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Southampton V Leicester City The Verdict
at 14:23:25

For the first time for a while, apart from a couple of pretty average performance from AM and AA, I did think the team really gelled, with a lot of recent underperformers (JB, Salisu, Tino, JWP) back to their best.
1. Che Adams gets better and better. Enough said. (Where would we be without him…?)
2. A special word for Nathan Tella who put in some great runs down the RHS and really earned his spurs last night. And for KWP who was generally pretty impressive; one surging run forward particularly comes to mind…
3. Even though it’s heart-in-mouth stuff when the Saints start playing around with the ball close to their own goal and look as if they could so often lose it, last night on at least three occasions they turned tippy-tappy defence in to devastating attack which, if only our finishing had been better, could easily have led to more goals.
4. James Maddison’s goal was class, although once again Alex McCarthy was beaten at the near post. But for the first goal, he really should have held onto the initial shot rather than parry it back into the path of Evans. (Equally though you could argue that Schmichael should also have held onto the initial shot that led to our first goal).
5. But deep into the second half AM did the same thing again and, if it hadn’t been for Elyonoussi (i think) being a couple of yards in front of him to kick it away, we’d have been three down. Yes he did make a couple of top saves which undoubtedly kept us in the game - which interestingly was RH’s cup-half-full view of his match performance too - but Christ he does make some cock-ups along the way. Trouble is a lot of us increasingly highlight his mistakes rather than his attributes which must eat away at his confidence.
6. Meanwhile up front Adam Armstrong simply doesn’t get any better, yes he runs around a lot but is just so UNTHREATENING. I swear to God he has taken lessons from Theo Walcott: “all you have to do is run fast and the goals will come…” Complete nonsense of course, because at the moment he simply cannot control the ball and turn defenders.
7. In a similar vein, there were were several players who consistently fell over their own feet when running forward with the ball. Yes I can forgive Nathan Tella as he’s only young and Che because he works and works and works and is scoring. But Adam Armstrong really does need to go back to school and learn how to do it if he wants to become a top class striker. His stature doesn’t help, but then there have been some world class front men who are no taller than he is. So come on Adam, I’m sure you’ve got the ability but if you can’t get the basics right, you’re on a road to nowhere…

As a foot note, I commented a couple of weeks ago about how poor JWPs corner seemed to have been recently. And blow me down, last night all of a sudden he handed the baton to Tella who played a couple of short ones, one of which led to a goal. Who says that The Ugly Side has no power…?!
Now if someone on the coaching staff is reading this and notes my point about lousy dribbling skills…
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Southampton At Liverpool The Verdict
at 12:14:59

Sorry, only Brentford has let in less goals…
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Southampton At Liverpool The Verdict
at 12:14:10

Good things:
1. It was “only” four nil, on which basis we must be better than Man U!
2. Nathan Tella was great and unrecognisable compared to his last appearance a few weeks back;
3. Liverpool were a class above us in all departments, so only being thrashed (as opposed to being completely humiliated) was a result;
4. We didn’t collapse in a heap at any stage.
Not so good things:
1. Salisu continues to be very in and out and he nearly cost us another goal, so suggestions that he is a future VVD in the making are somewhat premature;
2. Jan Bednarek often seemed to be out of position and/or got taken/nutmegged in the lead up to when goals were scored, or am I being unfair? Whatever, I still think he looked nothing like as sharp a defender as we need him to be;
3. VVD showed just how much Adam Armstrong has to learn about turning defenders and getting into the right position to shoot;
4. Broja had a brilliant opportunity to score but for taking one touch too many - a sign of lack of experience I suspect;
5. We did give away the ball continually and loads of free kicks (because Liverpool were too good) and our killer passes, such as they were, were generally intercepted.

So where does that leave us after this defeat?
Yes we can defend - only Brentford in the bottom half of the league has let in more goals. And Yes, the score on Saturday could have been seven or eight nil, but our problem remains that WE SIMPLY CANNOT SCORE, in fact I note that ONLY NORWICH HAS SCORED LESS GOALS than us. With Adam Armstrong looking increasingly like Theo’s understudy, Stuart A still out, Che looking tired, Broja not the finished article and Tino also needing a rest, something or someone really has to start working up front and PDQ or else we are going to be in real bother by the time Santa has packed up his sleigh for another year…
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Saints Managing Director Gives Fans January Transfer Window Expectations
at 09:37:54

