Saints Slowly Build Up Momentum Monday, 5th Feb 2018 09:32
In all the pointing and shouting prevalent of late amongst Saints supporters, it has failed to be noticed that we are now six games unbeaten and getting up some momentum.
This piece is not meant to gloss over the fact that there are very definately things wrong at Southampton Football Club at the moment, but it is also to make people consider that if we lose a few football games it does not make the club itself rotten to the core any more than winning them would mean that it is a model for the future of World football.
But as Saints fans seemingly spend their entire days ranting on social media, on the pitch itself momentum has built up to the point where we are now six games unbeaten in total and four in the Premier League.
This is a reasonable run and if we can continue in this vein then pulling clear of trouble should not be a problem, over the past four games in the league we have averaged 1.5 points per game, repeat that over the last 12 games and we will have 44 points more than enough to stay up.
The win at West Brom was the culmination of some good performances that have ultimately had their flaws that have cost us points, we really should have won at Watford, only beaten by a cheat who punched the ball into the net, if that had been spotted then the league table would be a lot different this morning.
We now have some foundations to build on, if the manager has learn't his lessons.
The jury still has to be out on Pellegrino, f only because it has not quite reached a majority verdict yet and new evidence has just emerged, Saturday showed how well the team can play if the squad is used properly, Carrillo adds something to the side and Lemina was immense.
If we have lacked leadership off the pitch we have also lacked it on it and on Saturday we saw two leaders emerge, Lemina and Hoedt, two players who although we paid big money for in the summer, Pellegrino has seen fit to inexplicably drop or leave on the bench on too many occasions.
Pellegrino's fate is in his own hands, he has to show that he does have what it takes, yes there have been issues as in the Van Dijk situation, but they are in the past, perhaps he will not be the man to take us forward long term, but we can hope that he will like Claude Puel last season end up keeping his dignity intact and although not being the manager we hoped for doing us no real harm.
The Liverpool game on Sunday could be a blessing or a curse, undoubtably we will go into it with our heads and confidence high, but it will be a tough game and we have to be prepared to take a step back in order to take a few going forward after next weekend.
After Liverpool we have five very winnable games, the win on Saturday showed we are capable of doing so and although 4 of them are away from home, that is not an issue, in many respects we play better away from home in that we are not under pressure fro our own supporters to attack attack attack !
This little run has built up slowly and under the radar of most, the four league games have also seen not only goals but entertainment, the draw at Watford was a good game to watch as was the home draw with Spurs, yes the Brighton game was not pretty, but then again it was never going to be, as Brighton fans will tell you they don't travel well and rarely cross the half way line away from home.
Those who went to the Hawthorns on Saturday will tell you that this is the reason they go to football, for adrenalin rushes like this, getting behind your team and helping it win games, it wasn't plain sailing at times, but that made it all the more satisfying.
So we have something to build on, all we can do now is get behind the team and hope the manager makes the right selections, as he did on Saturday, what we need to do now is get out of trouble and then we can have the post mortems at the end of the season and discuss whether Les Reed is incompetent or whether Gao is the most evil man since Austin Powers tackled Dr Evil.
I'm sick to death of every little failure on the pitch being added up to make one big failure off it, as I said losing games of football is not good, but it means that your central defender/ goalkeeper/striker etc or manager are not doing their jobs not that the new owner is a tyranical despot who is buying up large tracts of the Isle Of Wight to run his criminal empire from his secret island lair.
Perhaps he might be ! but as of yet we have no evidence of that, the only evidence we have is of a man who has bought a football club and has left the day to day running of it to those who have done just that very well for the past four years.
Many would have preferred he make idle boasts as did Farhad Moshiri when he bought into Everton and made big noises about taking the club into the Champions League etc, without actually mentioning what stands in his way, ie six big clubs with a lot more income, thats panned out well for them so far hasn't it !
So time to give the club a little leeway and get behind it, it is not going to be a quick fix, but if we lose on Sunday it should be taken as just that a defeat on the pitch, the team has given something to it's fans over the past month, it has put together an unbeaten run that has foundations to build on and it is also in the last 16 of the FA Cup with a good chance of progressing to quarter finals.
