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Saints At Huddersfield The Verdict
Sunday, 23rd Dec 2018 10:46

A team that the Saints supporters want ! Ralph Hasenhuttl hit the nail on the head after his second win in three games showed that Saints have the squad it just needed managing properly.

There is still a long way to go in this season and it will be full of more twists and turns, but Ralph Hasenhuttl has shown in little more than a fortnight that he could be our best manager since Lawrie McMenemy, yes I know that I said that about Ronald Koeman a few years ago, but Koeman's failure to grasp legendary status was all about off the field not what he did for us as a club.

But the difference in virtually everything about the squad was there to see at Huddersfield, it is nothing short of a miracle how players who looked tired jaded and de motivated are suddenly eager to play, they look fitter both physically and mentally, if Hasenhuttl can do all this in two weeks what can he do in a season.

This was the same line up that beat Arsenal, but it was a different tactical performance, there was less pressing and more about working hard getting men behind the ball and then hitting on the break.

Again at the heart of everything was Nathan Redmond, he opened the scoring latching on to a defence splitting through ball from Hojbjerg and lashing it past the keeper.

Just before the break it was two and it was Redmond again at the heart laying the ball for Ings who was brought down and subsequently converted the spot kick.

After the break Saints didn't have a lot of possession but they controlled the game, they seemed to know when to pass their way out of trouble and when to hoof it.

Huddersfield's moments where all of Saints making on the few occasions they failed to clear the ball properly, this will improve hopefully.

Just before the hour with Saints looking comfortable suddenly a goal out of nowhere, McCarthy had been having a decent game, but he completely misread the flight of the ball and was wrong footed.

But cue Hasenhuttl to change the game again, like last week he made the right subs at the right time, he firstly brought on Obafemi for his pace and to keep the home side on their toes and stop them pushing too far forward.

Then he brought on Lemina to shore up the midfield and offer more strength.

This paid dividends and again it was Redmond at the heart, he ran at the defence and forced an error, took the ball and rolled it into the path of Obafemi who made no mistake to send the red hatted hordes behind the goal into raptures.

Then it was just a question to see out the last twenty minutes and let the celebrations begin for yet another performance that had all that the fans have been crying out for since Ronald Koeman left.

A truly squad performance with the players looking almost unrecognisable than from a mere few weeks ago, this season is a long way from being over, but we can look onwards and upwards and not over our shoulders.

It wasn't last Christmas we gave Ronald Koeman our hearts it was a little longer than that and we have had a lot of tears since, but this Christmas we have truly given it to someone special.

Photo: Action Images

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SaintStu7 added 11:03 - Dec 23
Well said and hopefully we can have a rest from all the usual moaners on the site. Really looking forward to the next games not something I would have said a few weeks ago. Well done Ralph and great to show that there is no need to waste 20 million on over paid import when if you give the young talent we’ve got a chance they will be the next over paid 20 million player! I’ve all thought we had a good squad just needed a decent manager and a bit more support rather than constant moaning.

AndrewW_London added 11:07 - Dec 23
Thanks for a great article. Yes, the belief is back and after a truly miserable period under Pellegrino and Hughes we finally seem to have recaptured some optimism and hope.

As you say, there will be twists and turns to come and it will only take a few defeats to drag us back into danger. The West Ham game is crucial and we really need to continue the momentum by winning that match. Beyond that, the fixtures against Man City, Chelsea and Leicester will all be tough and we can expect to drop points in that period. But there is still every reason to be cheerful and I see a bright future under Hasenhüttl.

mgprobert added 11:19 - Dec 23
Exciting times, and nice to feel some pride, and excitement, at being a Saints fan again. The style is what we've craved, and just now the games can't come quickly enough for us fans. Signing Ralph really raised expectations, and he hasn't disappointed - he could be a Saints legend on the current trajectory...

