Saints V Chelsea The Verdict Monday, 16th Apr 2018 09:52
A devastating day for Saints supporters after eight minutes of madness saw defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
For over an hour on Saturday it looked like the Saints of old, passion enthusiasm and plain old rolling their sleeves up and fighting.
When Jan Bednarek put us 2-0 up on the hour it looked like Saints could finally turn this season around and get themselves back on track to stay up.
But then with 20 minutes left came 8 minutes of chaos.
It started when referee Mike Dean pulled play back for what looked like an innocuous challenge, Chelsea tried to take the free kick from around 15 years from where the offence took place, Dean indicated where he wanted it taken and then after they had moved the ball only 3 years towards the spot allowed them to take it with Saints clearly thinking they had to move the ball back to the spot where the offence occurred.
This was symptomatic of a referee who rarely had control of the game and allowed Chelsea to literally do what they wanted continually stealing 10-15 years at throw ins and free kicks and completely ignoring Dean when he sometimes tried to usher them to the correct spot and the referee did nothing.
But I am not blaming Dean for what happened, we as a team lacked leadership on the pitch at a crucial moment, someone should have been stood on the ball, we lost concentration and we paid a price.
The following minutes were painful to watch as Chelsea twice pumped balls into the box and we defended deep and when cleared the ball fell first to Hazard and then Giroud who both fired home completely unmarked and able to pick their spot.
In fairness we found our composure again and went hard for an equaliser, but the damage had been done and all we can take from this game is that there is the spirit there for a great escape but only if we stop shooting ourselves in the foot and for once get a piece of luck.
But survival is looking very difficult now and if we fail to win at Leicester then it could be almost impossible after nest weekend when we don't play in the Premier League.
Now is the time for the spirit that was showed most of the game to be shown in the final five games and make this a Great Escape season.
Will that happen ?
I doubt it, in 1999 we believed that we could stay up and found a run of wins to do so, now the fans don't believe it and spend their time moaning about the performance of certain individuals who will always be the scapegoats, not spotting the irony of criticising those players for a lack of passion.
But this is football nothing is over till it is mathematically impossible to finish 4th from bottom, we have to keep fighting, we have to keep optimistic and we have to try to keep the atmosphere that St Mary's had for the first 70 minutes on Saturday when for the first time in a long while the crowd was fully behind the team.
I still don’t think it is over. We needed 3 wins in a row with the great escape and it is possible 2 wins and a draw could do it out of 5.
The effort is there and you could say we were unlucky AGAIN Saturday. That said we will need to score a fair few goals to do it with our defence .
A draw on Weds and we are still in it but do we rotate with Sunday in mind. Be tempted to try some of the showboaters on Sunday as they will see it as a shop window, but that seems unfair on the try hard lot.
Everything was great for 70 minutes. How many times have we said that this season? Why can’t our players stay pumped up and mentally alert for the full 90 minutes? Is a team thing or is it caused by one or two players work rates dropping off? My view is it’s the latter. Tadic and Ward-Prowse, despite their performances up to the 60 minute mark, showed us nothing in the last 30 minutes. You can’t lose half of your midfield with a third of the game still to play. And it happens time and time again. Remember Ronald Koeman always used to substitute Tadic after 60 minutes. He knew!
Having watched the replays a couple of times, Chelsea's 1st and 2nd goals were pretty good goals. Excellent cross and header for Giroud and then brilliant work by Willian to pick out Hazard when all our defenders were in place for a ball across the goal. And we were, of course, wrong-footed for the first as the free kick was taken so quickly from an innocuous (and wrong) position...
...but we do now look like we could win a game.
We still haven't got that win, and until it comes we're going down, but if we could beat Leicester on Thursday and assuming Spurs beat Brighton this week too, we might start to hope again. Brighton, Huddersfield and Swansea all have extremely tricky run-ins. A win at Leicester sets ups a massive home game against Bournemouth, which we certainly can win. I think then we will be back in the mix, and then that away game at Swansea will probably be the decider.
But we just need to beat Leicester first!!
And 3 wins in four games - who am I kidding! It's the hope that kills you...
I thought Bertrand had his best game in weeks, whether that was to impress Chelsea I don't know but he certainly appeared more than happy to shake hands with the opposition at the end of the match. Hugely disappointed that concentration lapses cost us yet again. Just a thought for those more senior supporters I couldn't help musing that, in times gone by, had Brian O'Neil been in Saints midfield Alonso would now be in a hospital bed wishing he'd never fouled Shane Long.
To be honest Nick I feel a sense of relief that the season long struggle against relegation is nearly certainly over. The clubs owners will now have a few extra weeks to accept what most fans have known for months. We simply have not at any time been good enough ever since the first ball was kicked last August.