Negative thoughts need to go out of the window for a few months at least, you never know what might happen.
I think most of us agree with that Nick. The only thing I will say is that social media has given every fan a voice and frankly we shouldn't all have one! The moaning and hand wringing online is not peculiar to Saints fans. Read any message board and they are all spookily similar to this one - and some fans moan even more than us ( cough cough Arsenal).
We have won after our worst run in 25 years, worst performance of the 92 clubs, selling our best player again and pocketing most of the money. That would of tested most sets of fans but as we are a club who are basically famous around the world for continually selling our best players , I think a bit of moaning could be understood
The key is now to get behind the team and keep this run going after the players have showed they have some fight and the talent to pull away.
I would also add JWP to list of growing leaders on the pitch. The confidence to tell Boufal to get lost on the free kick was a good sign.
Let's no be too harsh on the negative thoughts and posts! Where would we be without a great forum to moan and winge on? It's therapy after a defeat and during bad times. It's also helps to see fans post similar frustrations and beliefs to yours. Don't get me wrong, positive posts are great and I wish we were top six and all posting ideas for MP's new statue, but, until that time, some need to get things off their chests and vent. That's why social media is great for giving us all a voice- even the wind up merchants. It allows us to off load and hopefully move on...to the next moan :-)
I would concur that JWP deserves a moment of praise.
He has been a JNR member of the squad for a while and it appears that the pressure of being in the bottom 3 has begun to bring the best out of him. In the last few games there has been a marked improvement to his attitude, desire and confidence.
Great sportsman can be identified by their reaction to pressure. I have previously been a vocal detractor to be honest but lets hope he can fulfil his obvious potential.
This is an incredibly strange season. After years of flirting with relegation on an annual basis we have had a recent spell of almost continuous success, two consecutive promotions and consolidation and then several top 10 finishes. We have got used to winning and not worrying about the other end of the table from mid season on. Last year despite some less than spectacular football we reached a cup final and were again top 10 although the second half of the season, without Europe to worry about, was clearly relegation form. This led the club to dismiss Puel. I, like many hoped this would be a new dawn but the promised attacking, pressing football has been slow to materialise. I now teeter between despair and exhilaration from game to game. The truth of the matter is we are in the same position as 9 other clubs. We could easily get relegated or finish top 10. Indeed if we went on a run like in Koeman's last season we could easily finish 7th and qualify for Europe. Alterntively we could win the Cup and qualify that way. Unlikely I know on the evidence so far but margins are so tight in football these days anything can happen. That's the joy of supporting a team. Saints are not going to sack Pellegrino and to a certain extent I am proud of that stance. Remember McMenemy's first season, we were 6th when Ted handed over to him and got relegated. We didn't sack him though because the club saw talent and were prepared to back their judgement. Whatever you think of Pellegrino I can guarantee he knows more about football management than we do, so let's all get behind the team and enjoy the rollercoaster ride.
I thought Lemina was justifiably dropped. He looked really poor in the games he played in after his injury, particularly in the Leicester game. I think he’s shown he’s fit now and it’s good to have him back to his best.
I lost a bit of perspective when we were in the relegation zone, I was looking at Swansea earning points and West Brom beating Liverpool in the cup and thinking that everyone was improving apart from us. It was a real shock to find the team in 14th place after the game.
We’ve had some really unlucky results this season. We look a lot better than most teams, particularly in midfield, but we can’t score and make stupid mistakes at the back. Hopefully when we get Austin back and Carrillo gets up to speed we’ll be safe.
This season is about survival now, hopefully we’ll get a bit of a cup run and then we need some transfers in the Summer to allow Pellegrino to make this squad his own. COYS!
YES Nick, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and see our blood pressure go down, but everyone's outstanding question must be - Why can't we play like this every week?.
OK West Brom. are bottom, but at times they looked more of a threat than some of the teams we've lost points to this season. and.. YES we conceded two goals, but my overriding philosophy is - as long as you score one goal more than the opposition it's OK. Clean sheets may look nice in the stats. but they don't always guarantee 3 points.
