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Time To Play Without Fear !!!
Wednesday, 28th Feb 2018 09:41

There are those that say Saints have been overcoached, that they are now playing too much to order rather than to their natural abilities, perhaps Saturday against Stoke City is the time to change all that.

Whatever you call Mauricio Pellegrino, and most reading this will be calling him a lot of names that are unrepeatable on a family website, it cannot be argued that when he arrived his track record as a coach was impressive and probably got him the job more than anything else.

He had coached at Liverpool & Inter Milan and then managed not only Valencia but in Argentina and then Alaves before arriving at St Mary's.

On the face of it he fitted the CV that Saints want in theie manager/head coach, call him what you will and although some hanker after a name manager, the reality is that we look for managers who are hungry for success but have not achieved it just yet, all of our last four managers have fitted that profile, including Mauricio Pellegrino who had spent several years at Espanyol usually fighting relegation before he was eventually sacked and even Ronald Koeman who despite a promising start to his managerial career in his home country winning titles with both Ajax and PSV, but after that success was sparse and when he arrived at Saints he had won nothing in 6 years.

So Pellegrino is not a surprise choice as Saints manager, but even his closest friends would not say he is doing a good job.

The problem seems to be over coaching, like his predecessor Claude Puel he seems to encourage his teams to pass the ball and then pass it some more, rather than go for the jugular a little more often, this has lead to the players being scared to go off piste so to speak and use a little bit of flair every now and then.

As we dropped down the Premier League, Pellegrino seemed unable to halt the slide, yes he had issues at the club, the loss of Charlie Austin being a big blow, but more especially in defence with Van Dijk playing up and his strange rotation of Hoedt and Yoshida, but ultimately he should have been a lot more tactically aware and astute, especially in his use of substitutions.

Those that cry out for two men up front are a little naive in that few Premier League teams play in this way anymore, if you go two up top then you run the risk of being overun in midfield, ironically former Saints boss Alan Pardew was embroiled in this issue in the Baggies defeat to Huddersfield at the weekend, apparently a dressing room bust up saw him accused of playing two up front and Huddersfield swamped them and went two goals up, the fans tell of similar stories and accuse Pardew of being naive etc, they see two up front as outdated.

At Burnley Pellegrino threw caution to the wind in the final minutes, although in fairness since the arrival of Carrillo he has been doing that on a more regular basis, most of the last half dozen games have seen two strikers on the pitch for the last ten minutes or so at least.

So on Saturday against Stoke the cry from the fans will be for two up top from the start, but is that really the best option, truth is it hasn't really produced much so far, at Burnley despite bringing on three attacking players in the final 25 minutes, the pattern of the game changed little, the fans were berating Pellegrino although he had given them what they wanted and a goal did not look like coming, until that is it did.

Few give Pellegrino credit for this, the talk is of Gabbiadini and Sims rescuing the game, the national media described it as good tactics from the Saints manager, the Saints fans did not see it that way.

But did Saints get lucky in that final minute or was it proof that two up front works, to be blunt the evidence is inconclusive, on one hand it did not change the pattern of the game at all, on the other we scored.

So luck played a big part, but Pellegrino has to balance out luck with caution, Stoke will come to park the bus, get a goal and then defend staunchly as they did at Leicester at the weekend , if Pellegrino gambles and they do just that then we will find it very hard to break them down and come back from that.

So I fully expect him to stick to the tactics he has done and not throw caution to the wind, at least not until later in the game.

So if the tactics don't change then other things do and that means the players sticking to the managers brief, but doing so without fear, the goal at Burnley was a well worked goal, perhaps our best of the season from a technical level in that four players were involved and played their part.

Nathan Redmond got the ball and ran at Burnley and created space for Josh Sims to run into and receive the ball, Guido Carrillo made the run into the right area and then Sims put in the perfect cross for him to nod it down for Manolo Gabbiadini to do what he does best, pull off hsi man swivel and fire home, all four players deserve great credit.

So what was the difference between that move and thoseearlier in the game, the answer is fear, earlier in the game the Saints team fear3d losing the ball so played it safe going forward, preferred to pass to a red shirt than try to hit that telling ball or shoot on goal, they stuck to the system so they couldnt be blamed if something went wrong.

But in that final minute they feared defeat more and let their survival instincts take over, that move looked like the Saints of old and that should be noted.

On Saturday Saints have to play like that from the start, they need to be disciplined so that they don't let Stoke get a grip on the game and score on the break, but when we get in the final third we need to be playing without fear, be brave, hit that telling pass, shoot when the moment arrives rather than take one touch too many or pass it on.

The crowd need to encouage the players to do this, they need to cheer every attempt, not give that collective groan that any professional will tell you is almost as worse as abuse in that it saps the confidence.

