Saints At Leicester City The Verdict Sunday, 13th Jan 2019 10:47
It was a patched up Saints side ravaged by injury & suspension but the one thing that was not missing was fight and Saints dug in and deserved what was a precious win that lifted them out of the bottom three.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was missing Bertrand, Lemina, Ings & Obafemi through injury, Hojbjerg and Austin through suspension and Yoshida to International duty, add to that the departed Gabbiadini and that is 8 less than he had to choose from a week or two ago.
That meant that only Cedric on the bench had any significant Premier League experience and Elyounoussi the only other true top flight experience elsewhere.
Indeed of the other 5, Slattery had yet to make his Premier League debut, Ramsey had played only once and Sims, Gallagher and Gunn 6 starts between them, perhaps the most inexperienced bench in Saints Premier League history.
The first shock of the day was the change in goal again with Alex McCarthy returning, this was a strange decision in that Angus Gunn had looked good in his two game run in the side and if McCarthy's original dropping was felt harsh by some, then this was harsher, but Ralph Hasenhuttl is a man not afraid of making changes.
The game started well for Saints though they looked strong in the early stages and were good value for their lead on 11 minutes when Shane Long hustled and bustled chased a through ball he had no right to win and was hauled down for a penalty.
Saints were now firmly in control and attempts on our goal from the home side were non existent aside from one scrambled effort that Bednarek cleared well before it reached the line and the fans were soon showing their displeasure with their manager.
But perhaps the game turned when Yan Valery blatantly dived in a way that must have had Jamie Vardy applauding in admiration, that riled up the home side and put Valery in the referee's sights.
That meant a soft first booking that cost him and the team dearly on the stroke of half time when he was sent off for a second red card in a handbags at dawn incident.
But there was one final act before the half time whistle, a long clearance saw Long chase down another lost cause, shrug off one defender and then from a tight angle slot the ball past Schmeichel who could only get a hand to.
The second half was predictable, it was mainly played in Saints own half and it was truly backs to the wall and dig in, a performance straight out of our mid 90's relegation dog fights.
hat is a compliment in that back then our sides had character and fight, we stayed up because of that and we have that again instilled us by Raplh Hasenhuttl.
We would have lost this game before the Austrian's arrival and indeed at any point in the last 2 1/2 years, we might have a few weaknesses still in the squad, but we will cover that with the spirit showed at Leicester and the increased fitness levels that kept us going right to the end.
Leicester had 72% possession, they had 23 attempts on goal, but they had only 6 on target, their scrambled goal, Bednarek's clearance and a diving save from McCarthy were three of them, despite this possession the home side rarely turned it into anything that troubled us due to our resolute performance.
Strangely I think the sending off helped us in a way, Leicester rely on getting Vardy in behind the defence, we had to st so far back that there was no space for that, they couldn't expose our lack of pace and we dealt with everything else.
It is hard to pick a man of the match, this was a true team effort, the BBC had Jan Bednarek as their man of the match, Shane Long would also be a contender for the way he tirelessly battled as the lone man up front and won the penalty and scored the winner.
Long has had major stick from some corners, but yesterday he played his part, just as he did at Crystal Palace in the win there, his detractors have been quick to forget that criticise them, hopefully they will not be able to do the same with this game.
Ralph Hasenhuttl seems to have a very strong squad ethic, it is about unity with everyone playing a part as he showed when bringing on Callum Slattery at a time in the game when we were expecting the final onslaught.
On reflection we saw that out with the ease that we had handled the previous half hour, it didn't feel like that at the time though, but this was one of those games that you go week in week out for to say you were there, the euphoria at the final whistle was made all the sweeter by being there through some awful performances earlier in the season, we kept the faith and now that is being repaid, it is now about having faith in the likes of Shane Long to battle in every game, if they do then we have nothing to worry about.
All things considered, a good second half defensive display with a superb back three CB's. Our record at Leicester almost as bad as at Everton (just 1 win in 12) - before yesterday. Considering this was the "bare bones" left from the squad, we did very well.
Shane Long's best game in ages. How can he score from such a tight angle yet miss sitters from 6 yards? At least it may silence his critics for a week or two. A good all-round performance from everyone, although Valery must learn not to fall so easily, AND to cope with "Prem. pro's" who can "bait" young players so easily.
Hopefully we'll have more players to choose from by next weekend, but this game may become legend (everything considered) and may yet be the beginning of the end for Claude Puel's times at Leicester.
