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Southampton V Preston North End The Verdict
at 11:34:38

I don't think I'd be a happy bunny if I was Joe Lumley. Russell Martin's post match comment that he "wanted to see what Alex could do" didn't sound convincing to me. Perhaps he was putting McCarthy in the shop window, as he must have known about his frailties from previous performances. I thought that playing Aribo in front of KWP worked well. Although slightly off his game at first, Joe provided cover to the extent that when a truly lacklustre Preston did manage any attacks it was down our left where Ryan manning was his usual self, sometimes losing the ball but, always battling to win it back. Che Adams also showed a rarely seen sharpness and anticipation in his two scores. I was sad that he didn't get his hat-trick and I though he could've stayed on for longer as we seemed to lose our purpose when he went off and became content to play out the game as a practice session. Shea Charles did his prospects no harm with a commanding 45 minutes. All in all a good performance and satisfying clean sheet.
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Southampton V Watford The Verdict
at 13:48:36

No doubt about it in my mind, Russell Martin doesn't know how to close a game out. As we have stuttered towards the season's end his game management and substitutions have become more and more bizarre. We won in spite of Martin's tinkering, not because of them. I really don't think Jack Stephens should be a shoe-in each match, let alone captain. As for Gavin, he looks more and more vulnerable every time he appears (and that's despite vocal support from the Northam). If we do go up they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the Premier League.
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Southampton V Coventry City The Verdict
at 11:07:34

I thought the substitutions were unbalanced. It was obvious that the midfield had run their race and to bring on Mara for Adam was bizarre. I'd also add that Mara did nothing for his cause while he was on. He loped around in a completely aimless way, didn't hold the ball up and easily lost possession. Maybe he's disillusioned by all the backroom gossip, and he probably won't be the only one wondering what next season holds. More positively, Shea Charles looked robust and tidy when he arrived and, at 21 and 6' 2" he is one for the future. I'm still unsure about Gavin Bazunu but, fair play, last night he had a decent game despite being exposed by the lack of defence organisation in front of him. RM made the job a lot harder to get done than was necessary, in my opinion. Stuart armstrong should've been on much earlier. His effect on calming things down was noticeable. Glad we've effectively made the play-offs. That should keep the players interested.
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Southampton At Ipswich The Verdict
at 15:59:49

It all goes back to the question of whether we can maintain RM's passing game for ninety plus minutes and we patently can't. Whether that is because it is too demanding or we don't possess the collective skills is open to debate. We certainly don't have enough players to make up an eleven that can survive in the prem. Promotion or not we'll be needing a whole new set of players in September and the loss of Jason Wilcox is, to my mind, a bigger blow than if RM is replaced although I must concede that with a few more proficient players than we currently have he might have got us automatically upstairs.
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Southampton At Ipswich Town The Preview
at 15:15:32

If we can't pass more accurately (unlike Boro with their constant switching from right to left) and our midfield doesn't recognise forward runs by any number of players for a ball over the top, we won't get anything at Ipswich. Friday was largely a borefest in the second half with our constant sideways safety. Add to that a GK who isn't reliable then we won't be winning the play-offs.
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Southampton V Sunderland The Verdict
at 14:14:31

Many salient comments above. Harwood-Bellis looked really uncomfortable at time at RB and, consequently, made uncharacteristic errors. Anybody who thinks Jack Stephens and Ryan Manning are good enough to hold down places in a promotion-chasing team in this division is not watching the same games as me. They're both reasonable at going forwards but, defensively they are poor. I totally agree over the lack of on-field leadership when the chips are down. Jack isn't the man. Jan Bednarek might be. My biggest gripe is with our goalkeeper. I've seen enough this season to convince me that Gavin doesn't make enough saves of shots from outside the box, his catching is iffy and his pauses with the ball at his feet are, frankly unnecessary and nerve-jangling. Maybe time for Joe Lumley to be given a go.
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Southampton V Birmingham City The Preview
at 13:18:41

Aribo should start instead of Smallbone.
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Southampton At Liverpool The Preview
at 09:37:48

I agree entirely about the gap in ability between the big six or seven and the rest of the EPL but, the EPL has become a 23-team division with several clubs - Norwich, WBA for example (and Saints might join them) battling regularly for promotion or against relegation. That the big clubs can field junior players and still expect to progress has robbed the FA cup of its real glamour. Whatever team RM puts out tonight will astonish me if we get anything other than soundly beaten. The priority has to be the league and I just hope our confidence doesn't take a further hammering.
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Southampton V Millwall The Verdict
at 10:48:02

