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Saints V Borussia Monchengladbach The Verdict
Sunday, 5th Aug 2018 10:18

Saints went down to defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in their final pre season friendly, disappointing yes, the crisis that some say no !

All through this pre season I have been saying that results mean nothing, it is all about Mark Hughes and his squad learning more about what is needed for the upcoming Premier League season.

Now I am not trying to say that this friendly is anything that it isn't, it was a bad performance by Saints, but it is not the crisis that some would suggest on social media.

For Mark Hughes the problem is finding out what is his best side and the players to play in it, he opted to play a very narrow formation with all three of his recognised widemen on the bench, with it being the job of the wing backs to give width.

It didn't work very well though and that is going to be an issue for him over the next week, to stick with this formation for the opener against Burnley or revert to a more traditional back four.

In truth the first half was fairly even and Saints got caught by a very well worked break from the visitors which saw the ball slotted home from close range, it could have been two even three, but a free header flashed wide when easier to score, McCarthy made a decent save at his near post and another chance was put wide.

Within 5 minutes of the restart though the lead was doubled with a 30 yard shot beating McCarthy and on the hour it was three.

The raft of changes on both sides at half time made it difficult for Saints to get much pattern from the play, although the introduction of Mohamed Elyounoussi and Nathan Redmond, two genuine attacking players gave us a more cutting edge going forward and both sides missed good chances meaning that the score could easily have been 5-0 or 5-3 to the visitors.

There is no need though for the hysteria shown by some Saints supporters, the only barometer we can measure by is when the Premier League season starts, this was a friendly played at a low tempo as I have said about all our games whether won or lost it is not about the result but about what we learn.

So what has Mark Hughes and his team learned ?

Firstly they wont be complacent, they will be under no illusions that they can just walk out and beat Burnley , they now know that they will need to put in a lot of work.

Mark Hughes will also have to consider his formation, is his 3-5-2 as played in the first half with what could be considered a starting XI for next Sunday working ? certainly f he is to stick with it then subtle changes need to be made, Ryan Bertrand and Matt Targett are essentially defenders, would we be better using those who are genuine wide players if we keep this formation.

Or would we be better to go back to a 4-5-1 as we used to use, if so who wold play up front.

Or could we go to 4-4-2 and change the way we play competely.

Hughes problem is that he has the quantity of players to play all three formations, but as of yet hasn't really shown his hand completely.

One good thing to be learned from this is that Hughes has not really shown his hand, each friendly has been about multiple changes rather than fine tuning his preferred line up.

That tells us the real work will be done behind the scenes, friendlies have long stopped being competitive games with each side wanting to win, they are show pieces for the fans, I.m sure Mark Hughes and his fellow managers would rather not play these sort of games but play behind closed doors friendlies.

Thirty years ago friendlies like this were not so prevalent, now they are showpiece games that the fans expect, good for the supporters but not for the coaches.

Hughes will have lambasted his team, he will know that this has been a long pre season and that his side needs competitive action, they need to have the adrenalin pumping, it wasn't against Monchengladbach, it will be against Burnley and that is going to be the key.

Now Mark Hughes need to hone his side on the training ground, he needs to fire them up and he needs to get them chomping at the bit, as I said it's not about the result it's about what we have learned and sometimes you need wake up calls and this was certainly that.

Perhaps losing this game will help rather than hinder, certainly there will not be any complacency in Hughes and his squad, we will have learn't and come back stronger for it.

As I have said recently, we need to watch without prejudice, let Hughes show what he can do on a permanent basis, don't tarnish him or the team on last seasons performances, don't make a difficult situation harder by being on the teams back before they have done anything wrong.

There is a week to go now before we find out the truth, perhaps like we were in 2014 and 2015 we will be pleasantly surprised, but till then lets be positive.

Photo: Action Images

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DPeps added 10:21 - Aug 5
Although we shouldn't read too much into individual pre-season games, seen as a whole there have been some worrying signs across these friendlies.

No pace
Poor organisation in defence
Inadequate protection from the midfield

Combine these issues with the misfiring attack of last season, and it's not looking good.

I wouldn't be so concerned, but these are exactly the same problems from last season!

And, from Hughes's comments this morning, we're not signing anyone.

