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Saints V Stoke City The Verdict
Sunday, 4th Mar 2018 09:53

A very disappointing result that saw 70 minutes of dross followed finally by a period of intensity but it was too little too late !

As I predicted in the preview, Mauricio Pellegrino made little change to the team that started against Burnley with Josh Sims in for James Ward Prowse the only change.

Clearly Pellegrino was worried about Saints getting caught on the break and that was to be fair a genuine concern with Stoke sticking to their game plan that involved getting behind the ball and trying to go on the break and they seemed work well and but for some awful finishing from the visitors this result could have been disastrous.

The game only livened up in the final third and Saints should really have won it when a great cross from Nathan Redmond was headed wide by Sofiane Boufal from barely six yards when it looked easier to score.

Sains huffed and puffed in those final 20 minutes or so and although Jack Butland had to make a couple of decent saves to keep his side in the game, it was still a performance from Saints that was pretty much running to the script that most home games this season have run to rigidly.

Many wil blame the failure to play two up front, but I don't think that this is the real problem, even when we had two up top in the final 20 minutes we still didn't get the ball into their area and create chances enough times, most of our chances were shots from outside the area, we just don't get anyone one on one enough, this being the case we could play five up front and still not score, we just don't seem able to create enough chances.

The real problem was that our game play was based on two wingers getting in crosses backed up by two overlapping fullbacks, Stoke are a team of giants, we were playing straight into their hands, the end result should be no surprise.

The issue is one of intensity, the game only burst into life when the players upped their intensity and took the game to Stoke in the final third, too often up to then we passed the ball around well but the visitors were happy to let us do that.

Something has to change if we are to avoid relegation, Mauricio Pellegrino seem only to be able to coach us to a certain level, we are not being beaten and that is good, but ultimately we need to win games and we just don't seem able to do that.

There is only one thing left to change and that is the manager !

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aceofthebase added 10:01 - Mar 4
Nick leading the mutiny!

saintjf added 10:20 - Mar 4
We are not cut off from survival yet as so many teams could be drawn in so staying up is very much possible. A change of manager might well work but who would we get?

halftimeorange added 10:29 - Mar 4
I completely agree with your analysis and I would add that, at times during the first period, a number of Saints players (including captain Bertrand) ambled around the pitch and probably would have put their hands in their pockets if their shorts had had any. Fair play to Redmond who had a busy game and generally kept his mouth shut. The defence leaked through the middle and down the right but the bigger problem is no-one to hold the ball up front. Carillo isn't tall enough and, in consequence, like Long and Gabbiadini before him, has no service. In fact, he was anonymous in the first half. I guess that most of us know that our fate is largely now in the hands of other clubs and Alex McCarthy.

AmericanSaint added 10:31 - Mar 4
i watched the game and have to disagree here. i think a majority of the problem THIS game was on the players. SB should have scored and MP made positive subs. I was actually expecting a draw for this game as we have lost the last 2 to Stoke at home and there were going to park the bus and counter attack. I also think our players no longer like playing at home. I know fans have a right to boo they teams poor play, but i think the players believe that the booing is personal to them and that is why they dont like playing at home. I personally this the Newcastle game has to be the make or break point. We need to win that game. If we actually tie all the rest of the games, we will stay up. I have said before that I think we will stay up and goal differential will be key. I saw two computer programs that project us staying up by earning 1 point a game for a total of 37, which will be enough. I am now on the fence about MP. I think it would be a mistake to change now, but I am not against it in the summer. I think the next 2 games are going to decide it for me. My biggest concern is that he makes the right choices for players and they still keep disappointing on the delivery. Final stat - Saints are tops after the TOP 6 for chances made but are towards the bottom for converting. That is our season in a nutshell. Keep the faith.

AirFlorida added 10:32 - Mar 4
One defeat in 10 and I've never been so down about our prospects! Do we have more than one win left in us under MP's leadership? Possibly. But I'm seeing more draws and losses. It's too easy/predictable to play us. Too late to kick him out. We are where we are. Wonder if Tiss would be up for an away day at Newcastle...?

davidargyll added 10:36 - Mar 4
Hear! Hear!
Whatever MP is capable of doing - and surely he must have some qualities even if I am struggling to think what they are - being able to coach the players in to running into good positions, making keyhole passes and scoring from tight angles etc just is not some of them. If whatever he asks/tells the players to do ends up with dross like yesterday clearly he is incapable of pressing the right buttons.
I have no doubt he knows it too and the problem remains for him, the Board and the players, is honestly how much more can he therefore do?
If by some miracle we survive by being the least worst of the bottom 4, him being our manager won't make any difference to the way we play next season, we will still be rubbish; so lets get rid of him now, pur-lease....
Oh and one other thing; everybody seems to forget that a win and two losses is better than 2 draws and one loss, ie we should have really gone for it yesterday from the off and not messed around being all dull dull dull until the last 20 minutes.

stmichael added 10:38 - Mar 4
Everything is too slow.
When Sims and Redmond went round the outside we were dangerous.
So much wrong but the January window was the final straw.
Absolute shambles.
20 million pounds for a player no better than Sam Gallagher

Consigliere added 10:38 - Mar 4
First, lets get this into perspective. We watched our team lose a game of football yesterday, Strasbourg Saint mourned the loss of his teenage son and those of us who are fathers will have grieved with him for his loss.