The Russell Martin system plainly has ceased to work and Russell faces the same fate if things continue in the current vein. I venture that our players, with a couple of exceptions are either not capable of maintaining this retention game or do not possess the foresight to change when the situation demands. As boring as Saturday's performance was, if only the forward runs made by Joe Aribo, Che Adams or Adam Armstrong had been recognised with a through ball over the top instead of passing sideways and backwards, we might well have capitalised. As it was, the only time Stuart Armstrong did execute such a move, Che Adams ran through to be on the end of it. Millwall frankly created nothing, we did it for them. Although Gavin Bazunu has much about his game to applaud, his propensity for letting in soft goals cannot be allowed to continue if we want a play-off place. Oh, and all our corners lead to nothing. Where are the variations?
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Southampton V Hull City The Verdict
at 16:26:29

The tone for last night was set by several things. First the Armstrongs. Stuart looked tired and Adam totally listless. This should have been evident in training and conversations between them and the coaches. Second - did Gavin Bazunu practice kicking this week to different lengths and positions on the pitch? Anybody who regularly plays a sport to different lengths from a lawn green bowler to a quarterback has a feeling for distance yet Gavin, last night, kicked the ball way past our forwards on six or seven occasions following kick-off. Why? he doesn't do that normally. Third, several spectators around me (and me myself) expressed surprise that Aribo and Fraser were not starting after their recent positive showings. The midfield of defensive-minded Smallbone and Rothwell, plus the aforementioned worn out Stuart Armstrong played a large part in our downfall against a Hull side on the up. Edosie had no support from Manning so I don't particularly blame him. Things improved with the introduction of Fraser, Aribo and Brooks but, the damage was done. Russell Martin promised us a team we could be proud of. If that promise isn't going to be an empty one he'll need to get his starting team selections right in the upcoming games.
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Southampton V Hull City The Verdict
at 16:26:29

The tone for last night was set by several things. First the Armstrongs. Stuart looked tired and Adam totally listless. This should have been evident in training and conversations between them and the coaches. Second - did Gavin Bazunu practice kicking this week to different lengths and positions on the pitch? Anybody who regularly plays a sport to different lengths from a lawn green bowler to a quarterback has a feeling for distance yet Gavin, last night, kicked the ball way past our forwards on six or seven occasions following kick-off. Why? he doesn't do that normally. Third, several spectators around me (and me myself) expressed surprise that Aribo and Fraser were not starting after their recent positive showings. The midfield of defensive-minded Smallbone and Rothwell, plus the aforementioned worn out Stuart Armstrong played a large part in our downfall against a Hull side on the up. Edosie had no support from Manning so I don't particularly blame him. Things improved with the introduction of Fraser, Aribo and Brooks but, the damage was done. Russell Martin promised us a team we could be proud of. If that promise isn't going to be an empty one he'll need to get his starting team selections right in the upcoming games.
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Southampton At West Bromwich Albion The Verdict
at 22:30:18

I agree with the summary above. I was surprised at Jack Stephens performance, not flawless but, mainly steady and the penalty would've been harsh. Gavin Bazunu gave us several hairy moments when passing the ball out from the back and, as his kicking is largely pinpoint I wonder why he entertains so many short passes however, he saved a certain goal with his quick feet and reaction late in the game. I felt for Mara. He wasn't given much to work with in terms of through balls and took to throwing himself to the ground in search of free kicks. My only other comment is that we are a better side when Stuart Armstrong is on song and, thankfuly, he was on Friday.
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Southampton At Bristol City The Verdict
at 16:29:35

I don't think we can single out any players from last night's abject display. Quite frankly, they were all bad in one way or another. Bristol City must have intently watched our game with Huddersfield as they attacked us from the off and we disintegrated, somewhat reminiscent of the Sunderland drubbing we received. It was noticeable against most of our successful run matches that we did not have runners from midfield stretching City's defence and they were able to snuff out our lacklustre attack. This is a very odd season and it remains to be seen whether Leeds and Ipswich have poor patches but, either way, we should have enough in the tank to get to the play-offs. It's not what we want but, if RM can't get the team back on track to achieve automatic promotion, it'll at least be an exciting conclusion to the season.
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Southampton V Huddersfield Town The Verdict
at 12:40:38

