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Why Kevin Danso Has To Play Against Liverpool
Wednesday, 14th Aug 2019 09:12

It will be a big asking for new signing Kevin Danso to make his debut against the free scoring Liverpool attack, but he has to play after the debacle at Burnley.

The manner of the way we conceded the goals at Burnley highlighted that our problem is still in the centre of our defence, that is something that you don't need a rocket scientist to be able to work out.

Indeed this has been the problem now since January 2017 when Virgil Van Dijk got injured and Jose Fonte left after several months of sulking.

Since then we have lacked leadership and organisation in the centre of defence and the defeat at Burnley proved that the problem is not going to be solved by those who are already at the club, or at least have already played for the first team.

I'm sorr for the likes of Jack Stephens and Yoshida who are undoubtedly good club men, but time and time again they have been found wanting.

It is not just leadership and organisation though, it is also about getting in tackles and blocks and too often we do not do this, compare Burnely's back line to ours, they threw themselves into tackles and blocks even in the last minutes when the game was won, but we as the first goal showed just do not do that, Jack Stephens had got goal side of Ashley Barnes but failed to even try to block his shot let alone do so.

Indeed the only player who did so of our three central defenders was Jan Bednarek and that has to change.

Therefore although Kevin Danso has no experience in the Premier League and is young, we have to try something different against Liverpool or the same things will happen again as it did up at Turf Moor and indeed in many games in the last 30 months or so.

We have to stop playing Russian roulette where we are relying not on our own defensive skills, but on the shot not being fired after the trigger is pulled, sometimes we get away with it and sometimes as at Burnley we don't when what could have and should have been a reasonable performance with at least a point was completely ruined by three slack goals.

It is easy to look at the result and go into meltdown about the quality of our team, but the truth was good battling performances in difficult conditions from most of the side were ruined by poor defending that saw 3 goals go in from only 4 shots on target, we gave them all three goals !

So Ralph Hasenhuttl has to do something different, if I were him I would be scouring the players out of contract at the moment for a good experienced central defender we can bring in to sort out our lack of organisation at the back, but he is unlikely to do that before Saturday.

One thing out of the conventional way of thinking could be Oriol Romeu, up at Burnley the Spaniard showed that he has the tackling ability and has been deployed as a central defender earlier in his career, perhaps going forward he could be an option in this position, but perhaps not against Liverpool with his tendency to pick up a yellow card.

Another option would be Wesley Hoedt, he became the whipping boy of the fans last season, but he is perhaps the best tackler we have in the centre of defence and he is not afraid to go to ground to make a tackle or a block and that is often the difference between conceding or not conceding a goal.

Don't believe me, take a look at last season's goals against and see how many of them could have been prevented is one of our central defenders had slid in or stuck a leg out, not just from shots but also crosses.

But for some reason Hoedt does not seem to be in Hasenhuttl's plans, suggesting that he might well go before the European transfer window ends in a couple of weeks, so Ralph Hasenhuttl has to try something different and that is Kevin Danso.

The player is described as being " an imposing 6ft 3in tall and boasting impressive athleticism" big and fast will be a big asset against Liverpool, I have seen little of those qualities over the last two seasons from anyone aside from Jan Bednarek in the centre of our defence.

It has also been stated that he is fit and up to the physical level needed for the task ahead, as mentioned sometimes pace can get you out of trouble when you are caught out of position and we are going to need some pace in the back line and this is something that none of the other candidates can truly offer.

So on Saturday Kevin Danso has to make his debut for the club, if only because he is the only candidate to play alongside Jan Bednarek and to a lesser extent Jannik Vestergaard who has yet to fail, perhaps not the best qualification, but better than what was shown up at Burnley.

We have to try something new and something different, I'm sick to death of watching the same old culprits making the same old mistakes, failing to mark, getting caught out of position, failing to get a tackle in, failing to get a block in and getting caught out on the break, I have nothing against any Saints player except when he is not good enough for the job he has to perform, everyone has bad games, but we have seen enough in the past 2 1/2 years to know those that just aren't up to it.

Photo: Action Images

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wessexman added 09:23 - Aug 14
It is quite incredible the club has been willing to simply ignore these defensive short comings for so long. We managed to escape the drop twice in that period. But, this arrogant and suicidal stance will get us relegated. Once the Man U game is out the way, we could well have no points on the board. Ralph is a good manager but he is no miracle worker. Are we looking for 3 worse teams already?

aceofthebase added 09:35 - Aug 14
Yoshida did make a mistake a couple of seasons ago but he would definitely throw himself in front of any attack. Hoedt makes considerable errors as does our giant defender(?).
I agree that Danso must play but I would also play him with Bednarek and Yoshida. If that doesn't work then we grab a youngster, we cannot continue with this failed defence

beynali73 added 09:55 - Aug 14
Fair article Nick. I'm a massive fan of Yoshi and his commitment cannot be faulted and Stephens can look like Alan Hanson when going forward with the ball at his feet but both are back up CB's. In addition to lack of challenges in general, Vestergaard hardly covered himself in glory and was a major contributor to the downfall.

