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Saints At Fulham The Verdict
Sunday, 7th Jan 2018 10:07

Saints won a game at last, but it was not a convincing performance and there are still questions being asked about the managers ability to do the job ahead.

You have to feel a little sorry for Mauricio Pellegrino at the moment in that just when he needs to get big performances out of his team he is hampered by injuries, however it also has to be said that the problems are of the managers own making due to his failure to utilise his squad properly and the starting line up perhaps suggested he hasn't learn't his lessons yet.

The back four was always going to be the problem area for this gamewith both Soares and Hoedt out, Pellegrino opted to give Jan Bednarek a rare outing, but strangely he chose to use him at right back whilst employing Jack Stephens who can actually play there in the centre of defence.

This led to a lack of balance at the back and although Bednarek had a decent game he clearly wasn't going to get forward as a full back usually would and this meant that Saints attacking options were always going to be more limited than usual along this flank.

Fulham had plenty of possession but failed to utilise it, Saints rarely looked like conceding and the two tmes they did was both of their own making, McCarthy dropping the ball after colliding with Yoshida saw the home side fire over and also late on an air kick from a Fulham attacker might have seen them grab an equaliser rather than an embarassed man in white.

Saints although disjointed had their moments and really should have wrapped up the tie long before the end, James Ward Prowse took his chance well to give Saints the lead and it should have been extended, Hojbjerg having a shot well saved and Jack Stephens somehow hitting the bar from very close range when it looked easier to score.

It was a win though and in the FA Cup you don't get any extra prizes for racking up bigger scores, it was all about getting through to the next round and a morale boosting win.

But Mauricio Pellegrino did not win over any of the travelling Saints support with his selections and substitutions, as mentioned it was rather weird to play Bednarek at full back and this did not lead to fluid football on the right side, with Saints problems this season being mostly in the centre of defence, it was strange that if Bednarek was to be given his chance he should be played out of position, this was of no help to the Polish defender, nor did it answer any questions for the manager.

Again though the substitutions did not enthuse the 6,000 Saints fans who felt that they were made too late and were wrong.

On 70 minutes it was like for like with Redmond replacing Boufal, but the fans felt that Steven Davis had run himself into the ground and was ready for a rest, not a reflection on his game or effort, but he had done his job and needed a rest, but if the fans were surprised that he was not the first man off, they were shocked with ten minutes to go when the second substitution saw Pierre Emile Hojbjerg possibly Saints man of the match removed and Lemina brought on, the Saints support made their feelings known with a big chant of "You don't know what you're doing"

This was the only time that Saints support turned on the manager and it has to be said it was for the rest of the time great backing from the red & white hordes behind the goal.

The third sub was again too little too late, giving Manolo Gabbiadini only 3 minutes was just pointless, to be blunt Pellegrino's substitutions are usually too little too late and re active rather than pro active and this is very worrying if Pellegrino is to keep his job.

But Saints got the job done so there are many plus points and hopefully it will be a confidence boost for the trip to Watford next week when hopefully we will have at least Wesley Hoedt back and perhaps a new signing.

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LondonSaint added 10:24 - Jan 7
Hard to get excited about a 1-0 win against lower league opposition but you can only beat what's in front of you, I guess...

I've had a change of heart this week that even though I don't see anything promising in Pellegrino so far if we are to consistently improve without billion pound investment I think we need managerial stability, and consistency on the playing and staff side. So after much deliberation I am going to worry less about a perceived lack of strategy and ambition behind the scenes and follow Lawrie Mac's suggestion that the manager be given more time.

Yes I'd prefer it was a manager with some visible philosophy, yes I'd prefer if the board were more clear and honest, and yes it may well get us relegated, but the board seem to have made up their mind, and getting worked up about it isn't going to do my health any good!

northernsaint1 added 10:29 - Jan 7
We are utterly pathetic I've said for a year n half now we have bin over achieving n in a false position........our players just ain't good enough.
We will go down this season no doubt of that.

skiptonsaint added 10:39 - Jan 7
Poor subs but at least there was some effort from the team.

Poor old Gabbi though ...that Miss at the end was poor and sadly I just can't see him coming back into the fold.

