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Saints At Newcastle United The Verdict
Sunday, 11th Mar 2018 10:29

It is very easy to write this Verdict, this game followed a very familiar path that most others have trod this season, clueless tactics and bewildered players.

In fairness to Mauricio Pellegrino, aside from the usual cry to play two up front, most Saints fans would have picked a similar team to the one that could perhaps be the last one that this manager chooses for the club.

Indeed if we wanted evidence that two up front is not the key reason this season is now so appalling, but it is the centre of defence and our failure to replace Fonte lst season and now Virgil Van Dijk that has cost us dearly.

Newcastle's games plan was clear and it paid dividends in the first middle, pump the ball forward and catch us on the break and they did that twice in the first half hour and both goals were down to poor defending, in fact in that first half most chances that Newcastle had were of a result of us giving the ball away cheaply.

In between the goals we seemed to have got to grips with the game and although we dominated we created little in the final third, the home side were waiting to pump the ball forward again.

The second goal was another calamity, Mario Lemina slipped as he went to put the ball back into the box and suddenly Newcastle were two on two on our defence, the result was goal for the home side and the game effectively over.

From then on the result was never in doubt, despite the fact that we had 63% possession and around the same number of shots as the home side, three times as many corners, again the one stat that mattered was goals for and we were lacking in that.

Mauricio Pellegrino criticised his players after the game, he spoke of a lack of spirit, he is right, but the man who is supposed to put that spirit in the team is him, the buck stops with the manager.

In the final stages of the season the one thing that wll carry us through is team spirit, if we haven't got it then we are finished, when the manager admits himself it is missing, then he is telling the board something.

Clearly the players themselves are lacking motivation, they are lacking confidence and they are not comfortable with the tactics, this was our worst perfromance of the season in that our other defeats of similar magnitude have been at Liverpool and Spurs, two decent teams, but this was against one of the poorest.

Funnily enough someone who was watching the game with me said no one is playing badly, we just have no spirit, motivation or a game plan, it is a collection of individuals and not a team.

I hoped that the manager might be able to drag enough out of a good squad to keep us up, this display showed that he can't motivate and to be blunt that is just about the only thing he is there for now.

We are at a point where literally the players themselves are being demotvated, we would almost be better than not having a manager and just letting them get on with it.

The tactics were predictable, the subs were predictable and the result was predictable, the time for change is now, the board for once have to do something that is unpredictable !

Photo: Action Images

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petedoors1 added 10:59 - Mar 11
I feared the worst when I saw the team sheet before the game. How could he drop Sims for that useless sideway passing Prowse? MANAGER HAS TO GO NOW.

SanMarco added 11:07 - Mar 11
Just posted this on last night's emergency article and it sums up my attitude to MP: "That performance has to be it for MP. There are two choices: sack or keep. If we keep him we are down, if we don't we are probably down. I go for probable relegation over certain relegation. It is as simple as that."

I don't know about the quality of the squad - we have to hope that Nick is right with the "good team let down by a poor manager" thesis because, that way, with a new manager we might still get over the line.

It is very important to re-emphasise that the responsibility for our decline and probable relegation lies with those at the top of the club who make decisions about player sales/buys AND about managers. Yes, MP will be the fall guy but who appointed him? Who appointed and then sacked Puel? Who replaced Mane with Redmond and didn't address the attacking problems even though everyone knew exactly what they were? Who allowed us to go from the (arguably) strongest centre-back pair in the league to the weakest? It wasn't me, it wasn't you and it wasn't MP. Even if we survive these people need to go and some people that know about football basics need to replace them. I am not confident that the new owner will do that - but it sure as hell needs to happen.

WestSussexSaint added 11:18 - Mar 11
I posted a few weeks ago on another thread that Les Reed and Ralph Krueger fundamentally must be judged on the financial stability of the club rather than solely on how the first team plays or put results. However the retention of premier league status is integral to all of that with the money that brings. What they do in the next week must be positive and decisive. Failure to act will mean they are as culpable as MP for relegation this season. They made a mistake appointing MP and I hope most fans will accept that everyone makes mistakes. What won’t be forgivable is compounding it by not acting now.

saintjf added 11:21 - Mar 11
So difficult to put new words to explain and describe what a mess Saints are in. I do know that I am very angry inside. Is this all the conclusion of a decline that was well under way last season? Puel and VVD have been blamed. Both have gone and yet the team of players still cannot deliver a performance worthy of their individual abilities. MP is quite clearly hopeless and should be sacked. However I am far from certain that his replacement will solve the cubs problems of complacency and smugness.

