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Champions League
at 22:05 5 Mar 2019

I have to admit, I thought Spurs looked good tonight. I have to hope that they have a very bad day at the weekend and we have an exceptional one.

But, that aside, Ajax are looking superb and our friend Mr Tadic scored again. They have a nice young side and play some good football. Would not complain if Hassenhuttl models us on them. I suspect he would have got the best out of Tadic. Real Madrid look a busted flush and I hear Bale is having a miserable time. I can dream, but wouldn't it be wonderful if Bale forego a hefty salary and said he wanted to play out his career where it started at Saints...…..ok, back to reality. Bale is never going to come back and we probably won't beat Spurs.
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Proud but disappointed
at 13:51 3 Mar 2019

I hope this comes across in the right vain. I was very proud to be a Saints fan yesterday, for the style of the football we played, for our approach to a game, which even the most ardent Saints supporter probably thought we had a cat in hells chance of getting anything out of and what appeared to be a great team spirit with some excellent goals. We also battled and played against an official who seemed to wear only the glasses of Man U (why do we always seem to get "bent" officials in key games against Man U - Gabbiadini at Wembley disallowed goal as another example?).

So, why despite all the positives, did I end up feeling disappointed, frustrated even annoyed with Saints again?

The reason was, that for the umpteenth time this season we were within minutes of coming away with something that could have made such a difference. In recent games I think we have lost 5 or 6 points from failing to hold on to what we have in the dying minutes or seconds of a game:-

Burnley - seconds away from a win, ended with a point;
Cardiff - seconds away from a point in a bad game, ended up with nothing;
Man U - minutes away from a draw ended up with nothing.

So for all our brilliant play yesterday we still failed to see it through to the end. Yes, we get the plaudits for playing some good football and excellent goals, but we came away with nothing. A point (when we did not expect anything) would have given us a 3 point gap over Cardiff (the goal difference would be like another point). It would also have drawn Burnley back into the fray with their defeat and kept the pressure on Brighton. There are certainly no guarantees we will get anything against Spurs and neither against Brighton. What a shame that for all our endeavours and lovely football our failure to hold on in games could send us down and Cardiff could crawl out of it with their awful brand of football.

I know it is selfish as usually I would love to see Saints players get recognition and get called up for their country, but I sincerely hope JWP does not get called up. I appreciate I_would will not agree with me, but we need him to stay fit for us at this critical time, as I cannot see who will fill his boots if he should be lost to injury.

I was proud of the lads yesterday and I was excited by our football and the game, but at critical stages of the season like this, there are no points for just putting in a good performance if at the end of it, you cannot hold onto what you have.
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Lemina
at 16:56 1 Mar 2019

I understand that Lemina is still not available. I cannot imagine that there isn't a Saints fan who does not find his lack of availability and the lack of information related to his absence strange. He may well have some sort of stomach issue that is quite serious, but would you not say something other than it is just a stomach issue after all this time? His whole absence and reason for not being available appears to be shrouded in secrecy.

It is looking that there is more to his absence than meets the eye and is not all around medical issues. if it is, medical, then the level of secrecy and the fact that RH seems to gloss over Lemina in his interviews (other than saying it is not possible for him to play) will not help quell any suspicion that the club et al are being economical with the facts.
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That is how to defend.....
at 21:31 18 Feb 2019

I cannot stand the club, the city or their legions of tourist arrogant fans, but I even I have to admit that that was a consummate display by Man Utd against a largely toothless Chelsea side. Man U's defence was superb, literally snuffed out every chance of a possible attack, the way they defended in number and Herrera was excellent. Pains me to say it, but Shaw looked class tonight - seems to be realizing his potential now.

I hope our players were watching on how to defend a game. I know the quality of players is different, but if you work together as a team all over the pitch then you stop the opposition and make anything possible (streuth I almost sounded like Puel with that final word).
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Players out on loan
at 22:11 7 Feb 2019

I appreciate that I do not know the rules or anything around a lot of football and what I did know years ago have moved on, but my recollection years ago that when you used to loan players out you could recall them at anytime, and yet, I have not seen us do that for sometime.