But, I'm haunted by the comment someone put on the Saints forum yesterday - remember when Carvalhal came into Swansea and took them on a 5 wins out of 8 run ...they still got relegated. So, lets keep feet on the ground - but with one or two personnel changes out and in next month, we could be set for more exciting times ahead, for as long as we can hang on to Ralph - COYS!!

underweststand added 11:25 - Dec 23
About time we really had something to cheer about. A good away win, a debut goal for Obafemi and a long-awaited goal for Redmond. Danny Ings showing the type of form Saints fans expect from a good no.9 . Couldn't ask for much more for a Christmas treat.

However, perhaps most interestingly we started with a team without; Cedric, Bertrand, Hoedt, Davis, Elyounoussi and JWP, (internationals every one) and could even afford to leave Lemina, Austin and Long on the bench.....AND we played a match that featured four Academy graduates (at various times).

We can't be so naive as to expect that this side is good enough to play out the rest of the season, but it's vastly encouraging to see that even without the above-named players we can still go out and get a result. Huddersfield will need some sort of a miracle if they are to survive yet again, but at times they looked like the "old Saints " (pre-Hasenhuttl).

SanMarco added 11:33 - Dec 23
Two wins in a row - great for many reasons including the fact we always get much earlier verdicts after good results!! Let's hope that is something we will get used to in the coming weeks.

We are suddenly taking chances under Ralph and we are looking more dangerous. It is not 'moaning' to say we are still dangerously weak at the back. The argument that the squad was good and simply badly led never applied to the defence, particularly the centre of it. Early evidence under Ralph is that it may apply in other areas of the pitch, hence 6 goals in 2 games.

Those that claimed that a pressing game, properly put in place, would take pressure off the defence (not me I hasten to add) must be feeling quite smug. Of course it is early days but if we can keep scoring and take the load off the defence then we will stay up and hopefully move towards the middle of the table. Well done Ralph and well done those that appointed him. Imagine where we would be if he had come in last summer. I am really looking forward to find out his longer-term plans for our defence. Sort that out in January and we may have an interesting future to look forward to. I await further rumours about Ralph to Spuds or even Manure...

PS well done again Nathan Redmond - please keep proving me wrong.

saintmark1976 added 11:47 - Dec 23
I fully expect to be called a moaner but please let's have a dose of realism before we all get too carried away.

Since the new man arrived we have lost to a very poor Cardiff, but beaten an even worse Huddersfield and an under strength injury ridden Arsenal. I appreciate that you can only beat what is in front of you but think it wise to temper expectations a little.

Proof of the pudding as to how the board see the new manager will be how well or otherwise they support him in the up coming transfer window.


saintlee added 12:15 - Dec 23
Im just wondering how Mark Hughes must be feeling. He is looking on after getting the boot wondering why the same team he had are now setting the world on fire.
Simples !!! Man management, player fitness and tactical nous Sparky my ol fruit.
Not meaning to be disrespectful but its plain for everyone to see. Managers like Hughes are a dying breed. To a certain extent you could include Jose Mourinho in that bracket. Football is evolving so managers need to evolve too. Hughes is not capable of this hence the phrase ' dinosaur'. I think the days of recycling managers of this ilk could be over and probably jobs for them in the Prem will now be as rare as rocking horse pooh.

BuenosSaint added 12:22 - Dec 23
Fully agree with saintmark. Huddersfield were really awful and just Christmas gifted saints the 3 goals. There were times of pressure, and nervy defence particularly at 2-1 but we'll done the boys in red and white for seeing it through comfortably in the end. Onwards and upwards!!!

dirk_doone added 12:31 - Dec 23
I agree with you, Nick: the early signs are that Ralph could be one of our best ever managers. The way he has transformed the team in such a short time is incredible. Even after the first win against Arsenal, players and fans were already full of belief that we'd win the next game and we did. We can now look forward to beating West Ham.

