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Saints 2021/22 Fixtures - The Toughest Start Possible Historically
at 08:13:58

P.S. to above
..at present there are 4 clubs ( Palace, Wolves, Everton and Tottenham) who will start next season with new managers. Given that those clubs had good / experienced managers before, one wonders if the new men will fit quickly in - or not ?
Saints 2021/22 Fixtures - The Toughest Start Possible Historically
at 08:09:30

Your headline (Nick) states " a tough start", but after a more concentrated look at the fixture list I asked myself .."where are the easy games "? .. there don't seem to be (m)any.

Ralph seems determined to get better cover in the squad (good - especially as there aren't many "stand out" names from the Academy squads at present), and so we must hope that the "new look " first team squad will gell very quickly, as we can be fairly sure that one or two of the more established names may go before the season even begins.

Back to the list ...on past form and maybe more luck ... I'd say 6 points from the first 6 games would be a good start, but it doesn't get any easier after that, BUT we were all surprised by the frenetic start to last season, so maybe we're in for a pleasant surprise.

England Lacked Three Things In Scotland Stalemate ! James - Ward - Prowse
at 08:16:38

Surely not unexpected.JWP has proven he is in a class ofhis own (to almost everyone except GS that is) . In The Croatia game England had 2 freekicks in JWP territory that he would have had for breakfast and yet neither shot even cleared
the wall. SOUTHGATE may yet regret not having a setpiece specialist in the side.Against Scotland they lacked creative passes from midfield and looked abysmal on the night

Southampton Weekend Transfer Update !
at 17:05:30

" Spot the transfer target " is becoming an increasingly difficult game now, Nick.
I've lost count (more than 20) of the names who have been "linked to Saints ". But then again those people who run websites and blogs must have to have something to write about - don't they ?..and in truth many of them probably haven't ever been scouted by a Saints man. As I mentioned previously, we will probably end up signing some who very few people have ever heard of, let alone learning to spell their names.

However, there are a few things that really annoy me amongst all this Fake News and rumour-mongering is such headlines as : "Saints looking to sign a *****'s target"... as if another club has some Divine Right to sign a certain player.... and we gazump them.
Let's face it - If we sign "player A" and another club (regardless of who they are) miss out it's their fault and why are we are expected " to shoulder the blame " for pinching him.
IF ...they were that keen and did their job, they'd have done a deal long before us.

An irritating comment (such as the valuation of a player in a suppose transfer), is also ridiculous . Anyone wanting to buy Danny Ings should know that Liverpool have a sell-on clause in the original deal and that should be taken into account IF / when he is transferred, AND why JWP would ever consider a move to VIlla is beyond me and the idea of a fee of £27 million wouldn't buy his left boot in my estimation, let alone his right.

Th entire process of "naming " someone who "a former player" thinks is perfect for "Club X" is totally ridiculous coming from someone who likely has a double-digit IQ and never won anything with any club in his career. Are we supposed to take them more seriously?

Of All The Southampton Transfer Rumours, There Is One To Worry About !
at 15:43:02

Only die hard Villa fans and Prince William would give credence to this type of "story".

This time of the year the media abounds with rumours, fake news, inuendo and plain lies
bolstered by greedy agents, hungry journos and schoolkids who run a football blog from their bedroom PC and many others follow them and "the Big Lie" becomes even bigger.

I don't see JWP going anywhere, least of all to Villa. There are a number of the rich clubs in the top five who would be first in the queue if he were to move. Does the presence of Matt Targett meant to lure JWP to Villa Park?, where (let's face it ) he'd be playing second fiddle to Jack Grealish's ego.
If JWP holds his fitness and incredible performance form he may well move at some future time, but I don't see that happening any day soon. Gareth Southgate had two chances to select JWP for England and having turned his back on him yet again may live to regret that decision if England fall at the first hurdle.

Southampton Agree Personal Terms With Leeds United Target
at 13:01:36

I agree with Coburn that Ings and JWP are the obvious candidates to attract attention, but Walcott and Minamino have a lot of experience and the younger players will be doing a lot of running for them. Both those players should be up front more as they get " picked off " far too easily in midfield, but do have very good goalscoring records at a high level.
Although they will cost us a bit more than most in salary, the up-and-coming youngsters you mentioned won't be earning such huge amounts in the early stages of their careers.

