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Day 29 ! Where Is The Central Defender ?
Monday, 29th Jan 2018 10:00

Saints have been linked with several players but there has been only one incoming, but the one position that really needs to be strengthened appears to be being ignored.

A year ago after the sale of Jose Fonte we badly needed to replace him, that problem was exasperated when Virgil Van Dijk was ruled out for the rest of the season, meaning that we only had Yoshida and the then virtually untried Jack Stephens able to play in that position.

The out of contract Caceres provided another option but bizarrely only played once and that being in the final knockings of the season.

Our failure to replace Fonte cost the club dearly in the fact of the cheap goals given away at Wembley in the League cup final, but probably ultimately cost Claude Puel his job in that he seemed to realise early after Van Dijk's injury that the two central defenders were two slow and kept getting caught on the break, his only option was to put out teams that barely had two players cross the half way line, but did stop the opposition scoring.

That lead to series of games that saw us score very little and ultimately our opponentsa little more, bizarrely Pule didnt try Caceres so cant be completely blameless, but on reflection he had little choice in his selection.

We all thought that Fonte's replacement would be in by mid summer, let alone a replacement for Van Dijk who was acting up, but none arrived until Wesley Hoedt virtually in the final week of the transfer window.

Throughout the first half of the season there was not a Saints fan who thought that Van Dijk would be here past January and the announcement a month ago that he was going to Liverpool made many think that for once Saints had been pro active and his replacement was already ready to come.

But here we are with the January window ready to shut in a couple of days and there is no replacement for Van Dijk !

Most of our issues this season would have been solved if we had played two quality central defenders in our games, but Pellegrino seemed determined to keep everyone happy and rotated Hoedt and Yoshida.

So we once again find ourselves thin at the back and in the middle of a relegation battle, one in which we cannot afford to lose Wesley Hoedt and leave ourselves exposed.

I would hope that Saints have an under the radar deal in this position on the go, but I'm not holding my breath, not signing a central defender cost us dearly a year ago, we do not want it to cost us even more this season !

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Bettwsresident added 10:08 - Jan 29
Needed on the Ugly inside, but not by the team. In Stephens, Yoshi, Hoedt and Bedarnek, we have cover and potential. What we need is the ability to convert the huge number of chances we have into goals...(Shane missed a bucket load again on Saturday).

Even defences with VVD in them are not impregnable, and when is trying he was the best player to pull on a Saints shirt since Le Tiss.

mgprobert added 10:15 - Jan 29
I agree - something we've lacked for over a year now - a big commanding leader in the CB spot

halftimeorange added 10:38 - Jan 29
As you have regularly pointed out, the failure to address the centre back situation has been glaringly obvious to anyone taking at least a passing interest in the Saints match day line-ups. The mystifying question is "Why not?" To compound that omission is the fact that we have consistently leaked goals at a crucial time in several games because of any one of our three usual central defenders making schoolboy errors relative to who and where they should be marking. But this is only one of a number of blindingly apparent failings at St Marys. I can list the bizarre rotation of some players, particularly the in-form Hobjberg and the under use of Lemina's obvious talents, the continual selection of out of form players - up until recently Forster and Redmond were two prime examples, the persistent high crossing to to attackers out-jumped by taller defences, the failure almost ever to pick out clever runs by Gabbiadini and, worst of all, the second-half malaise affecting most of the team back-passing and defending too deeply whilst our opponents strengthened in attack. I expect others on this site can add to that list. In truth, there isn't too much that has been positive in recent months. Yes, we have needed a Carillo but how long has Pelle been gone. Charlie Austin is not a target man, he is a goal poacher. I wonder if Pellegrino will play either Gabbiadini (assuming he's not sold) or Austin with Carillo. If he doesn't then I doubt too much will change as far as the results are concerned. Promes would be a decent addition but that must mean the sale of one of Tadic, Boufal or Redmond as all three and Promes can't be accommodated or kept happy. In the past few seasons Saints seem to have an understandable formula of filling evident holes however, this and last season that hasn't been the case. It frustrates me that the approach has become reactive and not pro-active, both off and on the pitch and the remedies could be too late. Something is clearly not right with our club. We can speculate all we like about profiteering, money-laundering, cheap managerial solutions, lack of leadership at the top but, whatever the problems are they could and should have been rectified many months ago. We pay decent money to support our club and for some time I, for one, have wondered just how much, if at all, our views are considered. The club has become remote from its fans.

