Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Defender Gets a Pat on the Back for Raising Game; VAN AANHOLT TAKING ON BOARD BIG SAM'S ADVICE

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Defender Gets a Pat on the Back for Raising Game; VAN AANHOLT TAKING ON BOARD BIG SAM'S ADVICE

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART RAYNER Sports Writer stuart.rayner@trinitymirror.com @sturayner

PATRICK van Aanholt is part of the Netherlands team and has just signed a four-year contract extension at Sunderland, where his manager is a stickler for defending. Even half a year ago, that would probably have sounded daft.

Perhaps you can put van Aanholt's second wind in international football to how far his country has fallen since finishing third at the last World Cup.

Yet it would be wrong to overlook his improvement at club level.

Quite simply, van Aanholt has become a proper defender.

If he had not, Sam Allardyce would have been offering contracts to different left-backs this summer.

The former central defender might like to blind you with science every now and then but as a manager he always starts with the basics. As far as he is concerned, that means keeping the back door shut before you start to think about anything else.

So the van Aanholt he inherited must have driven him potty.

The left-back had come through Chelsea's academy - via loans at Coventry City, Newcastle United, Leicester City, Wigan Athletic and Vitesse Arnhem - without having learnt how to defend.

He is not alone in that. Defending is a bit of an optional extra for full-backs nowadays.

Especially at the big clubs, who often have the bus parked in front of them, the full-backs are often the first line of attack.

Proper chalk-on-theirboots wingers have gone out of fashion.

Most modern widemen are simply out-of-position (let's say that rather than failed) No 10s - like Wahbi Khazri - or No 9s, such as Fabio Borini.

The wingers tend to find themselves at full-back, as West Ham United's Michail Antonio did in the second half of last season.

Although he has always nominally been a No 3, spiritually van Aanholt is one of that band.

He "scored" in four league games running in January (although the spoilsports on the dubious goals panel took two off him) but at times last season van Aanholt was an embarrassment defensively. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.