You are right, we are only looking upwards now. Realistically, it's too late to grab a Europa League place this season but Ralph has arrived just in time to win us our second ever major trophy, the FA Cup. With this manager, like the players clearly do, you feel that anything is possible.

oldeastterrace added 12:56 - Dec 23
I am absolutely delighted with the last 7 days as a Saints fan. As Nick said in his 'verdict' we look totally unrecognisable from the side of two weeks ago. It is quite staggering how different we look in such a ridiculously short space of time, chalk and cheese doesn't compare to this! I was one of those 'moaners' referred to by Saint Stu above and to be fair there was quite a lot to moan about wasn't there! I stated on a number of occasions that the squad was not as good as some thought. Now I have to say on the basis of the last two games that we look a half decent side. It really is showing how bad the previous three managers have been! I 'think' there are still areas we could strengthen and I am sure Ralph will make Mr Kruger aware of this once he has fully assessed his squad. As Nick said there will be a few twists and turns yet, we 'will' come a cropper here and there but there is no doubt that we are on the right track with Hassenhootl in charge, you can see that this guy is 'the business'. We just need to be prepared for the inevitable 'departure' further down the line and have a plan in place for his successor to carry on the progress we WILL make under this guy. I am just going to enjoy watching this team develop under Hassenhootl, Just a tip off for you lot keep Saturday May 18th free.

davepid added 15:08 - Dec 23
Looks like the next manager of Spurs has made a good start to his Premiership career.

abingdonsaint added 15:26 - Dec 23
Best manager since Pochettino.

KriSaint added 16:11 - Dec 23
@ davepid

I have to say, I think your sentence "Looks like the next manager of Spurs has made a good start to his Premiership career" is very good humour! Humour is am important tool in life, and I honestly fear that your sentence could easily materialize....BUT, for now, let´s enjoy Hasenhüttl´s great work with our club as long as we can, and - when the time comes.......... - do whatever it takes to make Spurs fail in capturing him from us.
Great times ahead I truly feel, and it is very deserved, that we have captured such a gifted manager after having lost 2 good managers to Tottenham and Everton, besides all the good players that we have had to sell in recent years.
Think how fantastic it would be to win a trophy under Hasenhüttl - that would immortalize him, and I hope it happens.
Thank You, Nick, for a great article. This year we surely give our hearts to Hasenhüttl!
COYS! <3

DPeps added 17:16 - Dec 23
What a difference a Ralph makes.

The main difference is that RH brings positivity to our play. Under Pell and Hughes the players rarely looked confident in what they were doing, but that seems to be changing now. There will be ups and downs for the rest of the season, but I'm confident that the right man is in charge, and that's something I've not thought for a while. Bring on the Hammers!

davidargyll added 17:29 - Dec 23
I love this blog.
Three weeks ago everything and everybody was doom and gloom, now on the basis of three games we’ve got the next Poch as our manager !!!
GET REAL for Christ’s sake boys!!!!
Let’s not forget we’ve shipped 4 goals in the last three games two against our worst rivals at the bottom !!! But as I’ve said before hopefully our defence has at least now got a game plan even if it will take time for it to take effect.
Let’s give credit etc...
The best thing of all that is without a doubt is us not packing up when the oppo scores, and that change of mindset you really have to put down to our new manager.
Saintlee I couldn’t agree with you more about Hughes. He was always shit and I think we all now regret almost all his time with us the worst part of which will have been the huge cost of getting rid of him and the consequent amount we no longer have to buy a player or two.
I wonder where he’ll end up once he’s spent his £8million pay off...league 2? Or is that too tactically advanced for him??!!


lemmsy added 18:51 - Dec 23
Early days but for me we look so much sharper, mentally & physically..Not perfect but so much better & exciting to watch. Højbjergs thru balls for Shane last week & redmond yesterday were exquisite & even Vestergaard provided a clever ball for Obafemi.west ham at home should be a great entertaining game come what may.
One interesting point imo is who appointed Ralph ? Les reed had been sacked and we have no dof, looks like somebody deserves a lot of credit!

bstokesaint added 20:16 - Dec 23
I’m almost bored of watching Match of the Day again.. Okay, that’s not true. It’s great to see us playing well again and playing with pride, and it’s also nice to see players like Redmond get some credit after so much stick. He must have nerves of steel. Like Lemmsy said it appears like someone at the club deserves some real credit for this appointment. It’s more than 2 wins, it’s like the club and fans have suddenly woken up and reunited. This season has all but gone in terms of Europe, but now that we’re playing good football again there’s no reason why we should worry about relegation and really go for it in the FA Cup.