Second, we should not really be surprised by the result. Stoke are in a similar mess and weren't much better, indeed as one of their supporters observed on the Guardian thread, if you took all the criticisms from Saints supporters on the site and replaced the word "Saints" with "Stoke" the sentences would still run true.

Third, what should we expect can be done about it? The issue is not the players, they are all good enough to keep up us in the Premier league, its the system they are playing. Boring, boring midfield Eurofootball without the intensity of attack we can see in City, United, Chelsea and (through gritted teeth) Liverpool and Spurs. When even talented players like Lemina are reduced to holding the ball up and waiting for the opposition to re-group you know this isn't happening by accident. That's why young Sims looked so refreshing yesterday, he hadn't had the lifeblood coached out of him. Yet.

I remain of the opinion that a change of manager at this stage of the season would probably make things worse not better but if (and it is now a very big "if") we survive then the scalpel almost certainly has to be taken out over the summer. If we don't then it is even more urgent to make a change because the Championship is even less tolerant of pretty, but toothless, football.

Boxingman75 added 10:42 - Mar 4
I used to love reading all posts on this forum , but lately nick you've chosen to change your opinion every game with some ridiculous articles in between , pellegrino has to go at the end of the season no matter what , i pray we survive but really fear we won't , the articles over the last few weeks have had some valid points but sadly mostly sound like theve come straight out of saint Marys themselves , how much they paying you lol , you should call pellegrino the hokey cokey man , in , out , in , out , seriously though I love the ugly inside just remember your the main voice for us LOYAL FANS , COYR

SaintNick added 10:56 - Mar 4
stmichael when sims and redmond went round the outside yes we looked dangerous, but they then had to cross into a box that had big stoke defenders waiting to lap up the crosses which they did, tactically this was stupid


SanMarco added 11:23 - Mar 4
MP has proved a poor appointment. The complacent people that appointed him weren't expecting a relegation fight and I have to say (yes I did join the Puel Out camp at the end of last season) we would be far better off with a shrewder manager like Puel now. That said we would need a new man up and running AT ONCE if we sacked MP tomorrow. I don't see it happening. MP is now the relegation fall guy for those that have allowed this to happen.

The important thing is that we can still stay up. There is an away win or two in this team (three would be better) and it may yet happen. Teams do win 5 out of 28 and then 3 out of 10 - we used to regularly do it in the (good???) old days. If we can squeeze a couple of wins out then our propensity for drawing may get us over the line.

PS Anyone else think that Crouch looked more dangerous than Carillo !!??

Number_58 added 11:23 - Mar 4
Was I the only person in the stadium who thought we should have had a penalty for handball in the second half? Maybe I dreamed it, the first half was enough to make you doze off to sleep.

SaintPaulVW added 11:24 - Mar 4
Would have preferred Gabbi to start and try to win this one. Redmond and Sims were good. Great to see Sims knocking balls through for players to run onto and doing the same for others.

Our big problem is that after 2 years of flipping dull possession stuff we have no idea how to structure an attack. The obsession with the Central defenders has been fiddling while Rome burns.

Under MP even if we stay up it isnt going to be pretty. I see a lot of sitting back, I'm settled in for a lot of agony.

oldeastterrace added 11:51 - Mar 4
Get a manager in on a short term deal who can give us a shot in the arm to keep us up. IF we keep Pelligrino in charge we will go down because as Nick says NOTHING WILL CHANGE with him still here!. It's a bigger gamble to keep him than it is to get rid rid of him. It is s--t or bust now! How the hell can you start a game at home to a side with the worst away record in the Premier League with only one up front? TOTAL LUNACY........GET RID OF HIM NOW!!! Get a new man in for the Newcastle game.

the_saint added 11:55 - Mar 4
Playing only one up front at home to stoke is ridiculous mp just won’t budge on his one up front which doesn’t work when we play lesser teams, boring, predictable as for his subs I think he decides before the game what he wants to do but too late to change him remove him and the muppets above him at the end of the season but right now we need to get behind our team until the fat lady sings

BuenosSaint added 12:02 - Mar 4
"I think that Pellegrino can keep us up, he may even win the FA Cup, but the fact is we will do it the hard way and nothing will change next season."

