Saints V Manchester City The Verdict
Sunday, 8th Dec 2013 10:51
There has been much talk about The Southampton Way in the media in recent weeks, but The Southampton Way has been in place for generations and against Manchester City it was displayed to great aplomb.
Southampton Football Club has been doing things in a way far different to most football clubs going back nearly six decades when Ted Bates took over as manager, he installed something into this football club that set it aside, one of those things was our tendency to close ranks, dig in deep and just as it seems we are at our lowest ebb with an impossible task ahead, face up to that adversity and triumph.
The mood before the visit of Manchester City was one of doom and gloom, surely Saints had no chance with so many players out injured and on the back of three straight defeats.
But that Spirit of Southampton rose to the fore, despite an early set back when City went ahead with a clinical finish by Aguero from a cross that really should have been blocked long before he reached them.
But if the floodgates were about to open, no one told the Saints players who dug in, yes rode their luck on a couple of occasions, but soon started to get on top of the visitors and having done that the crowd got behind them and made sure that Manchester City would not be the second team this week to leave with all three points.
This was a team effort, but the Saints equaliser was a solo goal and I would hazard a guess wont be bettered this season, indeed could well be a contender for the best goal ever scored at St Mary's.
Osvaldo received the ball way out on the left and there seemed no danger to the city goal, a few twists and turns later followed by an exsquisite curled shot into the far top corner of the goal and Osvaldo was well on his way to silencing his doubters, not that you could have heard their silence in the noise that greeted the equaliser.
This was a goal that wasn't just an equaliser but was a statement of intent from the Saints side that they could and indeed would match their illustrious opponents and would not be cowed by them.
This was very much a game of midfield battle though, both sides had plenty of shots, but in truth neither keeper had anything bar regulation stops to make, Paulo Gazzaniga was clearly nervous, he perhaps sensed that the crowd were wary of him, especially when he stayed on his line on a couple of occasions when he perhaps should have come off it, however it is better that he made those decisions and let his defenders deal with it than half come and flap, sometimes positivity is about making the right decision for your own game rather than doing what you think you should be doing, Gazzaniga's only truly dodgy moment came when as he came for a throughball he arrived on the edge of his penalty area a bit to soon and was forced to fly hack it away, it didn't look pretty but it was effective and from a goalkeeping point of view by getting through this game only conceding the one goal his confidence will be better for the next.
It was hard to pick a man of the match, Callum Chambers would be one contender, his defending and marauding up the right wing suggested that on Wednesday evening Pochettino made a mistake in bringing on Fonte at right back, however the manager didnt repeat that mistake twice and with Fonte being fit to play in the centre, he put the square pegs in square holes and we were all the better for it.
A second contender would be Jack Cork, he put in an immense performance that suggests that the loss of Wanyama will not be as big a blow as some would have it, yes his ability to win the ball might not be as good as Wanyama, but he makes up for that with far more mobility around the pitch as well as far better control with the ball and ability to pass it quickly and effectively.
Likewise his central partner Steven Davis, another great performance from Davis who like Cork never stopped from his first moment on the pitch to his last, players like Cork & Davis are often overlooked due to the fact that they are as Lawrie McMenemy often used to say the "Hod Carriers" of the team, but this result was built on the workrate of our hod carriers with the chances for as McMenemy would also say "The Violinists" a little bit less than usual.
Sadly though this is probably the game were its quite clear that the manager is going to play Osvaldo before Rickie Lambert and for the first time in his Saints career SRL finds himself not an automatic choice, I predicted this at the start of the season and although Pochettino took a long time to get off the fence and make the decision, using one or the other of Lambert or Osvaldo is far better for the shape of the team.
This can be used in our favour, it gives us attacking options off of the bench and it doesnt mean that every game needs to be one or the other, there will b some games that we will need to use both on the pitch at the same time as well as others where perhaps Rickie will be preferred ahead of Osvaldo for tactical reasons, but with Osvaldo preferred in two out of the last three games since returning from injury on top of his best game for the club, I think the manager has made his decision at least for the time being.
This game was a draw, but it felt like a win such was the significance of the result, on internet message boards this has been a season of extremes, a couple of weeks ago some were proclaiming that Saints could win the Premier League, before this game those self same people were saying Saints were finished without Boruc ( interestingly many bemoaning the loss of Boruc had also been demanding he be replaced due to the error at Arsenal) and certain other players, the managers lack of spreading the game time around the squad had made many forget just how good the likes of Jack Cork actually are not to mention Callum Chambers, yes our squad isnt quite what it should be due to too many high cost signings that haven't worked out, but the core of it is still good.
Saints now need to build on this result, they need to go out and get something at Newcastle, there are some tough games coming up, we need to be looking at stabilising our position first rather than talking about Champions League places, if we can come through December still reasonably placed, then we can come back stronger in January as the injury list clears and perhaps we make a key signing or two.
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes tomorrow, and I will be on a train heading over to God’s own county for my last U’s game of the season. That should have been last Friday’s trip to the Principality, but as posted elsewhere I was more than happy to be pre-booked to dog-sit Emma’s collie Reggie that night and had to be content with one of Nadine’s ‘downstreams’ on iFollow. Given both the performance and the result, whilst I was sorry to miss it in person, I was more than happy with how Friday night turned out in the end. Tomorrow will be a gathering of the clans for us, with at the last count at least 8, possibly more, of the family gathering for the match. Ironically, I’ll see them all again on Bank Holiday Monday for a family birthday, but I’ll be driving over for that one.
When Saturday Comes #35 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and the U’s have already given us a fantastic start to the weekend, with a stirring and well-deserved 2-1 victory at promotion-chasing Newport County. Yes, the Exiles had lost the previous three at home and are looking like they are going to bottle their chance for the play-offs, and yes with the U’s now safe technically we had little to play for, but don’t take anything away from this performance. If Wayne Brown is still being ‘interviewed’ for the full-time role as Colchester United manager, then last night was the equivalent of having an excellent incisive question of your own lined up for the interview panel.
When Saturday Comes #34 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and our Easter Bank Holiday programme is already underway, following a dismal 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park yesterday. It’s not so much the result that galls, in truth deep down I suspect we all thought it was going to be a difficult trip to get anything out of, it was the manner of that defeat. To say the U’s were lacklustre is a massive understatement – and it wasn’t as if it was down to Exeter City simply outplaying us, I didn’t think they were all that to be honest. I can cope with defeat, heaven knows the U’s have given me enough practice in recent years, but to go down without a whimper, relying on Man of the Match Sham to keep it from becoming a cricket score against an average Exeter City, was just dreadful.
When Saturday Comes #33 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and there was a time, not too long ago, when today’s game against the charmless Steve Evans and Stevenage was looking like it might be a relegation 6-pointer. Whilst we’re not out of the woods quite yet, back-to-back victories over Tranmere Rovers and Harrogate mean we go into this game knowing even if we were to slip up against Stevenage, we’ll still be 8pts plus goal difference ahead of them, and only five games left to play. Still, let’s not dwell on negatives, because three wins on the bounce will be the confidence-booster we’ll need ahead of the tough trip on Good Friday to St James’ Park.
[ Vote here ]