I think it’s worth looking a little deeper into this. Which is arguably about telling potential buyers about the balance sheet and what the club expects it to look like in the New Year. In other words the Board is promising not to go banco on a humungously overpriced player or two, ramp up the debt and the wage bill and consequently the asking price. So any prospective buyer - which according to Semmens there are a number out there but at least some of whom are not of the most savoury type - will be now aware that the finances are and will continue to be as they have been in the last few months and the valuation of SFC has not altered and will not do so for the rest of the season.
Sounds a good strategy to me and hopefully will nudge one or two into negotiations…
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Southampton At Norwich City The Verdict
at 07:42:01

Goodness this is going to be a long season! Saints don’t half put their fans through it! Because we do expect everyone to play well all the time, and when they don’t - like on Saturday - we all get worried. Of course some will always be better than others but players are not machines, we do have a lot of youngsters in the team, and inconsistency (especially amongst the smaller clubs) is the name of the game in the bottom half of the PL. (Witness how Watford, Burnley and Newcastle all played decently over the weekend but high flying Brighton didn’t). I wish it wasn’t true for us but that’s how this season is turning out, but I’ll take inconsistency over a string of losses anytime. And in that light maybe 13th in the table at this stage of the season isn’t so bad.

Main thoughts:
1. So many players seemed to be having an off day at the same time v Norwich, especially in the second half: Salisu (although he did have his moments in particular a fantastic through ball to AA), Tino, McCarthy, Walcott (so what’s new), KWP, Elyonoussi, Broja, even Diallo (at times)
2. Once again, there is far too much “trying to be clever” close to our own goal in order to keep possession at the risk of safety;
3. KWP proved yet again he hasn’t got a left foot; surely he must practice left foot crosses day in day out if he wants to play there permanently;
4. Surging runs by Salisu, Diallo, KWP, OR, etc look great but so often they seemed to have no idea where to pass the ball to and several attacks ran out of steam;
5. Am I the only one to wonder what has happened to JWP’s corners? They seem to be so un-deadly these days?

So here’s to continuing inconsistency which hopefully = a top quality performance at Anfield!
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It's Football Again So It's Dean Smith Again ! Three Points At Carrow Road !
at 08:46:45

The one thing Norwich haven’t got is money. So the “play like gods or you’re out” threat won’t make any difference to them. Dean Smith will have to make use of what abilities in their squad he’s currently got and hopefully for us the new manager bounce is an illusion. They’re not dissimilar to us when Ralph took over. So all Smith can hope to do in the short term is practice a few set piece tactics, keep us out and catch us on the break - so what’s new?
I hope we will win, because we’ve got pace and all round are better but it will be a real slog and not pretty because their home record isn’t bad at all. So I suspect a one all draw may be the best we can hope for.
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Aston Villa Target Hasenhuttl And Steven Gerrard To Replace Dean Smith
at 10:32:43

Highfield49 Spot on!

And ditto underwestand. Agreed, Eddie Howe may be a lovely guy but he is, was and always will be a very average manager at best. And the stats show it. I would imagine the Newcastle junta with their dodgy reputation want someone who is available, so they’ll be no more adverse publicity (which there undoubtedly would be if they were to try to extract an in-place manager) at least in the short-term. Whether they’ll be able to attract anybody decent under his management I very much doubt, but maybe he’s doing it because Mrs Howe needs a new coat…

And re the Villa job, if you look at what Dean Smith did with the Grealish money, it was mostly blown on average players who are not delivering (including our dearly departed Danny). That’s what got him the sack and I think you’ll find that the money they’ll have to pay any club inc the Saints to get their manager is now prohibitive. I always thought they were a very overrated club, although Grealish carried them while he was there. But now I think they’ve got real problems.

And finally JoeEgg, do I trace just a hint of a change in your usual theme of “we lose because of Ralph, we win despite him”? If so welcome back from the dark side!
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Southampton V Aston Villa The Verdict
at 11:13:05

Am I the only person who thought that Salisu, having generally played really well for us this season, had an awful night yesterday and, due to slovenly back passing and general ineptitude, nearly cost us three goals?! I’d say on the back if that display he definitely deserves to be rested for a game or two which of course with good backup players we can now afford to do.
Him aside, what a great display…at times…because when you dominate the midfield you run the game, but obviously when you don’t you don’t. Which was what happened yesterday. In H1 we were in completely command and with KWP running riot down the LHS, we were unstoppable. But in H2, the boot was on the other foot, we hung back and you could argue that Villa just about shaved it. But my goodness on kast nights showing they really miss Grealish and a certain Mr Ings because they simply couldn’t get the ball into the right areas, let alone the back of the net.
So we march on, ok still without a hatful of goals to crow about, but to counter that the one thing we do seem to be having lots of right now is LUCK. So last night the “Adams Brothers” had it when we scored, as did Salisu (when they didn’t) but on another occasion they won’t. Let’s hope that isn’t for a while yet.
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The Defence Has Been Sorted Now Saints Just Need To Start Scoring
at 12:29:37