helpineedsomebody added 10:57 - Jan 29
last minute yoshida up to his old tricks fouling a player just out of the eighteen yard line
how many times has he done this in the last 2 seasons.
then along side him you have the other half jack stephens who just ball watches & wonders out of position.
then we have a manager if we score a goal its every one back in the box & hope we can hold on.

SaintNick added 10:58 - Jan 29
half time orange, well thought out piece, I agree on much of it, however the problems we have are no different from those experienced at other clubs in the Premier League, Liverpool fans for instance have been moaning about the lack of a quality central defender being signed for the past two seasons at least before they got VVD.

Most of the things you mention about speculation are just that speculation, when a team does badly then the board gets stick, most fans judge purely on what they see on the field, they see plenty of goals they think they have a good team.

If Saints were to win the next three games and then win in the FA Cup, suddenly the season changes, that is the nature of football, Carrillo scores for fun and we move up the league and the talk of problems stops dead.

The main issue if the manager. the club have a problem there, to their credit they have given him time, but that time is surely nearly up, the problem is there is no one out there to replace him that is considerably better.

If Gao was money laudering then we wouldnt have spent £20 million on a player, nor would be be trying to sign another for £30 million, but because we are struggling that is how he is perceived, not as a shrewd businessman who has bought a well run football club and is letting them get on with it but as disinterested.

halftimeorange added 11:21 - Jan 29
We are generally in accord, Nick but my concerns extend beyond Pellegrino. He can only work with the tools he's given, similarly with Claude Puel. My doubts are about the commitment of the board. It has to be acknowledged that relative problems are being experienced at many other clubs in terms of can they compete with the outrageous amounts of money accessible by the two Manchester clubs. The answer is no they can't. At Saints I perceive that the aspiration to compete has altered. In the days of Lowe and Wilde it was sticking plaster stuff but Southampton FC is now reputed to be a very efficient business, even to the point of having precautionary structures in place in the event of relegation which would give it the best chance of cost-effectively propelling the club back to the top flight at the first opportunity. It is the damping-down of the previous enthusiasm previously displayed by our board and total non-communication by Mr Gao that worries me most. The problems surrounding Saints do not relate directly to the lack of finance but the unwillingness to employ what is available until we have reached the current dark point. If one has a leak in a boiler then one strives to replace the boiler, not patch it up as it will leak again. There have been missed opportunities to outwardly manage better at St Mary's in recent times - in my humble opinion.

ChannonFodder added 11:30 - Jan 29
@Saint Nick: "Liverpool fans... have been moaning about the lack of a quality central defender being signed for the past two seasons at least before they got VVD".

And even now they've got VvD they're still moaning about the lack of a quality central defender.

Abbosaint added 11:33 - Jan 29
As I have stated on this site before, a decent goalkeeper who can deal commandingly and competently with crosses would go a long way to solving our perceived defensive problems.

Abbosaint added 11:33 - Jan 29
As I have stated on this site before, a decent goalkeeper who can deal commandingly and competently with crosses would go a long way to solving our perceived defensive problems.