SaintNick added 10:40 - Aug 5
Good points, in defence we need to get organised, but we also have to take into account that the three players havent played together before, Vestergaard just arrived and Bednarek away for first part of pre season.

In midfield you are right but again the issue of who plays in the centre, plenty of good options we just need to get the right one

Goalscoring is a problem or more to the point getting the ball to the strikers was the problem

As for Hughes comments take them with a pinch of salt

Consigliere added 10:45 - Aug 5
On a hot sunny afternoon in August, we all saw a very good side playing attractive, attacking football. The pity of it is that it wasn't the Saints! Everyone around me applauded the first two German goals, which were brilliantly worked and an inspiration for what we should be trying to do - fast, attacking football, getting the ball to the byline, crisp and accurate crosses and good finishing. Saints were excellent in patches but gave away too many poor passes and Lemina in particular seemed to fade as the game went on. However, we improved with the changes in the second half and I thought that Redmond in particular looking in very good form and a lot quicker on the ball than previously. An entertaining football lesson for all.

Consigliere added 10:48 - Aug 5
Oh and top fans from Germany too, I loved their little dance and ironic singing in English!

helpineedsomebody added 11:07 - Aug 5
playing 8 at the back is not an attacking option / hopeing to catch them on the counter attack is not very attractive ,WE ARE PLAYING AT HOME, NOT PLAYING AWAY TRYING TO GET A POINT. im not sure if this system is MH system or if he has been instructed by the WOPPING WONDER BOY TO PLAY THIS WAY still he has 6 games to see if this works if not i would bring in BIG SAM & LITTLE SAM , HOPE THE OWNER IS WATCHING BECOUSE ITS YOUR MONEY THATS ON THE LINE NOT THE EMPLOYEES & YOU HAVE STILL HAVE TO PAY £160 MILLION POUNDS BACK TO THE BANK. AS THEY SAY IN YOUR PART OF THE WORLD NO MONEY NO HONEY.

petedoors1 added 11:30 - Aug 5
Have to agree with DPeps we have the same problems as last year No Pace, Poor Defence and still no one to score goals. Why have we let our two record signings of Guido Carrillo and Sofiane Boufal go out on loan if we had no intention of replacing them? Why oh why have we not signed a 6ft plus Striker? Our forward line is weaker this season than it was last.

dirk_doone added 11:43 - Aug 5
Where is the actual match report?

One thing we all saw at the match was that if we start with Hoedt, Vestergaard and Bednarek against top Premier League teams, we'll get absolutely mullered. It was only when Yoshida and Stephens came on as subs that we had any affective central defence at all. Without their pace, forwards can just run staright through the heart of our defnece and score at will. I'd start with a back four aginst Burnley, with Yoshida and Stephens art the heart of it, and wouldn't let Vestergaard, Hoedt and Bednarek anywhere near the pitch. They are too slow to play at this level.

skiptonsaint added 11:59 - Aug 5
I think it’s clear we are probably not going to have a clear best first 11 this season and it’s going to need to be about clever use of the squad with rotation that hopefully will allow us to have plenty of energy and hard running yards to get us midtable.

That said we need a leader to come through and motivate and drive the 11 that are on the pitch and organise.

Not sure who that is and the leaking of goals in quick succession as we have seen in a few of the pre seasons games has to stop.

Positives - Redmond as an impact sub running at tired defences looks dangerous and he will chip in with more goals than last year.

And JWP has more height to aim at this year with Jan especially and can cause more damage when he is on the pitch with his set pieces

Going to be a very interesting last week and I have funny feeling we will snap up an attacking bargain.

Otherwise when things go wrong with a lack of goals at points Les and the board are going to know they will be wide open to criticism they won’t easily be able to defend.

halftimeorange added 13:07 - Aug 5
After the entertaining play against an ordinary Celta Vigo, Saints looked out of their depth yesterday as they will against the top EPL teams this season. In the second half, long balls over the top caught our centre backs sleeping, a worrying sign. Without a target man we will have little or no penetration up front. Sadly, neither Charlie (who didn't get a sniff) or Manolo (who did but looked unconfident) can live off scraps as was shown lat season. It was, imo, criminal not to give Sam Gallagher some game time. His cushioned headers against Celta Vigo if repeated would have created more chances than we saw yesterday. Another thought, if we're lacking pace on the wings - why not try Bertrand in front of Targett and Cedric in front of McQueen. Also, it seemed odd to me that Armstrong seemed to be marooned in the old left-half position yesterday when he had been so effective midweek in a free central position. We can only hope that the starting eleven improve collectively as they get used to one another. Jack Stephens was very irritable from the moment he came on - someone needs to calm him down or he'll be off very quickly in our league. I will be pleasantly surprised if Saints don't have a stumbling start to the season.

