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Southampton 2 v 2 Manchester United
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 1st December 2018 Kick-off 17:30
Saints V Manchester United The Verdict
Sunday, 2nd Dec 2018 08:34

Mark Hughes team selection smacked of desperation, but it almost worked out, almost but not quite.

The team sheet made interesting reading ahead of the clash with Manchester United, it was all change at the back and I have to say that when a manager starts picking players wholesale who haven't been near a place in the starting line up for weeks, it can tell you a lot of things, mainly that he is desperate and out of ideas.

But the problems at the back didn't change, appalling defending cost us dearly once again after a great start.

The scoring started on 13 minutes, Nathan Redmond went on a great run that saw him beat several players and bring the ball from the touchline into the penalty area arc, he laid the ball to Obafemi who in turn found Stuart Armstrong who fired home.

Seven minutes later it was two as Cedric put in a free kick from distance that Le God himself would have been proud of, at this stage Saints looked a different side than the one a week ago at Fulham, but sadly the game followed a similar path as a week ago and again it changed course in a brief period just before half time.

The BBC website blamed Yoshida for a half hearted challenge that allowed Marcus Rashford to pick out the unmarked Lukaku who fired home, then it was Rashford again who rode several challenges and should have seen his cross blocked instead of finding Herrera who cleverly flicked the ball past McCarthy.

What this showed was that it may be different defenders but i was the same old poor marking and a failure to be first to the ball too often.

The good news though was Saints didn't crumble they dug in and made sure that it didn't become another embarrassing defeat, Lemina was immense in the midfield winning the ball and refusing to be bullied, Nathan Redmond seemed to be at the heart of everything going forward and Obafemi and Valery played without fear and had the enthusiasm that youth can have in a football team.

We can take several things from this game. firstly we do have the players, we just haven't been playing them right, two weeks ago Stuart Armstrong was being hailed as a failure and one of the examples of por recruitment that cost Les Reed his job, in the last two games he has looked the bargain of the season if he can keep it up.

Secondly our central defenders are not up to it and haven't been for over two years, our downturn started when we failed to replace Jose Fonte and has continued, if Hoedt is not the answer then neither are Yoshida and Jack Stephens and perhaps Vestergaard who at least should be given the opportunity and may yet like Armstrong start to prove his critics wrong, but at the back we get caught napping too many times, both United goals should have been prevented, they say the first yard is in the head when you are a good defender, ours are too slow to react in either mind or body and this is a big problem that needs proper money spent on it in January.

But one point is better than none and it provides hope going forward, Unted may be in turmoil themselves, but they are still better than all but five of this division and in that respect this was a good point.

There is still a long way to go this season, in other seasons 9 points at this stage would see us well adrift, but the reality is we are within one win of 14th and if we could have held our leads against both United and Fulham we would be sat there this morning four points above the drop zone.

But we aren't and we can't change that, what we can change though is the season going forward, for me the answer is simple in January if we sign an experienced central defender who can lead from the back in the way Fonte did, then we stay up with ease, if we don't we will keep on letting in soft goals due to lapses in concentration.

It is easy to rant on social media about how bad the club is and make cheap jokes, but that helps nothing, this result can be built on, it has to be built on !

Photo: Action Images

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saintjf added 09:05 - Dec 2
Dead right on ref the central defence. If Hoedt had played like Yoshida yesterday we would never hear the last of it. Some great Saints performances against and enjoyably bad Manchester Utd performance. Best chance to be that lot in a long time but our defence is woeful.

mattthelegend added 09:09 - Dec 2
When will Bednarek be given a chance????

underweststand added 09:55 - Dec 2
What a great start..... nice assist from Obafemi and Armstrong showed how to finish properly. Cedric's first Prem. goal was worth waiting for, but those woeful ball-watching episodes continue and we gifted them 2 goals through poor marking as Lukaku and Herrera appeared like Superman from the movie and left everyone else standing still with only McCarthy to beat.

Second half was better and rather like the Leicester game there were times when we looked better than Utd going forward but without the chances to convert into goals.
So yet another home draw but there was always the feeling we might grab a late goal as United had nothing to offer up front. Mourinho's excuses don't disguise the fact that Saints aren't the only Prem.side with problems but United have a few more points to cushion the shock that their mediocrity plainly shows. They were just a group of spoilt, overpaid footballers wearing Man. United shirts.

Our injury list is beginning to look dangerous and Lemina and Hojbjerg are both near /on a 5 card suspension. Not a good prospect with a visit to Spurs on the fixture list for Wed.

BUT....encouraging performance that may yet save Hughes his job --for a while longer.


Consigliere added 10:33 - Dec 2
Much better, obviously, and probably enough to keep Hughes in place for a few weeks longer but still not good enough. As a big Yoshida fan I regret to say that he had a poor game and was probably responsible for the first goal (though the fault wasn't his alone) but I think it was inevitable anyway and had been coming for some while. The core issue remains one of confidence. For long periods of the game the team was flying but the first goal against us knocked us back and instead of using it as a rallying cry to press forward, the midfield and forwards started to come further and further back not our own half until the inevitable second.

