Squad Overview: Right-back

The about-turn in the main strengths of our side has been quite perplexing. Our defence was, though we've never really not conceded goals, seemingly our main asset for quite a while. The Dunne & Distin partnership seemed pretty strong until broken up as the latter chose to go elsewhere for an extra few grand a week, and moving Micah to centre-half initially looked like a bit of a masterstroke.

This season, however, it's seemed like pretty much every defender on the books has gone backwards. Micah, reverted to right-back, has appeared to be playing with his head firmly up his arse since pretty much day one. I'm still quite disappointed that we sold Vedran Corluka, if i'm completely honest. I realise he was a player who divided opinion, but i liked him. Sure, a pensioner with an arthritic knee would probably beat him over ten yards, but he rarely made mistakes in his season here, was reliable if not outstanding and provided a good outlet for us going forward. Not that i'd advise keeping players who'd rather be elsewhere, but i never heard him say anything less than he was very happy to be at the club, and an arm around him might've been all that was needed.

Anyway, Micah. It's been said by most Blues that he looks to have bulked up over the last year or so, something Hughes and his team firmly deny, but to me it's blatantly obvious. You only need to look at highlights of his early appearances, say the goal at Villa Park, and you can judge for yourself. He's filled out, perhaps naturally, i couldn't say with any real authority, but it could well be a case of him doing the wrong sort of training, too much on the weights-orientated side of things, too little cardio-vascular, as i sit here gut bursting out of my shirt i'm probably not the best person to criticise! What i do feel i can say with some sort of confidence, however, is that the boy appears slower, his positioning has at times been woeful this year, and he's really not as much of an asset to us as he was and should be.

When he first came into the side he looked like we could've played him almost anywhere and he'd have caused sides trouble. He was a real danger from set-pieces, and useful in the air back in our own box. He appeared permanently full of energy, could out-muscle most, and you'd fancy him in a straight-out race with anybody, even when giving away a few yards. Now he looks shot, unsure of his job, quite easy to get at. I'm unsure where i stand on him, really. I keep having to remind myself what a great prospect he looked only a year or so ago. He seemed our great new hope, was helping to revitalise a boring England side, we could've named our price, indeed for a while it looked like we might do well to hang on to him. In that sense, i'd like him to stay and refind his form, we know what he can do, but on the other hand, how long can a player go on putting in such substandard showings before we have to think about replacing him? How many goals has he been at fault for this season, how many penalties has he given away? The answer, of course, is far too many in both cases.

The other man who's played at right-back this season, Pablo Zabaleta, is in a way the antithesis of Richards; not the greatest athlete, perhaps even lacking in ability, but a warrior with a never-say-die attitude, who even when flat out will give you 110%. If we could somehow combine the two we'd have one hell of a player, that's for sure. Zab, for me, was one of our better players over the season, probably only behind Vincent Kompany, and obviously Stevie Ireland as our Player of the Year. His better performances, though, were when moved into midfield. Initially i thought he looked out of his depth there, but it didn't take long for him to prove me wrong. In some of the post-Christmas home fixtures particularly he was superb, never gave up, chasing and willing to kick anyone, much appreciated.

At right-back, though, i wasn't quite as impressed with his performances. He doesn't strike me as the kind of full-back who's going to gallop up and down the touchline for the whole ninety minutes. He's obviously never afraid to put a foot in, and that's something i like, but i'm not absolutely convinced it's his natural position. He strikes me as a player who could suffer from being reasonably good in a number of positions, but not great in any. Saying that, he's a player who i thoroughly want to hang around, primarily because he has that edge and that will that we've lacked so often this term, particularly away from home.

Aswell as Miach & Zab, we also have, lest not forget, Danny Mills on the books, quite happy to pick up his £30k a week without ever playing. He could've moved on, of course, got a move to a Championship club, played every week, but that'd have involved a hefty pay-cut. Shaleum Logan also sounds like he's on his way out. He looked great in the Academy side of a couple of seasons back, really energetic, not scared of a challenge, thought he might make it. I'm not sure he really has the attributes to step up, sadly, he had a horrid time at Portsmouth earlier, and whilst i'd be more than happy to see him remain here it may well be better all-round if we let him move on, especially with Kieran Trippier doing so well in the youth team.

To sum up, i'm unsure whether Hughes will stick with either Micah or Zab at full-back next season, or bring someone new to the club completely. What is obvious is that Zabaleta will get less games in midfield, so it would make sense for him to move back. Micah's a bit more difficult to call. He doesn't strike me as Hughes' type of player, and i question his attitude. If we bring in another centre-half as expected, and if Kompany does shift back, Richards might find himself well down the pecking order there. Were i a betting man, and with stories of Lucas Neill coming in, i might be tempted to have a few quid on Micah moving on.

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