|Southampton 1 v 1 Huddersfield Town|
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 12th May 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints At Feyenoord The Verdict
Monday, 29th Jul 2019 08:13
Saints continued their winning streak by beating Dutch giants Feyenoord in Rotterdam, but Ralph Hasenhuttl will have spotted just where he needs to improve his squad.
Ralph Hasenhuttl intimated pre match that he would be looking to play his starting XI well into the second half and making gradual changes, however that did not prove to be the case and at half time the Saints boss made 10 changes with Jannik Vestergaard being the only player to complete 90 minutes.
This was a game that seemed to have two sides who looked good going forward but awful defensively, Saints took the lead on 6 minutes when Che Adams scored again early doors capitalising on a bit of pressing causing dithering in the home defence and Adams slid in to toe poke home from close range.
The game settles into a pattern with both sides looking dangerous going forward but looking likely to concede every time they were attacked, indeed it could have been four apiece by the time Feyenoord equalised on 23 minutes and when Yoshida scored on 35 minutes I had lost count of the number of chances that had been either spurned or saved by the keeper on both sides.
At half time Hasenhuttl rung the changes and Feyneoord stuck with the side that had finished the half after two enforced changes through injury.
This looked ominous for Saints with the bulk of the side being either youngsters like Jake Vokins and Will Smallbone, fringe players who have played little part of late like Harrison Reed or those who the club are trying to move on such as Sofiane Boufal, Wesley Hoedt and Cedric.
The game was still open but Feyenoord had the upper hand and Saints only started to get a better grip of the game when the hosts made their last 3 changes stating with 25 minutes to go.
The second half was as open as the first with chances missed and saved at both ends and although Saints had to dig in they sealed a just about deserved victory in the final minute with Sofiane Boufal showing what he can do by rounding a couple of defenders and firing home.
Ralph Hasenhuttl will be pleased with the result but not so happy with the manner of the performance, yes of course it can be said that this was not a full first team and that it was mix and match especially in the second half, but the old problem still remained, we lacked a leader at the back with a bit of composure and pace, too often they carved us apart and we had poor finishing to thank alongside smart saves from both keepers used to thank for the fact that we didn't concede a lot more.
Feyenoord are a good side in the Dutch League, but that is far below the quality of the Premier League, in the first half we played what many would say is the best back three from what we have in Yoshida, Vestergaard and Bednarek, but as a trio they are not good enough, they showed that last season and they showed this at Feyenoord, individually they have their own qualities but as a trio they are unbalanced and lack the pace to deal with counter attacks and the organisation at the back, something has to change.
The good news is that Ralph has time to get it right, bringing in a new central defender will help matters, but if they can't land the right man then they have to look at what else they could do.
Wesley Hoedt had a good game in the second half and the defence looked slightly stronger and this may become an option, if it does then we have to hope that Ralph can improve Hoedt as he has done several other members of the squad and we should trust him in his judgement.
Another good win for Saints, but the truth is that the achilles heel from last season is still there and needs to be addressed.
Photo: Action Images
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Although not an avid collector, I recently catalogued my collection of football memorabilia and I have 175 items, mostly programmes, some fanzines, and a few ticket stubs which aren’t accompanied by anything else. I have no idea how many more may have been misplaced during house moves, clear-outs etc., but the collection spans nearly 30 years (the earliest is the programme from our 1990 Boxing Day game against Barnet at Layer Rd), and is almost universally Colchester United related (though not quite all of it). I have decided to try and put this to some use, by choosing one at random prior to each match and writing a short article about the match, maybe the programme, and even any personal recollections I have of the game (notwithstanding enforced enfeeblement due to excessive libation). I will try and do this ahead of each game this season, but my apologies in advance if I don’t quite achieve that.
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