I was disappointed by the defensive shambles we were before halftime. Every one of the back five looked shaky. Manning gave the ball away so many times it seemed he had reverted to type and KWP was caught out of position over and over. I was even more dismayed by the distinct booing from some of our "supporters" after forty--seven minutes. That is nothing short of idiocy when the team has gone on such a long undefeated run. The substitutions were effective. Edozie looks more and more the real deal, Mara used his strength and scored again and was more effective than Adams and Sullemana isn't the finished article but is a useful addition to the tea. I've thought Adam Armstrong isn't quite at it these past few games. He's missing more than he's scoring. I see a difficult few weeks coming up unless RM can work some more intensity to go with the never give up attitude he's installed in the players. The potential loss of Flynn Downes is a big blow. Perhaps we'll get a referee who knows when he's being conned and recognises genuine needs to halt the game. Yesterday was a masterclass in bewildering decisions.
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Southampton V Watford The FA Cup Replay Verdict
at 11:02:51

I thought that all the youngsters contributed well, despite rough manhandling by a mature Watford side short on skill and, as others have stated, a referee who put in as shoddy a performance as I have seen (and that's saying something this season). Dibling and Edosie were given scant protection and both were booked for diving which seemed worse than harsh. As for Seko Mara, although he wouldn't take on his man on the outside in the first half but, he isn't an out and out winger and he was always involved, which didn't apply to Che who was only seen in fits and starts. For me Downes was the star, with Smallbone a close second. Sadly, the youths who occupied many seats around me in the Kingsland chose to address Will as "Baldy" and Seko as "Useless". It was useful that Seko made them choke on their words. And, hey, Joe Lumley - he's got smart feet, ain't he!
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January Transfer Window Mixed Bag For Southampton
at 09:07:36

I think that Russell will rue his anticipated acceleration of Jack into our starting eleven. Bella Kotchap wasn't doing so well at PSV and I think he's on loan. Perhaps he'd welcome a return to a club challenging for promotion instead of the one he left getting beaten every week>
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Alcaraz Set To Complete Loan Move To Italian Giant
at 13:59:24

I wouldn't mind betting that there is a temperament issue behind this departure. Several times in recent games Charlie has shown his displeasure at not receiving a pass or being subbed. Only recently Jack Stephens came and put an arm round him when Charlie stayed alone in the centre of the pitch whilst the rest of the team gathered around Russell Martin for mid-game instructions. I'm really sad to see him go as he always had an eye for goal. So much for Brooks being Tella's replacement.
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Southampton At Swansea City The Verdict
at 17:26:38

I imagine some of the premier league clubs are already taking a long look at RM and his work both here and the unfinished stuff he started at MK Dons and Swansea. They won't have been enamoured with what they saw after the substitutions on Saturday. Jack Stephens played like a raw recruit and Shea Charles is somewhat reckless. In fact, Jack (sadly) has never really cut it for Saints. His passing is often abysmal and his positional sense isn't that good either but, I concede that he is good moving with the ball out of defence. That, however, won't be good enough if we're promoted. No doubt our scouts are out and about and replacements for Jack and other weaker members of our squad have probably been earmarked by now, otherwise RM's good work will be to no avail.
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Southampton V Sheffield Wednesday The Verdict
at 12:16:22

I wholeheartedly agree with Bowlercow's sentiments in respect of our lack of variation of corners. I don't think any of yesterday's crosses resulted in a direct shot on goal. My take on Saints is that Russell Martin's tactics are having a wearing effect on the opposition as for long periods they are chasing the ball without success and the more we keep it the more their fatigue sets in. Yesterday was a prime example - the Wednesday centre backs were out on their feet at the end and that's partly why we scored two quick goals late on. That is not to say that we didn't play some attractive flowing football. The only observation I would make is that Ipswich did not look like a team which will roll over for our benefit. I don't think we dare let up in this division if we want to go up. Man of the match - well, I wonder who chooses the "official" man of the match? For me TH-B is consistently one of our best players, so self-assured and rarely hurried but, defenders rarely get selected in a winning team.
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Southampton V Walsall The Verdict
at 13:02:38

I thought Jack Stephens had a poor game defensively but, he did trot over and speak to Charlie Alcaraz when the latter appeared to let his frustration get the better of him. Yes, Charlie does give the ball away but, he does endeavour to win it back (and often does) and he is always likely to score or, as per yesterday, turn provider. Ryan Fraser dominated this game and I found it astonishing that he wasn't given the ball more often in the first half when Walsall did not know how to mark him. Instead Messrs. Holgate, Stephens, Smallbone and Charles preferred to fanny around in midfield and frustrate some of the crowd. The two young starters and Joe Lumley all gave decent accounts of themselves but, Joe gave us a few heart-stopping moments with his fancy footwork!
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