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Southampton 1 v 0 Watford
FA Cup
Saturday, 27th January 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Saints V Watford The Verdict
Sunday, 28th Jan 2018 09:27

Mauricio Pellegrino took this game very seriously and saw his side cruise into the last 16 of the FA Cup with a morale boosting win.

Victories for Saints have been very scarce of late, so when one arrives it should be seen as a plus point, you can only beat what is in front of you and a strong Saints side saw this game through with very little trouble.

Jack Stephens won the game with the only goal in the 4th minute following a great cross from Ryan Bertrand and the Watford keeper saving Shane Long's effort with Stephens prodding home the rebound from close range.

That gave Saints control of the game meaning that they didn't have to chase it and could play their own game, to be fair they really should have put it beyond doubt on more than one occasion, but not having done so they seemed to control it with ease for most of the time.

Ryan Bertrand pulling up just before half time was a worry, but he seemed to stop dead and not aggravate the injury which is key to recovery, so hopefully it should not be a major problem.

This lead to the first substitution and agan it was slightly puzzling with Jeremy Pied coming on meaning we had two right backs on the pitch with one playing out of position, Pellegrino prefering that to a back four reshuffle.

But the second substitution on 67 minutes was baffling to the extreme, Pellegrino took off an attacking midfielder in Boufal who was having a decent game and brought on a central defender in Yoshida and went five at the back with three central defenders, it seems that if the manager was trying to second guess that the visitors would start to sling high balls into the box he was right, but there was no need to give the a gilt edged invitation.

The last twenty minutes saw us pinned back in midfield due to being overun and Watford had a lot of room on the flanks to get down them and get in crosses.

But if the first two you could see the point of to a degree, the third trumped the lot, on came Guido Carrillo and off came another midfielder in Tadic.

Carrillo being a centre forward you would have assumed that Shane Long who has the legs would have dropped back, with Carrillo looking to be holding the ball up, but Long stayed up front and Carrillo seemed to be running around in a free role just behind him.

Meanwhile we had three central midfielders but no one out wide giving Watford the room to get in crosses.

Pellegrino still seems to struggle with making substitutions, that is a worry, a big worry, there was no need to bring on Yoshida, unless you were going to take off a defender injured and reshuffle, both Hoedt and Stephens were coping well and having good games, all bringing Yoshida on did was cause chaos in terms of who should be marking who.

Similarly the final one showed little tactical nous, I could see why he would want to bring on Carrillo, we all wanted to see him, but play him in the position that you have signed him for, it did the player no favours, he clearly wasn't suited to the role he was being asked to play and it left us short.

But the main thing was the result, both in terms of progressing to the last 16 of the FA Cup, but more importantly getting used to winning games and gaining confidence, OK two have been FA Cup games but we are now unbeaten in four, we now need to step it up in the Premier League and win a couple of games, do that and we will pul clear of the relegation zone and it might just become a decent season after all with a good FA Cup run.

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saintmark1976 added 09:39 - Jan 28
"You can only beat what is in front of you" completely sums it up Nick.

Watford were astonishingly poor. A goal down after four minutes, they ambled through to half time only coming into the game at all after another bizarre substitution from MP.To cap it all their players then go and argue with their own fans at full time.Outside candidates for relegation hopefully.

FARESAINT added 09:45 - Jan 28
Great result but why oh why does MP insist on defending a 1 goal lead. I was close to putting money on them scoring and nicking a draw. I just don't understand what goes through his head, we were controlling comfortably, looking like another goal was on the cards and he shifts to his defensive frame of mind and invited them on, bloody atrocious manager. Still a result is all that counts :-)

1970 added 09:51 - Jan 28
Pelegrino is clueless he is draining the quality out of the side with inept tactics and substitution's we saw yesterday all the cup upsets coming from lots of crosses into the box we will get a pasting from a league 1 side because of the managers backing off tactics, a wins a win but for me this feels hollow because there is an embarrassing result just around the corner so hopefully ifwhen it comes he will get fired.coyr

A1079 added 09:57 - Jan 28
Agree with all you say Nick. A win is good, getting to the next round is good and by and large we were in control, but a better team would probably have exposed us in that last 20 minutes.

MP does not help himself. I am one who does not want to see yet another change of manager or to keep going on the managerial merry go round. I want to see stability in our management team, but MP seems to repeat the same issues and you have summed them up in your piece. If he cannot or won't learn then we will get relegated and he has no time now to not learn. He has to get it right on Wednesday and next weekend. We need 2 wins or at the very least 4 points and that means playing the right systems, the right players in the right positions and making the right substitutions at the right time. Do I have confidence that MP will do that? Not based on my experience of him thus far.

mgprobert added 10:28 - Jan 28
Who would be a manager? If he hadn't put Yoshida on and we'd conceded from Watford's inevitable end of game directness (a lesson learnt from the 2-2 game) MoPo would have been pilloried. If he'd left Carillo on the bench it would have been "£19m worth of firepower and he leaves him on the bench" and if he'd taken Long off it would have been "Watford there for the taking and we play one up front" ...we all see it differently but lets just take the win and gradual progress in performance.

