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Saints At Manchester City The Verdict
Monday, 5th Nov 2018 08:32

It did not need a fortune teller to predict this result and although it should be mentioned that City are beating everyone these days, the manner in which we played was unacceptable.

It is easy to point the finger of blame at individuals, but this was a collective effort, the team played with no passion, no spark, no confidence and no leadership, we went out there like rabbits caught in headlights and got torn apart.

Even good sides get ripped apart by City I the game was over as a competition within the first 12 minutes as the home side took firstly a two goal lead and then followed it by going three up with only 18 minutes gone, Saints settled down a little after that and got some meaningful possession and even scored albeit a penalty, but once again we went to sleep in the final minute of the first half and at 4-1 you even had to consider that we could be on for the Premier League record defeat.

In the second half we kept it till only one further goal till once again another injury time goal conceded that made it truly a rout.

So where did it go wrong, well as I said the whole team were basically collectively awful, in goal I would say that Alex McCarthy put in the type of performance that last season made Fraser Forster the target of the crowd, too many of their goals went under him and he seemed slow to get down and for one of them even make an attempt at it.

Given that City only had 8 attempts on target and scored six, there was the first problem, if the keeper had had a decent game then we could have come away with an acceptable defeat.

It wasn't just McCarthy's fault though and as a team we were poor and chasing shadows, yes some of it was natural given the quality of the City team, but we were playing without and spark, enthusiasm or any belief.

Last season was poor, but even under Mauricio Pellegrino the same players who were out there at the Etihad were matching sides, last season we rarely got slaughtered it was a tale of failing to take chances and then individual errors at the back that led to a poor season, this year it seems that the players aren't responding to the manager.

Of the four summer signings three were on the bench that is not good, but it is not the root cause of the problem, of the starting line only Danny Ings wasn't here last season, seven were in the team that finished 8th the season before and that tells you something.

The problem is not the players quality, it is that to be blunt they are not playing for the manager, Mark Hughes does not seem to be motivating the side in any way shape or form, they seem to lack effort and motivation, they are not finding that extra spark that turns bad games into good ones, last season the bulk of this side held City to 1-1 at the Etihad before another 5th minute of injury tie goal done for them and it was the same story at St Mary's when we only lost to yet another late injury time winner.

This is not the time for panic, those who scream for the whole board to be sacked really haven't a clue why would you sack the Commercial Director for instance who has built up the finances of the club and brought in multi million pound revenue that has enabled us to spend big in both transfer and wages.

The issue at the moment is the manager, as it was last season and from that viewpoint Ralph Krueger's job is only to consider if Les Reed is doing his job, Reed's job is to make sure that he has the right manager in place and he is doing his job. Mark Hughes's job is to get results and we should perhaps remember that Claude Puel got results, this is the Premier League though and all that matters is those results.

Hughes is not getting results and that has to be dealt with now, not left for when it is too late, Les Reed will be reticent to sack Hughes, that will be an admission that he has got the appointment wrong in the first place, but he has to do it.

Ralph Krueger will look at the wider picture with Reed, he will look at the training ground at Staplewood and everything based around that and feel that Reed has done a great job at this club, but ultimately the main part of that job is the manager he either deals with the problem or falls on his sword, if he doesn't deal with it then Krueger has to deal with him.

We as supporters have to stop blurring the picture by blaming everyone and everything, we have to focus on the real issue and that is the manager is not getting results !!!!

Everything else is peripheral

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highfield49 added 08:48 - Nov 5
I have to agree Nick, I'm slightly surprised that Hughes wasn't sacked after the game. There is obviously absolutely nothing he can do to motivate the team to perform and compete so there is zero point in him being kept in the job.

Whiteknight added 09:10 - Nov 5
Nick, as far as I know nobody has called for David Thomas (Southampton's Commercial Director) to be sacked. Kruger is Chairman - the Chairman is responsible for the whole club - not just the commercials, so it is perfectly reasonable to hold him ultimately accountable for the debacle which is Southampton FC.

How much is the "multi million pound revenue that has enabled us to spend big in both transfer and wages."? It would be good to put a figure on the added-value that Kruger brings to the business.

It might be helpful if you stuck to facts in your reports rather than have a combination of:

a) Blame Yoshida; and/or
b) Blame the fans; and/or
c) Support Kruger.

