the midfield (especially in the centre) was often at fault for not supporting the defenders in the same way they often didn't support the attack.

iain said:

Lee could you just ask Alan Oliver what his thoughts are on his made up transfer rumour about edmilson being a target.

Of course Alan will know as of the 23rd june 2007 Edmilson is out injured for 6 months after his 3rd knee surgery in 3 years.

Unless of course we really are trying to add another dodgy defender to the list.

Edmilson certainly would be a like for like replacement for Moore.

There are plenty of websites reporting it if you dont believe me.

Ryder's reply: Thanks for posting Iain. There will be a follow up in tonight's Chron on Edmilson.

Duncan Baines said:

I agree the main problem with the defence last season was the full-backs.This was entirely avoidable given almost every team in the World Cup had better full-backs than Babayaro, Ramage, Carr etc. that we could have easily bought relatively cheaply! Solano was okay but I think playing him right back instead of right wing caused our goal drought.

Paul Patterson said:

In 1995/96, I think a collective blame should have been labelled at the team for dropping a twelve point lead, remember Les Ferdinands league goals after Xmas were poor in comparison before. (18 until January/ 7 until May) and in our last 6 games we didn't score more than 1 goal in a game)

Our defence gets a bad name (Usually justified) but since Souness came in we have been based around defence first policies, which doesn't work here.

I've heard many a manager saying Im going to build from the back but all that does is get the players in a defensive mindset.

Big Sam seems to be overhauling the whole squad and it's about time. Paul.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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