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Ram's the man for Soey now.

Byline: By Malcolm Macdonald

Newcastle have always been about superstars bought for a lot of money strutting their stuff.

The fans love that and I can understand why. In the entertainment business it's the headliners not the chorus line who sell tickets.

In football, however, you need the honest-to-goodness performers as well ( and if they are local lads to boot then all the better.

Therefore, I hand you Peter Ramage who has done wonderfully well for United in recent weeks.

Ramage reminds me so much of my old playing colleague Frank Clark ( he puts defending first on his list of priorities for a full-back.

That is terrific because the art of defending is being lost in the modern game.

Ramage deserves a lot of credit because he is a young, inexperienced lad who has come into the Premier League in front of 50,000 passionate Geordies in a position totally foreign to him and done exceptionally well.

I can see by watching him how much hard work he has put in to learn his new position. Never for a moment does Peter stop learning.

He has his feet on the ground and wants to make a career of professional football.

Ramage has retained his centre-half discipline playing at right-back.

He defends very simply, never tackling on his backside and always staying goalside.

He does not attempt to be a clever dick ( if the ball needs launching he will boot it into Row Z.

Overlapping and crossing are new arts to be learned on the hoof and he is doing that.

Of course he's going to be erratic at first in these disciplines ( but he's getting there. So much so that I wonder if United are better off with him than the much more experienced Stephen Carr.

Ramage is a better defender than the expensive former Spurs man.

It is hard for a kid coming into the Premiership. As a schoolboy he was head and shoulders above everyone else ( that's how he was signed by a big club ( but once in his new habitat he is the weak link.

That is when it comes down to how level-headed, how gutsy and how willing a kid is.

United have found three of them in Ramage, Steven Taylor and Charles N'Zogbia. They are all diamonds.

Ramage is probably less naturally gifted than the other two but he is making up for it in a big way.

He has been at two dinners I have attended recently and I have been glad to see him backing charity events. That is good and how it should be.

He is representing his club and the punters appreciate that.

Ramage has this week been part of those left behind in international week but long-term he may get his call to arms if he continues to learn.

In an interview with JOHN GIBSON.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 12, 2005
Words:475
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