Old school defenders are a dying breed, says Norwich City boss Alex Neil

Norwich City duo Russell Martin and Sebastien Bassong had a tough night against Newcastle United's s

Norwich City duo Russell Martin and Sebastien Bassong had a tough night against Newcastle United's strikeforce. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There is no point mourning the loss of the old-fashioned, no frills defender, according to Alex Neil.

Norwich's painful stoppage time defeat at Newcastle merely reinforced the view the modern trend for ball-playing centre-backs and goalkeepers appears to be contributing to a decline in defensive resolve.

'The pre-requisite for a central defender should be to win your tackles and head the ball and make sure you are physically able to deal with the striker,' said Neil. 'If they are good, cultured footballers who can step in and pass, left foot, right foot then that should be a bonus. Everyone now wants to get the ball down and play so there is an onus on players in general to be good with the ball. The old fashioned big man, little man striker combination is not that common either but Newcastle showed at the end it can be effective.

'It is a bit like goalkeepers nowadays. When you talk about a keeper it seems to be, 'How good he is with his feet?' whereas the job should be to catch it and stop it going in the net. If he can kick that is a plus, not the most important part of his game. Defenders are the same.

'We didn't get undone by quality or skill, like you might find in the Premier League, but lower league punting the ball and playing the percentages.


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'The difficulty was we couldn't get up to pressure the ball so we ended up deeper and deeper. We needed to squeeze higher and then win the battles and win the duels. If you don't then you are much nearer your own box and that is a problem.'

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