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Defence must keep it clean

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SAM Allardyce has admitted Newcastle United’s defence continues to be a cause for concern – despite the fact the Magpies have only lost two games in the Premier League this season.

 

Allardyce is careful not to criticise a back line which has, individually, performed reasonably well so far this season, but he is alarmed by the number of goals that are still being conceded, particularly away from home.

 

United have conceded five times in their last two games and have failed to keep a single clean sheet on their travels, with only the opening day victory at Bolton Wanderers yielding any points away from St James’s Park.

 

The Magpies also lost 2-0 at Arsenal in the Carling Cup and, although Newcastle’s manager is confident his side have plenty of goals in them, he does not want to simply rely on a “we’ll score more than you” philosophy as he tries to turn Newcastle into European football contenders in his first season in charge.

 

He said: “We’ve been too easy to score against away from home. We haven’t kept a clean sheet on our travels all season and that’s my biggest concern at the moment.

 

“At Bolton, it didn’t matter. We conceded one and scored three, but it is worrying that we can’t keep clean sheets away from home. The Manchester City game was the perfect example. We scored first, but we couldn’t even hold on to a draw. You have to be able to do that if you’re going to be successful.

 

“We were too open and City capitalised. We need to be more cautious when we have the lead away from home and not do anything silly. We need to learn from that because it’s no good thinking we can go away from home every week and score lots of goals.” Allardyce has struggled to find a settled back four combination because of injuries and the need to acclimatise foreign players, but with Habib Beye and Jose Enrique showing signs they are adapting to English football, and with Claudio Caçapa and Adboulaye Faye competing with Steven Taylor and David Rozehnal at centre-back, Newcastle have plenty of competition for places.

 

However, Allardyce is also keen to ensure the whole team is aware of their defensive responsibilities, particularly when away from home comforts at St James’s Park.

 

He said “It’s the old saying, we’re all attackers when we’ve got the ball and we’re all defenders when we haven’t, but the team has been too easy to score against away from home. We’re not going to be successful unless we get that right.

 

“I’m relatively pleased with how things have gone so far this season, but the number of goals we have conceded is definitely a cause for concern. That has been a problem for Newcastle teams in the past and we need to put it right this season. At home, we’ve been creating and scoring a lot of goals, which is pleasing to see, but we’re still conceding too many for my liking. I’m confident this side has goals in it, but we need to be tighter with it. That is what the best sides manage to do.”

 

Allardyce is expecting the return of Joey Barton in the centre of midfield to help United’s cause as the former Manchester City player has the energy to make an impression at both ends of the pitch. He added: “When we add Joey Barton to the equation we have the potential to score lots of goals because he will add a considerable goalscoring threat in midfield, but he also offers a competitiveness when we haven’t got the ball and makes it hard for the opposition to get forward.”

 

Meanwhile, Newcastle will have to renegotiate Michael Owen’s contract if they are going to prevent the England striker leaving the club for a cut-price fee at the end of the season. The clause in Owen’s contract – agreed by former chairman Freddie Shepherd – enables the forward to leave for another club as long as they match a stipulated fee. That figure was £9m in the summer, but will fall to just £6m in July next year.

 

By that stage, Owen will only have one year left on his present deal at St James’s Park, which would mean he could start to talk to clubs about a Bosman-style free transfer from January 2009.

 

As a result, the Magpies hierarchy are likely to either want to accept the £6m for Owen, rather than risk seeing him leave for nothing a year later – or offer him another lucrative contract to remain on Tyneside. Owen helped England claim a fifth successive 3-0 Euro 2008 qualifying win as they saw off Estonia at Wembley on Saturday.

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I think our first choice defence will be Beye---Cacapa----Enrique plus one from Rozey /Faye/ Taylor depending on the opposition.

 

As for the Owen situation offer him a new 4 year deal with no get out clause if he signs great if he doesnt we may have to let him go in January to get a decent price providing BS can work some magic in the market although I really dont want Owen to go

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Guest alex
I think our first choice defence will be Beye---Cacapa----Enrique plus one from Rozey /Faye/ Taylor depending on the opposition.

 

As for the Owen situation offer him a new 4 year deal with no get out clause if he signs great if he doesnt we may have to let him go in January to get a decent price providing BS can work some magic in the market although I really dont want Owen to go

Taylor comes in if we're playing the Blind School I take it :unsure:

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