Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Steve Cook: the age of the agile defender

I am fairly certain that the days of central defender who would think to himself "I'm having it" when the ball is lofted towards him are more or less over for most professional teams now. There are still times when the good old solid sound of boot against leather which resulted in the ball reaching row Z at terrific speed are really what is needed now and again, but it doesn't always happen.

John Williams would have had no problem sending the ball over the East stand at Dean Co
urt in the past with a satisfied grin, but now our cultured centre backs have more positive and adventurous ideas, no disrespect Willo. In fact they are pretty adept at the other end of the field too. Going forward we have some great attacking defenders.

The agile defender is here to stay in my opinion and he must be good at both ends of the pitch. Steve Cook is a case in point. I can't stop thinking about his well-directed headed goal that he scored against Carlisle Utd at home in the 3:1 win, to help the Cherries secure those vital points that clinched the second promotion place, at the end of last season. Heading the ball when it is sent in at such a fast and curling velocity is some skill and for some players it's simply instinct to get on the end of it. Cook has that ability to time his leap well and to get well above those around him. His drive to get there first is something that slow, methodical and less agile defenders will find hard to defend against in the Championship.

With Simon Francis in particular being very strong at supplying those deep crosses from 10 or 15 yards in front of the edge of the box, the delivery lends itself to being glanced into the top corner of the goal, just by using the speed on the ball. I am keen to see if Steve can replicate a similar goal next season against better defenders.

We don't pride ourselves on having many strong headers of the ball at AFCB, but they are in the team and using a variety of playing styles will be important in the games we have in the Championship. If the ball ends up in the back of the opposition's net, it's still beautiful football to me. We won't pass our way around every team we come across.

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