ChristchurchSaint added 11:36 - Mar 11
I agree with most of your thoughts Nick, but still think that Pellegrino will still be here at the bitter end as the waves close over our PL chapter. I am very angry because I still believe that this is being engineered by the board. I have tried to fathom this out and still cannot come to any sane conclusion as to why this is the case, but maybe it will all become clearer in time. But most of all, I am extremely sad. I have been a fan for over 55 years, and have seen lots of ups and downs. We were relegated in 1974 and 2005, and rebuilt slowly and regained what I have always felt was our rightful position in the top flight. 2 years ago, I actually began to believe that we were capable of breaking into that hallowed top 6, but that dream has now been shattered and I firmly believe that if there is not a major shakeup right through the whole club, then it will be several years before we ever get anywhere near that pinnacle again, if ever.

goalie66 added 11:36 - Mar 11
I liked the red shorts !

saintmark1976 added 11:50 - Mar 11

It is my opinion that whilst the fans are unhappy,clearly we are now at a point were the owners, management and players are quite satisfied at the way the club is progressing on its way to relegation.

The owners because they can take this seasons T V money plus a relegation parachute payment and the profit from past and impending player sales.Thus owning a debt free club, stadium and the land it stands on. Yes, we will be in the Championship next season but as far as they are concerned "that's just business".

The management because they have simply done what they were told by the owners.

The players because they stand to loose nothing and indeed may attract even higher salaries when transferred to play for other Premiership clubs next season.

On the basis of the above I would be very surprised if MP is sacked this season or possibly even the next.


NZsaint added 11:51 - Mar 11
We are down.we be lucky to pick up 3/4 points might be down before Mid. April.

FaroSaint added 11:51 - Mar 11
Having watched nearly all the games this season it was obvious that the way we playing was not creating goals .Sadly the tactics have not changed with expensive strikers not being provided with the service they need . Yesterday was yet another absolutely dismal performance where the opposition goalkeeper was only tested once with 60 odd per cent off possession. Players had no creativity and no real desire because the tactics are not working and they know it.
In a game that we had to win we should have set up to attack that is when we play our best football. Sadly too many players had a shocker Lemina Hoedt come to mind. I dont remember Carillo getting a shot on goal, this against a fellow relegation team . The manager has to tak the blame he has not risen to the task. He wont do any better in the Championship where you have to consistently score goals so time for a change probably too late but at least the new man will have a good run in in preparation for championship football . It is astonishing the board have kept faith with Pellegrino for so long when it has been staring the rest of us in the face.

SaintPaulVW added 11:56 - Mar 11
Just awful. The only reason I can give for them not sacking Mo is that he is the fall guy they are hiding behind to blame at the end of the season.

Still cannot fathom why Nick is obsessed with centre of defence.

We cannot score is our No1 problem.

We haven't been able to score freely for almost 2 years now. Even top teams let goals in, Look at Man City, Man It's Real all let goals in. The difference is the defenders know the attacking players have the ability to score. We don't. That affects all players and to my mind it clearly showed yesterday.

Mo has lost the dressing room and the fans but he's being used as a shield by the board. Not sure we'll survive but bring on the championship! COYR

SaintPaulVW added 11:58 - Mar 11
'Man Utd' not 'Man its'

davidargyll added 12:11 - Mar 11
I don’t think anything else can be said that hasn’t been said before about the manager players board etc. The trap door is wide open and we are 2 arms and at least one leg already through it.
I would only say that I would be amazed if the owners are happy because, regardless of the money for coming 17th - or worse - plus the parachute payments, they won’t make up for the loss of value of the club by going down. I would think if we were worth £180m when Miss Piggy sold 80% we’d be valued at less than half that as a championship side
Right now though I would think the biggest problem facing the board is Krueger having to justify doing a volte face on his position on MP. And I have a feeling that he will do it. But of course the second half of the problem is who uk bring in with 8 games to go who can possibly make any difference.

saintsnutcase added 12:11 - Mar 11
We are short of one or two Prem-level centre backs and one or two proven goal scorers! That is four very expensive players, while we have been spending peanuts. No manager can overcome that.

underweststand added 12:13 - Mar 11
Whilst Reed and Pellegrino are everyone's " whipping boys " I can't help thinking that the key culprits this season (and part of last), has been our miserable strike force. Austin aside ..nearly all have never got going. Maybe we saw the Austin / JayRod partnership as a replacement for Pelle, but that never happened, as had injury absences.
For a side that has the highest shot count (outside of the top six), our results have been deplorable to say the least. Less than 10% conversion rate and where we have had max. % possession in 20 of our 30 Prem games.