highfield49 added 13:11 - Aug 5
Completely agree with skiptonsaint the lack of leadership on the pitch is one of the biggest problems we have at present. I felt the same with the England team in Russia, top players aren't always the best leaders. Very sad news that Cliff Huxford, one of our greats from the past, died this week. There was a player who led by example and took no prisoners unlike our present captain who has the leadership skills of someone who looks as though they wished they were elsewhere.

ExiledSupporter added 13:18 - Aug 5
Nick, Not a crisis quite yet, but very ominous evidence that we have not all that much changed our bad habits nor our obvious limitations of last season. No fast thinking nor fast moving central defender, no midfield controller and no dominant style centre forward.

DPeps is exactly right...and you sound a little too complacent if I may say so!

Surely the transfer priorities appear to have been 'criminally' neglected again, this cannot be forgiven yet again. The first five games will now be very telling for all concerned...

1970 added 15:37 - Aug 5
There's not much to add to the comments above, like last season there were no positives to take from this debacle,on my way out of the ground an old fella said to me "an utter shambles" and in a polite way I think he is right, well we're see what the bookies think this week about our chances because I'm not sure there are three worse teams than us, the question is will sparky keep his job like Pellegrino did?
I think MH has run out of time working out his best team and still doesn't know it,coyr a long season ahead again.

petesmaterob added 17:43 - Aug 5
thought I would chip in with a few comments, just to be controversial you understand.

Why did we not try to get Mawson - proven Premier league center back. Sometimes you have to pay for the quality rather than looking for the bargain.

Targett may turn into a very good full back but I could have told you before this game that he does not have the pace to get forward.

Elyounoussi made more tackles back in his 15 minutes that Boufel did in his whole time with us which added to his obvious quality means that we may have a good signing on our hands.

I do not think the problem is so much with the forwards. I have long believe we do not get the ball forward fast enough with enough players in support - as demonstrated by our opponents yesterday. However with the age of Austin and Long and Austins injurey record I do agree with Peter that we do need to get a young forward in to develop or give Gallagher a run.

underweststand added 20:21 - Aug 5
This game, and to some extent the Celta Vigo game showed the flaws in our game plan.

YES MH used a lot of subs.-game time for some-but the truth of the matter is that we looked little different than in a lot of games last season. Defensive lapses and goal-shy strikers. Maybe we don't need a lot of new signings - just those we have to try a bit harder earn their salaries.

Hughes is right in that all players don't become Supermen after a pre-season and all those gruelling sessions in the Chinese heat and unusually warm UK summer didn't help.
It may take a few weeks for others to hit form and the start side v. Burnley may well end up looking like the last games in May.

At least we have a big enough squad to choose from - even without the U23 starlets knocking on the door for proper game time, some may get a chance before they know it.

The last two games have shown our frailities at both ends of the pitch, and MH & Co. need to find the answers p.d.q. - at least we haven't lulled ourselves into a coma-like state and convince ourselves that - "it'll be alright on the night".

It won't - and it's good that we recognise the problems now.


SonicBoom added 20:50 - Aug 5
Nick I respect your unwavering positivity.
However this wasn't the first friendly. It was the last. By now I wanted to see some sort of style or pattern to our play. There was very little and there is just one week to go.
With so little time left it worries me MH doesn't seem set on a formation.

NZsaint added 00:27 - Aug 6

NZsaint added 00:33 - Aug 6
Three center backs,one defensive, midfielder,two wing backs two centre midfielders attacking midfielder,striker

Keesie66 added 08:49 - Aug 6
The season hasnt even started yet and the knives are out........ lets give it 5-10 games before any judgements are made.... during that time lets give the Saints 100% support and the benefit of the doubt...... COYR!!!!!!!!!

simmo400 added 12:29 - Aug 6
Same old for Saints fans. a 17th place finish will be perfect. Nothing new.

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