Ex-Chelsea man states case for the defence at Hartlepool United

Carl Magnay celebrates
Carl Magnay celebrates

Don’t mention Hartlepool United defending as a team, not to Carl Magnay anyway.

It’s the defenders and keeper Trevor Carson who should be getting all the credit!

With our shape and discipline so good, the opposition are now having to go long or chuck in diagonal balls because we are so hard to break down.

CARL MAGNAY

So says right-back Magnay, who is one quarter of that back four and in the sort of form he was displaying in the early part of the season when Ronnie Moore used him as a holding midfielder.

Magnay has been superb in a settled and solid back four alongside Matthew Bates, Adam Jackson, and Jake Carroll.

Whenever the opposition have got in a shot or header, Trevor Carson has been in outstanding form behind them.

So much so, Newport, Crawley, Wimbledon and Leyton Orient have failed to find the Pools net.

The run of four shut-outs is the best run of clean sheets since those heady days under Neale Cooper in 2004.

“I know this sounds selfish, but I don’t like that ‘defend as a team’ stuff,” laughed the right-back.

“It’s us having to deal with it!

“(In) the Wimbledon game, we had a conveyor belt of 6ft-plus lads to mark.

“It was us and Trevor Carson doing the work!

“No, everyone has been doing their bit for the side – the shape of the team has been great.

“The midfielders have been doing the closing down really well.

“It was similar at Leyton Orient when they resorted to humping the ball in.

“With our shape and discipline so good, the opposition are now having to go long or chuck in diagonal balls because we are so hard to break down.

“Teams are having to go the old fashioned route and, when they do, Batesy and Jacko have been tremendous at the heart of the defence, then me and Jake are covering quite well.”

This reporter must say at this point that Magnay’s tongue was, partly at least, in his cheek when he stated the case for the defence.

However, just like when the goal-scorers and forward players take scoring and assisting with great seriousness, there is clearly pride for the boys at the back when they keep it clean.

And a run of 417 minutes without conceding a goal is something to marvel at.

“It just seems to have clicked,” said the former Chelsea defender, who says the influence of Craig Hignett and first-team coach, Curtis Fleming, has transformed the side.

“The management have to take huge credit for what they have done since they came in.

“With any new manager, you are going to get an impact.

“It didn’t happen straight away.

“We were down there just a couple of points clear, but there was never any panic, no mention of us being sucked in [to the relegation zone].

“It’s been positive from the start – they’ve always been looking up, there has never been any indication they have been worried about the situation.

“Defensively, they have made a big impact, especially Curtis, his detail is second to none and credit to the lads who have responded to that.”

Magnay and Co will be looking to make it five clean sheets on the spin tomorrow when Pools take on Mansfield Town.

And the 27-year-old says there is currently a strong sense of belief and will-to-win in the squad.

“There’s a new-found confidence here,” he said.

“We just can’t imagine losing at the minute. We’ll play anyone in this league at the moment and fancy ourselves. Everyone involved in the turnaround deserves credit for what we are doing.”

While Pools have been piling up the points and clean sheets in March, tomorrow’s visitors have found it a bit of a struggle, though they did draw 2-2 with leaders Northampton last week, despite playing half the match with 10 men.

The Stags have only claimed two points from a possible 18 in a period when Pools collected 14.

“We don’t care even if they had won the last six games!” said Magnay. “Form does not come into it for us.

“We’re a confident bunch at the minute – we are keeping clean sheets and we’ve got every right to go into each game thinking we can win it.”