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Southampton 3 v 3 AFC Bournemouth
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 27th April 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints V Bournemouth The Verdict
Sunday, 28th Apr 2019 09:38

Saints reached safety with two games still to go in a game that squeezed the entire good and bad of the season into 90 minutes.

For periods of this game Saints played with a freedom and fluidity that bodes well for next season, indeed the first 20 minutes of this game was as good a attacking display as seen all season, however the problems at the back as well as the late goal issues continue to dog us, this was a game that we really should have won and won well.

In mitigation it has to be said that we had injury issues meaning a change in formation from a three to a back four and this would cost us dearly.

The team played well but there is no leader or more to the point organiser and this was never more illustrated than when Bournemouth equalised on 20 minutes, up to that point we were a goal up and pouring forward with wave after wave of attacking play, but then suddenly Bournemouth broke and we were exposed and the game was even.

A leader at the back would make sure that when attacking we still covered our rear, but this didn't happen and we were a shambles desperately trying to plug the gap and the tide of the game turned.

In fairness to Eddie Howe he made a tactical substitution on 23 minutes and you have to applaud him for that and it paid dividends, suddenly the Cherries having played their get out of jail card were a different team and they took the lead just after the half hour mark through Callum Wilson, the worry was it would get worse.

But Ralph Hasenhuttl is no slouch either he brought on Matt Targett at half time and Saints looked to be back in charge of the game and after James Ward Prowse equalised with a smart shot from outside the box a great run from Jan Valery saw a superb hanging cross met by Matt Targett who headed home.

Danny Ings contribution to this goal should not be underestimated, he won the ball back on the edge of Bournemouth's penalty area and played an easy ball that started the move that led to the goal, this type of play doesn't figure in statistics and is easily overlooked and forgotten, Ing's may not have scored but he made a significant contribution.

From then on Saints were in charge and surely would not give it away, up to the 86th minute that looked the case when Stuart Armstrong got the ball and well in Bournemouth's half tried to run cross field with it, there looked to be no danger at either end when he was robbed of the ball and suddenly Bournemouth had numbers pouring forward and our defence was at six's and seven's and the game was level again.

It could have got worse, Jack Stephens under no pressure tried a long cross field pass that went straight to Callum Wilson who sprinted through and it needed a great save from Angus Gunn one on one to make sure that Saints stayed level.

Only sour point was late in the game when Charlie Austin went into the corner with the ball and received some abuse from fans, on the first occasion there was no one in the box for him to cross to, there would have been more moans if he had hit the ball in to no one and the visitors had quickly counter attacked and scored.

On the second occasion it was clearly under instruction, having thrown away the game earlier and news of the score from Fulham filtering through it was a case of securing the point and being mathematically safe.

No one could complain this game was not entertaining, for Saints it highlighted both the good and bad, we were both exhilarating and abysmal in one game, but as I have often said Ralph Hasenhuttl took a gamble in January by not spending money on panic buying and that gamble has now paid off and we can now start the rebuilding as the Austrian confirmed in his post match interview.

It is now time to look to the future not to the past, of the two teams out there on Saturday, Bournemouth did what they have always done for the last few seasons, the question is can they do it again next season ?

For Saints the future looks brighter after all this result had been achieved by a team ravaged by a lack of quality at the back and on this day Injury meaning that we effectively had to play our fourth choice central defender and it showed, the same old issues were present in this game, but hopefully won't be next season.

In the last 12 games we have conceded goals in the last four minutes of the game in 7 of them costing us 8 points, just in this period the points dropped would see us 12th.

Thank God we don't have to endure the last two games we had to last year, we are safe now and come the final reckoning we probably crossed the line a fair few weeks ago.

This game showed we have the core of a good side, there is not a lot wrong with it that the signing of a good experienced leader at the back along with another striker could not change, Ralph has revived us, he can now rebuild us !

Photo: Action Images

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saintmark1976 added 09:55 - Apr 28
In my opinion your best and most balanced verdict of the season to date Nick, thank you.

Yesterday reminded me of the last game at home before Koeman departed. Happy players, manager and fans.We all know what happened then. I only hope that the owners have the good sense to invest in the manager this time around.

KriSaint added 10:13 - Apr 28
Thanks Nick, well written verdict.
We played some of the best football we´ve seen all season but didn´t win because we conceded 3 goals.
Redmond still needs to work on his finishing. He hits the target too rarely.
Amazing that 2 defenders in front of Wilson were not able to block the pass from Fraser that lead to the 3-3 goal.
Well done RH. Good match managing. Great attacking football.

halftimeorange added 10:39 - Apr 28
I completely agree, a reasonable summary of yesterday and the problems that have plagued us all season. Armstrong's misjudgement I can forgive as he needs more game time for us to see the best of him, in my opinion. On the other hand, Stephens careless pass is not the first example of his cavalier play and, nice bloke though he may be, he shouldn't be playing in the EPL. His error could have cost the Saints millions and he is not a risk the club needs to take. You are right, Nick that we have the makings of a decent team. Gunn looks to be a good buy, Bertrand still has class, Vestergaard has improved of late, Bednarek shows how good he might become and Valery could be our next star (or saleable asset, depending how you view things). In the midfield we have a useful four in Hobjberg, a back to form Romeu, Lemina (surprisingly benchwarming yesterday) and Armstrong. Up front, Danny needs a Pelle to feed off and Nathan coaching to improve his choice of pass, dribble, cross or shot as he is dangerous but, so wasteful. Of the rest that are well tried, McCarthy, Yoshida, Targett, Sims, JWP and Long are useful squad players if we cannot afford to replace them however, Forster, Charlie, Jack Stephens, Gallagher and the real failure, Elyonoussi should all be moved on.