Boris1977 added 09:12 - Nov 5
I think it's fair to say that most of us were at least underwhelmed by Sparky's appointment but i didn't think the results and performances would be as bad as they have been this season. Flat is the most considered word is use. Sparky has never known what his best team is despite having all pre season to work it out. I'm disappointed at how far we have fallen over the past 30 months or so. The only card saints now have is to change the manager. Will that be enough?

wibbersda added 09:18 - Nov 5
If you chart the last 4 years using Man City matches as a reference, it shows our decline in that time. So based on last years narrow escape it is safe to assume that we are going down. I hope seeing Koeman in the crowd is an indication he's coming back...wishful thinking.
How many more chances does Hoet need? Has he been learning from Yosh on how to have a least one mistake a game? He seems to crumble up against the big teams. Anyway, the reality on the game really was that we were outclassed and looked like a struggling League 1 side.

davepid added 09:23 - Nov 5
I’m sure Nics been around long enough not to need my support but Whitenight give him a break: what on earth DO you write when your team has been so comprehensively beaten.

Four years ago( not quite to the day ) we beat Sunderland 8-0. Sunderland players reimbursed the travelling fans their ticket costs. Now that is an idea that should go to Hughes and Reed. Incidentally the winning team four years ago couldn’t find space for Mane and Wanyama- they were on the bench!


Hugh_Jarce added 09:36 - Nov 5
Who should we replace Hughes with though. If Gao is only interested in a top 17 finish each year to get the TV money to pay off his loan then depressingly Allardyce seems a good fit. Sad times

djtsaints123 added 09:52 - Nov 5
Ok so we sack manager, but who chooses replacement, presumeable Reid and his cohorts who with the exception of Koeman (who Reid and rest of management fell out with, Koeman also said none of academy good enough as none first team guess hes right) Ward Prowse was in Koemans first team squad.
Reids not done a good job last three selections uninspiring at best, transfers poor in the main and no academy hopefuls what is point of replacing manager with the same recruitment team.
We need a serious shake up this is third poor year and if we survive (which will only be because three below us are as bad and may perform worse) nothing changes but team manager we will have 4 bad years. Something has to rattle chairmans cage maybe relegation would if not and he remains aloof/uninvolved there is no hope.
I have two season tickets for sale if anyones interested.

stmichael added 09:54 - Nov 5
For me anyway the biggest problem is that I expected a gutless capitulation and they delivered it.
Predicted 5-0 and got a 6-1.
Like Liverpool away all over in 15 mins.
What a mess as the only alternative now is to get our 6th manager in 6 years.

Ripleys_revenge added 09:56 - Nov 5
Agreed that Hughes need to go. The squad is not playing for him and has not been since pretty much the start of the season. The morale seems to be lower than I have ever seen it; players can be seen arguing with each other every other minute on the pitch. There are also definite fitness issues within the squad. The manner of this defeat coupled with the manager's comments after the game were all so predictable - Hughes has implied that the players are consistently not carrying out the 'work done on the training pitch' on matchdays for quite a while now. Either the squad have no faith in him or the training is rubbish. Yes, the players must do more but there is no direction for them nor any system beyond pass it around defence, into midfield, then into defence, then up the line for long to chase, then out for a throw in or goal kick.

There are also legitimate concerns over other departments at the club - notably player recruitment which has been farcical. Reed and Kruger have a lot to answer for but in the near term we desperately need to galvanise this squad. I can't any other way than a different coaching team.

PezzaSaint added 10:01 - Nov 5
Have said it before, Mark Hughes doesn't know what formation to use! If there was ever a time to go 5 at the back then yesterday was the day, but instead he goes 4 at the back and we get slaughtered. Burnley at home first game of the season 5 at the back, Man City away goes 4 at the back, just doesn't make sense.
I was pleased when Hughes was appointed because I thought that an English speaking manager was what we needed, I was wrong. What we need is a Manager that sticks to a way of playing and not keep shuffling the pack!

CommonSaint added 10:05 - Nov 5
Well it is true the players are not playing for MH interestingly the same has been said of Puel and MP. So how do we get out of it ? Lets face it three managers and the players don't play for them we could keep changing managers and the players still don't play. Give them the shake they need they play with no passion they should be proud to wear the Red and White of Southampton

SaintNick added 10:11 - Nov 5
Whiteknight having looked at the accounts from the last year of Cortese's reign which was a commercial income of £8 million and the last year available 2017 which was £23 million the price would be about £15 million I would guess,

If you look at the clubs of a similar size that year ie Stoke, West Brom & Sunderland they had around £15 million commercial income

But Man United have around £288 million, Liverpool about £205 million and even Spurs £110 million and this doesnt include European prize money which is big in the Champions League roughly around £40-70 million without getting to the final.

