Saints At Swansea The Verdict Wednesday, 9th May 2018 10:08
This was one of those games that as a football fan you live for, when the moaning stops and you just get behind your team when it really matters.
The time for the post mortem of this season will be after the final whistle on Sunday, but for now those who travelled to Everton & Swansea have a hectic few days to look back upon were all ranges of emotions came to the fore.
I am sure that I need tell no Saints supporter that this was an awful game to watch in the fact that it shredded your nerves from the first to the final whistle, no one had a bad game, no one had a great game, but everyone contributed when it really mattered.
One thing Mark Hughes has done in the recent weeks is united the squad and got them fighting for the cause again and that could be said for the fans who travelled to Swansea, the bickering and slagging off of certain individuals was left at home and it was just total support for the team.
Not one player who stepped on that pitch can be slagged off for effort and commitment, at times they did not have the best of the games, but when things did not go well they knuckled down and tried to make it happen the next time.
If you want to slag off individual players then consider that as bad as this season has been, come the run in those coming under fire all contributed, Nathan Redmond didn't have a great game at Swansea, but he never stopped running never stopped trying and his goal at Everton will matter come the final whistle on Sunday, Carrillo didn't score, but his part in goals at West Brom and Burnley, especially Burnley will also be vital, Mario Lemina didn't step on the pitch last night due to injury but his elation at the final whistle was there for all to see as was that of others unable to play in Yoshida and Steven Davis et al and this is what Mark Hughes has brought to the club, unity with a capital U, in Hughes is squad there is no room for the moaners and the whingers, you are either part of the problem or you are part of the solution and that is something for a few people to reflect on.
Football clubs have moments when all doesn't go well, in it seems to have happened to us all season and escalated in the last few weeks, bad refereeing decisions, awful deflections, sending offs, but Hughes and his players have not gone around bemoaning their luck of pointing the finger of blame, they have used adversity to bond themselves together and pull through.
The game on reflection probably wasn't as bad as it seemed, Saints gave as good as they got and overall had the lions share of the chances, when they needed to they did the basics and cut out the soft errors that have cost us so dearly.
Hughes made the right substitutions at the right times, on 68 minutes with Jan Bednarek being led off in a daze, with 20 minutes left and a goal needed the Saints manager was not scared to put the foot on the accelerator and bring on a forward in Manolo Gabbiadini and go for the jugular and it paid off.
Scrappy goal but one that sent the Saints supporters wild and a moment I would not have missed for the world, all those games where we either didn't turn up or couldn't get any luck, all those poor refereeing decisions, they didn't matter last night, yes it shredded the nerves but when that goal went in, when the final whistle blew it was all about just what supporting your team through thick and thin is about.
No man of the match last night, everyone did their bit when they needed to do it, it was a team effort from Mark Hughes leading it, right down to the Saints supporters massed behind the goal.
It's not quite over yet, mathematically we are not quite there, but we need the same support at St Mary's as we got at Goodison Park on Saturday and at Swansea last night, total support for the team from start to finish and then we can talk about what has gone wrong this season at the time it should be discussed, not seven months ago.
Thank you Mark Hughes for re-instilling the passion and team spirit in this team. Bournemouth, Everton, Swansea - you can really see how much it means to them. It's so refreshing to see a manager take such a hardline attitude to Boufal's misdemeanours (much as I think he's got all the potential in the world, his attitude is bad..) Last night, as you say, everyone put in a shift. This was a game where we had to simply knuckle down and take our chances when they came. As was recognised by Sky, Alex McCarthy was man of the match for me. Has been an absolute rock since he replaced Forster. His saves against each of the Cherries (vs Fraser), Everton (vs Baines) and Swansea (vs Ayew) have all earnt us points and are each candidates for our (and maybe the league's) save of the season. How good it feels to have a GK we can rely on. Nothing's guaranteed, but we can now go into the City game and sign off the season in style, before wholesale changes are needed in the summer.
At the end of the January transfer window I remember one of your contributors, remarking on our lacklustre involvement in the window, that our fate now depends , ‘ on the performance of other clubs and of McCarthy ‘. How right as since then Stoke and Swansea didn’t up their game and our keeper has been consistently good in goal, with a few wonder save thrown in for good measure’.
Undoubtedly we have dug deep when it really mattered. Mark Hughes has done a top job and for the first time in a while we have looked like a team rather than a collection of dispirited individuals. Well done, now lets get the job finished.
I wasn't a fan of his appointment, but hats off to Mark Hughes and his coaching staff. You can tell by the way the team is playing, how they players are relating to each other, and how they are talking about Hughes and his assistants, that he has done something quite remarkable with this squad of players. Not only turning around the season as a whole, but keeping the team focused and positive while being constantly kicked in the nuts (West Ham, Chelsea, Everton...) over the last few games.
Well done Hughes, will watch with interest how you now take this squad forward, as you surely will.
To me it looks as though Mark Hughes can be the catalyst in keeping the squad together and bringing in new faces in the summer. Having achieved so much in the last few weeks it would be ridiculous to not get his signature on a new contract and start discussing the squad for next season. I'm not saying he is the best manager we've ever had but for the sake of stability and player retention he has to be the the immediate way forward. Hopefully Reed and co haven't already started selling off key players before the summer break.
Its not very often you can use the word "serendipity" in a blog ("a happy perchance") but that perfectly describes McCarthy clocking poor old Bednarek thus bringing forward the time that the manager was going to bring on another striker.
By such small margins are fortunes won and lost!