Is it a case now that once you have loaned out a player it is for an agreed period/set time and in that period you cannot recall the player? As if you can recall them back, why would we not consider recalling Carillo and Boufal given our limited options up front and also given that RH has not seen them play (at least not in a Saints shirt).
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Lemina
at 21:50 7 Feb 2019

So, what is the current state of play with Lemina? Apologies in advance if this has been mentioned somewhere and was covered in the conference, but I have not seen or heard it?
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My personal take on yesterday's game.
at 13:11 3 Feb 2019

I avoided the temptation to write a piece after arriving home from the game (a relatively close one for me) because I felt very annoyed at the manner in which we managed to throw away 2 of the 3 points that were agonisingly close to achieving and I suspected my piece would have been based on raw banal emotion rather than balanced thinking. Next day, and I suppose I still feel disappointed but a couple of drinks and a sleep has deadened the anger at least - though I am not sure that my piece will be any less banal or as Kennington would put it - a sign of some mental problem.

On a previous thread on Friday I mentioned that I had never enjoyed a visit to Burnley and though the result was close to overcoming some of that, in the end I cannot help feeling that Burnley is one of the least favourite places I like visiting, their football, their fans and some of their players. But, I suppose subjectively, a draw was the right result, but the frustration of what 3 points could have done and would have done and taken off some of the pressure of playing Cardiff next week cannot be ignored. Cardiff at home, is now another critical game because anything less than a win will make the 3 games where we hoped to get at least 6 points a pretty poor return against average opposition.

Burnley are not great. They rarely are and for the most part we dealt with them well. Our defence worked well together and we had our chances to build on the 1-0 lead (another case of not finishing teams off - which seems an inherent problem with Saints for a few seasons now). Redmond was key again. Slattery, I thought, overall, had not a bad game and there is something about him. I think he could prove to be an asset, the more game time he gets.

Having now seen it several times, probably Burnley should have had a penalty when Barnes went over McCarthy. Though equally, the inconsistency of the officials were highlighted for the manner in which Barnes went in the face of the official, whereas Zaha arguably got sent off for less. All that said, I thought McCarthy had a better game, though, he does not fill me with total confidence and I know there is an element of luck when penalties are taken, but he seems completely static. But, he was more assured than he had been in recent games.

The vocal support was good and there is stoicism and some backbone in our team that was not there in the past. But, why oh why, can we not cut out the silly errors, the poor decisions and the same old mistakes, and regrettably it is the so called experienced players that seem to do it? Why did Long not use the ball more wisely to wind down the clock when he had the opportunity? Why did Stephens in those last few seconds do what he did, when in truth, he had had a pretty solid game until then? These 2 are experienced players now, they should not be naieve.

Ings - a great player when he is on form and fit, but he is too much of a liability injury wise and I don't know what the agreement is with Liverpool, but we need to think twice about taking a player on permanently who is so vulnerable to his body giving out on him.

We really need to win next week, but for all the recent improvements in our game and the improved desire to fight for every point, I am afraid, that because of our constant ability to shoot ourselves in the foot and not take teams to the sword and because of the endless errors and lack of anticipation in our play, I think we will be in the mix until the end of the season.

As for RH. I think Sonicboom put it earlier this week - there are some aspects that make the more considered not be completely convinced. There are times when our play has not progressed (but is it fair to expect it to have done). I would prefer if he kept his more critical views of his players out of the limelight of the media. I am not saying he is not right - he probably is, but keep some of it behind closed doors. I hope he can get us through this season and certainly he has injected some fight, passion, never say die attitude and some players have shown positive improvement under him - JWP, Redmond, Romeu. I am looking forward to seeing RH progressing the team, developing the youth and introducing them into the first team and having a summer to build the team into an exciting outfit (board support permitting of course).

A point at Burnley would have been good had we won in mid-week. It will still be good if we win next week, but the disappointment of being so close to it being 3 points cannot be forgotten.
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