A welcome and unexpected result where for once, and not before time we had the rub of the green. Particularly in regard to the Long goal when his shot was touched by the keeper. Had it not been, it looked for all the world as though it would have missed the far post.
Has there ever been a more odious footballer than Steptoe who has been diving for season after season? True to form he tried again yesterday with a blatant swan dive but once again escaped any form of punishmen. Not of course forgetting his malicious foul on VVD who at the time had him in his pocket a couple of seasons ago. He truly is a disgrace to his profession.
Great performance and effort from all. Long got his rewards for his passion. Bednarek outstanding again with Stephens and Vestergaard showing we are just one top quality CB short for our squad. 3 at the back seems to work best for us. Have to say, after being a bit critical of JWP, he showed a lot more fight so maybe Ralph is the man to bring the best out of him. He’s a central midfielder not a wide player.. Armstrong lively again and Redmond growing up which is improving his effectiveness. He seems happier as do all the players, better organised and fitter. Good report Nick but I think blatant dive is a bit harsh on Valery, you will see contact on replay just not enough for a foul, unlike Vardy and Maddison who constantly dive.. Confident we will be nowhere near the drop come May. Onwards and upwards!
We should name that day 'The long day' because at last all the tireless running and teamwork finally paid off for Long to score and listening to the commentary the last 5 minutes were nerve shredding, a great win with a make shift side poor old puel will go if he hasn't already coyr
I agree with the greater part of this verdict but I didn't agree the writers sequence of events that lead to Valery's red card.I may be wrong but I don't believe he was booked for the diving incident. His 1st yellow came as a result of the handbags issue, the 2nd was for a quite gentle push on an attacker just outside the pen area. The home crowd were on his back by then and that may well have swayed the refs decision.
To add to my post match comments yesterday, having seen the highlights this morning i have to say I like the way Valery stood up to a more experienced player than him in Chilwell who, lets not forget, is somehow an international player-yes, it didn’t help us yesterday but, in hindsight, I think it shows that he really has something about him and is an ideal replacement for Cedric.
What a result, didn’t see that coming. I must admit I looked at the odds of a Leicester win (6/1) and draw (10/3) at half time. I was so convinced we’d blow it, but wasn’t tempted to ease the pain at those odds. I’m glad I didn’t.
Positives for me that it was another good game for Redmond. Long finally got rewarded with a goal (albeit with a little help from the keeper) for his endless endeavour. JWP reminded us how a penalty should be taken and obviously we held on for a win with a weakened 10 man side.
I’m still not convinced with Valery. I think he’s a bit of a liability right now. Appreciate he’s young though. In his defence I don’t think he really dived (and Nick he wasn’t booked for that). Vardy showed us what a dive is!! Little cheat. Glad the ref wasn’t fooled.
Not the time to critizise, BUT, for me, Valery´s sending off is not the only negative thing I can say about him after having observed him in several games this season. He seems to be a kinda old school full back with limited skills going forward (including limited pace).
But ok, he is physically strong and positions himself ok in most situations (NOT in the West Ham game) + he is quite good in the air for a full back with his height , but, till´ now, nothing special about him at all, apart from his age, in my book. I hope it will come :-)
My friend, who is a ManU supporter, tells me to give him time, which I will, of course. He compares him to ManU former right back Mike Duxbury, who played for ManU in the 80´es and 90´es. Duxbury entered the scene as a very young RB and was given plenty of time (30-40 games) by Ferguson to find his feet in the team and show what he could do and convince everybody (including England manager at the time, Bobby Robson).
Leicester are in decline so it was probably a good time to play them. Selling their best players, others ageing and a manager who has changed their style of play to the point where they have become less effective at what they used to be very good at. Very Saints like of recent times.
Hasenhüttl is having some effect on the team no doubt about that but putting finger on it is not so easy. Bad habits are still on display with most players while there has been no noticeable improvement in individual skill levels or passing accuracy. Yet, results are coming. Players may be marginally fitter and have greater belief in themselves and the team but are these factors enough to change our fortunes.
We are told it is a game of fine margins but our game is not yet at a high enough level that incremental changes would make any difference. Can our surge last? If we can win convincingly nest weekend then we may be able to breathe a little easier, for now the jury is still out.
NIce technique by JWP on the penalty. I'm not a fan of his frees and corners, but that is how you should take a penalty: hard, fast, and in the corner. Let him be first choice on penalties from now on. (And get him into the weight room!)
