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Martin, Cuellar is Not a Right Back


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By Matt Johnson:

Carlos Cuellar is a fantastic central defender. He won the Clydesdale Bank SPL Player of the Year award when playing for Rangers in 2008. In that same season he also featured in the heart of the defence to help them make it all the way to the Uefa Cup Final.

And when the 6ft 3 Spaniard has played in that position for Villa, he has been well and truly outstanding.

But since the arrival of Richard Dunne and James Collins to Villa Park earlier in the season, Cuellar has found himself pushed into the right back position - a berth which has severely compromised his impact in the side.

Carlos really does look the complete centre half. He has the right build and physique and his performances in the position for Villa have been commanding and confident.

However, when he is asked to play at right back - as he has done for much of the season, he looks the complete opposite.

Although he can still produce the timely challenges and masterful defensive headers, he looks like a much worse player than he really is. He looks frail, uncomforta and offers next to nothing going forward in his right back berth.

Playing the Spaniard at right back has been the real weak link in the Villa team this season, and I believe teams have been targeting him down the left flank in order to expose this - especially in the latter part of the season.

In the recent home draws with Wolves and Sunderland, Cuellar looked in all sorts of disarray as the left wingers and full backs ran him ragged as they skipped past with ease and fluency.

Standing at Wembley watching the FA Cup Semi-Final against Chelsea was perhaps the most obvious example I can give to explain my point. Chelsea's left winger Florent Malouda really gave Cuellar the run-around that day as he clearly looked uncomfortable in his position.

But the defensive side of things is not the biggest concern, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Having Carlos as the right full back really limits the attacking options of the side down the right flank.I have lost count of the amount of times that he has been played into good positions by his team mates, only to see the move end with a woeful cross. He simply can't cross the football. I can't remember seeing one to date that has been accurate enough to call a 'good cross'. More often than not they end up landing on the roof of the keepers net or just sailing straight out for a goal kick.

Watching the game against Portsmouth at Fratton Park, I made a point of really watching Carlos in terms of going forward, and my theory was proved correct. I counted a handful of crosses and opportunities from decent positions that were wasted by the former Osasuna and Rangers man.

Cuellar was bought to play as a centre half. He, Dunne, Collins, Clark and Davies should all be competing amongst themselves for the two centre back starting positions for a match.

I don’t understand how Martin O'Neill can have two very good quality right backs in Luke Young and Habib Beye sitting on the bench every week in favour of a player who quite clearly can't play in the position.

We bought Young from Middlesbrough in 2008 for quite a hefty price, and I believe he has been one of the most consistent players we have had over the last few years. I was discussing with a group of Villa fans how they had nick-named him 'Mr 7 out of 10' due to his consistent workman like performances.

Both he and Beye, while they might not be so accomplished in the air, offer a lot more going forward, producing better passes and crosses and their general positional sense when defending is more fine tuned.

This really is an issue that I think Martin needs address. I know that it will involve dropping Collins, Dunne or Cuellar himself, but I think that the decision would benefit the team in the long run. And after all, that is what this business is all about.

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Cuellar was an awful centre back last season and has hardly played there this season .

So just when has he been this excellent CB for us ?

I think the longer he plays right back and is poor it's clouding some peoples memories of his performances as a CB where he really is just as clumsy only in an even more dangerous area ?

Or does he turn from clumsy oaf right back into Franz Beckenbauer when switched to Centre Back ?

I don't thinks so some how , think about it lads !

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i agree completely and feel sorry for Luke Young who I think did brilliantly at left back all season a couple of years ago. He must wonder why he joined and wont be here next year if he has any sense.

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Like most fans, I was calling for Luke Young to come back at Right Back. Mon did as we had been asking and we were thraped 7-1. Maybe he knows more about football than we do. I rate him at Centre Back and he gives us nothing going forward at RB, but he obviously gives us better defensive cover somehow.

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I think hes played quite well the last couple of games. I was a big fan of Cueller, then the last few months have been painful due to his suicidal runs/passes, but hes slowly winning me over again and his passes looked much better on Sunday. Keep it up Carlos

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I think hes played quite well the last couple of games. I was a big fan of Cueller, then the last few months have been painful due to his suicidal runs/passes, but hes slowly winning me over again and his passes looked much better on Sunday. Keep it up Carlos

I'm with you there Woody, feel CC has improved last couple of games especially going forward. He picked out one or two really good crosses and passes first half vs Everton and didn't do much wrong vs Pompey. As said above we were all calling for L Young back in the side and we got battered, not just his fault but a player always looks better when they are out the side.

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This is without a doubt the strangest argument against O'Neill that keeps coming up. Before we played Chelsea having played most of the season with Cuellar at right back we had THE BEST DEFENCE IN THE LEAGUE. That is to say that our regular back 4 had been the best combination of defenders the league had seen this year. Maybe we should accept that he is infact a quite capable right back, albeit a defensive minded one.

Shockingly enough Carlos didn't play that game against Chelsea ( not that I'm blaming Young but it has to be mentioned )

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MON won't drop Cuellar, even if he gave away 10 goals. He's one of "The Undroppables".

Luke Young will sod off in the summer, I don't really blame him.

Exactly! Luke Young is another player who MON has frozen out for some reason. There was some talk on another forum that he had an almighty bust up with MON during the Peace Cup - I don't know whether that is true or not but were it to be the case it may explain something. Conversely his half brother died last year and that could have been a factor too, affecting him in training. My recollection is that many of his appearances this season have been at left back in the absence of Warnock and instead of Shorey, another player who has been frozen out. All in all I think he's being treated pretty shabbily by MON and is pretty much a dead cert to leave.

