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Saints At Fulham The Verdict
Monday, 26th Nov 2018 10:40

The big question being asked by Saints fans walking out of Craven Cottage was "How the hell did we lose that" the answer was simple a complete lack of leadership both on the pitch and on the bench.

For the first 33 minutes of this game there was going to be only one winner, we were a goal up and having perhaps our best display of the season up to that point, then suddenly Fulham caught us out not once but twice in similar circumstances, getting down our right crossing the ball across the six yard box to find one of their players completely unmarked and the game had completely turned on it's head.

For the first 18 minutes after the break we got another good goal from Armstrong and again there looked only one winner, but again we shot ourselves in the foot, three players being culpable, the first Hoedt was probably the least of the trio, he tried to keep possession rather than hoof it up the line and got caught out, but losing the ball out on the touchline is a long way from goal and you would expect any team to deal with that, the ball was quickly crossed, it found a Fulham head with his marker Yoshida a yard off him and unable to make a challenge, it was flicked on to Mitrovic who found himself with plenty of time to volley home Cedric also being a yard too far off his man.

At this point there was still plenty of time to far home, but the goal broke us, we had no leader on the pitch and were now a shambles, three goals had been shipped due to schoolboy defending and it had decimated the team.

If the players looked to the bench for help it was not forthcoming, Hughes answer was to bring Charlie Austin off, no one was really arguing with that but why did he bring Elyounoussi on ? this had repercussions in the final 10 minutes when he wanted to throw on Obafemi, truth was that he had to take off Armstrong a player who was playing well and leave on Elyounoussi in the feint hope that he might come good.

Saints did not play badly, indeed for the first 33 minutes in the first half and the first 18 in the second it was as good a display as we have seen in a year, however it was the same old story of poor defending at key moments, Fulham only had 5 attempts on target, yet 3 went in, all unmarked from in or around the six yard box, it happens every week.

Why does it happen ? as I said there is no leader on or off the pitch, no one who keeps the team calm and focused at key moments and keeps them going during the tough periods.

This is why small errors suddenly get compounded by more small errors and cost us dearly, the third goal was a good example of that.

Something has to change, in the squad itself I don't think there is too much wrong that a key signing would not put right, assuming of course that it is a good one.

But if we keep on going as we are we will go down, I cannot see how Mark Hughes can continue, his record is awful and there is no sign of that changing, the club have to find a successor first or at least that seems to be their way of thinking and think they are doing that, but truthfully they need to do it now, Les Reed was sacked for several things, one being his choice of managers, having sacked him for that, surely there can be no confidence in Hughes in the boardroom, they have to act decisively and act now.

Photo: Action Images

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saintstu1969 added 11:24 - Nov 26
This is my first post on this website after just reading it for such a long time.
You are right about leadership on and off the pitch and the board must act before it is too late. I feel PEH should retain the captain's armband as he is far more vocal than Ryan and that is very important in a game and to keep their resolve & concentration.

Armstong should get a run in the side after his performance but Hoedt needs to be dropped. Please stop defending him and suggesting he it the future as it is obvious that he is not...….yet. Do you honestly think that Maya & Cedric were going to anticipate that he would make the error for that 3rd goal? He should clear his lines by getting the ball up the park as his confidence does not allow him to play out of defence & that is what they were expecting. if they are always expecting the worse from him then that in itself will add to the pressure.

He has played every minute this season but needs time out of the team & this should have been done a while ago & this again is down to Hughes.


saintmark1976 added 11:34 - Nov 26
At last Nick, after endless months of telling us "that it will be all right on the night" you appear to have had a "light on the road to Damascus" moment and are starting to see what the majority of posters have been telling you for what feels like forever. We are a total and utter shambles of a club from top to bottom. Yet still you persist in telling us that there isn't too much wrong with the squad.How on earth do you form that view when the record shows that under three different managers we have only been able to win eight out of the last fifty three Premiership fixtures?

Lack of competitive investment by our Swiss and Chinese owners of both Sky and previous transfer money has given us a squad riddled with serial under achievers in every position.It matters not who the manager picks from one week to the next. Frankly you could select the team by putting twenty five names into a hat and drawing lots for all the difference it would make to our results. Sacking the manager won't now achieve any improvement because as I've posted previously you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear.