You are so right; scoring is important but season after season the best teams are the ones who have the best defences and concede the least number of goals.
I have no doubt that one reason why Danny Ings wanted to leave was that, no matter how hard he worked and scored, it was all for nought as we shipped so many behind him. There is nothing more confidence-busting than to feel that all your efforts are wasted by useless defending.
And of course the opposite is also true, which is why our forwards are playing so much better and will be scoring soon; their confidence is high because they have a solid defence behind them.
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Southampton At Watford The Verdict
at 18:26:48

Not much to add but increasingly we are looking like a team with guts who fights for every ball. I reckon this “run like crazy and fight for the ball all the time” attitude was started by Tino early on this season and it’s clearly catching because the likes of KWP, Salisu, Nathan and Che and Adam A in particular all seem to be exercising a similar attitude yesterday.
What it looks to me is that Ralph has told them “if you fight and fight and never give up and you’ll be in the team, but, if you don’t, there is at least one other player who is ready to take your place and I won’t hesitate to drop you.”
So I predict Lyanco is going to start pretty soon over Jan Bednarek who is starting to look pedestrian, in fact he nearly cost us a goal after 20 minutes yesterday. And Diallo will keep JWP on his toes too. And similarly McCarthy who kept goal very well but woe betide if he slips as FF looks like he’s back to his best too.
Stuart Armstrong again seems still to be half a yard off the pace but he showed signs of what’s he’s good at - that diagonal acceleration that can cut open defences - so it shouldn’t be long.
Lack of goals of course is a problem, and I’m bound to say not too many shots on target is also a worry. But a win is a win and luck at the moment is going our way.
So am I being a hopeless optimist if I predict that all this hard work our forwards are clearly putting in will pay off before November is out and we are going to start scoring for fun? (I know, and COP26 is going to solve the climate crisis, but we live in hope…)
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Southampton At Chelsea The Carabao Cup Verdict
at 13:35:30

This really is no fun. The Saints put on a fantastic show and suddenly all the anti-Ralph lot (bar one I note) are all hushed.
What is the matter with you all? Run out of things to say? Come on don’t be shy, give your usual amount of utter rubbish and give us a good laugh…!
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Southampton At Chelsea The Carabao Cup Verdict
at 23:04:32

I agree with all your comments except that the only person I thought was completely anonymous was Nathan Tella. I don’t think I ever saw him touch the ball. Lots of people on here have been crying out for him to start. On tonight’s evidence I can’t see him starting again for a while.
Of the rest, Lyanco I think was the best defender in a Saints shirt for many a year. Yan Valery seemed to have taken on a new lease if life. Stuart Armstrong seemed to be lacking zip. Adam Armstrong is fighting more and may yet come good. KWP was really trying hard to get back into a regular spot in the team. But I was proud of them all.
Re the penalties, if a good kick gets saved, that’s the way of it, so no blame attached to us going out on them. However I was surprised to see Will Smallbone so high up the list for one so inexperienced and was not surprised he cocked it up. Surely the likes of Salisu and KWP should have come above him in the kicking order.
But hey ho, it was still a really cracking performance.
The thing about Chelsea though is that they do let you play; but they are very quick and subtle so will tend not be out of possession for long, so It does make for a very entertaining and open game and so it proved tonight.
But surely, on this performance, the “sleep walking into the Championship “ brigade will have less to be concerned about…?
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Southampton V Burnley The Verdict
at 09:50:54

There are always “interesting” views on here, mostly surrounding so-called fans’ view on Ralph and his tactics, selections, substitutes etc.
And then there is this hard core, “sack him” brigade.
I understand all the frustrations of being a fan and the urge to blame somebody if we don’t play well, never mind that luck plays a huge part in winning and losing.
But bring in Eddie Howe instead of Ralph? That really takes the biscuit.
Have anybody bothered to look at Eddie Howe’s managerial stats for the last three years he was at Bournemouth, when arguably he/they should have been kicking on?
If so you would have seen that, for his last three years at the club, his win percentages in the PL were as follows: 28.9%, 34.2% and 23.7% (the last being 2019/20 when they went down), ie an average of 28.9%.
Since Ralph has been at Saints, his overall win percentage has been >33%. And that includes 1 out 9 this season. (For his nearly three seasons before this one, he averages >35% (34.7%, 39.4% and 31.5% respectively).
So PUR-LEASE, if you are going to come up with suggestions for who should be manager - which by the way I think would be a huge mistake and cause absolute mayhem in the squad - at least come up with quality ones and not some overrated never-has-been…
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Southampton V Burnley The Verdict
at 10:09:32

