Over the course of this season much has been made about some of the calamitous defensive errors that have been made by some of our so-called better players. So much so that Yanga M’biwa, who had a horror show against Everton in the first half, was replaced by Mike Williamson in our 2-1 win over the Welsh side at the weekend.
While Williamson did indeed steady the ship in the second half against Everton, one could argue that there were a myriad of mitigating factors as to why he looked more assured that M’biwa; Everton took their foot off the gas, Williamson matched Lukaku in the air, we had less pressure as Cabaye’s presence gave us more of the ball etc none of which really justified dropping M’biwa and playing Williamson in my opinion.
One player who kept his place against Cardiff, after arguably as bad a performance as M’biwa, was Davide Santon. The Italian ‘left back’ (using the term loosely as he barely resembles one) was absolutely pathetic against Everton and made rookie mistake after rookie mistake. I don’t think I have ever seen a full back with as little awareness of defensive positioning as Santon, not to mention his mistimed challenges that saw him beaten down the wing with ease.
He has been speaking to the media today about how he feels within himself that he needs to improve, and this is what he had to say,
“It’s my third year in Newcastle, and I’m happy here,” “I’m just 22, and I have to always improve. I have to make myself do better every game.”
“I have experience, and I know what I have to do in the game. I always do my best, and that is what I will do in the future.” “I won’t forget about last season,”
I have been a very vocal critic of Davide Santon, in fact, I have been a very vocal critic of any player who I think is not good enough to represent the club and wear the famous black and white stripes. This does not make me any less of a supporter. It makes me unwilling to accept, never mind cheer on and support, mediocre players. When it comes to his defensive ability, Santon comes into the mediocre bracket with ease.
Alan Pardew has been praised for making ruthless changes following one poor performance from M’biwa, yet the same standard has not applied to more established players who have went through more lasting periods of poor form. Once more, Santon comes into this bracket. I would argue that Davide Santon did not put in a solitary defensive clinic last season. Not once could you pinpoint Santon as a defensive rock. Yes he has flair, yes he goes forward, but how many times do you leave a match and head down to the pub and discuss how good Santon was defensively? Not often.
I would also argue that he hasn’t defended properly since the season we finished 5th. It is a much referenced season but it is now 2 seasons ago and should be consigned to the annals of history as it no longer correlates to the team we are currently seeing.
I am not slating Pardew for making changes, especially after a player has performed as poorly as M’biwa had done in the Everton game. However, a case could have also been made for dropping Santon, Debuchy and even Coloccini on the back of that performance. A case could also have been made for dropping Debuchy due to his performances over the last 6 months, Santon’s performances for the last 12 months and Tiote’s performances for the last God knows how many months. A little bit of consistency is all we’re asking for, but I doubt any will be forthcoming.
What do you think? Is Santon massively stating the obvious? Or do you think he is a Premier League standard full-back? If so, then what are his redeeming qualities? I’d love to hear your views.