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|Saints At Watford The Preview|
I can't quite work out if we're safe or not. Most press articles I read say we are, but that doesn't stop me still feeling a little nervous! However, a 10 point gap is huge at this stage. That's 3 wins and a draw for the teams at the bottom to catch us and that's assuming they go on to out perform us in the remaining 3 fixtures. I don't seen that happening at all, especially when you look at the form and remaining fixtures for the sides battling relegation. Now I've convinced myself we're safe in the space of a paragraph, I shall move on to the Watford game.
I really feel Che Adams should be given an extended run in the side now. Build his confidence and allow him to get match sharp. Only then can we see what he's capable of. Obafemi has had plenty of opportunities to prove his worth and we all know what Shane Long has to offer. I would like RH to back Adams now and give him a real opportunity to show he can cut it at this level. Outside of that, I would like to see RH be brave with team selection. We often hear how the academy is a big part of our strategy and we need to use academy players more if we are to make that a reality. Smallbone needs to be given game time over Romeu and I'm really keen to see what Vokins can offer at LB. If there was ever a time to try out Lewis between the sticks, it's now. Sometimes giving a youth a chance pays dividends; just look at how Ramsdale took his opportunity at AFCB. I'm also intrigued by what N'Lundulu has to offer. RH doesn't appear to rate him but he's never going to have a better chance of trying out new players than now. PEH wants to leave so shouldn't play another game unless we have an injury crisis. Romeu hasn't performed well for some time now, so it would feel like a step backwards bringing him back into the action. We have to look forward, use the players who really want to wear the shirt and have a future with us. RH needs to show courage and back some of the younger lads to demonstrate faith in them and to allow them to grow. That includes allowing them to learn from mistakes and mature. We appear to have little choice but to play Vestergaard today and I hope he's up for the fight. It's a chance to put himself in the shop window, but it may also be a case of him wanting to avoid an injury that could scupper any move. As for Danso, I'm not sure what anyone was thinking when that deal was brokered, player included!
Today's game will be tough for Saints, as Watford have to start picking up points. I agree that a draw would be a good result for us, although I don't think it's beyond the realms of comprehension that we could take all three points. I hope for a good, honest performance that doesn't involve us handing over the points through individual errors.
Last point - does anyone have a view on Klarer and N'Lundulu? Are they good enough to get a chance, or are they likely to be sold?
|Saints V Newcastle United The Verdict |
Good article. We looked flat first half and before the sending off. Endless crossed into the box resulted in no major chances and Dubravka wasnt called into action once, with the exception of a specualitive left foot shot after Valery cut inside. Once again, our back line was sleeping and McCarthy pulled off a miracle combination of saves to keep us in it. From where I was sitting, it appeared that we were pushing the full backs on but Djenepo and Boufal just weren't providing cover following the overlap and I think we should have adjusted our tactics at that point. Newcastle got in behind our full backs time and time again.
The red card killed us off as an attacking force but I cant help but be disappointed with our limp counter attack. No one in our midfield could keep hold of the ball and aimless long balls up to Long just recycled possession and gave Newcastle possession to build the next attack. When you consider Newcastle hadn't scored in 8 hours of PL football before yesterday's game, we gave them far too much respect by just surrendering possession. Ings worked hard but was wasted on the left wing and no one outside of him actually looked like making something happen. Even before the sending off, Djenepo looked wayward and clumsy. On the other flank, Boufal shower rare flashes but ultimately didn't look up for the fight.
What is so frustrating for me is that it's yet another goal that has been needlessley gifted to the opposition. Every team that lines up against us know that we give them several chances to score in the match and that will only serve as a confidence boost.
I'm still at a loss as to why we offered so little on the break and why Ralph left it so late in the game to try and affect things. Oba and Adams get their statutary 5-10 minutes where they have little time to get involved and influence the game. Long looked out on his feet from the 70 minute mark but Ralph failed to react.
Credit to crowd yesterday who served up the best and most consistent atmosphere of the season. It's just a shame that wasn't rewarded with at least a point and its yet another game that we leave the ground with the away fans celebrating in our stadium.
At the end of the day, one win from Burnley H, Villa H, WH A and Newcastle is a very poor return and has left us on the brink of being sucked backed into the relegation battle. Clearly the squad is threadbare and new of a club soar this morning leaves me with the concern of a summer of confusion and unrest which will result in minimal investment, at a time it is so desperately needed.
Suddenly Norwich becomes a massive game. Win and we are safe. Lose and we are right back in the thick of the relegation battle.
|Saints V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Verdict|
Nice article and a fair assessment of the game. Small margins decide games and of the short that hit the post at 2-0 goes in, its 3-0 and Nuno would start pulling players in anticipation of the next game. Instead, we suffer a sucker punch and the pressure seemed to leave us with clouded minds. As you suggest above, we needed a leader on the pitch to sure things up, but instead we continued to lack discipline and concentration. Ultimately that cost us, but with a little more composure, that would have been a handsome victory. Wolves have only lost 5 games all season, which is on par with Man City. They're not an easy side to beat. Their side features near world class players and that was evident when they pinned Liverpool in their own half for significant periods at Anfield a few weeks ago. That said, the game was lost by Saints rather than being won by Wolves. Ralph has few options from the bench and Boufal's erratic nature lack of composure delivers very little. He had his chance to snatch us a draw and failed emphatically. Results below us were kind and we still have a healthy six point cushion to the relegation zone. This result serves as a stark reminder that discipline and concentration are as important as pace and flair, so the sobering result should re-focus us for the next few games. Ralph is ringing out every drop from this squad and days like these are inevitable if we don't invest. Competition in the squad is paramount, but we have very little of it right now. That can breed complacency and that could be very dangerous for us. More dangerous is Gao's complete lack of engagement and financial investment in our football club. The most important signings we can make are a new 80% shareholder to replace Gao and an extension to Ralph's contract. There is little encouragement on the former suggestion, but Ralph is making positive noises about a potential extension. This club has lacked stability for years, so an extension to Ralph could provide the foundation and solidity we so desperately need to move forward. Up the Saints.
|Saints V Watford The Preview|
It's funny how we focus so much on the defence and the forwards, yet the midfield doesn't get much attention. Week in, week out, our midfield is a massive void at the heart of the team. Romeu, JWP, PEH are all chasing lost causes, failing to protect the back line, whilst also failing to create much going forward. As a result, we spend far too much time defending, the back line tires and eventually leaks. The midfield is the engine room of any team and ours lacks any sort of spark or cohesion. It also lacks and sort of discipline when it comes to holding shape, which is why we often fall victim to the counter attack.
Massive game today and one that could ultimately decide Ralph's fate. Let's hope for a positive and more confident performance that leads to a much needed three points.
|Board Shake Up Needed|
Whilst Gao isn't responsible for the full demise of the club, surely it's the board's responsibility to put the right people, with the right knowledge, in the right roles? We can't overlook that his naivety in running the club was exposed over the summer, which is why we are now looking at a panic overhaul in January. He/we are learning by experience rather than planning by strategy. Simple as that and we're paying the price.
|Saints v Everton The Preview|
Good article. For now, we need to take it one week and one game at a time. Whilst the club is in desperate need of identity and passion, the fans' energy and support become all the more important. Whether or not that inspires the team to perform to a better standards remains to be seen, but we can but try. As you suggest in the article, there is no quick fix and it will take years to turn the tides on this steady decline. Let's hope for a more positive approach from Ralph today and a performance that can take us towards a much needed three points.
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