Aaron makes a case for the defence

Last updated : 17 December 2002 By Martyn Elliott

"Ever since I've been here Newcastle defences have been criticised. Look what it was like when Kevin Keegan was here," Hughes told the Journal.

"A lot of people blamed the defenders for not winning the title in 1996 and I think there is a hangover from that still. That image is still in people's minds when they talk about us.

"I don't think we've got bad defenders at this club, but you have to look at the way we play football. We are an attacking side and that means we leave gaps sometimes.

"Sometimes as a unit and as individuals we have made mistakes and you have to hold your hands up to them and apologise.

"We'd be the first to admit we have played badly at times, but at other times we have defended very well. Sometimes the criticism has been too harsh and people are less willing to praise then they are to criticise."

Personally I think most of the criticism the defence has received this season has been merited, but people do seem to have ignored that that do not receive adequate protection from the midfield – particularly on the left.