I'm still looking for another proven striker - in any event Ings will go next summer anyway,
so we ought to get someone else in to provide back-up / competition for Ings / Adams.

The other point is the policy of " buying 'em " in pairs, as Diallo is already in place.
This began back to the 1970's when at various times we bought in two Yugoslavs, two Russians, ditto Latvians, Colombians , Norwegians, Swedes, Poles, Danes etc, etc.
One should never neglect the cultural factor in a move and merely sharing a language with someone else is never enough to help players "settle in " successfully.

Southampton Agree Personal Terms With Leeds United Target
at 09:44:24

Can he be our first signing? Agreeing terms with the player (and his agent) is one thing, but finding the right amount for the fee with the club is something else.
Clearly Saints aren't going to pay big money for anyone in the present climate, but where there's a will .. both sides will benefit from a sensible agreement on the deal.

Typically for Saints - who often get a deal done under the media's radar, he is not a name that has been bandied every day about in the media for our LB spot.
IF it happens, let's hope he's a good investment.
Should Southampton Sell Jannik Vestergaard This Summer
at 06:37:47

JV really is a mystery . Despite his obvious height advantage, he doesn't always have the pace to win tackles and those he misses often end up with a card. He had a mixed first season, but began last year looking like " VvD mark 2 ", before getting injured and never quite recovered his early season form.
Good CB's are hard to find (as Gareth Southgate if discovering), and those who stand out in Saints history can be reckoned on one hand. Richards, Lundekvam, Svensson stand out as fine examples, and I still mourn the loss of Jose Fonte (still playing at 36).
Although he has his good points, I can't honestly say JV doesn't number amongst them.

The reality is that JV can go for a reasonable fee this summer, OR walk out the door for nothing next year. Surely it's a no-brainer - isn't it ?
Saints Announce Departure Of Bertrand, Sims And Hesketh.
at 06:23:46

The predicted clearout has started and we haven't started with real money transfers yet.

Aside from the familiar names came a typical group of youngsters who had a promising start at Academy level, and even played a little for the B team, yet never got even close the the first team bench. For those still determined to make a League career the road is a bit steeper and will begin at a lower level, but there is no disgrace in being NOT quite good enough for the limited places in a Prem. squad and they should take comfort from the list of those who came and went before them without impacting the Prem. yet still made a good career. Ings and Mings are two good examples of late developers, and rumour has it that Saints considered releasing the skinny, underweight Gareth Bale
way back when, before he got his breakthrough games. Hope springs eternal.

Like many others, I'm a tad disappointed / surprised / puzzled by the release of Josh Sims who seems to have left a memorable impact on many although only ever featuring as a fringe player. He will get attention from interested clubs who read " Saints Academy" on his CV and this may well make the difference in his search for a new club. He wouldn't be the first winger to come up a bit short on goals, but did start last season with 4 goals in 4 games for the B team, before his loan out and his passing game and assists show that he has more in his game than some others who are still at the club.

Good luck to them all in what can be a surprising, yet all too often short career span.
Ward Prowse England Omission Highlights Southgate's Losing of The Plot !
at 07:07:20

Good stats. jesus_02.
Lots of players "look good" in their roles (midfield or striker) but if you want goals on the scoresheet you need to select players who have goals registered to their name.
There are English midfielders not in this squad who have more goals to their credit that some of those quoted.

Danny Ings and especially Patrick Bamford stand out amongst the list of English strikers this season and although Harry Kane is clearly a first choice selection, a simple injury to him would leave England without any established front man, (and don't let's pretend that the opposition don't know that).
Whilst I accept that the presence of experienced players in the squad is beneficial to the youngsters, Southgate is treading on very thin ice by including Henderson and McGuire without either of them being 100% fit to the detriment of those who are left out.

Ward Prowse England Omission Highlights Southgate's Losing of The Plot !
at 19:22:39

Who amongst us didn't guess that this would happen? Another instance of favouritism to those players from "the big clubs" and leave the real talent back home.
Doesn't anyone at the FA ever consider that Prowsie's achievements have been DESPITE the fact that he doesn't play in one of the "big clubs" and not because of it?

There is a long record of Saints players who were frozen out because they didn't play in Manchester, or on Merseyside. Enough has been written about MLT's treatment at the hands of England managers who rebuked him for not joining one of "their clubs". Glenn Hoddle should have taken someone to France 98 who knew how to take free-kicks and especially penalties.
James Beattie met a similar fate whilst he was leading goalscorer in his time with Saints.

