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Football: SHARP: Problems at the back.

Byline: Graeme Sharp

AFTER conceding three goals at Aston Villa the talk has centred around Everton's defence this week. Alan Stubbs in particular has been taking a bit of stick since last weekend's defeat, but you can't point the finger at just one man, it is a team issue.

You can't just criticise the back four, you have to defend as a team. Everton are playing a more attacking style of football under David Moyes with just three men in midfield a lot of the time. Playing that system, the back four are not going to get the sort of protection they would if they were playing 4-4-2.

When they played 4-4-2 under Walter Smith, in general they were quite solid. David is more adventurous. Now they are conceding goals but scoring their fair share as well, whereas under Walter they were struggling to score. Goals are not going to win games though if you are conceding more at the other end and that is something that David will be looking at.

Ideally you'd have a holding player in midfield but with Mark Pembridge, Thomas Gravesen and Li Tie getting forward but there is not really one there. You want players to push forward when you are attacking but equally you want them back behind the ball when the action is heading the other way.

That said, Aston Villa's goals were poor ones to concede. They were down to mistakes and that is something a manager cannot legislate for.

If you look at all the great sides like Arsenal, they very rarely concede from a corner. If the quality of the ball in and the finish is such that you can't do anything about it then you hold your hands up and say that was well played. If not, you have to defend crosses properly. Everton didn't do that on the day. At 2-2 it looked like there would only be one winner, unfortunately it didn't end up being Everton.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 28, 2002
Words:330
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