SaintPaulVW added 11:34 - Nov 26
I agree with most of this. Hughes has had long enough and failed to identify his best team. Despite some of the performances being good we still lack either a last ball in attack or the ability to shut up shop in defence. CB's Cant be bothered to point fingers but they all look as bad as each other for this. Cedric looks like a winger trying to defend, made one goal but was totally ineffective in defence. Targett didn't really show enough to displace Bertrand.

Hjobjerg, good, Lemina loads of skill but nothing to show for it. Redmond looked good, pinged in loads of crosses but as always a mixed bag. Obafemi needs game time at this level.

Armstrong carried on where he left off midweek. Hopefully he can build on it and become the tadic replacement we thought we were buying.

Hughes needs to go now so that any new manager has time to assess the players before the January transfer window. The board need to get ready to cut some deadwood and reinvest in the squad with some good proven Premier League players.

I'm not despondent more frustrated there is a nucleus of good players there but poor recruitment and the lag for players with no Premier League experience getting up to speed has finally caught up with us. Need to spend a bit more money to put it right quickly.


SanMarco added 11:39 - Nov 26
I am sure leadership on the pitch may be an issue but my feeling on Saturday was not that good defenders were making 'avoidable' errors but poor defenders were doing what they will usually do when the going gets a little bit tough. No manager or 'leader on the pitch' in the world will take that defence and make it a good one. Fulham simply had to defend just well enough and then catch us not defending properly.

It is also important to note that the other side of the coin - our attacking frailties were also exposed. Yes, two good goals from a midfielder but yet again the guys whose main job is to score were not scoring. Gabbi early on missed a sitter, Austin didn't get close enough to the ball to do anything, Redmond never scores and as for Elyounoussi at the end...Even Obafemi should have done better after a good pull-down near the end. It is not fanciful to say we could have won that 4 or 5 - 3 with better attackers.

I totally agree that we looked a decent side for long periods and it was actually an entertaining game but the weaknesses that led to the many errors rather spoiled all that for me. Huddersfield showed us yesterday what a side without real quality can do. Our players need to learn that - Huddersfield scored the same number of goals that we did...

BarnetSaint added 11:57 - Nov 26
Nick, you say there is not much wrong that a good signing would not put right.
Unfortunately, "good signings" cost money and we have been lumbered with an invisible owner, who does not have a bean. A legacy of kat liebher, eager to sell the club for her own financial gains and irrespective of what was best for the club..
As it happens, if a decent manager can get this lot playing to their potential, we would have enough to get out of this mess.
But the current manager and coaches have installed fear and failure into the team. Going a goal up means certain defeat. Its criminal.

saintjf added 12:09 - Nov 26
Yes SanMarco we have been over taken by Huddersfield. Saints are now equal bottom on points having lost to the bottom club Fulham. I am not sure how many more alarm bells have to ring before action is taken to replace Hughes who is clearly and sadly not up to it. This must remind Hughes of his position at Stoke last season. Stoke looked a pretty good team on paper and still went down.

codge added 12:18 - Nov 26
Although l totally agree Hughes has to go until you can put a team out that knows how to defend it will be the same week after week.Problem also is that who if any decent central player are going to come to a club in such disarray.Plus we are so top heavy in that position that no one would want to take them of our hands.

Boris1977 added 12:27 - Nov 26
The big question is will a new manager get more out of these players than Mark Hughes? The game on Saturday reminded me of when we lost at home to Forest in 2008 - a game which sent us down in terms of mentality and losing against relegation rivals. The same issues with different managers has been happening too long now. Pretty despondent as we had such a great team to watch until the family silver was cashed in over and over again. Other teams will learn from our lesson. COYR

bstokesaint added 12:31 - Nov 26
I genuinely can’t see a quick fix to this shambles. The third manager in a row is struggling to get the squad to play for each other. We clearly lack confidence and leaders. We’re on target for 23 points, but I really can’t see us even getting that right now. I’ve accepted relegation is pretty much an inevitably this season. And if I’m honest I think we need to see the positive impact this will have. We need to start over and rebuild. There are far too many overpaid average to poor players at this club. As a lifelong Saints’ fan I’ve put up with a lot over the years, but apart from our near drop from existence this is the most miserable and just completing despondent I’ve ever felt. It feels like we’ve sold our soul to the devil and are now paying the consequences.