It was the best attacking game I've seen us play for a good while, and nice to see that despite that our "strike force" is still misfiring, we've other players who can find the net.
Jack Stephens still has a bit to learn when coming up against bigger, stronger opponents, but even if you put his goal-scoring efforts down to luck he still looks quite impressive. Came to our our Youth system aged 16 (from Plymouth - was it?) and has made good improvements, thanks to his two seasons of loan-outs (to Swindon). ..and to think he wouldn't have got a look- in , if VvD hadn't been injured. last year.
Ward-Prowse has been around since our return to the Prem. and seemingly annoyed some fans who dudn't see him flourishing faster. The truth is that he's done well to stay in the squad when you consider he was vying for a place against more experienced internationals. I think he's the "new Steven Davis " playing the way that Davis ought to have done...(no direct criticism of SD)...and finding the net too. His problem has been a lack of regular football and coming in the cover someone else. His role as an attacking MF in front of Cedric looks tailor-made for him, and may well be the "proper start" to his career. If he continues like this, he may well find himself in the World Cup squad( having previously played as captain of England U21's) for Southgate.
Those who complain about a "failure" of our Academy should recall that none of the earlier big transfers; Walcott, Bale, Alex-Ox, Chambers or Shaw set the World alight after they moved , and some may even regret their move(s) despite having a bigger bank balance. The fact that we have JWP, Jack Stephens and Sam McQueen in the squad PLUS ; Reed, Targett, and Gallagher out on loan speaks volumes for the system.
I think Jack Stephens has a lot to thank Jamie Vardy for, if VVD had remained fit then I think there is a good chance that Stephens would not have got much game time and would have left the club in the summer for somewere like Swindon or at best a Championship club,
The academy is still doing well, apart from the payers gone and the ones who are still currently in the first team squad we still have Sims and Hesketh on the fringes of the team.
But if there are no players coming through now then it isnt the fault of those in charge now, it is the fault of those running the academy 7/8 years ago, that is when we would have signed up the kids as youngsters, similary we will only find out how good the academy is at the moment in about 2025.
Even now we still have an inordinate amount of youngsters in or around our squad compared to most Premier League clubs, back in the 60/70/80's when it was in its heyday, most of the players that came through didnt make it as first team regulars here but moved on to mainly lower division stuff
We are clearly improving and Garth Crooks has chipped in with a few motivational words in his BBC 'Team of the week"...
"Wenger should have invested in Lemina during the summer and got in there well before Southampton did.
Lemina is wasted at St Mary's. Sorry, Southampton fans, but you just do not have the class of player to bring the best out of this lad.
His performance against West Brom was immense. Admittedly, we have not seen enough performances like this - but you would if you put him in a proper outfit."
...well let's see...to me it's been clear that we've been missing a top class midfield playmaker, and if Lemina can step up to that role, there is enough attaching talent in front and alongside him for him to link up with.
Yes - a strange season indeed. The anger/concern/disappointment displayed by the majority of fans doesn't go away with one win, why should it, but it makes us feel better and hopefully the players can build on that. We have a tough run-in but away games at Burnley, Leicester and Everton will look a lot less tough if we stop conceding daft goals from corners/crosses and the guys actually paid to score goals start doing so.
I hate social media - it has devalued debate, not just in football but it is here to stay and most tweets/posts etc are best ignored, difficult though that is. In the old days instant opinions were screamed on the terraces and then in the pub to an audience of a few - now we can all read them (if we want to).
PS anyone else see the absurd Garth Crooks comments on Lemina in his BBC team of the week nonsense?
PPS What letter is missing to make an apostrophe necessary in "learnt"?
There is light at the end of the tunnel - but we are still in tunnel being led by a manager whose team selections make me nervous before every match (and will continue to do so for the rest of the season).
A player not mentioned is Boufal. I am really impressed by the fact that he clearly wants to play and wants to be involved. Also he seems genuinely pleased when others score goals and I feel he is a player who plays for the team (although probably not for the manager).