SaintMantis added 20:48 - Dec 23
Nicely worked Wham reference there. I suppose that makes Ralph Hassenhuttl George Michael, and all of us screaming teenage girls. Merry Christmas to you Nick, and thanks for your efforts over the year.

TeamCortese added 21:04 - Dec 23
Below was my view of the club's strategy last summer (the article is called "Saints To Launch Summer Squad Reshuffle").

I find it insane that we didn't go in for Hasenhuttl last summer. He was clearly available and we were definitely a more attractive outfit back then than we are now. I really hope the club back him in January and we do a mass overhaul in the summer with the squad as mentioned below.

I get the impression he already has players in mind that he wants. He should try to convince Ademola Lookman to join in January and get Cahill/Christensen on loan. That should be enough to get us out of relegation.

Nevertheless, I'll be positive and grateful that we've had our first back-to-back wins since April last year :)

"I think before we even consider wholesale squad changes we need to consider what the club wants? Is it year-on-year mid-table finishes or pushing for Europe? (or more cynically just survival).

If the former then we should definitely stick with Mark Hughes. He's done nothing short of a minor miracle keeping us up.

If the latter then we need to consider hiring a young manager with a solid track record. I think the following should be considered (in order of preference and being realistically considering us):

Slaviša Jokanović (Fulham Manager)
Željko Buvač (assistant coach to Jurgen Klopp and old teammate)
Rui Faria (former assistant coach to Mourinho since 2001)
Brendan Rogers (I know very ironic!)
David Wagner (currently manager of Huddersfield and also worked under Klopp)
Marcelino (currently managed Valencia to 4th but worth a punt with more money in the EPL)
Vincenzo Montella
Marco Silva
Ralph Hasenhüttl (Currently manages RB Leipzig. Highly unlikely but always worth a punt)

In terms of players we need to sell and buy but in as someone mentioned in a phased way. Here's my proposal:


Jan Bednarak (needs a solid season on-loan in the Championship or EPL)
Maya Yoshida (is getting older. may need to reconsider being a backup or be sold)
Ryan Bertrand (his head is no longer in it. I think he wants one last payday). Needs to be phased out with Matt Targett/Kieran Tierney as his replacement.
Steven Davis (too old now). Should be replaced by Shaqiri or Wilshere
James Ward Prowse (has been given enough opportunities. time to cut our losses)
Dusan Tadic (is getting older. likely to leave this summer. Should be replaced by Boufal or Boufal's replacement)
Harrison Reed
Carillo (should go out on loan)
Sam Gallagher (not EPL quality)
Charlie Austin (too injury-prone. may have to accept himself as an impact sub)
Redmond (too inconsistent and not strong enough on the ball)


Christian Benteke to replace Pelle (was never replaced!). Might need to consider alternatives but he's the best I can think of at this moment.

Adama Traore/Quincy Promes (both will bring pace and directness to our attack). Traore is younger and may have a better sell-on value in the longer term.

Hakim Ziyech and Shaqiri (replace Davis and JWP)

One (possibly two) Solid centre back with leadership qualities i.e. Harry Maguire, James Tarkowski etc.

Backup goalkeeper for McCarthy

Backup right back for Cedric. Maybe it's time to see whether Yan Valery can step up to the first team. "

schatfield added 22:26 - Dec 23
TeamCortese, good job we didnt get rid of Redmond and Bednarak then! Hughes was truly awful and Saints should not have gone down the panic button route of the 'old school trusted British manager' but I am sure they learnt their lesson from that now

Still do not see why so many of you favour Cahill....not that we could ever afford his wages anyway

TeamCortese added 23:01 - Dec 23
schatfield : I never wanted to get rid of Bednarak. I just thought he needed first team experience to be in the manager's long-term plans--especially if we get one (or possibly two quality centre-backs). I definitely rate him over Hoedt and Stephens but I'm wary of putting too much pressure on him too soon. Do I need to remind anyone of what happened to Gazzaniga...