I do not wish England ill - but I still might change my mind and take to cheering for Scotland, but if England lose any games because there is no-one who can take a decent free-kick then Gareth's decision might well come back to bite him.
Not to mention the apparent reliance on the fitness of Jordan Henderson, because I am distinctly unimpressed by the alternatives we are stuck with on the bench.

Tough Luck James - at least we appreciate you .
Southampton FC 2020/21 Season Review - The Right Back Spot
at 11:34:58

Quite often good players become "square pegs " in a club for a number of reasons, and
obviously there is far more to football than 90 minutes on a Saturday (or whatever day of the week they play). There may be unknown factors to Valery's make-up that don't tick all the boxes and the team, OR ( the squad - as it now is ) is like a family and it's very important to keep things balanced on the right level.

We could all make a good YouTube clip of Valery's better performances including his great goal against Man U. a while back, and looking at his better qualities I think there may well be a good fit in a club for Yan - somewhere out there - but it clearly isn't Saints.

KWP clearly has the RB spot nailed down at present, but we need someone else who can step up when required and previous experiments with Yoshida, Stephens and Bednarek clearly hasn't worked out, and playing JWP at RB means we lose his influence in midfield.

At the time when wing-backs seem to be the priority, it would be nice to get a full back with a bit of pace about him and who knows how to tackle a speedy winger and as we say " have him in his pocket."
Will be good to see who Saints come up with.
David Moyes West Ham Turnaround Can Give Hope For Southampton Supporters
at 11:55:34

In no way can Ralph be considered worse then Puel, Pellegrino ..or Hughes (!).

He hasn't had the money available to buy who he wants, and talk of sacking him should breed patience amongst those fans who need the record books to remind them that Lawrie McMenemy oversaw our relegation in his first season. In time even he came good.
Moussa Djenepo Target For Turkish Giants
at 11:46:49

If he does go to Turkey (?) - it should be on loan. I also agree that there is more in Djenepo than we have seen so far and a good season at another level may be the making of him.
Southampton Once Again Raiding Celtic
at 11:44:30

This is likely to be the first of many transfer threads - don't you think Nick ?
No coincidence that Christie (like Armstrong) is from Inverness, or that the two know each other from their Celtic days. Players soon to be, or now out of contract, and those on free's can be very good signings - providing you get the right one.
Many players are in clubs who don't use them to their best advantage, or in a formation that doesn't suit them often end up on the bench.
These low cost signings can be the making of a team if we get them at the right time.

I think in particular of Rickie Lambert who moved around the lower leagues without anyone signing him until he fitted into our best formation. Likewise Steven Davis made a big impression after he joined from bankrupted Rangers in 2012.
Celtic has become our " feeder club " - Wanyana, Forster, VvD (with no disrespect to the Scottish club) but good players need better opportunities to step up and be seen.

Given the right opportunities Christie could become a good asset to Saints , and I'm sure that Armstrong hasn't missed the chance to speak about life on the South Coast.

Ralph has made it clear that there will be big changes before next season - especially considering the futures of those Saints players who will be OOC NEXT June. So bring them on ...this summer could see the biggest changes since Ronald Koeman arrived - and bought in 8 new players in his first season.

David Moyes West Ham Turnaround Can Give Hope For Southampton Supporters
at 18:43:36

To San Marco (above) of course you're right about the Puel situation, but one has to admit that even a couple of good Hasenhuttl-attacking displays are more exciting than the dire menu of possession play that Puel served up with goal-less and point-less home games when we appeared to be playing for a draw from the first minute.

The money that Ralph needed to strengthen the squad had already spent on the the half-dozen misfits we bought on long contracts in Reed's time and who ended up being farmed-out to other clubs in order to lower the salary bill a tad.
David Moyes West Ham Turnaround Can Give Hope For Southampton Supporters
at 11:21:19

I think Ralph has been very patient with some of our "stars" who haven't come up with the goods on a regular basis, because the real problem is there is no-one available to "threaten" them as a replacement. Even allowing for the injury crisis, even our best young Academy talents just aren't good enough for Prem. level on a long term basis.

Every side buys a "dud" now and again, but we still have 4 or 5 very expensive, highly paid players who playing elsewhere, but still on long contracts and who - on past form - , would be unlikely to be seen as starters - even if they were still with the club.