For clubs like Saints building Commercial income along with player trading is the way that we gain an edge on our rivals and our rivals are not the big six, they are far in front financially even more so now than back in 2017, (Liverpool £90 million from the Champions League alone)

We are succeeding in building up the foundations of the club but failing in player trading and that is the problem, not Ralph Krueger who relies on Reed/Wilson to do that, Krueger now has to look at what can be done about that.

I have given Yoshida stick because he has made mistakes, last season look at the Burnley/ Arsenal & Huddersfield goals to name but 3, all of which he was meant to be marking the player, five points dropped that would have seen us safely in mid table before xmas.

I have never blamed the fans, merely pointed out that a section of the crowd always have to have a scapegoat or two, it's not the fans fault that we get in situations such as this and last season, but they have to be part of the solution not the problem by getting behind the team.

I dont support Krueger I just look at what his job is and whether he is doing it, if Krueger fails to deal with Reed then he is not doing his job.

Screaming sack the board as some are doing is naive, who would take over with any experience, any football executive worth his salt is on a six month notice period, but lets not let things like that get in the way of hysteria


roamer added 10:19 - Nov 5
Nick, sorry, but you are repeating my post wrote by me 1 month ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was obvious for everyone who played football and know the game, that Hughes is completely inadequate and weak as a manager. Now, 1 month later, you are going to agree with "these supporters who should stop moaning and support the club". NO, Nick - this is you, who should start see the picture more earlier than the person in the tunnel who saw the train is coming in front of him just a second before it hits him!!!!!!!!

Whiteknight added 10:42 - Nov 5
Nick - thank you for your reply. However, there are some points that still need addressing:

1) This is not hysteria - some of us have been concerned with the downward spiral for more than 12 months now. The downward spiral has coincided with the Lander take-over raising its head;
2) The £15 million a year increase in commercial revenue is partially due to the actions of the commercial team but how much is David Thomas and how much is Kruger could be debated. How much is factors outside of their influence can also be debated;
3) Your article doesn't even mention Hoedt - who has scored two own goals in recent weeks. Why don't you give him the same stick as Yoshida? Is it simply because you have scapegoated Yoshida in the same way as some fans scapegoat Redmond etc.

I am not "screaming to sack the whole board" but there is a lack of accountability at the top levels of the club (from Chairman to manager) which suggests that there is no solution in sight.

My issue with a lot of your recent articles is a lack of balance and hard questioning of the club hierarchy, which, even if unintended, gives an impression of partiality.

DorsetIan added 10:45 - Nov 5
Well at least this result has injected a whole bag of spice into next Saturday's game. Got to assume that either a defeat or no goals scored would mean curtains for the quiet Welshman. Even our passive, procrastinating management team can't allow this nonsense to continue for much longer.

But we don't worry, we won't appoint Allardyce. They will go back to Plan A and try to find another up and coming manager, as they did with MP, and I say, yes please - but someone with a bit more oomph this time please!

luke47ni added 10:58 - Nov 5
Like many people I am frustrated with my team. In 50 years of supporting there have been highs and lows. We have often been in the bottom three. We have often been hammered, particularly when playing away. Until the last couple of seasons each map brought a glimmer of hope and expectation however and this was often repaid with a fine win or a glorious display in defeat. Yes, we often had to wait five or six games for that but it gave us hope. That hope and expectation has disappeared. Even the most happy of the clappers expect that a draw is a good result away. Home matches, which always were a joy until at least kick off are now preceded by the inevitable gloom of defeat . Performances are rarely outstanding. I can't remember the last one. Composure has disappeared and our finishing in front of goal is almost schoolboy. I could join the rest of you suggesting who should be sacked etc but I will leave this to others. I don't enjoy the matches any more and more worryingly , I can't even get excited before the match. I watch other so called smaller Premiership teams play and wish we show their level of commitment and resolve. Bournemouth and Brighton being good examples of how far we have fallen. Man City are a fantastic team and I love to watch them play but Saints ( as an entity ) are a disappointment and actually spoil my football experience and I am embarrassed to admit that.

saintjf added 11:26 - Nov 5
A lot of the players playing yesterday played last season. They were part of a team very nearly relegated. They are very weak in both defence and attack... or just confidence.
It would be interesting to see how Koeman would do with this inferior squad . Hughes would probably being doing OK if we had Mane etc still in the club but we don't. I had hopes for Hughes bringing stability to the club. I am very disappointed in the way it has all turned out this season. Although Hughes does not have much that is top quality to work with he is not getting anything like enough from the squad. It was the way we lost not the fact that we lost yesterday that is the problem.. The decline continues. If our two south coast premiership neighbours can survive why cant we. On your way Mr Hughes.