I have always rated Nathan Redmond's ability. My main issue was his negativity while playing under Pellegrino i.e. passing the ball back constantly, not committing defenders that sort of stuff. The very fact that Guardiola had to take him aside last season spoke volumes about the type of philosophy being employed by Pellegrino.

Nonetheless, fair plays to our board for getting Ralph H. I honestly thought he was beyond our reach given our position and his success in the Bundesliga. Let's hope we don't mess this one up as we did with Poch and Koeman. Look at how Spurs are trying to retain Poch. Our board needs to play hardball with Ralph when the time comes.

I genuinely think we can put ourselves in contention for the top 7 title next season once he's had enough time to get us to safety.

This club should be competing with the likes of Everton, Leicester, West Ham and Wolves. Our squad is decent enough to get a top 10 finish under a decent manager but needs major polishing with our attack and defence.

Nonetheless, bring on the Austrian Klopp! :)

davidargyll added 07:05 - Dec 24
Not sure I agree about what you say TeamCortese re messing up like Poch and Koeman. Poch was lured away by a bigger job - sorry to say Spurs always has been (and for the foreseeable future always will be) bigger than us, end of; whereas RK misled us, swearing undying love then kicking us in the goolies. What Spurs has now done is give Poch a 5 year contract. Do you really want the Board on the basis of just three games to give RH such a deal? Er not exactly good business or even good football sense..,

SaintPaulVW added 09:56 - Dec 24
Although it was a good win against Huddersfield, they didn't seem to be in the right place. We also made loads of the same old errors but our confidence shone through again. Great to see.

It will be interesting to see how we do against the next 3 clubs. The 6 at the back system in defence is going to be interesting when there is more attacking threat and the midfield is being overrun. Though I agree that the same style was used to different effect in both the last 2 games. It will be interesting to see how Ralph changes it fordifferent teams. I think we need to move to 2 CB's but the personnel aren't there yet. Using 3 CB's gives more confidence to the players we have but it leaves us short in midfield to disrupt attacks before they get into the final third.

Hopefully the boost in confidence will also mean strikers become more clinical and less worried about trying to just get a shot off. Obafemi and Ings seem made for this system.

Aside from Davis going, to raise a bit of cash and free up the wage bill, I would probably sell Gabbi and Boufal. Clearing out a few out on loan is probably a good idea. Would still like to see Carillo be given another chance. Agree we overpaid but he was given no time to settle in.

Be interesting to see if Ward Prowse and Ely thrive under Ralph. If he can get them up to speed like Redmond, Bednarak and Vestergard it will be an extra boost and give us something different.

Solid progress for the 2 full backs, Yoshi and Hjobjerg were good, only Armstrong was a bit flat for me.

Solid performance against a poor team and hopefully a step on the way to putting a poor season right in the second half.


SanMarco added 10:51 - Dec 24
I think SaintMark1976 and one or two others are right to counsel a wee bit of caution. Because the first post mentioned 'the usual moaners' it set the tone for a Ralph love-fest and why not in many ways. WE have not had a great deal to be happy about in recent months so why not celebrate. Even so two wins do not make a season and our defence is still very weak. The club must not be complacent and think we don't need a good CB in January. Hopefully Les Reed took complacency with him when he cleared his desk.

PS Happy Christmas to everyone and let's hope that moaning will be a thing of the past in 2019. Anyone that has never moaned over the past 18 months or so is truly a Saint in all senses of the word as far as I am concerned.

BoondockSaint added 23:05 - Dec 24
Glad to see players chasing the ball and putting pressure on the keeper. You can get a couple of goals out of that every season......Goodness knows we have given up a few like that!

Happy Christmas to all!

Now, all together, a rousing chorus of "Good KIng Hasenhuttl"!

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