Who could forecast Gabbiadini's wretched time after the whirlwind start he made?.
Boufal was Puel's choice, but even his "Goal of the Season" efforts don't disguise the fact that in a 90 minute game he gets lost trying to 3-4 men before making bad passes. I do like Shane Long's dedication and nuisance value, but one goal a season is nothing, when our combined midfield quintet have scored more between themselves.

In a desperate situation, Nicola Cortese approved Pochettino's buy of Osvaldo (!) now we can only hope that Pellegrino's choice of Carrillo doesn't end up the same way.
We never replaced Mane properly, but Redmond's goal tally LAST season made him look better than he's turned out to be. These are the people who need to stand up and be counted, the others (Les, Ralph & Co.) may face their eventual fate as a result of it.

Blame Reed for sacking Puel and hiring Pellegrino?..maybe, but I seem to think the huge "fan furore" last season was nearly as bad (as now) and that tipped the club's arm and led to Puel's sacking. Did the club do wrong listening to the fan's anger when we see that Pule has managed Leicester quite well this season ?

Right now.. an FA cup exit next weekend will put Pellegrino's fate beyond doubt...but where will we ever find an " available UNEMPLOYED manager " with Prem. merits to turn things around for the remainder of this season?.
I fear we may be in this until "the end" of the season ..and the hope that it isn't as bitter as it seems today.


pete_boggs added 12:22 - Mar 11
As soon as I saw Prowsey and no Sims or Boufal I immediately put a tenner on Newcastle. So predictable. Prowsey even manage to be less effective than usual and the players would rather pass to the linesman than to the useless little makeweight.

ExiledSupporter added 12:25 - Mar 11
Nick most of the comments and observations that you make are sadly true, but I continue to doubt the underlying logic of your position when you say that it is not the issue of whether to play two up front that is the key reason for our demise but that it is our defensive weakness. Yes our defence has steadily got weaker over the last two years, but they are not as alarmingly inept as all those players (except Austin) in the attacking four or five positions have consistently been.
We have not (even now by the look of it) replaced Pelle or Mane with players capable of physically intimidating the opposition or taking them apart with speed and trickery. We have been obsessed with the one striker approach (with none of Rodrigues, Long, Gabbiadini, now Carrillo and even Austin) remotely equipped for this role
We do not have an attacking midfielder able to take control of the game and to score 5 to 10 goals in a season (though I think Lemina could if those around him played their part and even Boufal, who seems an extravagant but wasteful talent, might)
And we do not have any player in the midfield able to score more than 3 or 4 goals in any season, nor do they take it upon themselves to run into the penalty area because a) they have no confidence in their own abilities (justifiably) and because b) there is no player there to hold the ball up and lay the ball off to them. Note how Sims has looked our most dangerous attacker recently
Let’s be frank some of the players do put in their best efforts (Hojbjerg particularly, Redmond to some extent and Davis in the past) the rest blow hot and cold and are consistently inconsistent and all are hopeless shots. Our crosses into the box are consistently sub- standard (aside from both full backs) and several players are very prone to hiding on the pitch (Tadic and Ward Prowse, though in the case of the latter I just don’t think he has the fire burning in him)
Oh…yes, Romeu has been a shadow of himself, but does play a significant holding role and was in my opinion a very mistaken absentee from yesterday’s shambles, I don’t think we would have been so open to Newcastle’s attacks had he been patrolling his normal patch (and, yes, he is particularly hopeless when in front of the opposition’s goal, but we have come not to expect anymore.
Yes the defence has got weaker, yes we consistently fail to replace the high standards set by those departing, yes we have persevered with a goalkeeper who for much of the last two seasons has been a liability and yes we have been criminally complacent in our decision making or lack of it
And yes, yes, yes…we chose catastrophically the wrong manager last summer and Puel was clearly not the hopeless manager he appeared to be when we chose to sack him for what…only getting to eighth in the table or for losing a cup final…or for failing to make better use of the very poor squad that he inherited?
And now frozen in a mire of their own making we seem to have a board either ridiculously complacent or, even odder still, following a policy highly likely to severely disrupt their new employer’s income from his investment.
We clearly have no viable Plan B, we have been indolent in acting when the writing was on the wall around Xmas, we allow Reed to buy a record breaking forward patently obviously on MP’s recommendation and we are going to win our own race to the bottom.
Reed and the Board have done us all a huge disservice, including themselves, having squandered a strong position when we still had Koeman’s goodwill, before the then latest round of sell offs, and they must be held fully accountable.
We have one last major gamble to take belatedly, it just can’t get any worse anyway, give someone like Silva a £1m bonus to keep us up, on top of his salary, and let him do his best…what else can we do now before out next PL fixture?