HythePeer added 11:51 - Nov 5
I thought Saints got a good result seeing they were only playing with 8 men.

saintmark1976 added 11:53 - Nov 5
Nick, can I respectfully point out to you that we have won only eight Premiership matches out of the last fifty one attempts. During that period three different managers have been in charge of the team but as far as I'm aware there has been no changes in the owners or their appointed employees ie Kruger, Reed and Wilson. Does this not tell you something? If not then I will explain it for you. Put simply any manager can only work with the players given to him by the management team. In our case it is abundantly clear that Hughes and for that matter his predecessors have been failed by those above him.

It's time for a root and branch cull of the management team who since their failure to retain the services of the Koeman brothers are responsible for our current dismal position.Until they go nothing will change. Sacking Hughes would simply be akin to putting a sticky plaster on a man having a heart attack.


Sanguin added 12:04 - Nov 5
Sorry to be pedantic, but I think you're confusing 'reticent' and 'reluctant'. I don't think it's reticence about admitting he was wrong that would make Les Reed reluctant to sack Hughes. I think they don't like sacking managers due to the instability it inevitably causes in the club. That and three successive managers have had problems getting the team scoring and given us some displays that were well below-par. I don't think you sack the manager after getting thrashed away by the League leaders.

saintjf added 12:20 - Nov 5
Yes saintmark1976 you are quite right. The real problems are higher up the tree than Hughes and they need to be fixed quickly. It is not Hughes who has got us in this mess. However I do not believe Hughes can get us out of this mess. He is certainly not the root cause of the problem.

SanMarco added 12:23 - Nov 5
I am interested to read the Nick - Whiteknight exchange but it feels like the sort of argument to have from the comfort of mid-table. I don't actually think that the financial stats are the key issue here. I lean more to the argument exemplified by saintmark1976 above and by many others. Namely that player AND manager recruitment have been very, very poor in the last 2 or 3 years.

After yesterday's horror story many will feel that we need a new manager to somehow squeeze enough points out of this squad before the January window. WHO WILL APPOINT THAT MANAGER? We will also have a vitally important chance to stregthen the team in January. WHO WILL RECRUIT THOSE PLAYERS? We are caught in a closed loop where the need to solve our problems means we need CHANGE but that those who will be implementing that change are the major part of the problem.

Complacency is the word I would use to explain our rapid decline. I remember Woopert thinking he had cracked it after one decent season - he embarked upon projects not related to player quality and down we went. This time we came sixth and everyone said how wonderful we were and the board members thought they had it sorted. Now we have the weakest first team we have had since promotion. With very few exceptions I cannot now think of many teams in this league with less star quality than us. Perhaps Huddersfield and Cardiff at most. This isn't primarily about finance it is about decision-making and strategy. Two and a half years ago we were a very good side - now we are a mess. Someone must be responsible. Yes, 'Hughes Out' by all means but for god's sake until there is meaningful change at the club that will, indeed, besaintmark's sticking plaster.


SaintBrock added 12:50 - Nov 5
This game proves how excruciatingly pointless the whole obscene charade of the PL has become.

When the small dog cannot even be bothered to fight for its life then you know there are insurmountable problems.

High time for the PL to be split into PL1 and PL2 each of 12 teams with only one up and one down. That way we would only have to suffer humiliation occasionally, that is even if we could make the PL2.

petedoors1 added 12:54 - Nov 5
Does the invisible Mr Gao realise that most of his £210 million investment in this club will be Lost if we get relegated? If so why has he not made changes to the Board and the recruitment policy? Les Reed took Charlton down and now he is going to take Southampton down. What good has Kat done in selling us to a Chinese man with no money? This was her way of taking us forward. We need a total clear out of the Board and need to get Paul Mitchell or someone like him back in charge of recruitment.

Braveheart added 13:07 - Nov 5
If we got hammered 6-1 by any team out of the top 6 then yes it would be a definite case of changing the manager. Lets face it people Man. City are unapproachable and unbeatable this season. We have only scored 8 goals since the start of this season, Aguero has scored 9 alone. I state my case again for Derek McInnes at Aberdeen. A class manager a motivator and a tough nut. I said last week, a change now is best not with 4 games to go at the end of the season. We lose against Watford and that must be game over for MH and his team! What good is the likes of Watson and Kelvin on the front bench? Get rid and get some class in.

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