As predicted Burnley were a bigger challenge than Leeds. And even if Cornet did take his chances well, there’s no doubt that we were still the better team going forward. And we could/should have been 3-1 up at half time if Nathan and Theo hadn’t been so hopeless in front of goal and the post hadn’t denied Tino. So, despite all the welcome attempts we had, luck wasn’t with us (which arguably it was vs Leeds last week) although it was some compensation that both our goals were class. So maybe a solid four points from the last two games is a fair outcome.
Individually, although we did look a bit overconfident for the first 20 minutes or so and duly paid the price, everyone thereafter put in a shift and it was a great game to watch.
I do wonder about Theo Walcott though. After watching him closely on Saturday and for the last few home games, having always been of the opinion that he was overrated in his Arsenal and Everton days, he has done nothing to change my view: fast yes, but never skilful enough to be a class player.
Now it seems that Ralph is trying to get Theo to concentrate solely on running fast and drawing players, leaving others eg Tino, Armando etc, to put the ball in the net. But the question remains can we afford to have one of ours in this role who offers little else? Clearly skill and speed is the perfect combination but if you had to choose one over the other, give me skill every time; and I get the impression most on here agree.
So am I any happier about how we are doing?
Well, sort of, but our season continues to be two steps forward one step back which is sooooo frustrating; but then frankly are we any different from a lot of the mid/lower end teams? and I reckon most of us in the nether regions of the PL are a helluva lot happier than that bunch of ludicrous prima donnas down Old Trafford way (snort…)
And re Stuart Armstrong, he definitely looked ring-rusty which is presumably why he didn’t start and was only brought on late. The rumour though now is that he’ll start on Tuesday but it wouldn’t surprise me if was still on the bench but start next Saturday.
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Southampton V Leeds United The Verdict
at 10:55:05

More than anything else, yesterday we saw a real determination to fight, to retain and win the ball back in a tackle. There were numerous occasions where sheer guts enabled a whole host of our players to keep the midfield and front pair going forward. So yes, with a better attacking opposition we may well have been undone more than on the one occasion when Salisu cocked it up, but the thrill I used to get from watching the Saints had well and truly returned by 4.45 yesterday afternoon.
I said last week that the leap required for top-scoring ex-championship forwards (eg Adam Armstrong) to make (to be prolific in the PL) was well and truly illustrated by Broja’s clinical goal, which he took like an experienced top flight player. Would AA or Che have managed to do the same? We will never know of course but something tells me those two may well find themselves on the subs bench and/or only starting in cup games from now on.
Meanwhile all the defence played well, kept the ball well, kicked it out instead of trying to be too clever and on several occasions (including the goal) with a couple of great moves turned defence into really quick attack. They really do seem to be getting better and more solid by the game. Perhaps JWP being sidelined gave them that extra kick knowing that, with him and JS out for not too long, two of them may not be first choice forever. Although on yesterday’s performance they all deserve to be.
And as for this continuing criticism for RH’s head, for goodness sake put a sock in it. I for one am heartily sick of all that on going nonsense, and I cannot believe I am alone. He is not going anywhere and no amount of saying he’s no good is going to change the Board’s mind.

PS I noticed a lot of the seats around me near the tunnel have had red crosses put on them where the numbers used to be. Anyone know what this is about? There is a rumour that the club is taking back ex season ticket seats for their own guests but can anyone confirm this?
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Southampton V Leeds United The Preview
at 16:00:06

Unless I am completely blind, the one thing we DON’T do enough of is cross the ball into the box, cut backs from the byline and plays through the middle, yes, but crosses are as rare as rocking horse sh*t. If we did get a few more aerial crosses in, well whoopeedoo, but pigs are going to have start growing some pretty big wings before that happens. That said there is one person who does seem to be able to do aerial crosses and that is Tino.
Oh that we could get the others to do it.
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Southampton Ownership Structure Could Change Says Saints CEO
at 20:31:47