What matters now is the reaction of the owners in regard to how they approach our future in the Championship. Given their track record recently I am not confident but who knows,they may surprise us all. In the meantime lets just hope that our strongest team is played next Sunday and we upset the odds for once.
I doubt it, in 1999 we believed that we could stay up and found a run of wins to do so, now the fans don't believe it and spend their time moaning about the performance of certain individuals who will always be the scapegoats, not spotting the irony of criticising those players for a lack of passion. Where exactly do you sit at home games, I was in the Northam and did not hear any fans moaning about individuals and the support was better than it has been probably due to seeing our players actually trying for a change, we were shocked and pi$$ed off we threw away a 2 goal lead but that is to be expected, you seem obsessed with moaning about the fans who you seem to forget pay a lot of money to support Saints and only ask that the team try, no one expects to win every game but the dross we have had to watch this season warrants a bit of moaning, in my opinion.
I think that defeat pretty much sums up the season for me. 2-0 up in what now has to be our final “must win” opportunity and we lose 2-3. A team with spirit and leaders wouldn’t have lost that game. I couldn’t even get excited at 2-0 because I still feared we’d throw away a couple of points. I’ve got to admit I certainly didn’t expect it to be all three!
Nick, you said in your previous article that no one expected us to be in this position in September. Well maybe not, but come the first international break just a month later it was on the cards. We talked about making the most of a relatively ‘easy’ start to the season and we struggled badly. The warning signs were there and come November-December time it was not getting any better. I can honestly say for the first time in a long time I feared the worst very early and that’s from someone who supported us through the late 80’s and the following two decades and never believed we’d experience the drop.
This squad has zero spirit. “The Southampton Way” has served us well up to a point. I admit at one point I believed it could work. However all the nonsense with Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Fonte and VVD just proved how little respect these players have for the club and how easily their heads are turned. How can the promise of lucrative exits and the seeing us as a stepping stone every do anything but destroy team spirit? To make matters worse nearly half of our ex players are now on the verge of a Champions League trophy, whilst we’re left looking at the Championship. You’d think too that the calibre of the players coming in would be better with most having something to prove after failing to impress at big clubs. However all they seem to be in is matching their big wages and going through the motions on the pitch. Their agents will see they don’t go down with the ship.
And on a final note I’ve got to say that I’ve never felt so disenfranchised with the club. It’s more than the poor performances. I can handle defeat. It’s the nature of the defeats, the stubbornness to fill deficiencies in the squad and the lack of leadership and the head-burying behind the scenes. And still nothing regarding the new owner’s intentions. I hope his new ‘investment’ loses big and he scarpers off back overseas and we get a proper investor coming in who doesn’t need to borrow and who will spend some money. Our fans deserve more, we’ve been fed horsesh1t all season.
Totally agree with your final note bstoke, a major loss to GJ hopefully will make him consider his investment and move on quickly. Sadly, I’m not sure if we would get the investment from anybody else whilst in the current mess, however a size 9 up Krueger and Reed immediately and a new CEO with the keenness of Cortese, would be a very welcome start to anybody new.
i hope the new owner has PLAN B for next season or are we going to be turned over to a building company.
in 2005 roops had the last round up/ could be heading up for another
still the people who have caused all this mess might say well if ihad been given more time i could have solved the problem / still its only a small club anyway/ the new owner will take this club further than i ever could , it would be nice to see the minutes of the board meeting who blames who& why but sadley we will never know .
We pretty much know our fate now if it wasn't fairly obvious after the last transfer window closed. I truly didn't realise that the distance from the San Siro to Wigan Pier (or even Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium!) could possibly be so short. I am disheartened and it was all so easy to avoid with a couple of decent defender investments.
I can't see us staying up now. If we go 3 up and let in 1 goal our confidence still disappears in a second and we collapse. Looks like championship next season which isn't a bad thing, just hope mark Hughes isn't around. A side note on Bednarik coming in for Stephens, played pretty well overall
Negatives 8 minutes of lack of concentration and leadership that cost us 3 points. Positives. We were the better side for most of the match. As a Chelsea fan said to me after the match, " when your second goal went in I thought we were dead and buried, cause up to then there was only one team that looked like winning". We played with more commitment and belief than at any time in the last two seasons. It is the first time this season we have scored more than 1 goal in successive matches and this against two top six sides. If we play like we did for 70 minutes the whole match in our final games, we still have a good chance of staying up.
To be honest, I was pretty well resigned to going down before this game and didn't really expect to win it. The frustration is having played so well for most of the match and then switching off for the period of madness described in the article. Over the years I've watched Saints go down and I've watched them come back up. Championship football wasn't so bad last time and won't be so bad this time (we might even win a few games) BUT that is going to depend on keeping the core of the team intact. I feel that must be the primary aim of the Board now, as staying up is probably a lost cause.
