Player Reviews – Defenders

It’s the men at the back under the spotlight today as we continue our player reviews.

Angel Rangel

The Spaniard has featured more than one would have expected this term but it’s more to do with the fact that Naughton has flattered to deceive. He’s done a reasonable job when called upon but long term is not an option as he’s coming towards the end of his career. He often finds himself out of position which is exacerbated by the fact that he likes to go forward and doesn’t have the legs to get back anymore. Ideally he will have another year or so as a backup player and then be offered a staff role at the club whether it be at first team level or in the youth setup.

Verdict – C

Kyle Naughton

The former Spurs full back has been at the club for eighteen months now and hasn’t really kicked on in that time. He doesn’t really offer a lot going forward, a rare assist for Andre Ayew at Villa being one of his notable positives in that department and defensively he’s been suspect as well – the fact that Angel Rangel has been starting ahead of him says it all. He really needs to up his game if he wants to remain at the Liberty and I’m leaning more towards bringing a replacement in and allowing the Yorkshire man to move on elsewhere.

Verdict – C

Ashley Williams

Even our Mr Consistent hasn’t had a great season by his standards. He’s been at fault for more goals this term than any other during his time in south Wales. His slump was notable in our bad run of form which led to Garry Monk getting sacked and I’d like to see more organisation from our skipper when it comes to set pieces. However he has been more like his old self since the turn of the year (if you forget about his shocker at Leicester a few weeks ago) with notably good displays in the win at Everton and defeat at Spurs and he finally found his scoring touch again with winners against Watford and Arsenal. Hopefully next season he will be more consistent.

Verdict – B

Federico Fernandez

Second season syndrome seems to have hit the Argentine this term. He’s not been awful but undoubtedly not as good as in 2014/15. I wonder sometimes if the communication between him and Williams is as good as it should be. Shane Long getting inbetween them both on a few occasions against Southampton is something that should have been avoided for example. My harshest criticism though is when he bottled a challenge at Leicester recently. That summed up a dreadful afternoon in the east midlands when half the squad didn’t look interested. I’ll be expecting an improvement next term.

Verdict – C

Kyle Bartley

Garry Monk turned to Bartley as he clung to his job in late November, it did home no good whatsoever. He was poor in the home draw with Bournemouth and gave away a daft corner which lead to the opening goal in the defeat with Leicester which proved to be our former managers final game in charge. Sadly he has showed no signs of his progression since he’s been here as his rash challenge at Oxford proved and the time has come for us to move him on. The only justification you can have for him remaining at the Liberty is that he’s good in the air which does come in handy at set pieces.

Verdict – D

Jordi Amat

One of the few players signed by Michael Laudrup still at the club, Amat can rightly feel hard done by not to have featured more regularly this term. He has a brilliant record when he starts (including three wins from four league games this term) and fits in seamlessly when given an opportunity regardless of who lines up alongside him. The time has come for Amat to be considered as a first choice centre back after the lacklustre displays from Williams and Fernandez and I’m confident he will improve further with regular first team football.

Verdict – B

Neil Taylor

He has his critics but there have definitely been worse performers this season than the north Walian. Admittedly he doesn’t offer much of a threat going forward but defensively he’s dependable enough although he can occasionally commit a rash challenge. The main issue with Taylor is he’s been too comfortable over the last couple of years. Last season there was no competition at all for his place while this term Tabanou was shipped out on loan in January and it’s only the last couple of games that we’ve seen Stephen Kingsley given a run out. Some good competition would mean he has to up his game so I’m hoping that will happen in 2016/17.

Verdict – B

Franck Tabanou

Many were excited to see a new left back arrived last summer and when Tabanou showed considerably more going forward than Taylor in pre-season many thought he might be first choice before long. That however failed to materialise and the Frenchman complained in the press about not playing and Garry Monk responded by claiming he wasn’t fit enough. We then saw what he meant in the FA Cup defeat at Oxford when he appeared exhausted early in the second half. After that he soon returned to St Etienne on loan not before having another dig at the club in the press. Good riddance to bad rubbish springs to mind. No way he’ll play for us again and so he shouldn’t.

Verdict – E

Stephen Kingsley

On recent evidence the Scottish left back has been very unlucky not to feature more regularly. He excelled in the win at Arsenal and was one of many stand out performers on that brilliant afternoon at West Ham. He’s considerably better than Taylor going forward as shown by his assist for Ayew at Upton Park and he has been rewarded with a call up to the Scotland squad. The future looks bright for the former Falkirk player and I look forward to his progress with interest in the years to come.

Verdict – C