SaintBrock added 10:58 - Apr 28
By the match it becomes glaringly obvious that even Hutch will not be able to make a silk purse out of this lot and what really annoys is that people like Stephens, Ward Prowse & Armstrong are stealing a living yet we won't be able to get rid of them in the summer.

Now we have another frustrating transfer window to endure but I'm not confident that anything much will change.

inthebox added 11:24 - Apr 28
Long's open goal must sink the moral of any defender. JWP stealing a living? what more can he do than score? Stephens, Elyonoussi and Armstrong will move on.

saintsnutcase added 11:30 - Apr 28
Nick has obviously been dead right for the last 2 seasons about the centre backs. However, the last few games have also demonstrated that we lack a defensive organiser with pace in midfield. It is far too easy to break from deep against us. Romeu is ok to break up play when the midfield is congested, but does not have the pace, positioning or awareness to block counter attacks starting from deep. JWP also lacks defensive pace and is a far better player going forward. This is one of the reasons why the centre backs look so bad.


SanMarco added 11:32 - Apr 28
Good verdict. I am sure we will have plenty of time to debate and squabble over this season and prospects for the next one over the next few weeks so all I am going to say is: 'Well done Ralph'. A hypothetical survey of Saints fans' views of our prospects the day before Hughes was sacked would make very interesting reading. How many of us would have put our life savings on us being safe with two games to go? Not me for sure. Ralph has proved that managers can make a difference.

Consigliere added 11:36 - Apr 28
I agree with previous posters, this is a very well-written and balanced article and accurately sums up the game and our season.

The only thing I have to add is the unexpressed view that a draw rather than a win was Yoshi's fault.

(Yes, I know he wasn't playing, that's my point).

RobtheSaint added 11:38 - Apr 28
Just an example of the lack of leadership was watching Solanke completely unmarked for the first five minutes or so when he came on. Nobody seemed aware of him which could have been costly.

TimSaint added 11:46 - Apr 28
All well and good pointing out our defensive frailties and other costly errors that we have been aware of and experiencing all season, but it should also be noted that we don't kill games off. In the first 20 mins we should have been 3 up - before Bournemouth even had a shot. At 1-1, Long inexplicably hit the post with an open goal gaping. Ings tried a flick with only the keeper to beat, instead of taking a touch of rounding the keeper.
We are just not clinical enough and then sit back if we are in the lead - ala Watford and so many others this season, invite pressure and usually concede.

2 new centre backs this summer please, along with a midfielder, a winger and a striker - and a clear out of a dozen fringe / not up to it players !!

schatfield added 12:52 - Apr 28
Good game (if not nail biting) but how bad was Ryan Bertrand. Lost count of how many times he jogs around without getting involved, dodged out of tackles and really acted like he shouldn't be there. He seems to be an auto starter for RH every game though.

helpineedsomebody added 13:40 - Apr 28
do they want assets on the field or money in the bank

we wiil find out in the summer

RH the 4 midfielders you have are untouchable top 10 standard

yoshi & shaky stephens put out to pasture

redmond player of the year ings great football brain

+ we have some very good footballers coming back off loan

i would keep the 3 goalies

valery has played well this season

i would buy a fast centre forward + 2 centre backs

2 mistakes +an open goal miss cost us a win


highfield49 added 14:03 - Apr 28
I think that I understand the point you've made Consigliere but I'm at a complete loss trying to understand what difference Yoshi would have made to yesterday's result. Would he be in your starting line up next season? He's been a loyal servant to Saints but I honestly can't see RH having to think too long about him moving on if a club offers a few million towards the transfer funds. Let's be honest the club would be crazy to think that he is the future any more than Jack, Charlie or Sam to name but three.

underweststand added 14:23 - Apr 28
Good report Nick, but you failed to mention how badly Yoshida played ... Oops he wasn't in the team - was he. Never mind - but sadly it was Jack Stephens at fault this time.

Amazing to see Shane Long clocking up a goal tally so late in the season, but his shot against the post was just another for his "How to miss absolute sitters" training video.

Great goal from Matt Targett with a rocket header that many strikers would have been proud of - didn't give Boruc a chance...AND young as he is, Yan Valery seems to improve in every game after a slightly rocky start at RB.

Useful result in the end with both sides capable of winning /losing an entertaining game.