wibbersda added 12:44 - Nov 26
Ship 3 goals from newly promoted, bottom of the table team...oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Looks like we'll be playing local derby next season then!

davidargyll added 13:20 - Nov 26
You lose football matches and/or get relegated because you let goals in, not because you don't score enough - remember Boring Boring Arsenal...? And that is Hughes' major problem; I refuse to believe that he isn't trying, it is just that he never was and never will be a defensively knowledgeable manager. If he was, how come his managerial stats are such shit (he has won 228 matches, drawn 156, but lost 224!!!).
That said, he clearly is a dead man walking, but the Board are not complete idiots. Why do I say that? Well Reed and Hunter got tintacked at what, let's be honest, was a strange time. Which makes me think that there are people lined up to replace them. And assuming that is the case, it would be madness to appoint a manager before appointing your Director of Football/Vice-Chairman. Imagine the chaos if the new manager was appointed first and he didn't get on with the DoF. I reckon there's a lot going on behind the scenes, it'll be a couple of weeks yet but it will be soon, and I am convinced the new Dof will have ideas about a new manager too.
I may be barking but I am more optimistic than most...

redwight added 13:24 - Nov 26
I suppose MH has to go, but how does any new manager/coach teach strikers to take chances and defenders to maintain concentration? Even Pep would struggle to achieve that.
For what its worth, Cedric has never been a reliable defender, and that goes all the way back to his debut at Newcastle when the 5 live commentator described him as lightweight and easily bullied. True then and true now.

sandywelsh added 13:30 - Nov 26
We now have a team full of crap players that we have amassed over the last 3 years. These players would struggle to win a game in the Championship so the future does not look good. It looks like its down and down again no matter what manager we have the players are not good enough. The Board needs a major clear out and we need an owner who likes football with money to invest in the playing side of the club.

Consigliere added 13:34 - Nov 26
If not now, when?

ItchenNorth added 13:56 - Nov 26
But the question is; will David Moyes do any better !

Colburn added 14:13 - Nov 26
Can’t sack Hughes yet, cos there’s nobody there to sack him..! Reed goes and the replacement will be in by January..? Sounds like they made a decision without having the solution ready on this one. Now there’s no director of football ana as Davidargyll says what happens if we sack Hughes, bring in a new manager and then the new Director of football has other ideas on the manager..? We are becoming the laughing stock again, stuck in limbo, sliding downhill with no brakes. Well done Gai, Katherina and Freddie for playing a game they have no clue how to play.. Armstrong will score more this year than Tadic last year in half the games. But Ings aside, championship strikers and a central defence with no clear working partnership. Maybe reverting to 3 will help as Cedric can’t defend and Bertrand happier when attacking. Bednarek didn’t let us down last season, he will be a leader and needs to be involved more in my view. He has the fight. I’ve said it before but youth in the side refreshes and reinvigorates the seasoned campaigners. Bring back Hesketh and get Obafemi more minutes next weekend. Utd defence struggles against pace

BoondockSaint added 14:50 - Nov 26
Saints have been in a downward spiral since Pelle and Mane left.
(Who Nick said were "easily replaced").

Since then, the whole culture and reputation of the club is that it is a transfer lounge for foreign players to get into the league, get their working papers sorted, and then move on to the Scouse.

You can't expect players to play with pride for the team when there is no sense of pride in the team from the owners or the board.