On Saturday nothing matters other than three points, yes we want our team to entertain, but sometimes that is secondary, we want them to win and win at any cost, to do that they need to play without fear of any kind.

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helpineedsomebody added 09:53 - Feb 28
looks to me we are a counter attacking side
becouse every second ball is passed backwards
we now have become a walking chess game

SanMarco added 10:08 - Feb 28
Interesting freudian slip that you write Pellegrino instead of Pochettino!!

I think the chances of him throwing caution to the winds are about as high as Rochdale's chances tonight. When defeat is seen as the end of the world a draw is better than nothing would seem to be the mentality. Our problem scoring goals means we fear conceding - and now our defence is weaker that is not an unrealistic fear. My problem with this is we are running out of 'winnable' games so must go for it against teams like Stoke - MP won't see it like that though and nor will the crowd if he does 'go for it' and we are 2 down after 10 minutes.

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 11:08 - Feb 28
The expected pattern of play will be Saints have possession, create nothing, Stoke are organised with plenty of players behind the ball and deal with what little threat we have and look to hit us on the break.
Saints can afford to play two up front in games like this. Lemina & Romeu can handle the midfield. We don't need a third defensive midfielder in there.
Pellegrino needs to tell his players to pass the ball out wide to Ward-Prowse, Sims (who I would start on the other wing), Bertrand and Cedric and get crosses in aimed at Carrillo. Gabbiadini can then do what he did against Burnley and look to get on the end of nod downs and flick ons. Simple stuff. We'd offer a lot more threat doing that rather than 100 sideways passes.

BaselSaint added 11:17 - Feb 28
This is THE match of the season for me (so far). At least the prospect of it is exciting - whether that is matched by a good Saints performance, who konws? Which Saints team will show up, frozen with fear or fear-less?

A_Saint_in_Stoke added 11:51 - Feb 28
In most of these write-ups - I generally fully agree 100%.

But reading through - Time To Play Without Fear made me want to vomit. You say " So if the tactics don't change then other things do and that means the players sticking to the manager's beliefs - THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT WHY WE FIND OUR TEAM IN RELEGATION WORRIES ............... Being PIG HEADED - sticking to his weird idea's purely adopting having our players sticking to the Pellegrino beliefs of his spineless negative, unimaginative, team set up and tactics - bloody hell he has played enough games now - to even prove to himself that " HIS IDEA'S " DON'T WORK IN THE PREMIERSHIP - Pellegrino WAS literally FORCED into substitutions last Saturday - and we all know that if still at 0-0 he would have stuck with his more negative style and keeping Romeu and Tadic on the pitch. Why do we HAVE to play EVERY GAME with just 1 up front - try telling that to Scouserpool who operate with 3 any manager with a footballing brain would set up his team " TO NOT BE OVERRUN IN MIDFIELD " Pellegrino seems clueless in countering other teams tactics.

A_Saint_in_Stoke added 11:59 - Feb 28

1teeminants added 12:21 - Feb 28
He was known at Alaves as being very defensive so the only thing that surprises me is people being surprised we are defensive.

A_Saint_in_Stoke added 13:53 - Feb 28
I don't doubt you 1teeminants ....

So what happened?? - When appointing Mr Pellegrino - Les Reed promised us fans ( look this up, it is all documented ) Mauricio believes with the quality we have we can play exciting, attacking high energy football, taking the game to our opponents by playing a high-intensity game ........ So did Pellegrino lie? surely a sacking offence? & How on earth is Reed still happy with Mr Pellegrino's performance??

petedoors1 added 13:59 - Feb 28
Just hope he plays Sims and not Prowse on Saturday or we will lose. Sims did more forward passes in the 20 minutes he was on the pitch last Saturday than Prowse has done all Season. Guido Carrillo and Manolo Gabbiadini should both start up front.

petedoors1 added 14:03 - Feb 28
LOSE the game against Stoke and Pellegrino MUST BE GONE BY MONDAY.

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 15:00 - Feb 28
petedoors - Ward-Prowse is a strange one. He's a great crosser of the ball, but a lot of time he looks for Cedric on the overlap or a sideways pass rather than put the ball in himself.
JWP should be instructed to get the ball out wide 20 or 30 yards from goal and simply get a cross in. Don't mess about trying to find Cedric or play a sideways pass to a central midfielder who can't create anything. Get the ball in a decent position and cross it. Then if the strikers know that this is the gameplan and he's going to do this they can make thier runs in anticipation of it coming in. It's not rocket science but I get the feeling Pellegrino thinks it is.

KriSaint added 16:32 - Feb 28
Fear or no fear. Our U18 and U23 teams also only play the conservative 4-2-3-1 formation. This is how Saints play.
Still there should be room for both Gabbi and Carrillo, even in a 4-2-3-1, because we need these 2 hit men on the pitch to increase our chances of getting 3 points.