Credit to the team in the second half however for getting forward again and on another day we might have sneaked a win - great strike from Redmond that would have beaten a lesser goalie. The high press is uncharacteristic of a Hughes team and I suspect that this was the players rather than the manager's idea but it works and it should be used again, so Hughes needs to get them really fit because it is an exhausting way to play. If he can't do this then he really does need to go.

Consigliere added 10:34 - Dec 2
* "into" our first half, not "not" - blasted spellchecker!

KohSamuiSaints added 10:44 - Dec 2
Ever since Katrina sold £200 million pounds worth of our and St Marcus’s football club we have nosedived ... we were marching on on on and now seem to be back tracking waving a white flag...
All I am wanting is to get us back on track and honour Marcus’s legacy .. this needs to start with a clean slate and some decent money and decent signings.Start at the top Katrina ... look what’s happening and think what your farther would want and accept...
And if your wondering what that might be , I will give you a tip...
It isn’t working as it is ...pull the fingers out and make Marcus and our club proud and not embarrass us anymore than you have

SanMarco added 10:58 - Dec 2
Lemina was my man of the man and I thought other than in defence we showed some promising signs. Redmond is better this season but he still never scores. I like Armstrong and Obafemi has to be given a chance although he feels like another one who may not score very many. Good work for the first goal though. Manure were indeed wonderfully bad so we shouldn't be getting too excited about a point. Even so at least we held on comfortably enough. Spuds will be far more of a challenge and Lemina who limped off is now on 5 yellows anyway.

The situation at the back is dire. Yoshi has been the centre of many debates in the last couple of years but Fulham and last night should be pretty definitive evidence that he isn't up to it at this level. But that only answers one of the two Yoshi questions. A lot of people believe he is one of our best two CBs and Hughes would seemingly be in that camp. This is pretty damning: our BEST CB not good enough for this league - and we have four others! Kane, Delle Ali and, our usual nemisis, Erikson will all be rubbing their hands after watching that. Make no mistake this is a Les Reed legacy. The Cardiff and Huddersfield games are now as huge as they come. It may take a superhuman manager to organise our woeful defence and that aint Hughes on all the evidence.

1970 added 11:36 - Dec 2
I was pretty sure we'd get nothing out of Utd despite how bad they are, but credit to saints they stuck at it and got the luck of not conceding a third, with the defenders we have we are going down there are no combinations that can actually defend Hoedt and Yosh are complete ball watchers that are forced into rash decisions,bednarek and vestergaard are as slow as time which leaves stephens who I personally think is not a defender at all but may be a right back but again cant defend for tosh I'd play hoedt and bednarek as best of a bad bunch with romeu in front of them against spuds ,may be we can surprise people again coyr,

lemmsy added 12:00 - Dec 2
Two points I need to make here,
Les reeds legacy was not all bad .many seem to conveniently forget all the brilliant signings over the last few years and secondly it was Marcus liebherrs business I plan to buy players, improve them & reinvest the actually selling the clubs ‘family silver’ was his plan.
For me the problem has been some of the reinvestment has gone awry (some) & I personally felt sacking puelle was wrong. I stated at the time, be careful what you wish for!

saintlee added 12:19 - Dec 2
Good performance going forward last night. Same old same old at the back though even though i thought Valery was very good.
I however for the life of me cant understand how after 7 games for us Carillo is out on loan. I would like to see him back at Saints. Hes a big strong target man who is a different option to what we have. How can he be judged on 7 matches after coming from a different league. Surely he needed time to settle in. I find it ridiculous he was disgarded so quickly after paying £19m for him. Gary Cahill in January anyone ???

LanzaSaint added 13:05 - Dec 2
As soon as Mourinho switched Rashford to the right, he began to open us up like a can opener. If me and my son could see that we needed to switch to a back four; why, oh why, could not Hughes?!

DPeps added 13:05 - Dec 2
In fairness to Hughes, I thought the team selection made some sense. Yoshida is our only defender with pace, which we needed for Rashford. As for the CB debate: in my view, Vestergaard was as culpable as any of the other defenders. The guy has the turning circle and speed of a lorry. Interval sprint training needed.

Picking Obafemi was also a sensible move, given that he's a relative unknown, and provided pace against the Utd defence.