A goodly number of excellent performances so far in 2019, considering that barely 3-4 of " Ralph's team" were first-choicers during Mark Hughes' time in the Autumn....AND he didn't run out and buy anyone in January either. Did OK with the squad we have.

Now expect to see Ralph start planning for next season, and he may even "experiment" with changes in the side for the remaining two games. He's surely made his mind up about most of the players he's seen already, and maybe give a chance for one or two more U23-ers to show their paces ......Roll on August.


AmericanSaint added 14:58 - Apr 28
Everyone has their opinions, but I love how people's memories here are so short. We do not need two new center backs. Remember when everyone was raving about Benerak and now people want to replace him. Vestegaard has been improving over the last 6-8 games and people want to throw him out. Oh wait were are you going to get two top-class center backs - at the local TESCO? People here need to get real. I have no idea why Ralph plays Stephans in center back as he was originally a right-back. He almost cost us the game. Yoshi should have been playing.

Next - All blame for their 3rd goal lays at Armstrong's feet. Why the hell he came across midfield with the ball is beyond any reason considering he was unmarked and had time to play it down the left wing.

Then - I know people are blaming Long for missing that sitter, but you try to do a reaction kick within less than a second of the ball coming back at you. I know he problems about goals and I am not defending him but come on. "TimSaint" is right - this game should have been 2 or 3 before Bournmouth had their goal. So, we need a true striker in the summer.

Next - all the JWP haters out there. If you have not seen the difference RH has made in his game, then you are blind. He is finally playing two-way football. While he is not a perfect midfielder, he provides enough that makes his game time worth it.

Finally - after all the moaning about who needs to go etc., the only real thing that needs to be learned from the organization is will they give the money needed to go buy us a proper striker, center back and right wing? I have a bad feeling our owners have become like Newcastle and we will not get any real money for transfers and then RH will be gone by the end of next season. I know this is football and its business, but I gave my warning about the new ownership and the problems that it will have and the majority of people here were happy that Ms. L sold the majority. I hope that I am wrong but I am not holding my breath.

saintjf added 15:35 - Apr 28
Highfield49. Agree totally ref Yoshi. A well liked loyal backup squad player. Certainly not the future.

cocklebreath added 15:58 - Apr 28
Get rid of Fraser, gallagher, Austin, ellynoussi, Hoedt, classie, hesketh, Carrillo, Boufal, stephens. Reckon we might raise enough for a good striker and a commanding centre back. Hopefully Obefemi can push on next season.

Farmhouse added 18:29 - Apr 28
For me, would love to see Boufal be given another crack, he is the ONLY player in the squad that can offer something genuinely different. The Premier League has very small margins between winning and losing and we have no real differentiator between ourselves and 10 other teams. In a tight game when you need one moment of magic, we don’t have anyone that has that X-factor ability. Thinking on the lines of Anderson at WHam, Zaha at Palace Or Almiron at Newcastle.

To add to the list above, we have to get rid of Long, not of the required standard, even the weekends goal needed a deflection. I would rather Long be moved on and Carillo getting a go, cos I can’t see much interest in buying him, benched now for Leganes now I see. Get rid of Sims as well, not good enough either.

Saturday’s match was pretty much the first Saints game I have seen that has entertained me for a good few years. Commitment, skill, attacking intent, was brilliant to watch, RH is a certifiable genius. Roll on the new season.

Saint_Chunk added 00:03 - Apr 29
Well written, great analysis of the position.
Has Long become the striker we sign ?
With MO back next season ?
Someone at the back ?
Maybe two .
But in Ralph we trust.

Consigliere added 09:51 - Apr 29
Highfield 49's point deserves an answer so here it is:

1. Overall I think Yoshida is currently our best defender
2. Even if he is not having a good game, the team is better for him being in rather than out as he is a cohesive force and holds the team together
3. He is a threat to the opposition from set pieces and usually worth a couple of goals a season
4. He never gives up and will play to the final second of the game

Does he represent the future? No, I agree, but he is coming to the end of his career here and will slow down as Jose Fonte did and get clumsy but he ought to be kept as a utility defender and a stabilising force in the team.

Jesus_02 added 13:02 - Apr 29
The thing people do not recognize about Yoshida is that apart from a regular run with Stephens he is in and out of the team. I would say that any defender coming off the bench "has a mistake in them" He wouldn't be in my starting line up but he is invaluable as a squad player.

underweststand added 16:25 - Apr 29
to San Marco.. ..YES managers DO make a difference.
Like many on here I've NEVER been a MU fan, (and you can't see my smile from here) but we now see that Ole Gunnar's reign at Old Trafford has turned badly sour. WHY?

The MU Board failed to take notice of the fact that the whirlwind start he had was (for the most part) because (1) ...the players were glad to see the back of Mourinho and (2) that many of the wíns they clocked up were over teams in the bottom half/ drop zone -since when they comeup against tougher opposition and flunked it.

Now we'll see the traditional annual sight of United blowing £200 million on a new crop of "wannabees", whilst Ralph is likely to spend considerably less - and who amongst us would put money on who will finish higher in the Prem. next season ?
We might not finish top 6, but unless United put up better show we may be within range.


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