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Saints V West Ham The Verdict
Saints V West Ham The Verdict
Monday, 16th Sep 2013 11:24

Once again Saints failed to fire on all four cylinders and find the inspiration to break down a West Ham side who had clearly come to defend and look to sneak a goal on the break.

Saints left more questions unanswered as they again failed to score, yes Jaaskelainen in the Hammers goal made a couple of good saves, but in the end it was another game of a lot of possession but a lot of huff and puff with no real rewards.

Risking the charge of repetitivity being levelled at me, I have once again got to say that we seem to be sticking square pegs in round holes in order to accommodate at the expense of the system that was tried and trusted last year and looked to be fine up at West Bromwich Albion.

Of course Saints are a far better team than they were a year ago, but the cold hard fact is they aren't playing as one yet and that has to be worrying.

The problem is they are trying too hard to fit in both Lambert and Osvaldo in the same side, it isn't working, neither player is comfortable, Mauriccio Pochettino has to make a decision soon and that is who is going to be the lone striker out of the pair of them and who is going to sit on the bench, he has to make that decision next week at Liverpool as we wont be able to play an attacking line up like this one up there, its a tough one to make, but that's what the manager is paid to do, he has tried the mix and match route, he now needs to get back to doing what we did well.

For me against West Ham we just didn't gel, we had a lot of half chances as shown in the stats with 15 being recorded, but how many of them were truly created and fashioned out, only 5 were on target and that's just not enough, yes the keeper made a save or two, but truthfully we rarely put him under the sustained pressure that the statistics would point to us doing.

Why didn't we do it ? it all comes back to the same thing, team formation, after all we had three players on the pitch who were strikers, all capable of getting well into double figures in a season, add to that Adam Lallana, another who although a midfielder spends most of the time in the opposition half, four players who could deliver, should deliver, but to put it bluntly aren't and the reason is a constantly rotating style of playing that means that at any given time you are never quite sure who is supposed to be where and when, our success over the last few seasons has been based on playing through Rickie Lambert at any given time you knew exactly where he would be and where the ball needed to be put and so did the players, now that seems to have changed and whilst I am all for having different options and using them, I think at the moment we are trying too hard to use all our options at once, it seems that Pochettino is trying to keep both Osvaldo and Lambert happy and it isn't working in terms of benefitting the team.

For those who would disagree I would point to the goals for column, only two in four games, one of those a penalty, the other from a corner, this tells us a lot about creativity and our lack of it in open play, strange that in this game, one that had a lot of dominance and possession that we didn't bring Ramirez on to the pitch at some point of the game.

These are the sort of games we need to win if we are to improve on last year, some would say that we have made a reasonable start gaining five points from our opening four games, but in my reckoning we should have had six based on who we were playing, three of those games have come from sides below us, indeed Sunderland and West Brom are bottom and Norwich would have joined them if they hadn't beaten us, between them they have seven points, four of those came against us, the warning signs are there to see, we are failing to beat sides who are shaping up to be in relegation trouble, we will join them if we aren't too careful.

So the verdict for this game is the same as it was against Norwich, the same as it was against Sunderland and the same as it would have been against West brom if a last minute penalty hadn't given us all three points and there is the food for thought, without that penalty the start to this season would have been poor not average as it now is, yes its better than last season, last term these four fixtures yielded us three points, this year five, that is the only real positive we can take, there is improvement, but that has to be tapered against where each side is compared to last year.

Some tough games coming up, we have the players to cope with them, we just need to get back to what we do well.

Photo: Action Images

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slynch added 12:14 - Sep 16
I thought everyone played very nicely together especially their goalkeeper.

Fordy added 12:22 - Sep 16
Unfortunately, we are too easy to stifle. Big Sam knew what he was doing. Stop our full backs from getting forward and hustle VW and MS in midfield and Saints are forced to play long hopeful balls.

I would like to see Cork in there as he has the guile to link defence to attack and I would probably bring him in at the expense of Rickie and play MS just ahead of VW and JC.