However, that's where my praise for Hughes ends. The same old problem of hanging onto leads persists, and I think any mentality shift in the players has to come from the manager and his team. Hughes doesn't seem able to break this curse

DPeps added 13:08 - Dec 2
Oh, and time to start playing Gunn? If nothing else, to provide some healthy competition for McCarthy

lemmsy added 14:07 - Dec 2
Got to agree with saint lee on Carillo, many players rake a season to adjust to pl,
Also agre on Gunn.Mcxarthy was fantastic last season when he came in but this year appears nonchalant .Rashford didn’t open us up in the second half & both goals could have been avoided with strength as much as oace

aceofthebase added 15:26 - Dec 2
Good team selection by Hughes and I hope that it was not all injury inspired. The team worked hard and still playing for the manager. Some players like Armstrong have come on immensely, others are just not good enough. The defence was very flatfooted and were torn apart by simple moves. Who is the best of an average bunch of CBs is difficult to say.
Cedric must be praised for a wonderful free kick. Why didn't he take the other two freekicks? He has proved to be a better forward than a defender. He must have lost his right back position to Valery.
This was a good performance and the fans were appreciative of the efforts of Redmond. We can beat other sides performing like this.

aceofthebase added 15:26 - Dec 2
Good team selection by Hughes and I hope that it was not all injury inspired. The team worked hard and still playing for the manager. Some players like Armstrong have come on immensely, others are just not good enough. The defence was very flatfooted and were torn apart by simple moves. Who is the best of an average bunch of CBs is difficult to say.
Cedric must be praised for a wonderful free kick. Why didn't he take the other two freekicks? He has proved to be a better forward than a defender. He must have lost his right back position to Valery.
This was a good performance and the fans were appreciative of the efforts of Redmond. We can beat other sides performing like this.

stmichael added 15:39 - Dec 2
All defensive combinations are utterly useless.
Championship at best.
Gary Cahill or relegation..

ronniedavies added 17:49 - Dec 2
Meanwhile...Carillo smacks in another two goals for Leganes this weekend.
Get him back we have no attacking flair with current crop of old crocks!

SaintPaulVW added 18:04 - Dec 2
I agree with a lot of this. We looked really good at times yesterday and there is a pretty good base to build from but we do need a target man and a solid centre half.

Midfield looks good and Obafemi needs more game time. Redmond has really come on.

I start December encouraged. COYR.


halftimeorange added 19:26 - Dec 2
Bad points first - I thought Obafemi looked lightweight and easily knocked off the ball - get Carillo back if we're paying his wages. Vestergaard is seriously slow but, he did improve in the second half and made a few decent tackles. McCarthy flapped several times at crosses and his punching was suspect. Hobjberg was captain but, sadly, he had one of his poorer games this season. Redmond went on a number of pleasing mazy runs then did nothing with the ball at the end of it. Too many shots were from ridiculous distances. and hardly likely to trouble DeGea. Cedric scores from the left with a right-hand shot. Why didn't he take the kicks on the left-hand side as he is plainly two-footed.
The good points - Valery was efficient and largely ignored Redmond's moaning. Hojbjerg's voice could be heard all through the game - Bertrand please take note. I thought that Stephens had a solid game and I prefer him to Hoedt. Armstrong showed why we bought him and he looked as though a partnership was forming with our one really gifted footballer, Lemina who, for me had his best game for Saints, never giving up.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised, having arrived expecting a drubbing and leaving wondering how we didn't win having reduced some of their players to mere sideshows. The defence needs bolstering urgently.

KriSaint added 19:52 - Dec 2
Most encouraging game of late!
Are Saints in possession of the option to take Carillo back in January, or do we have to wait until summer??
We need more striker power, as the recipe for winning seems to be to score more goals than we concede, as we concede almost every game because of our heavy assed defence....

DorsetIan added 20:40 - Dec 2
We had an encouraging away draw at Man U last season, and a similar one at home to Spurs, and neither heralded any great improvement in 'easier' games, so I am not getting too excited just yet.

Agree with others who say that Spurs' defeat today will help us, but let's see what the final score is up there. Avoid defeat there and beat Cardiff at the weekend, and maybe there's still hope for Hughes. Heavy defeat at Spurs, or defeat at Cardiff and he's got to be toast.

DSM added 02:49 - Dec 3
Agreeing with you, DPeps (I'm your new danish friend! :D ). Vestergaard slow in more than one way, and I too would like to see Gunn playing - did we really buy him just to make him an expensive backup? When will he start getting annoyed?
And please, don't any of you think that a point against a bad Man Utd justify Hughes! HE CAN'T WIN FOOTBALLMATCHES! (Excuse my English!)

Sanguin added 09:39 - Dec 3
Yes, Yoshida did poorly in both goals but Vestergaard was the worst culprit for me. For the second goal he allowed Rashford to get past him easily, then jogged slowly back watching the ball; the only way they score in that situation is from attacking the near post, one of Stephens or Vestergaard needs to anticipate that danger and cut it out.

SaintBrock added 12:08 - Dec 3
No doubt the new manager will want all our players back for assessment including Carillo & Boufal. How that happens is anybody's guess, if these players are on season long loans will he be allowed to recall them? Hopefully there is an escape clause and he will.

My guess is that we haven't seen the last of Sofiane in particular and a new manager may get him purring, we need creative players like him even if they are a bit selfish. Cristiano was never a shrinking violet was he.

Hopefully Austin and Long will soon be off-loaded

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