During the years when the top right backs were Gary Neville, Steve Irwin and Lee Dixon, the full back was given the title – defender. Move on twenty years and has the role of the full back become – attacking full back.
The role of the full back has developed significantly over the last two decades. Whilst the old school defender just defended and never really looked to get forward, the modern day full back’s role is now to get forward at every opportunity and play like an extra winger.
If you compare Gary Neville to Kyle Walker the differences are endless. Neville was a tough tackling defender who knew what he had to do and defended as if his life depended on it. Tottenham right back Walker who has become Spurs number one right back despite his young age is much more adventurous and tries to get forward at every opportunity. His defending has come in for criticism on many occasions for being caught out of position however that is not singling out Walker, as for many full backs this is a common theme.
The change in the full back role has influenced the modern day game in so many ways. As Sky pundit Gary Neville says ” I have never seen defending like it” when he referred to Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal and Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City as games where there was an unprecedented amount of goals compared to the tight odd goal affairs in the late 90′s.
It has make the role of the holding midfielder so much more important for every team. Arsenal are a common team for this as over the years Arsene Wenger has realised the importance and has moulded Mikel Arteta into this role after the departures of Patrick Vieira and not so long ago Alex Song. The holding midfielder is there to cover spaces as full back’s attack with will and means that their job for the team is so much more important.
The change over the past two decades has seen a change in the beloved game as records get broken for the amount of goals in a game and season and whilst managers may find it frustrating, for the neutrals and lovers of the game, it couldn’t be any better.