I dis notice this comment from Martin Semmens in Hampshire live last week:
“ The reason why it is taking so long is that we are not selling the club to the first person that comes through the door. If I wanted to find a shareholder or an investor with the money, I could find it tomorrow - but you would not like them.”
Much the same as he said on the radio but it now sounds like things are moving forward a bit faster than anyone thought…
For the whole interview see:
https://www.hampshirelive.news/sport/football/football-news/martin-semmens-south
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Ralph Hasenhuttl Has To Be Given Time To Finish The Job He Started
at 08:49:07

The usual mix of views about Ralph for and against.
So who is right? Is he in the last chance saloon or not?
The first thing to say is that the Board is clearly behind him as is the dressing room even if the fans are - if this blog is anything to go by - divided.
So far so obvious.
But I think both sides of the argument have to be realistic. Ralph has kept us up, but whenever a club is in the bottom third, alarm bells ring constantly. But equally clubs outside the top six or seven do go in cycles and players come and go, are in form and out of form, get better and worse, and importantly get older. And we are no different.
But surely as a policy it’s better to keep investing in youth rather than older players? This gives you a future which isn’t as costly as having a bunch of ego-inflated has beens.
And all those who bang on about how selling Danny Ings was a mistake, note he hasn’t exactly been knocking the lights out at Villa since he left for a ludicrously overinflated price.
And even if we can’t agree about whether or not Ralph’s tactics and team selection are good bad or indifferent, all this is decided by what he sees on the training ground and in games, it’s rather more than guesswork which I get the feeling a lot of people on here think.
What I do see is that our defence is better, albeit still work-in-progress but, yes, we are lacking a lot of incisiveness up front.
But changing the manager isn’t going to instantly make Che or Adam or Moussa or even Tino mega goal scorers. Confidence is what’s required and I frankly do not see any other available manager being able to be more motivating. If so who are they? Our players are much more confident than they were but OK the results aren’t coming. Yet. But I am convinced they will. Because I like the way we play now and we do get the ball up there, just not in to the back of the net.
Whereas I didn’t like our style such as it was under Puel or Pellagrino and especially Hughes: they were all worse than headless chickens and we played accordingly. Ralph is light years ahead of that bunch and we are lucky to have him.
PS. Eddie Howe? do me a favour, he was just a cry baby who had lost the Bournemouth dressing room weeks before they went down. And if he was any good, why wasn’t he offered the usual five minutes at Watford? He’s a no better than a good championship manager. End of.


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Southampton At Chelsea The Verdict
at 12:16:55

Sorry to hear about your accident, but despite you missing most of the game I do think you sum up our present situation and your views on the “change the manager “ brigade - they’re completely bonkers to think that someone else is preferable.
The conclusions I came to by the end of the game were:
1. Alex McCarthy has improved immeasurably and kept us in the game (until the red card that is).
2. Nathan Redmond had an excellent game, much better than his reputation and some commentators on here would suggest.
3. Adam Armstrong should have passed when we were three on two; but he chose to shoot, a sign of the pressure on him to score? I hope that both he and Che are not starting to prove the dictum that you really have to be an exceptional Championship player, eg Patrick Bamford (who of course had been a PL player prior to joining Leeds), to cut in in the PL. Breaking fast in one thing, not getting all muddled when you get into the oppo’s box is quite another.
4. For the first Chelsea goal, criminally no one was on the back post, a basic defensive howler.
5. Chelsea, for a lot of the time, were dominant in the penalty area but generally we were successful at keeping them out (until the second goal).
6. We do break fast but, as was seen time and time again on Saturday, nothing like as quickly as Chelsea do. A bit of a wake-up call in that department…?
7. The red card was in my view just about fair but for the fact that a bit of leniency given the conditions could have been justified.
8. Our next three games - vs Leeds, Burnley and Watford - without JWP (but with Stuart Armstrong?) are, on paper at least, relatively easy, so will give everyone the opportunity to see that RH’s view, that he has all over strength in depth, is justified…or not…
In summary we showed we can play really well and are showing that decent teams are built on solid defences. OK we are still very in and out in that area but nevertheless I do think that we are slowly improving, and going forward we do look a threat, a big threat but… threatening and scoring and miles apart and once again our inability to put the ball in the net continues to hold us back.
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Southampton At Chelsea The Preview
at 18:53:53

I don’t think our strikers can be criticised for lack of effort. And equally I think it is a little unfair to conclude that if you keeping having shots on target which don’t get through you are aurptomatically no good. I therefore maintain that if our lads up front keep banging then in the right direction sooner or later they will score. And if it’s against Chelsea, so much the better.
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