I think Ralph may have to "make-do" for another season before we see any light at the end of the tunnel. Right now ...looking to next season, another 15th spot, or even a top half finish does look like very attractive proposition. Whilst we still have these over-valued, highly-paid men consuming huge amounts of the (now) almost non-existent income that the club has available ..in most part due to the Covid " fan-ban".
Until these players are all " off the books"- we will not be able to "splash the cash" on the type of player who can instantly come into the team and be a "gamechanger".

We must hope that the scouting staff can unearth a few more " diamonds in the rough" during the summer. What I wouldn't give to see a new Pelle, or another Mane....(!)
Southampton At West Ham United The Verdict
at 14:08:11

Difficult to find something else to write about as most of you (above) have covered the best /or /bad points to comment on. I've really "willed " Redmond to be better this season but he does seems to be a lost cause. I wasn't alone to see the " hands on hips and standing offside " TV sequence and thought it summed up everything on the day.
Playing Redmond up front with Ings (who didn't have a good day either) leaves Danny on his own as Redmond always ends up on the wing and rarely ventures forward in attack.

We started like a train and just prior to Wham's first goal we'd had 8 shots to their one, and although it's easy to blame the defence for goals conceded it's apparent that in the final two games we'd had 35 shots and the majority of possession without scoring once. Looking at stats. we may have expected more from our strikers all season.

I can see Ralph slaughtering the first team squad in the summer. For whatever we did right in the last year, now we have been sussed out and found wanting. Another season with this same squad (with or without Danny Ings) means ..." we 'ain't gonna make it " .

NOTE: Both Walcott and Minamino have infinitely better goals stats. than anyone else on the books. IF they stay, we should play them up front to convert chances and not leave them to wandering around in midfield waiting to get chopped down / or rugby-tackled.

Southampton At West Ham United The Preview
at 11:07:20

With talk concentrating on a finish between 12th and 16th spot, this game is probably important to the half-dozen players in "grey zone" between being a regular starter and those spending half-a-season on the bench with 10 minute cameos at the end of games.

It doesn't need my list of those who blow hot-and-cold in games, and yet never really convince us they are "the real thing". I expect Ralph to start with the "usual suspects" and make final decisions on who he wants to keep, or let go before next season.

With more than a dozen new names being floated as potential signings, those who are OOC, or free , will save us money on transfer fees, (like the lucky club who will eventually secure Ryan Bertrand's services), Saints may yet find a diamond in the rough.. from some more unlikely location during the close season.

A win over Wham is long overdue. For their part the Hammers have more to play for with a Euro League spot for the taking - to the detriment of their " big clubs " neighbours like Spurs and Arsenal who by their standards - have both had very disappointing seasons.

These sort of London games against Palace and Wham are always a good indicator as to our progress -or otherwise - and If we can convert more of the chances we create, and avoid the mistakes that give away goals, we might well come away with a good result.

Southampton Linked With Lazio Goalkeeper
at 10:37:52

Clearly the goalie situation is still painfully unclear.
Angus Gunn doesn't appear to be the solution to the extra goalie place, and the transfer fee involved does little credit to those who were responsible for buying him.
Ralph has seemingly planned to let him move on, and so we need a fresh name.

Fraser Forster looks better and more confident since returning from Celtic and his stats. show a vast improvement . In 5 FA Cup games he conceded just ONE goal (in Semi-final) and conceded 11 goals in his 8 league games this season.
The big question now relates to Alex McCarthy, and although we can all point to good saves he has made in various fixtures, the stats. involved are nothing short of frightening. In his 29 league games AM has picked the ball out of his net .. 54 times.
Our goals against are the second worst in the Prem. - after relegated West Brom.

I'm the first to admit that not every goal we let in is a keeper's fault, but both men have (more or less ) played behind the same backline (JB, JV and/or JS) , who must also take their share of responsibility for their mistakes, but the fact remains we cannot go into next season with the same CB's and hope that things "might improve " for the keepers.

Fortunately, it's not my task to replace players, and it's always difficult to say that we must replace such a nice guy as Alex, but there is a time for change, and it's clear that the goalie spot will not be the only one under scrutiny in the summer.

I'd definitely keep FF , but the club must make some serious decisions about who we have between the posts , and not just " hope for better luck next season".

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