One of the most disappointing things is that the teams around us are pretty poor. Brighton, Huddersfield, Swansea - all poor. Palace are ok but have had half their team injured for much of the season.
We don't have any excuses. Physical and mental defecencies is evidence again in this game. Our defence cannot deal with sustained pressure from high balls into the box, which makes us so easy to score against. Mentally we seem unable to capitalise on decent positions, and once we concede the floodgates open.
I'll support the team until the fat lady sings, but in reality I'm not at all hopeful.
I do not get all the negative stuff about the fans not getting behind the team. When the fans see some spirit and heart they will get behind the team. I was certainly behind the team on Saturday as everybody else seemed to be. The failure or not to get out of this mess will have very little to do with the positivity of the fans. The problems run much deeper than that. This has been an utterly dreadful season with very little to cheer about (other than the cup run) be it the football or the ownership change. We might all want survival but many don't believe we will get it. It is not negativity just rational thought based on the evidence seen so far. We should try and be positive how ever hard it is and we are certainly allowed to moan about being third from bottom and 5 points adrift.
Mike Dean should not be allowed to referee another Premier League game he cost us the points on Saturday. Had he sent off Marcos Alonso for a stamp on Shane Long they would not have scored 3 goals with only ten men. Then he let Chelsea take the free kick which led to their first goal just where they wanted to and later in the game he missed a blatant back pass. When are we going to get any LUCK?
This game should be replayed. According to Nick "Chelsea tried to take the free kick from around 15 years from where the offence took place". Not only that but they were continually "stealing 10-15 years at throw ins and free kicks". Let's hope it's an omen - 15 years ago we were looking forward to a cup final.
The main reason we lost this game is down to utterly hopeless game management. In the 2nd half Saints stopped playing the nice passing game that had put them 1 up and started lumping balls forward for Long to chase every time. When we went 2 nil up Chelsea came alive and started playing. All Saints did at this point was panic! We so desperately needed an old head in there just to put their foot on the ball and find a pass and then instruct the others to slow it all down, pass the ball round the back 5 a couple of times. Kill the game. Take the life out of it. But we didn't have a player out there to take charge like this. Hughes should've been instructing his players to do this, I don't know if he was. They were under the cosh just hacking balls away straight back to the opposition just for another wave of attack to come. No-one had the composure to find a few passes and take the pressure off the defence. To be fair to Hughes he identified game management being the problem straight after the game. He's not got long to teach the team how to to do it, but we've got to be able to see games out, keep possession, kill the game. If we can't hold on to a lead then there's no way we'll stay up.
Overall a good effort in a game we thought we would lose anyway.
However.....I put all the blame on Hughes. He sees Giroud come on. He know's he's the big threat. All he has to do is have one man shadow Giroud up and down the field (and into the bogs if he goes there) regardless of the Saint's players position or where the ball is.. Just harass him for the rest of the game, don't let him get onside, get into him when the ball comes in, keep yapping in hes ear. Just do it for 30 minutes and we're good!
I completely agree with Nick point in the last two paragraphs, but I would say that fans didn’t start moaning on Saturday: they went quiet. At 2-1 we had to rise above the game situation (ignore what you believed would happen next) and keep backing the team to the hilt. The players were visible up for the fight at 1-0 and 2-0 with the atmosphere clearly pushing the players forward. The ‘here we go again, that's it game over’ attitude will cement negative results very quickly and Chelsea knew this. We moan at players when we see heads dropping and panic setting in, but the fans reaction to a goal against us is exactly the same, which just reinforces the momentum change as well to the players. We need to ignore past experiences think about the situation we are in and what’s best to get us out of it. At 2-1 we should have been back on it at full voice: the game wasn’t over. We HAVE to create an atmosphere that the players believe in. Until its mathematically impossible to stay up: I’ll be singing and trying to get those around me to sing as well: what other option is there !
This is not about having a go at our fans, it’s about our club and each person wanting what’s best for our club. We have a big part to play in the performance of the team.
I think there is a bad luck element here. The refereeing nonsense + three times in eight minutes (whatever our defensive faults) the ball fell just right for them. Even so, it was the defence that lost it - when it went to 2-1 that created the biggest and most highly pressurised few minutes for Saints in years. Get through it and I think we were staying up, fold and it is relegation. Yes there was bad luck but when it came to it the defence that Les thought was strong enough to be top 10 didn't have the quality you need to fall back on when the crucial moment comes.
I am now abandoning gloomy thoughts until relegation is confirmed and am going into fantasy stay-up mode. We need 37 and that means 3 wins. We will lose to City so how about Leicester, Bournemouth and Swansea? It is possible, highly improbable yes, but POSSIBLE.
PS - amidst all the 2-3 Aston Villa comparisons aren't we due a Norwich 4-3 ??