BBC BLOGS - Robbo Robson
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Winter workhorses rule!

Robbo Robson | 10:09 UK time, Friday, 30 January 2009

I dunno about you lot but this winter feels a bit nippier than recent ones. Last Saturday it wasn't much fun getting up for the Blue Bell's match.

Some of the younger lads in our team have been letting the side down a bit, mind. They've got skill, pace and quick feet but do they really need mittens? They were brought up here in the North-East, home of the 10 B&H rolled into the cap-sleeved T-shirt in mid-Jan.

One of them polled up in a pair of piggin' tights before Christmas! All right, not the sheer American tan type but it still made him look part-Shakespearean and a right jessie.

Tim Cahill

These lads have to realise that if it's a tad chilly you just run around a bit more. Show-ponies get shown up in these months and your main men come through. If the Liverpool players want to keep warm they can always place their hands either side of Rafa's head and thaw out in the steam coming out of his post-match ears.

Wednesday night's match was 'crazy', he says. What? You mean Michael Brown was clogging someone? What's new? Brown thinks balls are shin-shaped. It was another two points dropped through negativity. A good way to protect a lead is score another. It's not rocket science.

Maybe it's this relentless frostiness that has meant that it's not been the greatest season for the creative types in their woolly warmers. Last year there was a lot of purring punditry particularly as the gelled tumbler turned his tricks. Not in 08-09.

Many teams are lining up in a 4-5-1. Everton are busy mastering the 5-5. There's not enough space on the pitch to swing an elbow.

Villa continue to thrive with a defence tighter than a High Street Bank lending policy, and two pacy chancers up front. And if Heskey scores on his debut, you know the manager's touched by a higher power (in O'Neill's case, that supernatural being is probably The Lord Clough).

Then of course the best team in the country at the moment (that's me writing through gritted teeth) has the meanest defence of all. So mean that even Van der Sar - a chap who last season looked about as reliable as a Michael Owen ligament - can claim a Premier League record.

So unless you're West Brom or Hull City, whose back fours look like they've been gripped by the Norovirus from time to time, you'll be picking out your scrappers and workers as your top lads thus far.

I include the likes of Lampard in that. Put him in an England shirt and his radar goes well off sometimes but he's been the one thing keeping Scolari afloat just recently just as much as Gerrard is for Rafa.

But for me, the stand-out performers this season have been Vidic and Cahill. The latter was slow to get into his stride but there can't be a club in the world who wouldn't cherish the bloke.

A Blue Bell regular prone to the outlandish statement described Cahill as the best header of a ball in world football. Outraged, I ran my fingers through my ever increasing beard, picking out a bit of mozzarella cheese and some pork scratchings on the way (I tell you there's a packed lunch squirreled away in them whiskers already) and was unable to come up with a better name.

He is the proverbial salmon. He's got that Denis Law technique off-pat. You know, that thing where a player can appear to hang in the air like a majestic eagle whilst gravity takes hold of the poor earthbound mortals all around them. Cahill's so good he almost makes Everton worth watching (actually no one is that good). And he lacks any of the flouncing that you might get from other top players.

You have no strikers - you ask him to play centre-forward - he says "yep, but can I still track back and get me fair share of yellow cards?" "Be my guest," says Moyes.

You look at Anelka and Drogba and you wonder if they could take a leaf out of Tim's book. What are they like them two, eh? It must be hell when they end up in the gents at the same time, fixing their hair and tidying up their eyeliner or whatever these lads do these days.

Oooooh I bet you could cut the atmosphere with a knife! I hope there's not a day when they turn up on the pitch wearing the same gloves! Can you imagine that, girl-friend! Miaoww!

Vidic is that old-fashioned thing - a tower of strength. He's like JT without the backaches. He's like Titus Bramble, except he's good. There are other candidates for CB of the season - Davies, Laursen (before the injury), Carragher when he's not pointlessly stuck at right-back, Jagielka - but Vidic has been nannying Evans while Rio's been out and there's been no noticeable difference.

It'll be interesting to see who picks up the Football Writers and PFA awards this year. It'd be good to think that a lad outside the big four might win them.

Ashley Young is maybe in with a shout. And there's still time for Robbie Keane if he can get back into a Spurs shirt as soon as possible. And let's not forget one of the most dangerous crossers of a ball that the Premier League's seen. If he keeps taking the cod-liver oil for his shoulder joints, could Rory Delap get a gong?

Personally, I'd like to give it to Shay Given. Eleven years he's been playing behind that defence. Centre-backs that could reduce an opposition frontline to a fit of the giggles. Managers that have come and gone with all the frequency of a Katie Price breast-op. And all the time he's kept his head down and saved the sorry bunch in front of him.

Given's spent his Magpies' career like Ripley in Alien... in Geordieland no one can hear you scream! One by one his colleagues have dropped like flies, savaged by the monster that is NUFC, and he's had enough. He deserves one of them honorary awards for services to lost causes, poor fella. I hope Man City give him riches beyond his ken.

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