I wasn't Sparky's biggest fan when he was brought in but my goodness has he been an inspiration. We aren't playing much better and we haven't become more skilful but we are sure as hell more passionate and he commands a group of players prepared to die in a ditch for the cause, exactly what was needed. Still not wholly out of the words of course but we can at least look forward to enjoying Sunday in the reasonable hope of a pleasant afternoon.
As others have said hats off to Mark Hughes. I was underwhelmed (but not angry) at his appointment. It didn't feel progressive, but I think it's fair to say that the European coach experiment has been derailed. Mark Hughes has galvanised our boys and for that I think he deserves a chance at next season. Let's see the new owner give him some money and not sell the squad from under him. A repeat of this season would be criminal.
On another note, no man of the match Nick? Charlie was always a threat and Gabbi looked sharp when he came on, but McCarthy was solid yet again. He's probably been the biggest factor in us staying up (not counting chickens just yet, but nearly there I mean). I'd give it to him without questions.
No man of the match because everyone played their part, I cant argue with McCarthy being nominated because he made three crucial saves, but then again the BBC made Hoedt as their MOM due to the fact that he along with Bednarek and Stephens limited Swansea to only three shots on target.
I agree highfield49 . Stability would be good to experience. I think Hughes would be a realistic long term appointment for Saints. With Hughes in charge I have been far more involved with the team and felt like a supporter again and not just a spectator as I did under the previous 2 managers. If it went well he would probably stay rather than get poached as Koeman was. Not that Koeman's move was good one for him or the club that poached him!
It is moments like these why I love supporting a club like Southampton. I love a regulation scrap if for no other reason that it brings excitement and drama to games. Barring a disaster on the last weekend and putting all the negativity of the first 7 months of the season aside for now, we’ll remember this year for our cup journey and the roller coaster events of the Bournemouth, Everton and Swansea games. I was in the Hughes camp either way (staying up or going down), but isn’t it brilliant to see that the players do care and that the coaching staff are passionate.
Nothing to add to the comments above, except to applaud the ref for a decent game. Not been a given recently. Also, nice touch to send WBA down. I remember 2005 and their fans celebrating with Pompey on the final day
We lost our first three Premiership games under Hughes, yet it is the measure of the man and the way he has inspired the team that we clawed our way back to the position we are now. If we can keep this squad together I think we could do really well next season. We were let down this season with a poor choice of manager. Hughes however could be the man to restore our fortunes just as he has saved our bacon last night.
McCarthy has been a huge revelation. I know the whole defence deserves credit for their efforts in the 4 ‘big games’ which we needed 8 or 9 points from. 3 clean sheets and one lucky deflected goal is why we have turned things round. McCarthy commands his area and shows bottle. I think also a special mention for Bednarek who has entered the fray at a hugely difficult time for his first real run in the team and he has been brilliant, as good as the other centre backs, if not better. This has been massive for us.. Well done Mark Hughes for changing our mentality and well done to Gabbi last night for staying focused and being in the right place at a time after what had been a miserable season for him. Hope he stays! Hats off to the team for the last 5 or 6 games, lets hope we finish with a pont or even 4 against the champions! Spare a thought for Jon Moss today though, he will probably be upset that West Brom are down.. 😂
Brilliant night. Traditionally, we do seem to pull off results results away from home when they really matter... Roker Park, Burnden Park and Dellhurst Park spring to mind in the past 20-odd years. I was fortunate enough to be at all of those, and last night will definitely live just as long in the memory. One thing though, there were quite a few empty seats dotted around. Maybe some got stuck in traffic, but it would be pretty shameful if people bought their £10 ticket and decided not to go to such an important game.
Yep - nights like that make it all worthwhile - once they have finished! 72 minutes of pure hell and then 24 minutes of even worse due to the hope. I agree with all the comments about McCarthy - it has been a 'damned close run thing', as a famous duke didn't quite once say, but the change of keeper, along with the change of manager, just about did it.
I am a born pessimist but to all of you worrying: Man City may put a few past us but can you really see that Swansea team getting a hatful against anyone???
I agree with IanRC - we must hang on to Gabbi. He is one of the most natural and instinctive strikers we've ever had and was criminally abandoned by Pellegrino in the pursuit of team tactics that never worked. His confidence must have been absolutely shattered. What a fitting finale to bring him on for the winning goal last night. Grazzi Gabbi !
Great performancesall round; not pretty, but stuck to the plan and worked their way thru a tricky situation. Personally I thought Hoedt was IMMENSE, he led by example, got stuck in, marked his man/men well and tried to find a teammate whenever the situation demanded it. His best 96+ minutes this season by far.
So, i lost my internet at the 68th minute and couldn't watch the rest of the game. Woke up this morning wondering if we won/lost/tied and saw the score and there was relief. I am with everyone that says Mark Hughes should get a new contract. The spirit he has instilled is great and hats off to all the fans who backed the team over the last few games without any negativity. I was screaming at monitor during the Everton game when Moss let 2 extra minutes go. Now that is all gone. I think we need to re-evaluate some players who didnt show up for most of the season and let some go even though they have shown some fight these last few weeks. Plus I think we really need to give some of our younger guys a fair shot at playing. I will save my opinions till after the season, but I hope on Sunday we can all just cheer the team on to another great performance. I will be screaming at my computer screen the whole time. COYR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
JohnBall's absolutely correct! It's awful the way Gabbi was treated. Hardly any playing time, and if he did score, he got benched! The negative tactics of Puel and Pelligrino have hurt his career. (Puel's current team has only 2 goals in the month of April!) And he never whinged, class act all around.
San Marco-in addition to my pessimistic DNA, my paranoia is working overtime that Stoke players hate Hughes enough to take him down with them....