If goal scoring is the hallmark of a striker, then preventing strikers from making such attempts becomes the responsibility of not just a defender, but a quality one.
It takes a well-balanced and highly focused defender to ensure that his rearguards are well protected in every form. It doesn’t matter whether he plays from the right, left or middle eye of the defence. What’s paramount is, be at alert.
This certainly brings into focus some of the best defenders to have graced the Premier League in mind. Defenders such as Nigel Winterburn, Gary Pallister, Mikael Silvestre and Lauren_ whom perhaps added strength, speed and goal-scoring into their game.
However, the quartet discussed with Betway Insider the quality a defender must possess if he’s pin down a regular shirt in his club.
They recall the old traditional way of defending, where a defender must possess the traditional skills of defending – sticking your head where it hurts, putting your body on the line – have been lost along the way.
Former Arsenal defender, Winterburn said, “When I played, you had to be an outstanding defender or you wouldn’t get into one of the top four teams,” says former Arsenal left-back Nigel Winterburn, who won three league titles at the club between 1987 and 2000.
“Now you don’t have to be as good defensively, but if you don’t have that quality on the ball then you probably wouldn’t get into a top team.”
“The way that teams are playing out from the back, modern defenders and full-backs have got be very comfortable on the ball because they’re often in advanced areas,” he says.
“But we were always judged by what we did defensively under George.
“Down my side, I could go and play, but you knew that Lee [Dixon] would have to tuck round alongside the other two centre-halves and vice versa if Lee went.
“Yes, we did play it out from the back at times when Arsene Wenger took over, but as soon as the goalkeeper got the ball, it’s up to the halfway line and you’d play from the knockdowns.
“I think the whole ethos of the game, particularly how quick it is, has changed.
“When I first started, the game was a lot slower. You think about the conditions, very rarely would you get a green pitch after Christmas.”
In the same vein, former Man United defender, Silvestre said that a defender is expected to be at alert while dealing with strikers.
“If you switch off, you’re done,” says Mikael Silvestre. “You can’t rest like strikers or midfielders can.”
it wouldn’t be a problem for me to play now”, but also says that it’s harder for defenders to flourish nowadays.
“The game is not in their favour,” he says. “Some people would go as far as saying the art of defending is gone.”
For Lauren, though, that is not the case.
“Not everything from today’s game is fantastic,” he says. “But to be the best now, you have to combine the best of the most traditional skills and the best of the modern-day skills.
“Evolution is good.”
Gary Pallister, another four-time title winner at United – between the years 1992 and 1997 – was comfortable in possession, but felt that he was hampered by poor playing conditions.
“A lot of the issues were to do with the pitches,” says Pallister.
“If you look at the pitches I played on in the early part of my career, they looked like rugby pitches. Nowadays they’re like bowling greens and you can take more risks if you trust the pitch.