Date: 25th July 2010 at 4:07pm
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Former Villan Earl Barrett has backed Martin O’Neill’s decision to play Carlos Cuellar at right back instead of Luke Young or Habib Beye.

Speaking to the Sunday Mercury Barrett said fans were wrong to criticise Cuellar being played out of position because although he does fail to offer much going forward, he is steady and solid at the back and his defensive strengths far outweigh any attacking weaknesses.

Barrett points to our defensive record last season as both proof of this fact, and a vindication for the manager.

‘If Martin O’Neill’s philosophy is to make sure Villa are strong defensively and then build from there, obviously that’s why he’s playing Cuellar because he’s a strong defender.’

Pointing to the obviously attacking trade off, Barrett doesn’t believe that it is such a problem for Villa because of the talent of the wingers we have at the club. He thinks it allows our full backs the chance to stay back instead of bombing forward in support.

‘The game has changed and most managers are asking their full backs to be like wingers, O’Neill does things a bit differently with his full backs and first and foremost wants them to be able to defend. Villa have got proper wingers in Young and Downing so there is less need for the full backs to over lap all the time.’

Barrett makes a valid point in reality despite how unpopular Cuellar is at right back. Our defensive record does show he has done a very capable job there and he hasn’t permanently been the weak link in the back four If somebody looked at it closely I doubt Cuellar was caught out much more often than Warnock was during the whole season but whilst he has a point, like many, Luke Young especially is a very solid full back.

We’ve seen that through out his career and we saw how strong he was when playing out of position on the left.

I don’t agree that our defence would’ve been weaker had Luke played the same games but our attack would’ve been stronger.

Some will point to the Chelsea match as proof Cuellar obviously does a better job than Luke but that misses the point completely as it doesn’t factor in Luke not having played for months, not turned out for the reserves so in no way was properly match fit or sharp – especially against a team like Chelsea.

Many of us I suspect heard O’Neill’s justification for Cuellar in games like Stoke where the forwards are more physical and where a big man can deal with the aerial threat better and agreed Cuellar’s height was an advantage in such games….but it’s a no brainer to think against tricky wingers and teams who play more on the floor or look to cross from the byline and not the halfway line, Luke is far better suited for that kind of battle.

Again it comes back to rotation and competition for places.

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