However, it will be interesting to see how we play against Liverpool. It will be the first game this season against a team who will be all out to attack us so it should at least give us a little more space going forward.

brady100 added 12:23 - Sep 16
Agree with most of these points. Would like to have seen Gaston come on yesterday. The game just lacked real quality in the final third and our passing was very poor at times, in the first half especially I thought Wanyama was terrible in terms of his touch and passing. As was the case last year we struggle to break teams down who come to defend and are to one dimensional and not clinical enough in possession. Very average start considering we have played 4 pretty poor teams thus far in my opinion.

richardmdcooper added 12:28 - Sep 16
Good report but I disagee with the fact that it has to be one of Osvaldo or Rickie - surely our best team has to have both of them in it and Poch has to find a better way of getting them playing together.

A worrying statistic though is that since Poch's arrival we've scored 21 goals in 20 league games which is simply not good enough.

A very poor start to the season given the quality of teams we've played and the fact we only have two last minute goals to show for it.

Dazzler73 added 12:32 - Sep 16
I hope Victor doesn't have a worse game this season!! Slight improvement in the 2nd half but I think Cork needs to be given a chance which might give VY a kick where he needs it.. I like Dani, you can tell he has that bit of extra class and with more games he will do the business. My first visit to SMS this season and to me we clearly lacked the vision that is there. You can clearly see that we have good players. I'm thinking that Liverpool might just play the game that could see us do well. On a final note.....West Ham.....WoW....they were not very good!!

jonrog added 12:32 - Sep 16
Good report Nick just as I saw it.
Does anyone else notice that Osvaldo (not convinced about him at all) just rushes off the pitch at the end by himself without acknowledging the other side or the fans.
He did this on Sunday and on his first game.

simmo400 added 13:09 - Sep 16
I agree the team isnt really gelling at the moment. When we put some passes together our final touch was often lacking. Victor seems off the pace to me.............slow to say the least. Osvaldo had some good touches and i thought was ok, but missed the early sitter we needed to open up WH. Adam seems to lightweight for me in this league and Jays touch was terrible at best. Cork or Davis in for satutday at Liverpool.

ItchenNorth added 13:14 - Sep 16
This game was crying out for Ramirez and I did not understand why he did make the pitch at all Sunday. Gaston should be starting games at home. I feel for Lambert because he being asked to drop deep and this is to the detriment of goals for him and the team. For me it’s either Lambert or Osvaldo leading the line with someone like Ramirez or Lallana behind to unlock defences for them. I’m leaning towards Osvaldo at present. Wanyama’s ball distribution was poor again and I’d like to see Cork return at home. Away to Liverpool though, I think we are going to need Victors destructive play to protect the back line.

schatfield added 13:20 - Sep 16
Wanyama, for a 12m buy, really doesnt have good passing ability, and the difference between us and last year is that Cork was simply better there! Aside from him, we played well as a team though, and if not for Hammers keeper we could have had quite a few, so not all bad...

GeordieSaint added 14:45 - Sep 16
If Gaston can't get on in this match then surely Poch will never play him. The game was desperate for someone with a bit of vision. Could have been a lot different if we got that early goal but that awful touch by Lallana when clean through summed the game up for me. Not clinical enough and it will come back to haunt us when we play the good teams.
Also, defo missing Jack Cork.

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 15:40 - Sep 16
I think the biggest problem yesterday was getting the ball into the final third and keeping it there. We never really put WHU under any sustained pressure. Our defence and midfield took too long to work the ball forward to our front four. It all needed to be quicker, there wasn't enough urgency. Knocking the ball across the back four is fine for the first few minutes so everyone gets a touch but to do it constantly throughout the game is a waste of time when you should be looking for a goal.
Osvaldo should've scored in the 1st half and Lallana should've scored in the 2nd when put clean through from a great Osvaldo pass. We did create enough chances to win the match we just didn't take them. Same story as last season. We need our front four to step up and and finish some of these chances!
I think Osvaldo and Lambert can definitely play in the same team. Lambert in the number 10 role and Osvaldo the number 9.
I like the fact that our front four don't hold positions and play anywhere that they can find some space. It makes them harder to mark and it makes it easier for our players to find feet rather than having to pump a hopeful long ball forward.
We're not far off being a good team. Just need to get the ball to the front four quicker and be a lot more clinical in front of goal. Really need our attackers to hit some form!!