I would always start with PEH, Lemina and Romeu in the midfield. It may seem a bit defensive but both Lemina and Hoedt (and Stephens) can play the ball and this would give us some attacking options - especially as we now have a target man in Carillo.
I hope Pellegrino does learn. My worry about him is that he almost stubbornly doesn't give a damn about the supporters who pay to watch the games - not sure that's sensible on his side as any mistake then gets magnified. He could do a lot worse then make some sort of conciliatory gesture to try and build a rapport, particularly at home where this could be worth the odd point.
Re. Garth Crooks - he's an idiot! I don't think he even watches the bulk of the games over any given weekend and then picks his team of the week based on what his mates tell him. Imagine being stuck next to him on a flight - he is so boring and predictable yet arrogant with it!
Wow, what a refreshing change it is to watch MOTD and come into the office and see smiles on faces. I’d forgotten what that double was like! The league is so ridiculously tight and we’re still in big trouble, but if we play like that every week then we at least we may have a chance. We actually fought hard for that win. I think Nick you’re right when you say away games might be our best chance of picking up points. Full credit to JWP again for the weekend. He’s answering his critics and it’s great to see.
San Marco, I think you’re spot on about social media. It’s not been great for the game. Maybe I’m just getting old but it does seem to bring out the absolute worst in people!
I think the biggest leader on the pitch theses days is JWP. He's come on leaps and bounds in the last half a dozen games and if he keeps up his recent form must be nailed on for Player of the Season. He must also be in pole position to be our next captain. And I fully agree that we've got to be 100% behind the team. Our support clearly means something to the players and helps the team.
Having watched the Saints since Home to Coventry in 1967 I am used to relagation battles and the one key thing the side needs is the home fans behind them. Most managers need at least two seasons to get a team playing the correct way. MP and RK both left the club in the learch, and financially we dont want to go back into administration. So we have to be prepared as fans that players will be sold when the top six are willing to pay over the market price. Mid table in the premier league is far better than average for the forty years I have supported the Saints. Some younger fans need to be patient and enjoy the good times. I would rather be fighting in the bottom half of the premier league than loosing away to Carlise.
Lots of you giving (well-earned praise) to the likes of JWP and Stephens, but it's important to note that the Academy isn't a conveyor belt that will produce another Walcott, Bale or Lallana every season. I read an article last year about a former Saints youth player, who played alongside Gareth Bale at Saints. We know about Bale's success, but this fellow was enjoying a good run of form in club... in the National League.
The truth of the matter is that many players who are great prospects at U18 can easily disappear from the game by the time they get to 21/22. The Academy helps lads get a foot up the ladder and occasionally we produce a JWP, Stephens, Targett or Mc Queen. I agree with Saint Nick that(had it not been for very serious injuries) players like Hesketh and Sims might have been seen in the first team squad much sooner.
It's not all bad news, and although we get good fees from sales to "the big money clubs" we are also contributing to the betterment of other League clubs. Many of the lads who "don't make it to the big time" ( read PREM) get a good career start with a CV that reads "Saints Academy"...I counted over 20 of them in L1/L2/ National League last year.
After successive managers and big money sales, the team is in its biggest transition since 2012...it will be good to see what the squad looks like in August -providing we survive.
Let's see whether this post is relevant at the end of the season Nick. If we get relegated I want Mr. Gao, Katerina Liebherr, Les Reed and Krueger all out of the club instantly.
It's been just shy of 2 years since Koeman left and there's clearly no direction with this football club. Even if the club said, "Our objective is stay up in the EPL" I wouldn't be happy but I'll accept their honesty. I don't think the fans have been respected for the last few years and that's my main issue. They're taking advantage of our loyalty and that's not fair. Southampton (and many other EPL clubs) should take a leaf out of Germany--in particular Borussia Dortmund--in the sense that there are structures in place to ensure the supporters have more of a voice. The health of a football club will always be dictated by the fans.
Anyway, I'll get behind the team because we need to stay up; however, come summer regardless of what happens SOMETHING NEEDS TO CHANGE!