As for Carlos it took him most of the first season to establish himself at a higher level than the SPL and I seem to recall some assured performances at CB towards the end of last season. Clearly MON wants to play him so he gets the RB berth over LY maybe in part for the reasons I have suggested.

Personally I see him as being out of his depth at RB. He was run ragged against Wolves, for example, as their winger sacked him many many times. He also has a tendency to drift in to the CB position, two examples being the Portsmoth game for their goal and also in the FA Cup semi final for their (first, I think?) goal.

I don't think the Chelsea league game should be held against LY. He lacked match practice and Chelsea were on fire.

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This is without a doubt the strangest argument against O'Neill that keeps coming up. Before we played Chelsea having played most of the season with Cuellar at right back we had THE BEST DEFENCE IN THE LEAGUE. That is to say that our regular back 4 had been the best combination of defenders the league had seen this year. Maybe we should accept that he is infact a quite capable right back, albeit a defensive minded one.

Shockingly enough Carlos didn't play that game against Chelsea ( not that I'm blaming Young but it has to be mentioned )

its true that we had been defending well for most of the season, but that doesnt mean that there arent places to be improved upon does it? throwing young in when he hasnt played for months against the best team in the country is typical of mons tactical mastery. its the same approach that sees him throw youngsters on for the last ten minutes of games we are losing and expecting them to work miracles but wont let them have a run out at the end of games that are safely in the bag.

ask any number of england fans whether they think heskey should be in the england team and 95% will say no. but then how could anyone consider dropping him when we qualified so easily for the world cup with him in the team???? that is your argument.

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in all honesty, whilst i like Cuellar, i am yet to see him produce 'excellent' displays at centre half save maybe for the win at Old Trafford when i think he partnered Dunne in the middle until Collins came on for Warnock (i think).

i also thought Cuellar was really solid against Malouda in the FA cup semi final and chelsea's threat came from elsewhere. he has had poor games however; wolves at home springs to mind but i think we have bigger fish to fry than mither over a CB being played at RB; the future of our brilliant (imo) manager for example.

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The key bit of the original post?

6ft 3 Spaniard

Another big man for set pieces

It's all part of the bigger debate which Villa fans are having at the moment, albeit some with more consideration and a greater grip on reality than others

Is MON 2-dimensional tactically? - all high / long balls and pace on the break? Yep. Is he also stubborn about selection, and erratic / eccentric in the transfer market? Yep

Given the resurgence of Spurs and Man City, almost entirely related to their superior financial clout, would any other manager have achieved more for Villa (a final, a semi-final, reasonable challenge for that 4th place) this season? - probably not

It comes down to asking whether you want Villa to claim their rightful spot in 6th / 7th / 8th spot whilst playing a slightly more attractive brand of football than they do now. You decide. In the meantime Cuellar will continue to be our first-choice right back, and modern football will continue to be a bit of a predictable disappointment

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I agree wholeheartedly with the OP.

Cuellar is, IMO, our best CB. Showed it at the start of the season before the signings alongside CD and then again when Collins was injured.

He is not, and never will be, anything more than a fill in RB and considering MON has Luke Young, the best English RB, on the bench and Habib Beye (on £40k p.w.) who are both MON signings it is ridiculous that Carlos has played most of the season out there.

This stubbornness from MON is only matched by his continual desire to play Emile Heskey as a third CM'er. Heskey is a big target man who, with his physical presence, can manipulate CB's and create space for other attackers and provide lay offs in and around the box. MON has him playing as a link man often in midfield territory. There are a number of problems with this:

- at his age and weight he is never going to be able to get up and support Gabby

- he is not the most technically gifted footballer and cannot receive, create space and distribute like Delph can!

I am personally really fed up with MON's insistence at playing players out of position and it has been our downfall this season, along with his inability to recognise players tiring and make appropriate substitutions.

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Even with the 7 goal thrashing by Chelsea, we still have the 5th best defensive record in the Premiership, so I don't see that having old CC at Right Back has done us that much harm.

It's only in the past four seasons that I have come to understand that some Villa fans will apparently be most offended, above almost everything else, by a manager playing a centre back at right back. First Mellberg, now Cuellar.

I'm pretty sure other top clubs take a flexible approach to defensive positions taken by their players without all this fuss. Isn't it good if your defenders can play in more than just one role? Helps with injuries, etc.

I can't imagine why people get so furious with this, I really can't.

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I can't imagine why people get so furious with this, I really can't.

becuase "the majority" of us believe we have a better right back sitting on the bench week in, week out, without the chance of getting a game, for no discernable reason.

I don't think it's MON worst crime though.

Others rankle with me more than The Jackal at right back.

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I can't imagine why people get so furious with this, I really can't.

Perhaps when they see Carlos past the half way line looking for a cross its a collective sigh, as we know whats coming.

Nothing of note..

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I don't think it's MON worst crime though.Others rankle with me more than The Jackal at right back.

I think it is his worst crime TBH. It is astounding that he persists with The Jackal at RB when its clear he offers very little in that position. I hope that in the summer it comes out in the wash that the stories of a bust up are true because if MON is making the decision to play Carlos ahead of L.Young on a footballing basis then you have to seriously question his judgement.

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