Santos added 15:53 - Sep 16
Spot on verdict Leadership need to lead make a few decisions. Wanyama did not have the best of games but in the sunderland game I though Spider was not at his best so I feel both would benifit from Cork coming in behind them which would push them forward more. Last season Corky just knitted the team and created the tempo of the team when playing. Obviously that in turn means one of the four further ahead missing out, and I feel you need Lallana's craft, Jay's pace (admittedly his touch was off yesterday) so that only leaves 1 up top sorry someone has to be benched. Then changes can be made as the game develops. on a positive note glad to see Clyne play, Chambers has done well but with Clyne we looked more balanced.

saint22 added 16:22 - Sep 16
Lots f good points
Gaston HAS to feature in games like that, ridiculous e didn't
And we, along with Spider are ,missing Corky

BlackRod added 16:44 - Sep 16
Match report spot on. Nick usually struggles to find good things to say but I'm afraid he's right this time.

At the risk of repetition .... and another of Nick's catchphrases ... you keep doing the same things, you get the same results.

Every game we've played this season has been dull and the result could only be a draw or single goal win to either side.

Whatsforpud added 17:07 - Sep 16
A lot od us are looking for Cork's return, but he wasn't even on the bench yesterday.

Thought we lacked width. The full backs were not coming forward that much, and when they did, were disappointing. The wings were being filled by the strikers looking for a bit of room, but were not a substitute for proper wingers. JWP added some hope with some good diagonal free kicks, but the greasy top saw them skid out. Nick, the second goal of the season was one of those JWP diagonal free kicks - not from a corner as you say. Sorry to be pedantic!

smiffdub added 17:24 - Sep 16
Cork, definitely, should be back in. But not as Santos suggests, behind VW and MS. VW is great at what he does but he's a limited player, and he has to stay back as cover for the back 4. Cork and Schneiderlin offer much more going forward, including the one thing missing on Sunday--a link-up to the front 4. And there's the problem, it was almost a 4-2-4 on Sunday and right from the start West Ham shut down the middle 2, stranding the front 4.
If we solve that problem with Cork, then for me (who thinks Osvaldo and Lambert have to play together) Rodriguez has to drop out. It's hard to see what he really contributes in the current formation, and he's probably the least skilled of Sunday's front 4. If he goes and Cork comes in, one other hard question remains for me....Is Llalana really good enough to be our primary attacking midfielder, and if he isn't who have we got? Ramirez, Ward-Prowse, Davis. For better or worse, it has to be one of them. Honestly, none of them inspires confidence that they're up to it, and this surely has to be addressed in the next transfer window?

tiptop added 17:27 - Sep 16
We are struggling to score. Too narrow for me and one dimentional. Still waiting to gel? Better hurry up.Nobody showed that extra bit of quality needed to unlock their defence. Would like to see lallana in the 10 or gaston. Dont understand why gaston wasnt brought on? Shaw seems to be getting injured regularly which is a massive worry.

thegeneral added 17:32 - Sep 16
Not enough zip, ie fast one two's, all this sideways passing is getting really boring. Pretty unanimous vote for Cork to come back in and i agree, VW should have to win his place not automatically take JC's because of his price tag. Thought Lovren was very good again.
I can't see the point of 'iffing' and 'butting' in a report, we've won points and lost points irrespective of what could or might have been.

IanRC added 17:49 - Sep 16
Cork should never have been left out. Seems to be an ego thing now for MoPo given he wasn't on the bench. Needs to swallow it and admit he made a mistake.

ExiledSupporter added 18:12 - Sep 16
The key issue is not so much Lambert or Osvaldo, though I do think that has to be resolved, but a) Ramirez isn't up to the club's expectations...when he came on at Norwich he was awful (passing poor, misjudgements about when to release the ball and over ambitious dribbling the ball into cul de sacs. And b) Cork's industry is sorely missed (since Wanyama's signing doesn't seem to come without some negative consequences...again his passing has been poor in the last two matches and he doesn't seem to have all that much pace going forward and he doesn't distribute the ball all that effectively) c) perhaps Rodrigues should play with Osvaldo, he still looks unhappy out on the wing.

Overall our passing/crossing in the final third of the pitch is generally terrible and this is partly due to having no playmaker at 10 (it should be Ramirez, but doesn't seem likely to be) and no one with pace and control down the wings (still).

I have a feeling that we may have bought to highly expensive players in GR and VW who in total have not added all that much to the team. Lovren looks good though!

slynch added 20:49 - Sep 16
I think some people here were watching the wrong match

possession 60/40
Goal attempts 15/6
Corners 10/5
Saves 1/5

kristianJ added 21:50 - Sep 16
Whilst I think we were a little unlucky not to win yesterday , I tend to agree with the report. West Ham were poor and should have been beaten. Likewise Sunderland, who I think will struggle this season should have also have been beaten at our place.