AmericanSaint added 12:36 - Mar 11
I think SanMarco and Underwestand have great points. I think there is something going on in the background that we will never know about. I have said this before, be careful what you wish for. Many fans wanted Puel out and got it. Many fans wanted KL to sell to the team and they got it. Many fans believed we were a top 6 team before that year when we were playing above our weight class.

I wanted to give MP a chance, but his inability to change tactics is his bane. Playing a 4-4-2 is not sexy and envogue as many European coaches hate it. They say it is not how the game should be played. Everyone has to have a different system to show how "creative and genius" they. We do not have the players to do that. We need to go back to basics and play a 4-4-2 with the following:
Soares, Hoedt, Stepehns, Betrand
Sims, Romeu, Lemina, Boufal
Gabs, Carillo

He will not do it, the games will be the same as we can't score and MP will be the fall guy for us going down. Still have hope but if the players dont want do it then we are doomed. All talk and fight by the players = BS from them.

petedoors1 added 12:40 - Mar 11
I for one am fed up with people blaming Puels sacking for the state we are in now. If Puel was still here we would be no better off. Puel and Pellegrino play the game the same way. He is only doing better at Leicester because they have a much better squad. This manager should have been sacked by Christmas.

saintmark1976 added 12:50 - Mar 11
davidargyll, with respect you miss the point of my opinion. If we are to believe what we have been told, our 80 percent owners from China had to borrow the money to buy their share of the club. At present they need to service this loan by interest payments.Effectively all they currently own is a massive debt. As I previously explained, relegation enables them to clear the debt and obtain a capital asset being the club, its stadium and the ground it stands on. From their point of view what's not to like?

davidargyll added 12:51 - Mar 11
I just want to add that the job of the manager is to energise the players and turn them into a great team. Look at Cloughie who won the European Cup with an average set of players but melded them in to a top side. We have some OK players but MP has not got a clue how to get the best out of them. End of story

oldeastterrace added 13:01 - Mar 11
If Pelligrino is not sacked by the end of tomorrow then he will be here for next week. Sackings are normally done within 48 hours of a bad result. If he is still in place then the fans need to organise themselves to force this incompetent board to remove this incompetent manager. ALL WE NEED is a supporter to look up and say right lets meet here at this time and this place and form a plan to force the clubs hand and hundreds will show up. In years past we have looked upon the likes of Clive Foley and Nick as our leaders in situations like this (Dunno where Chorley and McMillan went). If Nick and Clive are not willing to drive this then I am sure an individual or a group of fans will be. Lets give the club another 24 hours, if they don't sack him then lets see if we can get a fans meeting to start a process of putting pressure on the club. There is lots of passion on the message boards but it will take more than us putting posts on here to get the club to sort this f-----n mess.

Number_58 added 13:20 - Mar 11
For all those in the mood for a protest, the first six rows of seats in the away stand at Wigan will be covered by plastic sheeting. There will never be a better opportunity for our fans to display protest banners in front of a nationwide audience. Just saying like.

KriSaint added 13:34 - Mar 11
I´s like Mark Hughes in for the rest of the season. He is british. He is experienced. He is respected.

BoondockSaint added 15:43 - Mar 11
Totally agree with petedoors1:

I was thinking when I saw the lineup that if I had only put a 20 on Saints to lose every time I saw JWP starting a game, I could have paid off my mortgage this season! The pundits still keep up with the urban myth/fake news/utter b@ll@cks : "You don't want to give JWP any opportunity to take a set piece" He then promptly kicked it right into the keeper's hands. If I was the opposition, I would give him every opportunity I could because we would just get the ball back. He's got some talent, but no one at the club has worked with him it seems.

Pellegrino is no different from Puel. Remember last year? We were all complaining about him playing too negatively, when we needed a goal he would sub off an attacker for a back. The two of them are cut from the same cloth-cheap puppets of the board. The only reason Puel has had any success with Leicester is because Vardy & Co. want to score goals and ignore him!

Which brings us to SanMarco's point: There is some going on at board level, because I cannot think of another team in any sport where the owner would be satisfied with the team continually losing and the manager continually leaving the top performers out of the line up. It's insane!

landsdownsaint added 17:13 - Mar 11
The only thing I blame Les Reed for is a bad appointment, I think Lea Reeds taken us as far as he can, all the top players he’s bought in there’s no way we could’ve kept hold of them, Ms Liebher knew when to get out , MP just ain’t upto the job it’s as simple as that imo

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