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2017/18 Season Review - Maya Yoshida
Friday, 25th May 2018 11:12

Today we take a look at a man who has given great service to Southampton Football Club over six seasons.

Maya Yoshida has been a great member of the Saints squad since joining the club in August 2012, no one can fault his effort in that time, no one can doubt his commitment, but the stark truth is that for most of that time he has not been a first choice central defender and for good reason.

In the last 18 months he has been a mainstay of the side and here lies our problem, nothing against Yoshida but he is nowhere near the class of Fonte, Van Dijk, Alderweireld & Lovren all of whom have played alongside him, great back up player yes, first choice central defender no !

His problem has always been lapses in concentration, he can give you 89 minutes where he is solid but then there is that lapse in concentration and a goal is conceded, the Arsenal home game is a good example of that, for 89 minutes Yoshida was tight he dug in and won everything, then in the dying moments of the game he lost concentration let Giroud pull away from him and get a free header and two points were dropped.

Now even the best players make mistakes, but add am Vokes for Burnley and Depoitre of Huddersfield to name but another two examples of similar lapses and free headers presented and that is another 3 points dropped, these are just three examples off the top of my head, good defenders get caught out from time to time, not with regularity.

Add just those 5 points dropped and we would not have been near the relegation zone at any stage of the season, indeed add those 5 points to our total at the turn of the year and we would have been in 10th place on 25 points, 7 clear of the drop zone, instead we were only 2 clear albeit in 13th.

So whilst it is always a team effort and certainly Yoshida was not the only culprit in gifting soft unmarked goals, he was one of the main culprits.

Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint why you drop points at others it is more clear cut and I don't think I have ever seen a season where so many of our opponents have been left unmarked inside our own box.

I have no agenda against Yoshida, but this season is nothing new, two seaons ago under Ronald Koeman he was 4th choice, the fact that he is now seen as an automatic selection highlights just where we have gone wrong and why if there is one error our transfer committee have made it was it's failure to firstly to replace Fonte in January 2017 and then Van Dijk either in the last summer or in January when he went, Ok thats two errors.

Yoshida's wholehearted commitment to this football club mean that many overlook his failings, but look at the goals conceded in those three games I have mentioned on video and tell me I am wrong.

Proof of that is that no other Premier League team have rushed to buy him over the course of his time at the club, on the face of it he would have been ideal for a newly promoted team, especially when he was in the last year of his contract a couple of years ago, but no one came in.

If Saints are to put this season behind them then they need to sort out the centre of defence, sadly I think Yoshida is part of the problem and not part of the solution, I applaud Yoshida for his commitment, but he is has got that fatal flaw in hi, that means he can never be a quality regular starter over a full season.

Photo: Action Images

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ericofarabia added 12:19 - May 25
Lol .... whipping boy!! Whilst agreeing that we need to have better quality defenders, I think you are being harsh on him. None of the central defenders have covered themselves in glory, but we looked better with him in a part of the back 3 towards the end of the season.

Consigliere added 12:51 - May 25
Yoshida is a player who divides opinion. He makes mistakes, that much is true, but no more than other players and frankly, no more that VD was making towards the end of his time with us and a lot fewer than Fonte, who became the shirt-tugger par excellence. A mistake by a defender or goalkeeper is always going to be more visible than one by a midfield player or a striker however, and I simply do not accept that his record is worse than anyone else. His value lies in his energy, commitment to the cause and the stability that he brings to the team. We are going to miss him when he is gone and I am pleased that he will be with us for at least another season.

SaintNick added 12:54 - May 25
I have been objective about him rather than made him a whipping boy, i have backed up my opinion with evidence, I cannot help it that the evidence is there for all to see and that perhaps tells the story.

You are right no one covered themselves in glory but Im not judging him by these seasons standards im judging him by the standards we set ourselves previously.

Yes he looked better towards the end of the season when adrenalin kicked in and we battled, but then again stephens/Bednarek and Hoedt all played well at Swansea when Yoshida was suspended, if they had all played like that throughout the season then we wouldnt have been in such trouble

ItchenNorth added 13:20 - May 25
Every club needs a player(s) like Yoshida. They are the squad players that when called upon really give a sh** and give it their all. If any squad was full of top class players, especially clubs the size of Saints, we’d be losing them to bigger clubs on a regular basis (as we do !). What players like Yoshida give you is a constant, a commitment, a belief that they care. These players are valuable. Hell Saints have had numerous players of this ilk down the years, Banali (club legend), Marsden (un-fashionably but reliable), Lundekvam was hardly the second coming of Bobby Moore, more like bamby on ice at times, but he grow into the player we now respect ! Even the big boys have these types of player, think Wes Brown at Man United for example. Many of these type of players grow with a club and into their clubs and improve as their careers go on with that club. I think no one could deny that this season has been Yoshida best. We’d be foolish to get rid of him imo. For sure: let’s aim for and go get another Alderweireld or VVD category player, but let not be so quick to dismiss players such as Yoshida. They just have a different value to the clubs and fans need to recognise this as well.

surreysaint added 13:46 - May 25
Completely agree Nick. When he came over as a 25/26 year old you could forgive the odd lapse as someone getting used to a better league or someone *just about* young enough for a centre half to stick with and hope for improvement. Truth is he's exactly the same now as he was then. Great example, great work ethic, never complains, but 4th choice is about right.

BoondockSaint added 14:38 - May 25
Well, we all knew this was coming!

Nic, yes our defense was dodgy, but we were not in the relegation zone because of Yoshi's few mistakes. Hell, we nearly survived on goal differential in spite of our crap strikers! (Please see my comment on "Ralph Kruger Speaks" if you want to look at points dropped because of lack of offense).

I will admit, a couple of years ago, i used to be worried when I saw Yoshi's name in the line up, because (like Boruc and then Forster) he was good for one horrendous mistake per game. But he has matured and is now a solid player, and, I would like to stress, he is one of the very few who looked like he actually gave a sh!t!

Your points are well taken, however, please make sure to turn the same harsh spotlight on our forwards (and our board!).

JimmyMeliaPhD added 04:34 - May 26
It'll be interesting to see how Nick rounds out the CB series with Hoedt and Bednarek. Not to prejudice the matter, but it seems pretty clear to me that Hoedt is just as tactically gormless as Stephens and less technically skilled than Yoshida. It's true that Hoedt and Stephens are still young, but so many fundamentals for EPL players are instilled in their teens, and I'm not sure either Hoedt or Stephens got the lessons. Hoedt in particular seems technically underdeveloped and tactically stupid (two goals in the lat few games he gave up by DUCKING as a cross came in!!) . On the positive side, I'm very sure that Bednarek did get the lessons. I see him as technically and tactically much more the genuine article than either Hoedt or Stephens. Bednarek and a serious skilled and experienced signing is the way forward, with Yoshida as excellent back-up. I can't see Hoedt or Stephens amounting to much in the end.

SaintPaulVW added 07:23 - May 26
I just think that all players make mistakes. Look at the 15 -20 mistakes made each game at the other end. The pressure our guys at the back must have faced for the last few seasons playing in a team that couldn't score must have been immense. No player would fail to make mistakes if they had to play every game like they were trying to keep it at nil-nil.

Had we been able to score then the errors you mention would not have been so costly.

Yoshi showed the spirit to carry on when we were 4 points into the relegation zone. I really don't see him as performing any worse than any of the other CB's and certainly no worse than Hoedt.

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