It's difficult to see what MP's tactics are trying to achieve and he seems keen to keep our big signings on the pitch even when they're not performing. I couldn't believe that Osvaldo managed to stay on the full 90 minutes against Norwich when he was having a complete mare. I think it has to be RL or Osvaldo and at the moment Rickie has earned his place. We should have bought someone with more pace to play up front or as a wide man in the summer.

Likewise Wanyama has been poor in his last two games, whilst he is more direct than our current central midfield options and may yet come good, his ball retention has been woeful and I think the under rated Jack Cork is very unlucky to be on the bench.

I'm still not convinced by Ramirez either, he has plenty of technical ability but has a bad habit of hanging on to the ball for too long, so I would prefer AL to play instead.

Our best bit of business over the summer (aside from keeping Shaw) was Lovren who has definitely improved the back four.

I'm still confident that we will improve on last season's finish, but I'm no longer convinced of a top 10 place - which given the money we've spent might be viewed as a minor failure.

saintmark1976 added 07:31 - Sep 17
West Ham were woeful and we were not a lot better.

Over £30 million pounds spent in the summer. On the basis of the first four results against teams which will almost certainly finish in the bottom half of the table at best, it does not appear to have been well spent.

Wanyama appeared to be completely out of his depth. Is he any better than Guly?

Osvaldo's inclusion appears only to have achieved a reduction in Ricky's goal scoring.

Lovren looks the business but then again we have not played a top half of the table team yet.

In regard to last seasons players. What on earth has happened to Lallana? Can he no longer play more than 65 odd mins? Just lately he looks as though "he could not hit a barn door with a banjo".

Is Ramirez ever going to make the grade at this level or is he never going to be given the chance?

Jay Rod gets opportunity after opportunity but achieves very little.Why do we keep playing him?

Is the manager a "one trick pony" or am i missing something?

Things need to improve rapidly please..


ExiledSupporter added 08:40 - Sep 17
Yet again there are legitimate questions raised throughout the above correspondence about whether we are any good at defining accurately what new talent the squad needs to be strengthened; which players best meet these requirements; which playing talent represents value for money; an obsession that there are always better players outside the club (as judged by reputation and potential costs rather than relevance) and, as Nick has repeatedly said, a recurring practice of driving square pegs into round holes.

Do we also have a manager incapable of playing a formation that takes account of the players available to him rather than a predetermined template?

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 09:57 - Sep 17
I don’t think Cork is the answer. Our problem is scoring goals and taking chances. Cork can't do anything that Wanyama isn’t capable of, it’s just that VW's been off colour the last few weeks.
Against WBA Wanyama was superb and dominated the midfield in a way Cork would never be capable of but he’s struggled to do it since. In that game he made more forward passes that anyone else in the league that weekend, but since then all he’s done is play is backwards and sideways, which is not what we need at home to WHU and Sunderland!! It must be Poche telling him to play this way and keep possession rather than risk a forward pass. Very frustrating to watch.

The long term problem for Saints isn’t in defence or midfield, it’s in the front four. Lallana has no cutting edge in front of goal, he’s the least clinical finisher in our front four. He doesn’t score or assist anywhere near enough to justify a starting place. He had the chance of the 2nd half when Osvaldo put him clean through but he bottled it as usual. His touch wouldn’t have been that bad 40 yards from goal, its psychological.
J-Rod has some good qualities: he’s direct, takes people on, and isn’t afraid to shoot. If Osvaldo had taken that chance on Sunday then J-Rod would be lauded for a superb assist. The trouble with J-Rod is he has the least technical ability out of our top four; sometimes his touch and passing let him down, and you have to think that an on form Ramirez would be much better in that role, the trouble is we don’t even know what an on form Ramirez can do, we’ve never seen it!!

We’ve got Lambert, Osvaldo, Ramirez, J-Rod, Lallana and JWP who can play in our front four. On their day and bang on form, any of the first five could be potential match winners. We need them to hit some form! And start scoring some goals! No-one is taking their chances. We haven’t scored freely since J-Rod’s hot streak ended in early April.

Shaw, by the way, is injury prone, and too young to play every week. He needs protecting and shouldn’t play more than 20 games this season or his career will end up like Michael Owen.

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