Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Defence Have Got Our Backs - Smith; Defence Have Got Our Backs, Says Smith

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Defence Have Got Our Backs - Smith; Defence Have Got Our Backs, Says Smith

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

ALAN Smith is delighted to see Newcastle United breaking stereotypes as well as records as their march back towards the Premier League continues to gather momentum following the victory over Watford.

United's clean sheet against a spirited visiting side who were always a threat going forward was the Magpies' 11th this season and ensures they share the best defensive record in the country with League One leaders Leeds United having conceded just 10 goals in 19 games.

And Smith revealed the squad are full of pride in that achievement, particularly as Newcastle have never been a club renowned for its defensive strength and have often been ridiculed for a fascination with cavalier football.

Newcastle still have their moments going forward - there was not a better goal scored at the weekend than Fabrice Pancrate's second-half strike - but for once it is the defence which deserves to take the plaudits as they withheld a Watford siege following Kevin Nolan's sending off for a second bookable offence.

"I was not aware that we have the best defensive record in the country until now," said Smith, with a mixture of pride and surprise.

"It is something Newcastle have not been renown for - being great defensively. "It comes as a collective unit. The first goal came from closing down. People have always said it has been a weakness here. So full credit to the two centrColoccini, especially, has developed so much. It would have been easy for him toe-halves and the keeper who have been outstanding this season. "Fabricio) up sticks and leave in the summer when it was not going well for him, but as everyone can see now in his performances doing exactly what we all want to see, and long may it continue. "All good teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal have built it on great defences. Not just the defence but a collective unit. In the second half you saw that. "We knew the stats, they work very hard as a team, the hardest in the league and we knew it would be difficult. They are a good team and they came here with nothing to lose and it was one of the most difficult games of the season. …

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