Why we can't have one final try with him wide in the 3 behind the striker where he played for Napoli. What have we got to lose ?

the_saint added 10:40 - Jan 7
Agree with London saint this useless manager is going nowhere, now if we had not sacked puel not long ago this man would have been sacked by now. We just have to get behind the team and hopefully stumble over the line.
Then it will be over to us fans with season ticket sales to let the board know our opinion. As they will bound to put them on sale before season ends and us not knowing what league we will be playing in.

sidsaint added 10:53 - Jan 7
Goalkeeper collides with defender because we now have a goalkeeper that comes off his line. Terrible miss by Gabbi because he gets so little time on the pitch, this game was an opportunity to start him. Defender playing out of position. No new signings until end of month says Chairman when we've missed opportunities against Watford and possibly Brighton. Other players need more game time e.g Lamina. Lucky not to concede late on when no marking in 6 yard box. New year same performance.

CommonSaint added 11:00 - Jan 7
Interesting that we seem to have the ability to play better away from home!. It is also I interesting that at home we boo OUR team, interesting that some have already decided that we are relegated!! Remember the words of some great managers "The crowd are the twelfth man" let's ALL get behind the team (no matter what we think of the manager). Against Leicester people walking out after 37 minutes what fan is that how do you think that affects the players. Okay they lost and played poorly cheer them off don't boo them there confidence has to be at an all time low it is incumbent of the fans to raise that morale. We won yesterday let's be happy about that not whinging

petedoors1 added 11:11 - Jan 7

SaintNick added 11:13 - Jan 7
CommonSaint makes some good points about the need for support, I see so many people slagging off Krueger for daring to suggest we are a small club, yet the same people are quite happy to tak the P*ss out of the club about the team being Championship class.

Yesterday the fans got behind the team, we need to create a siege mentality nd one of pride in our club rather than be small minded and petty about our team, too many peopl seem to take pride in telling anyone who will listen that they wont be renewing their season ticket next year as if it is something to be proud of.

mgprobert added 11:22 - Jan 7
Its easy to get sucked into the general depression surrounding Saints, especially when so many armchair experts are venting their frustrations. Who'd be a manager though - Saints won and are through to the next round = job done. If Bednarek had been in the centre of defence and Fulham had scored from a CB fault everyone would have said why didn't we play Stephens there. If Hojbjorg had been inured towards the end everyone would be saying why keep him on when the game was won, we need him for the more important PL games.
Its also easy to forget the ride we've been on for the last few years, and its unrealistic to expect a one way conveyor of upward progress. We were lucky last season, a gradual decline in our overall squad quality was well disguised by Claude Puel's management of those resources. Maybe now is the time for some injection of further quality - and lets hope our luck holds out with the "black box" choices, if indeed that even exists.

ItchenNorth added 11:29 - Jan 7
You take off your best player when the job is done, to protect him for the next game. The next game being more critical because it's the league ! Fans signing 'you don't know what you're doing' is just pent up frustration with Pellegrino rather than applying any common sense.
Great support otherwise. On into the 4th round we go, hopefully with another favourable draw so we can get more confident out of another win to take forward into the league.

SaintNick added 11:33 - Jan 7
Itchen North You are right you take off your best player when the job is done, however the job was far from done even with 10 minutes to go, Hojbjerg looked fine Davis looked shattered, far better to have given him a break and keep him fresh for Watford..

Yes there is always the danger that it will backfire, but we have to take every game as it comes, you cant legislate for injuries they happen mostly beyond your control

saintsnutcase added 11:38 - Jan 7
All managers rotate the squad at Xmas so I don’t criticise him for that. However, he has made two sorts of persistent error that have cost us many points: 1. Timid and late substitutions that never change the game; and 2) an overly defensive attitude, especially when sitting on a lead. What is worse, he does not seems to recognise that these are problems.

brownk added 11:44 - Jan 7
Agree with everyone that says let's just get behind the team! The media and our own fans are being so negative about everything! Time has come to stop the negativity otherwise relegation will become a self fulfilling prophecy and we all lose! Siege mentally is exactly what we need to create and back our club to give us a chance of surviving this difficult spell!

