FourFourTwo - - UPFRONT - Stephen Toal, via email

I’m glad Josh Black­man wrote in about Arse­nal’s lack of ‘war­riors’ [ FFT 259] and his mem­ory of John Terry us­ing his head to try and block a shot at the 2010 World Cup.

It con­firmed some­thing I’ve thought for years: a symp­tom of be­ing an English foot­ball fan is our love of ‘last-ditch’ de­fend­ers. But their slid­ing tack­les are the prod­uct of poor po­si­tion­ing or a lack of pace.

The great­est de­fend­ers don’t need to make such ridicu­lous chal­lenges, be­cause they an­tic­i­pate. Think Franco Baresi or Paolo Mal­dini. I hope John Stones can as­pire to be­ing in

that cat­e­gory; it’s prob­a­bly not a sur­prise that he is be­ing val­ued in the re­gion of £40m. I doubt any of those in the ‘last-ditch’ cat­e­gory would have been val­ued any­where close to that.

The cleaner the shorts, the bet­ter the de­fender… mostly!

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