Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Review of the summer - The Defence

One of the key areas for concern for some time has been our back four. This probably isn't surprising for a team generally operating in the lower reaches of the league table. It seemed that as soon as we had one position nicely sorted out we'd lose a key player somewhere else. Lawrie Sanchez arrived with the defence in need of some reorganisation and left with it in a shambles. Roy acted promptly bringing in the impressive Hangeland to add some presence to the centre and (it turns out only temporarily) borrowing Paul Stalteri to add experience and reliability at right back. However come the summer any depth to our defence has rapidly vanished as Hodgson took the opportunity to clear out players he felt weren't up to the job.

Position Season 2007-08 Season 2008-09

RB-01 Paul Stalteri Frederick Stoor
RB-02 Mortiz Volz John Paintsil
RB-03 Elliott Omozusi Elliott Omozusi
RB-04 Chris Baird Mortiz Volz

LB-01 Paul Konchesky Paul Konchesky
LB-02 Tony Kallio Tony Kallio

CB-01 Brede Hangeland Brede Hangeland
CB-02 Aaron Hughes Aaron Hughes
CB-03 Carlos Bocanegra Tony Kallio
CB-04 Dejan Stefanovic Chris Baird
CB-05 P. Christanval
CB-06 Ian Pearce

The full back slots are fairly well covered. At right back new boys Frederick Stoor and John Paintsil look likely to fight it out over who is going to be first choice. Konch will continue rampaging down the opposite flank with cover most likely to be provided by Tony Kallio who has seen his short term contract converted into a two year deal. Elliott Omozusi heads to Norwich on a season long loan which will hopefully see him gain some useful match experience. To my mind Junior is definitely capable of making the step up to first team football so I'm hopeful he will come back an improved defender and ready to make an impact with Fulham. Mortiz Volz, cult hero though he is, will surely serve himself better by finding a club where he can play regular football and there's been talk of interest from both Middlesbrough and Hull.

It's the centre back position that most concerns me. Hangeland and Hughes are a capable pairing but beyond them we're looking very thin on the ground. I'm desperate to see how Tony Kallio actually plays and to find out I plan on going to a reserves game soon to see him do his stuff. I can't imagine Chris Baird is in serious contention but from Roy's comments it looks like he has a better chance here than at right back. That said having seen him play there against Kingstonian a few weeks back I don't really fancy his chances.

We'd been linked with Croatian centre back Simunic during the European Championships, but news of any deal has gone quiet. If there's money still to spend then this is the key position we need to fill. There's a possibility that Roy has other tricks up his sleeve. He talked about the versatility of Paintsil when he signed so could he fill the role? Maybe there's someone else in the squad who could do the job in a pinch. At the very least we need a capable back up but if we are able to buy and can find an alternative of the same calibre as Simunic the squad would be looking very strong indeed.

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