Next week though - woh, very big in shaping the season ahead

sidsaint added 10:44 - Jan 28
I was late renewing my seat so sat in another area of the ground, but the views of the fans were the same. There is universal dislike as shown on the comments here about the manager's tactics, blimey we were dominating the game against a poor Watford and ended up playing at best 5-2-3 but more likely 5-4-1. There has been little change for most of the season, we know what we are getting each week and it's not good as the results show. Squeaky bottom time this week as we need 4 points minimum.

sidsaint added 10:44 - Jan 28
I was late renewing my seat so sat in another area of the ground, but the views of the fans were the same. There is universal dislike as shown on the comments here about the manager's tactics, blimey we were dominating the game against a poor Watford and ended up playing at best 5-2-3 but more likely 5-4-1. There has been little change for most of the season, we know what we are getting each week and it's not good as the results show. Squeaky bottom time this week as we need 4 points minimum.

underweststand added 10:56 - Jan 28
OK was a win, and we're in the hat for the next round and now we wait for the cup draw.. and ask ourselves ... who would be the best opponents ... Wigan ..or MU?
Whoever it is, and however far we can go in the competition we really need to understand what Cup football is all's a win on the day..and nothing less.

Unfortunately for him, a lot will now rest on Carrillo's performances. He's Pelligrino's man and he must start delivering right away - as we have no other striker who's been able to even score regularly and we can't wait around until Charlie Austin is even fit enough for a bench place. Week in and out with Long, Gabbiadini and Boufal shooting wide has become the norm this season.

We need to find a good formation and find it now....because going further in the Cup may be " a fun bonus " but Prem. survival is the only reality left for us this season.

SaintBrock added 10:57 - Jan 28
I am so totally with 1970 on this one. This was excruciating to watch and being rained on for 90 minutes in Row G didn't help my mood.

Wet, fed up and demoralised... heaven only knows how our players feel.

Sod this for a lark! Get the idiot out of there.

Consigliere added 11:13 - Jan 28
Until yesterday I've been in the camp of "no change of manager" and I still am, just about, but as most others have said on this thread (and as 25,000 bewildered fans watching at the ground thought yesterday) those were the most bizarre substitutions I have ever seen. True, MP correctly anticipated Watford lumping shots over the top like besiegers of a medieval castle but that called for bringing off Cedric (who wasn't moving well) and bringing on a big defender like Yoshi, not disrupting the midfield or bringing off Boufal, who was having a good game. Similarly, where was our new man supposed to play, and why wasn't he brought on earlier? Was I alone in seeing one of the staff (I'm told it was the goalkeeping coach) having an animated conversation with the manager, advising him where to play the striker? MP is clearly on a learning curve and we are all entitled to that in a new job but he needs to complete his education pretty damn quickly or we are going to pay the price.

DorsetIan added 11:14 - Jan 28
We have squandered how many 1-0 leads this season? We squandered a 2-0 lead against Watford last time. So, at 67 minutes (that’s over an hour of trying for a second), MP takes steps to firm up.

By bringing on a third central defender, he allowed Cedric and Pied a bit more freedom to hold further up the pitch. As a result, we weren’t defending quite so deep for those remaining minutes. And guess what, we didn’t concede.

We are now in a relegation fight where holding onto slender leads might make the difference between staying up or going down. Get real everyone, 1-0, clean sheet - job done. It’s not like we’re watching Brazil.

skiptonsaint added 11:15 - Jan 28
Didn't go but sounded like we played well first half and Tadic was in form and long missed chances again from the radio....

On the MP subs, this one was clearly influenced by the recent away game and he was trying to show he had learned and was being proactive . Damned if he did , etc , it was also a surprisingly strong team and if Bertrand is injured was that the bigger error yesterday ?

For me MP now has his man up front and therefore if he sits back on leads from now on he does not have an excuse of protecting a weak attack so go for it MP. I am on the fence and it is a 4 game run however scrappy. Players must be a bit more confident now.

This is a massive 7 days for the club and the whole season is going to be a lot clearer. We could have Promes, good cup draw and 6 points and be well up the table. At this point I would take 3 against Brighton and a draw a WBA. They looked much better last night...but equally no Promes or equivalent, away at Man City and 2 loses. Ouch that would be a duvet Sunday in a darkened room.