I don't bear any malice towards the man, but this was typical Puel game when he was managing the Saints!
Fall behind early on two goals your team should have avoided. The goals are scored by opposition players how haven't scored in ages. Get one goal back, but don't throw on more attackers, even though the opposition is down to 10 men. Lose to a team that on paper you should beat easily.
Still, his team this year is safely in mid-table, so there is that difference......
Hope this result is a big confidence booster for Long and all the Saints. It shows they can grind out a win.
Saintbrock, don’t see where the negativity is coming from. At the start of the game with that line up I didn’t expect much. So fair play to the manager and team for getting a result from what is historically a difficult place for us. If we’d of lost we would all be saying, same old saints crap defence, no goals in the team blah blah , but we didn’t, yes Leicester maybe a team in decline but still managed to beat Man City and Chelsea a few weeks ago. So a bit of credit to the team for that.😇😇
Fantastic win, defended really well. Didn't really look like conceding again after their goal. Credit to Shane Long, he was knackered by the time he was substituted, really put a shift in, but so was Redmond as well when he went up front on his own, they really gave it their all. Loved it when Ralph came over to the Saints at the end, he is clearly endearing himself to the supporters, perhaps a bit early to be patting the badge, but love his passion. 'Ralph Hausenhuttl's red and white army'!'
Disagree on your Valery assessment. Chilwell stood on his foot; it should have been another penalty not a dive. But he was clearly riled by Leicester reaction & and went high on Chilwell for which he was rightly booked for (Chilwell for the handbags). Chilwell then took him out, with no further censure. Two minutes later with the ref still watching, put his hands on an attacker, a very soft pull back, but warranted second yellow. Naive and can have no complaints. Just hope he learns.
I hardly think Long has proved the doubters wrong. He runs around very gamely and that second goal was the sort of thing he does well but his goal scoring record, for a forward, is appalling and I am not sure this one was going in before the goalkeeper diverted it...
I think Valery showed his immaturity in allowing himself to be suckered into a second yellow - thought the first was a bad foul that deserved a yellow but the second one was very silly (and was probably a bit harsh). He will, hopefully, learn.
Whatever Ralph is doing it is having an effect and what we need now is a couple of decent signings to help us keep edging forward. Let's learn from the West Ham game though. Lose these next two home games and we are back to square one.
Yes I agee with most points but for one vital one. Which is that we had LUCK yesterday, particularly with Shane’s goal (which, let’s not kid ourselves, was deflected but, hey ho, who cares?!), something which infuriatingly has deserted us quite a lot recently. But that is an important key to Ralph; besides being tactically astute and having the ability to teach the defence how to defend, he is also clearly a lucky manager...and that is worth a shedload of points. But don’t let’s get carried away, luck always cuts both ways, although I do expect it to go more our way from now on under our man in black...
Good point about us finally getting some luck, Davidargyll Don't know if you play golf, but most golfers will tell you, you make your own luck. With hard work, team ethic, effective coaching and a real game plan we are definitely making our own. So hopefully not something that will turn against us again so easily
Can anyone remind me what this so called "Southampton Way" is. Is it to have a player like Charlie Austin who waves two fingers at spectators and ends up getting suspended by the FA for his petulant, yobbish behaviour? Lets get rid, he is clearly not prepared to comply with the "Southampton Way" by putting the teams resources at stretching point. Young Valery, Needs to be told what the "Southampton Way" is which should include no cheating or diving , again putting the team resources at stretching point during his 3 match suspension. Where are the so called backroom staff that should teach him better? Hojberg should really know better. Ralph should increase his people skills and clamp down on these prima donnas. and punish them because they are letting the whole team and the fans down and putting us at further risk of relegation. I'd like to see the back of Austin, he isn't all that. Something has gone wrong in the system that tells a youngster like Valery that diving is part of the game. There is obviously person(s) at staplewood who are not doing their job.
This was a fantastic away performance. The type we haven't seen for a long time. Guts, determination, resilience, organisation, togetherness.... I could do on and on. You definitely create your own luck in football and we deserved it. Well done Shane Long, you've got to admire his attitude.
Ralph is doing an amazing job! This is the same set of players that were rubbish for Hughes and we were all saying we need 3 or 4 top quality players just to stay up. I honestly think if we didn't sign anyone this month then we'd still finish comfortable mid-table. We've got one of the best managers around and we'll only get better and better under him. We could be pushing for top 7 next year! Onwards and upwards!!