As many have mentioned in previous posts, we are now a "poisoned chalice". What manager of any quality would want to come here? A bunch of strikers who can't score, defenders who can't defend, and a board who's only motivation to sign players is with an eye to how much profit they make by selling them for in a year?

djtsaints123 added 15:11 - Nov 26
I hate to tell you all this there is a manger who could save us if we react before window closes Big Sam, as much like probable the majority I am no fan of his tactics he is what we need. He would get a centre back would shore up our defence.. Leaking goals is what breaks/loses confidence every saints player (probable Fulham as well) knew when we scored we would concede normal routine followed as we conceded two, then miracle we score two goals in a game but never fear our defence three involved plus two midfelders not close enough to stop cross give away a third.
So reality check big sam or relegation, remember how bad Everton were defensively when we scored four, we need a manager with premier experience a pocket book of contacts who is defensive minded and gets points any way he can it wont be pretty.
If our numbskill of a board think otherwise see you in championship which I don't believe we will get out of.

saint66 added 15:32 - Nov 26
M/s Leibherr,Krueger,and Reed sold all of our class players to attract a business man?, to purchase 80% of the club for a reported £210 million.
This payment was made we are told with borrowed money which is now a debt around the neck of Southampton FC.
The club still has to find £20 million for the purchase of Ings should he decide to stay.
Add to this toe pay off for the removal of Reed and the previous two Managers,and I do not think Saints can afford to remove Mr Hughes,or entice a quality Manager to join the club.
We have a board of directors whose only interest over the last four years has been to sell all the assets,without any thought of the supporters who have supported this club for years and they have transformed it into the worst club on the south coast and the laughing stock of the primership.
Until this board employs a director who has a football background I feel it will continue on a downward spiral with the current lack of leaders,ambitions and knowledge of football.

davidargyll added 16:12 - Nov 26
Sorry to post again but all this nonsensense about all our owners want to do us buy players to sell on. Do you really think Gao would have ploughed £150m plus (for80% Don’t forget, miss piggy still has 20%) into a business that he was planning to make worth <£50m (if we get relegated) within a couple of years??!!! If so you are not living in the real world!!!
But most if not all the players we have sold wanted to go when Liverpool etcal came calling. If you buy something for £1, reckon it’s worth £2 a year or 2 later and someone offers you £3 you are a twit not to sell. Players are wasting assets and they also have a habit of losing value with injury etc. We are after all only doing what Sir Alex did at ManU but with rather lesser lights.
I’ve said it before, but a good manager will be able to make our OK set of players into a good side. MH can’t because he isn’t a good manager. And yes Sam would do the job pro tem but I do think Krueger er al are a little more advanced in their thinking than that ...

DPeps added 16:18 - Nov 26

Jeremy Wilson is supposedly the closest journalist to Saints, so I'd assume Hughes isn't going yet

aceofthebase added 16:48 - Nov 26
CEDRIC is useless and his mistakes cost us the game. repeat after every game.

Jesus_02 added 17:08 - Nov 26

Fonte didn't want to come to saints Cortese convinced him. Under him we sold 1 player that we wanted to keep. That was Oxlade Chamberlain for 10m when we where in L1!

If you are a leader with vision then people will follow. If your vision is to create a conveyor belt of players people will leave as soon as they get a better offer.

Its not just the players it everyone from the tea lady up.

SanMarco added 18:20 - Nov 26
davidargyll: It is not nonsense to say that as Mr Gao has borrowed the money and put the debt onto the club (ie in effect a reverse takeover) he can profit from the sale of assets and run the club down. If the club ends up worth 10m and owes e.g. 150m (Gao's loan) then it is the club that goes to the wall not Gao - he doesn't owe the money. If he has benefited from the asset stripping then he comes out on top. It is actually the way Trump got to the top - useless and crooked businessman in many ways but knew how to play the corrupt system. The most interesting question is why Kat thought this was a good thing for the club.

I would guess that it wasn't Gao's intention to squeeze like the club a lemon and walk away with the juice but his silence means we are all guessing. What is undoubtedly true though is that extra money isn't flooding in from the owners coffers - combine that with the total mess in the transfer market /contracts in the last 2 or 3 years and you end up with the word relegation. If Cortese was to come back we wouldn't need his 'vision' we would need him to bring another Marcus...

DPeps added 18:22 - Nov 26
The idea that our squad just needs one 'key signing' is at best wishful thinking, and at worst is totally delusional. Even if true, this idea relies on us being capable of purchasing someone brilliant, who wants to come... and in January!

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