Pellegrino's Key Will Be Re Igniting Saints Strikers !
Wednesday, 12th Jul 2017 10:03
Saints had a problem scoring goals last season, but the problem was not a lack of goalscorers, but of playing in a way that got the best out of them, Mauricio Pellegrino's first task will be to change that.
There is a perception in some quarters that all of Saints problems last season stemmed from the fact that they sold Mane and Pelle and did not replace them, that is not quite correct in that knowing Pelle was going they made the signing of his replacement in advance bringing in Charlie Austin in the January window.
So when Saints started last season they were not short of firepower, in Charlie Austin, Shane Long & Jay Rodriguez they had three players that were all more than capable of scoring double figures given the chance, the fact that they only got 14 between them in the Premier League was down partly to injuries but mainly to the way they were used by Claude Puel.
Charlie Austin despite scoring consistently in the first half of the season up till his injury was often played out of position in Puel's formation's being used as a wide player rather than the central striker, whilst the genuine wide player in Nathan Redmond was forced into playing centrally.
Jay Rodriguez was often left out altogether but his 5 goals in only 9 starts and 15 as sub was reasonable and suggested that give the chance he could have scored more, but too often he never got a run of games needed.
Likewise Shane Long, despite scoring some vital goals in the cups he could not get a run of games, often coming off the bench as an impact sub and that was no help to any striker, goalscorers need runs of games not to be constantly changed around.
Even Manolo Gabbiadini ended up struggling under Puel, after scoring 4 goals in his opening 3 Premier League games for the club plus a brace at Wembley, the Italian would not score again all season failing to hit the net in 7 League starts plus another as sub after his return from injury.
Th fact that these four strikers, all of which should have got 10 or more goals could not manage half of that total is testament to the system Puel played and the way in whch he employed them.
Saints really should not have had a problem scoring goals especially when you add in the fact that in Dusan Tadic, Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal you had another trio of players all capable of 7 goals or more.
Again only Redmond got a reasonable total with 7 with Tadic getting only 3 and Boufal 1 in the Premier League.
So Claude Puel had no excuse for the lack of goals, in the aforementioned 7 players between them they had a track record of being capable of a combined total of 61 goals, so why did they manage only 25 !
The answer is of course damning on Claude Puel and his strange rotational system that at times seemed to be geared towards dropping a player once he had found form or scored a goal, injuries played a little part but most of the blame was in the system.
So Mauricio Pellegrino's first task is to get these attacking players back to their best, there will perhaps of course be a change or two to the squad, but the underlying fact is that Saints do have the firepower to score goals in the Premier League those players just have to be used to their strengths.
Too often under Puel the ball was passed around in midfield meaning the strikers would become tired and frustrated making endless runs and not receiving the ball, the signs are that the new manager will be a little more direct and like Puel's two predecessors before geared towards getting the ball quickly into attacking areas.
Pellegrino has a reputation for being very tactically astute and with an ability to change things on the pitch during games and this will be key, Puel liked to change things but it was only the personel and not the way the side was set up, there is a big difference.
That means that with three very different striking options at present he will get the chance to use them in different situations and get the best out of them, Premier League players accept that there has to be tactical changes from time to time depending on the opposition, what they don't accept is the random roatation as employed by Puel.
So the hope is that Mauricio Pellegrino will find his strikers rejuventated after the frustrations of last season and ready to rediscover their mojo, if the Argentinian can do that then one of last season's big problems could well be solved.
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