You cannot know and say that with 100% surety Nick. Come on. It would be worse than the Puel Sacking if he wins the FA cup and keeps us up. Many managers have had a crap first season and gone on to be legends. Ferguson and MCmenemy immediately spring to mind. Who can definitively say MP won't. Issue though could be season ticket renwals ala puel....

AmericanSaint added 13:34 - Mar 4
I am in the camp that we should have Carillo/Gabs up fornt to start. The ones says that Carillo are quick to forget that he has two assists that have been critical to us. Plus he holds the ball up very well. Also, if we are going to continue to play wing-back ball to cross it, then we need a bigger guy up front and Carillo is our tallest player. I remember when a lot of you boo Pelle for the first 5-6 games of the season and were shouting abuse to him. Then he scores one and you all love him. Finally, I also agree that the club will keep MP for the sole purpose to be the scapegoat. The fans wanted Puel's head and they got it. Look how that turned out for us. Be careful what you wish for as it maybe worse than you have.

landsdownsaint added 13:57 - Mar 4
How he’s still in a job is beyond belief! You keep saying we’ve had some rubbish managers in the past 30yrs with the set up he’s walked into I think he’s the worse.We just paid 20 million for a forward that don’t look like he’s got a goal in him ! And how come u & most of the fans know what’s wrong but a highly paid manager don’t ?i went with my mate yesterday who’s not a saints fan & he said there seems no motivation in a very talented bunch of players which is solely down to MP , as I wrote this I’m watching Brighton a team with loads of passion who will soon be the team on the south coast .

DorsetIan added 14:05 - Mar 4
Such small margins. Boufal should have scored. Gabbiadini’s air kick was unbelievable. We absolutely battered Stoke in the second half, and just one goal and the win we deserved and our perspective on the game would be very different.

Saints are not doing as well as they should be, but they are there or there abouts with half the other teams in the Premier League, most of whom have swapped managers, and it has made little difference to them in most cases.

Our players are starting to play more and more confidently and competently. Almost every one has improved. We now have a goalie we are not worried about, and a settled back four. We are starting to look like we know how to attack at last. Everyone claims that MP should be more attacking earlier in the game, but he is never playing mugs, and needs to worry about the counter attacks. The game is ninety minutes long, and we should have won the game in the final 20 minutes.

Most of the payers are under 25 and relatively inexperienced. The manager is naive sometimes but he is likewise relatively inexperienced. I think he is learning, even though it doesn’t seem like it sometimes.

We are are one game away from an FA Cup semi-final. We are perhaps 9 points from safety, with 9 games to go, all of which we could get at least a point from.

Keep the faith people, and be careful what you wish for!

Small margins.


landsdownsaint added 15:24 - Mar 4
DorsetIan... so we e employed an inexperienced manger ? Honest Mate I can’t believe what you’ve said here , the guys not good enough & that’s it .

Nomaesaints added 16:00 - Mar 4
Its MP's tactics that has me puzzled. As far as I can see we had 15 corners and did exactly the same with each one, booted the ball into their box hoping that we could get a head to it..This is not a Premier league managers tactic.
On saying all that the players have to take some of the blame , how did Boufal miss that header, a 10 year old would have burried it!

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 16:06 - Mar 4
Pellegrino will take us down. There's no doubt about that. Stoke were dreadful and were there for the taking. Pellegrino's tactics were once again too negative from the off. We're struggling for goals yet we've got a class goalscoring striker in Gabbiadini and he doesn't play him! It was so obvious to everyone before the game that her needed to play both Carrillo and Gabbi.

1 league win in 16 games. At any other club he would've been sacked long ago. The board have got to get rid of him and get someone else in very quickly. The Championship is looming. Pellegrino will take us down.

KriSaint added 16:19 - Mar 4
I´m beginning to play with the thought that Kelvin Davies takes over until the end of the season. He knows the team very well, he´s well respected, he is tough, nice and intelligent at the same time.
What do You reckon, lads?

heroholmes1 added 20:49 - Mar 4
I thought his team selection and tactics would have been spot on, if we were away from home against a top 8 side.Home to Stoke and he has 2 speedy wingers both with little recent match practice.
Once again wrong, wrong, wrong.
He blew a massive opportunity yesterday that we could be remembering for a long time.

DorsetIan added 23:31 - Mar 4
Landsdownsaint...yes, we did employ an inexperienced manager. Before he joined he’d managed 204 games. Compare their totals at the start of this season: Wagner 256: Howe 422; Hughton 362..Moyes 880; allardyce 1000+; wenger 1600+.

Only carvahal had fewer before he was appointed: 131, but all of those were in England.

and its worth noting that Pochetino had only 161 games as a manager under his belt before he joined Saints...

I think we got very lucky with him, and then also with Koeman. Pellegrini doesnt strike me as any worse than Puel, and compare how Puel did without VVD. 0-1 at home to Stoke last season wasn’t it?

It looks like he was the wrong appointment and that he’s not up to the job, I agree, but

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