greigwalliss1969 added 12:10 - Jan 29
Well I think you all have a valid point. We are struggling to score goals which ultimately adds pressure to a defence that is great for 86 minutes and then tends to shoot themes levels In the foot and invite pressure.
I think a decent CB such as Alfie Mawson would had that steel to the defender allowing Hoidt to take the VVD role of playing the ball out. Saints in history have akways had a ball winner and a ball player in CB positions. That then allows for the attacking dept to do that rather than trying to support the defence all of the time. We also lack pace st the back and up front, something that is crucial in today’s game. Carillo is Pelle’s replacement and Promes would be for Mane. That in my opinion still Lee aces room for a Boufal / Tadic.
I have been guilty of calling for Pellegrinos head myself but when you look back he is only using the tools he has. Had we had a Mane and Pelle up from my last season we would still have Puel as Manager as he would have been able to play differently.
The big question is with the team at the bottom end of the league who would actually want to sign for us.

landerwal added 12:23 - Jan 29
Great,we get a "quality defender" and we don't leak goals. Unfortunately we will still not be scoring them either. Scoring goals is our main problem. Liverpool let in three against Man City but still won because they scored four goals. It is simple. Score two three four goals and a late goal against us don't matter. We need a change of tactics and be far more attack minded throughout the game instead lettings teams come on to us after we have scored an early goal especially now with our new signing. The best form of defence is attack. By the way last season those two carthorses, Yoshida and Stephens kept more clean sheets in the Premiership than did VVD and partners even though they played less games.

benalisbroom added 13:58 - Jan 29
I am equally frustrated, Nick. I posted the other day about a possibility from Les' old club who would fit in with our policy of incubating young talent whilst also being relatively inexpensive: Looks like he's off to Liverpool.

Anybody can see - even from spells when we are not under pressure - that we have only one good CB: Wesley Hoedt. Moreover, have a look at the list of clubs relegated from the PL in recent seasons. Very few with a decent CB pairing have been relegated, yet a number of clubs have been relegated where you might say that their overall squad appeared strong enough to stay up except their CB's. Managers like Allardyce know this and always prioritise this position as the first thing to address in a relegation fight. I hate to say it, but my suspicion is that Les has invested a lot in Jack Stephens and that signing a replacement for him just isn't palatable. This is a good Saints team, but there is a flaw and you can see that in the way that opponents set themselves up to play us.

underweststand added 14:19 - Jan 29
Guessing that there will be another CB signed, but maybe "an unknown name " who no-one has heard about, or has not even been mentioned......Only 2 more days to go ...

SaintBrock added 14:47 - Jan 29
I suspect our shopping is done.

No doubt we'll sell Gabbi & Redmond to recoup the price of Carillo so that LES can show Mr Gao that he brought in £75m and didn't ask for a penny extra to buy new players.

LordDZLucan added 16:10 - Jan 29
All I'm going to say is mistakes lead to goals and Hoedt makes his fair share of mistakes. If the defence is a problem he's part of the problem.

saintpp added 16:58 - Jan 29
True to a point Nick but all defenders make mistakes during games to expect a clean sheet nearly every game is a big ask.
The problem is that we are not scoring many goals which applies extra pressure on the defence.
Just one goal in most of the games we have drawn or lost would have made a huge difference and we wouldnt be discussing cbs.
I am getting sick of seeing Long miss what chances we make why doesnt Mp play him up front alongside a striker if he rates him that much?
Back Four cedric stephens hoedt bertrand ...DM .lemina hojbjerg romue/ jwp
AM tadic boufal/redmond F Gabbi Long
Its not rocket science but Mps seems stubborn and bit of a scaredy cat just hope the players can pull Saints out of this mess.

SanMarco added 17:54 - Jan 29
I can't see us suddenly banging in loads of goals so stopping the other lot scoring will be a very vital (and tense) part of staying up. Do all you Yoshi lovers really want him at the heart of our defence during the anxious final minutes of relegation 6 pointers? Lord Lucan points out that our best CB, Hoedt, has not proven himself yet so I would agree wholeheartedly with Nick's article. The only problem being we aint going to sign anyone so Carillo better be as good as the optimists hope he is...

petedoors1 added 00:14 - Jan 30
With all the transfers the other teams at the BOTTOM of the Premier League have been doing and the Lack of Transfers into the Saints camp I think the writing is on the wall. Going Down. I think we will be lucky to get one point out of our next two games. THANKS LES.

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