My team:

Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand
Hojbjerg, Lemina
JWP, Gabbi, Sims

richardmdcooper added 16:43 - Feb 28
Kri-saint- agree completely on that team. No chance of it happening though. Tadic seems to have something in his contract that he must start every game and MP is too negative to play both Gabbi and Carillo.

In my opinion, The nonsensical notion that 4-2-3-1 is the only way to play and must be used by all our teams is constraining the whole club. Too inflexible and clearly isn’t working so why not change it. MP simply doesn’t have the ability or creativity to do it though.

vanmans added 17:56 - Feb 28
I would sooner see Tadic play than jwp I think he offers us more going forward.

oldeastterrace added 19:45 - Feb 28
We cannot sit back Nick. Stoke are friggin awful on the road and we should be taking the game to them and putting thge game out of their reach straight away. If we sit back and counter attack at home to Stoke then that is wrong in my opinion. We are NOT playing Man 'friggin' City are we??? We should loosen the shackles a little and ENSURE we score first and get the crowd onside IF we sit back and concede than the positivity that we want from the crowd will go out of the window and turn nasty. LETS BE POSITIVE AND PUT THE BLOODY GAME BEYOND STOKE ASAP.

A1079 added 20:39 - Feb 28
This continuous argument that we should not play 2 up front because no one else does, is one good reason why we should. Doing something different, not following sheep, is what can and should surprise your opponents. Just because someone else doesn't do something does not mean you shouldn't. The element of surprise is what we need, otherwise you become predictable. After all, not playing 2 up front has hardly brought us success has it!

GeordieSaint added 22:27 - Feb 28
4231 doesn't have to be a defensive formation. It can effectively mean playing 4 attacking players when you have got the ball. Equally a 433 is a possibility that allows you to still play 3 holding midfielders and would negate the problem of getting gabbi involved as he could start on the left which I heard he did at Napoli. Our full backs are good enough to cover and long's lack of goals is not an issue then and we have loads of options like that. Burnley was dreadful and the manager doesn't have a clue what to do with gabbi.

What about
Cedric Stephens hoedt Bertrand
Romeou hojberg lemina
Long carillo gabbi

That could be done with tadic or redmond on the wide roles as well. 3 up front when you have the ball, 5 in midfield when you don't.

KriSaint added 09:21 - Mar 1
GeordieSaint , Interesting line-up. Why not?
Not sure I would leave out JWP because he is doing ok at the moment with goals and assists from good deadballs.

KriSaint added 09:22 - Mar 1
GeordieSaint , Interesting line-up. Why not?
Not sure I would leave out JWP because he is doing ok at the moment with goals and assists from good deadballs.

petedoors1 added 11:28 - Mar 1
JWP was totally useless against Burnley and his dead ball kicks are overrated. How many goals have Saints scored from any of his corners? He needs to be replaced by Sims on Saturday.

KriSaint added 15:15 - Mar 1
I don´t like the tendency to critisize so heavily this home grown player, who - at the age of 23 - has 150 PL games under his belt, extraordinarily many U21 England caps - many of them as captain - and even one full senior England cap.
In my opinion he is a young, intelligent player who has a great right foot, and he works his socks off. He would be of better use in a 4-4-2 formation, though.
Maybe he had a bad game vs Burnley, but he has 4 goals and 2 assists (from corners) in 8 games.
I like Sims a lot too. Why not play them both? Sims as left wing.

SaintBrock added 15:40 - Mar 1
I agree 100% with petedoors1, JWP is a busted flush. No other Saints player has been given so many chances to show his mettle and no other player has failed so miserably to take his chances. It's only thanks to his nepotistic relationship with them upstairs that the manger has persisted with him so long.

How many offers for him have come in, how many rumours linking him to a 'bigger' club have we received? Bugger all squared that's how many!

BoondockSaint added 15:40 - Mar 1
I'm with petedoors1 on this.

Look at JWP stats in league play:

Unfortunately, for JWP, the media etc., tend to bill him as the next David Beckham, when he is more like a smaller Lallana. He has skills, but is either not getting the right coaching or being played in the wrong position (or both).

While he is young, if you look at other starlets that have come through the academy, they were snapped up by other teams well before they were 23, so it seems other teams have a more realistic view than the media. I do think, however, with the right coaching and weight training, he could contribute a lot more.

SaintBrock added 15:44 - Mar 1
Play without fear? It's not as 'though they'll be playing in the Colliseum against a pack of lions is it? The only fear they have is a loss of income at season's end.

It's about time they got out there and did what they get paid to do instead of farting around like a bunch of prancing ponies!

KriSaint added 16:36 - Mar 1
BoondockSaint , thanks for the stats on JWP. For a 23-year old player I don´t think they are that bad, but room for improvement of course.
I´d like to see him play right back, but that´s just me.

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