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Newcastle opt for safety first


Campbell signs for Newcastle

Newcastle today completed the signing of former Spurs and Arsenal central defender Sol Campbell. The experienced English man will apply further steel to a solid back line that Newcastle hope will keep them in the Premiership this term. He’s in his final years as a footballer, and has definitely suffered from a lack of pace in the past few seasons, but showed in the tail-end of the season for Arsenal last year that he can still lead the line in defence, especially playing at home in front of vociferous support.

Behind Sol Campbell is Steve Harper, an extremely able deputy for many years to Shay Given, Harper achieved in his first season what Given never had in his time at Newcastle, a winners medal. Granted, it was for winning the Championship, a division below Given’s experience at St James’ Park, but Harper has proved an excellent deputy, and is now number one after signing for the Ton Army in 1993 and having bided his time patiently as number two to one of the finest keepers in England in Shay Given.

Alongside Campbell in central defence there are options to use Steven Taylor, a potential England international (with just a ‘B’ cap to his name but almost 30 U-21 appearances) who was expected to move on when Newcastle were relegated in 2009 but stayed to help his boyhood team enter the Premiership at the first time of asking. Strong, a tough tackler and good in the opposing box, Taylor and Campbell can provide an impressive foil to Premiership attacks this year. However Taylor can also play at right/left back, meaning Argentine Fabricio Coloccini could line up at centre back.

Coloccini has his detractors and is prone to big mistakes, but earned the respect of the fans when he stayed at Newcastle, like many stars who could have moved on, proving the lure of the team and its fanatical fans. Named in the championship team of the year, Coloccini has shown a willingness to buckle down and with his tough approach to the game is less likely to be bullied on his second stint in the Premiership.

Jose Enrique in action for Newcastle

Spaniard Jose Enrique is another talented young player, at just 24, and another praised by Joey Barton for his character in saying with the club and helping them return to top-flight action, alongside Coloccini and Jonas Gutierrez. Enrique was named player of the season by the fans and is expected to continue with his left flank partnership with Gutierrez, who was played in defence by Diego Maradona at the World Cup, but should start the season as a winger at Newcastle.

The likes of Ryan Taylor, Mike Williamson and Danny Simpson are further young players who add steel to the defensive line for Newcastle, with Taylor having been told by boss Chris Hughton that he remains an important part of the squad, despite being dropped last year and linked with a move away in the January transfer window.

So looking strictly at the defence, Campbell’s signing adds experience to a defence with good young talent in Coloccini (28), Steven Taylor (24) and Enrique (24) with a solid goalkeeper behind them in Steve Harper. Add to that the likes of tough, hardworking midfielders Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Danny Guthrie and Newcastle are making a strong case for their defence as they prepare to re-enter England’s top flight.

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  1. fitz124
    July 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

    And then Steven Taylor is ruled out for three months. Commentator’s curse?

  1. August 3, 2010 at 12:06 pm

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