BaselSaint added 11:38 - Jan 28
With this continuing managerial tactical naivety I believe we are extremely vulnerable. As such any journeyman manager in the EPL with an average team will beat us. Without genuine change I would be surprised (pleasantly) if we are not relegated.

djtsaints123 added 12:39 - Jan 28
We were playing well sometimes pressing high up the pitch with both Boufal and Tadic tracking back, Cedric has taken a battering and yet our manager changes to 532. taking off boufal. Firstly when somethings working why change, but if you are going to change one assumes it has been practiced in training and everyone knows their new role. Clearly not true stevens from looking comfortable became spare and was totally confused, Cedric had protection from winger tracking back suddenly is two on one, and when we do get the ball everyone looking wide where no one is. We survived appalling tactical change by Watfords incompetence, over hitting several crosses and even with three centre backs there are two unmarked guys on back post which thankfully missed the target. This is not premier experience but basic coaching technique I am seriously worried we are not one of the three worst teams in prem in terms of squad, but playing as we do we will go down. Please board change something .manager or tactics,

MagicMaya added 15:37 - Jan 28
This was a different game.
We are used to scoring early, usually before twenty minutes, before sitting back, looking worried and confused on the ball and conceding around the 60 minute mark. Yesterday we continued to attack a side lacking confidence or any threat going forward and up until the 70 minute mark we had enough chances to be 2 or 3-0 up. We weren't clinical so MP says "Right I'm going to firm it up now at the back and we'll hold out for the win". Cedric was outstanding all afternoon, as was pied when he came on, so when we played 3 central defenders at the back, the full backs were could defend higher. It wasn't a complete surrender and the performance overall was good.

ItchenNorth added 16:05 - Jan 28
Moving to 5 at the back on 65-70 minutes when we had full control of the game was madness. Ok, we won, but in the end it felt like we won inspite of Pellegrino's tactics, not because of them.
For the first hour however, we played well. Tadic was excellent in the first half, as was Hojbjerg and number of other throughout.
The Carrillo substitution was also very strange. Long had run himself into the ground, but his confidence in front of goal is shot to pieces. So when Carrillo stood waiting to come on, it was obvious who should come off. After all Pellegrino had already set out his stall by going 5 at the back. What followed was bizarre to the extreme. Pellegrino had us almost playing 5311 ! Hopefully on Wednesday we start Carrillo, after all we've paid the money; so let's properly see what he's made off. He was somewhat hung out to dry yesterday, sitting behind Long but isolated from our 3 midfield players who were by then all on defensive duty.
All that said however; I feel signs of improvement in the team and performances are there. We need to push on now. Roll on Wednesday.

DPeps added 16:32 - Jan 28
Same story as we've been watching for the last 2 years: poor final product and finishing. At least we managed to hold onto the lead this time

AirFlorida added 18:36 - Jan 28
Results like these just encourage and fool MP in to believing he's a master tactician (going ahead and then protecting). It breeds negativity into the team and when/if we go a goal up against Brighton I sense all our players' mindsets will change to the usual 'bugger we've got to defend now'.

dirk_doone added 20:27 - Jan 28
It's encouraging to see a Saints manager take a 4th round cup match so seriously with his team selection. Let's hope he's rewarded with a cup. The tactic of retreating into our own half and defending a 1-0 lead for dear life is nerve wracking though. Sometimes attack is the best form of defence. But, in the cup, winning is all that counts and we won. The weekends when we win and Pompey lose are always so much more enjoyable.

BoondockSaint added 21:58 - Jan 28
And to add to the enjoyment dirk: Scouse out on two Jay-Rod goals and a VVD header stopped in the final seconds....

Santos added 09:52 - Jan 29
Jan Poortvilet 25% win Ratio
Harry Redknapp 26.53% Win Ratio
Paul Sturrock 38.46%
Claud Puel 37.74%
Ian Branfoot 28.91%
Mauricio Pellegrino 22.22%

Decent guy though!!! and speaks good english!!

LoisDeem added 09:56 - Jan 29
Total consensus in the above posts.
Tolerance too, where many of us have been thinking he's learning from his mistakes, but the evidence doesn't look good. Where most of us believed we're 'too good to go down', Mauricio is conspiring through his permutations to prove that wrong.
This fan is now convinced that the personnel, who are 'too good' will have a big fight on their hands to achieve this, with a lot of the problems coming from above.
Someone get it through to this stubborn man to get this team working in the oppositions half and using the resources available in the correct manner -is this possible?

SaintJez added 15:55 - Jan 29
I took my son to his first ever match for this one to see Saints, comfortably the better side against desperately poor opposition, go from cruising along in 3rd gear to suddenly crunching back down into 1st and almost lurching to a standstill all because of the decisions from the manager.

My son summed it up perfectly when he said "Dad - why have we taken off a forward and brought on a defender when we are easily the better team?". "Absolutely no idea, son, good question!"

The saddest thing about it all is that the nervy holding on for a win against the poorest opposition I can remember seeing will be seen as a success! if Pellegrino stays, Saints will go down. I really don't see another possible outcome. He's just utterly clueless. This method of small club scrapping, time wasting and hanging on might have got results for Alaves against the lesser sides in La Liga but is this really the "Southampton Way". Is this really what the board want for our club, our "brand". It's pathetic.

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