ItchenNorth added 11:48 - Jan 7
Hi Nick.
I'm just offering an explanation for why the substitution was not as bad as some would have believed. Bringing on Lemina is a good very option off the bench and I'd argue a better defensive midfield option to protect a 0-1 score line with 10 to go. It worked, we won 0-1.

lemmsy added 11:53 - Jan 7
Common saint
I’m with you , I feel our home support has been poor. ‘Supposed supporters were calling for Koeman’s head When we had a poor spell b4 Xmas & then whinged when he left, then calling for puel to be sacked after two games & the same with mp2 .
All we can do is hope to stay up with the help of the ‘12’ man & re-evaluate next season.
I said it on this site last season when some considered top ten not careful what you wish for ❗️

oystein added 14:23 - Jan 7
Great to see more and more comments urging fans to get behind the players. I rarely get to see my beloved team play as I’m living in Norway. When I got a chance to visit St Marys last year as we played Watford I was shocked by all the negativity especially against Redmond. We know how sensitive he is and critical of his own performance that no true fan can really justify to boo him on pirch even if he makes the 10th defensive pass of the match. When he has a good game we see what quality he has and the same goes for the majority of our players. Debate the players at the pub and support them on the pitch! We all know we lack confidence. But to think that it is the manager’s fault is bizarre. It’s our own damn fault! I never experienced such toxicity in any games I’ve previously watched including the season that saw us relegated to league one. There is no excuse for this behaviour. It is us who is the elephant in the room thrashing around, not the manager nor the board (even though they are not exempt from critisism), and definately not our players! Now get behind our boys and stay on your seat untill the ref blows his whistle. If not, stay at the pub

Whiteknight added 15:37 - Jan 7
Good news - Bednarek ok, McCarthay better than Forster, PEH, Romeu put in a shift and support was great. Bad news - missed opportunities to play Gabbi, Lemina, Valery naybe even Targett, strange substitutions. I saw nothing to suggest that we won't go down.

Braveheart added 16:00 - Jan 7
Mc Carthy should stay and be given the No.1 shirt. Forster should be shipped out on loan somewhere. If the rumours are correct and it is Les Read who picks the team why can't he put two up front? The FA should bring in a rule that there should be no substitution beyond 80 mins. unless there is a injury.
We did not need this win, Pelligrino must go and a proper manager brought in. No incoming manager is going to tolerate the board interfering with team matters.

the_saint added 16:05 - Jan 7
Just seen arsenal have cup tied Theo which always seems to devalue a player or maybe they might be keeping him till the end of season.

petedoors1 added 16:15 - Jan 7
Don't worry Ronald Koeman will be back by the end of the month.

Ali_Diarea added 18:02 - Jan 7
To chant against your own manager when you are 1-0 up seems utterly moronic to me. I bet the Fulham players loved hearing that!

I’m all for fans venting their frustration after a game has ended but to chant against your team during the game is bad enough, but when you’re winning, wtf?!

PezzaSaint added 22:01 - Jan 7
Steven Davis was really poor yesterday and should have been taken off much earlier, but was kept on probably because he was captain. Lemina should have replaced him not PEH who had another good game. Redmond really pi**es me off, doesn't know what to do when given excellent opportunities and gives the impression that he doesn't care.

SanMarco added 00:14 - Jan 8
I'm pleased we won and think the moaning about substitutions is a bit over the top. There does seem a tendency for over-egging the vitriol pudding at times. I don't have a lot of confidence in MP and I have no confidence in the men who will appoint his successor. If he does go (and he has clearly 'lost' most of the fans) then a better replacement has to come in. Sack and then 'begin the search' for a replacement is NOT an option. Unless that obviously better alternative has been lined up I say stick with MP and maybe not hurl abuse at him in a game we are winning.

larry12 added 10:08 - Jan 8
Common Saint. The players are on an average 49k a WEEK. Play better or I will boo your head off.

underweststand added 12:39 - Jan 8
I go along with London Saint (1st posting)
A win..any win a boost, and think how it feels for Arsenal and Stoke fans today !
Mark Hughes has gone already.. but do I hear anyone calling for Wenger's head?.. No.
Our first half display was encouraging, and we held out well after the break.

Individual players have their own rating and the likes of Hojbjerg and Bednarek showed up well considering they are only getting in recently. JWP looks better than for a while , whilst he may well take over Steven Davis' role (who despite his poor showing) has DAJFU over several seasons and may be better used coming off the bench in future.

Boufal looks better (even if it is only in flashes), but I'm disappointed to see so little flair from Redmond who was beginning to look good at the tail end of last season.

Shane Long DESERVES goals -if only for the effort he puts in (pity about his offside shot)
Gabbiadini is going through those horrible periods that strikers experience when they can't hit the proverbial barn door, but hopefully his return to form will be seen when he gets some real service from midfield.

1-0 ..NOT exciting, but rewarding enough to go into the hat for Round 4.


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