Hoedt always looked the part in terms of his physicality but there is obviously a bigger issue at play in terms of man management which prevents Ralph from picking him. It’s a shame as we’ll never find out how Hoedt would perform in a settled defence who trust one another.

That is the key – if Saints are to achieve anything positive this season they need to get the combination of leadership, calmness, robustness and fearlessness instilled into the back 5. When these qualities are in place trust, instinct and each man knowing their role binds them into a tight unit.

Whatever combinations are tried in future will require patience to find out what works which is difficult because we have been waiting for a few seasons now for the board to bring in the correct personnel – despite spending a fair amount of money trying to do so.


andywelsh added 10:00 - Aug 14
Nick you seem to forget that after Long, Yoshida is the fastest player at the club. Yes he is prone to the odd error but Stephens and Vesterguard are equally culpable. Stephens may be a better passer than Yoshida, but when the chips are down I'd rather have Yoshida on my side. The height of Vesterguard, the pace of Yoshida and the capability of Bednarek would always appear to be our best back three and there must be some reason why Hassenhuttl sees it another way. Danso may well be the answer moving forwards, but it would be brave to put him in so soon after arriving at the club. Valery and Kane Ramsey's debut against Man City last season are testament to Hassenhuttl's bravery, so we will see.

SaintPaulVW added 10:00 - Aug 14
I don't know why there is this constant Hoedt is better than Yoshi nonsense. They both have good games and they both make mistakes - Yoshi loses concentration but will dive in front of a ball, Hoedt is better in possession but fails to challenge for headers. Both different but not necessarily better.

I do however accept that we need and have needed better CB's in the mix.

The problem that we have though is too much deadwood sat on loan. The club clearly, by Danso's late signing is now on a one in one out policy. Hopefully a few can be shifted to Europe to ease thing up. A clubs resources aren't limitless though so I can sort of see their point on this.

I agree that if he is fit Danso should get some game time. I will however be unsurprised if he takes some time to settle which for a CB means mistakes! Hopefully he will show enough to get us all more at ease. My nerves can't take anymore games where it is all going so well and then completely falls apart in a few mad minutes.


perazi added 10:19 - Aug 14
What is it with you Nick, and Yoshida? Your two year broken record assault on MY has reduced you to a dogmatic hack. Everyone knows our central defence has been a problem, particularly with the losses of VVD, Fonte and Toby. Just the same, when you line up Yoshida with our other CBs he is clearly as good if not better. Get off his back.

Why don't you cast a forensic eye on our midfield as it stands. For the umpteenth time v Burnley we learned that JWP can never hack it as a CM with one other. Why don't you jump up and down about the erosion of our mid-field strength?

You used to froth at the mouth arguing Shane Long was as effective an attacker as Sadio Mane - your track record isn't that smart.

We know Yoshida isn't the best CB to play for the Club - but he has been far from the worst. Give it a rest!!!

vanmans added 10:19 - Aug 14
Well said Nick your right Kevin Danso has to start on Saturday. As I have said before Jack Stephens should never play in the first team again. I would like to see Soares, Bednarek, Danso & Bertrand start in defence against Liverpool. I would also drop Ings he just does not look fit. In the pre-season games and last Saturday Prowse has failed to make any impact and it could be time he was replaced. I am expecting to see a very much changed team put out to face Liverpool and a game we could win after their trip to Istanbul.

helpineedsomebody added 11:29 - Aug 14
last season under MH oriol was played in the back 4 against a chinese side for one half i thought he looked fantastic ok he lacks a bit of pace but his reading of the game was spot on & his passing & heading was excelent & also if you want to be radical i would play cedric in midefield with his pace & energy far better than armstrong

saintmark1976 added 12:03 - Aug 14
It's testiment to the depths of ineptitude to which the owners and management of the club have sunk over the last few years that we need to even consider playing the new lad.

For goodness sake we are playing Liverpool ( the current European Champions and last seasons Premiership runners up) on Saturday not Fulham in the Caribou cup or whatever they call it nowadays.Does anyone even consider what it would do to the new lads confidence if we were to ship a hat full of goals?

We should play four four two without the light weight JWP and the clearly permanently unfit Ings and hope that we can get a result by playing on the break.


NewburySaint added 13:25 - Aug 14
wessexman-i have been looking for 3 worse teams since the end of last season and because of our transfer business, coupled with how our rivals have conducted their transfer business / have strengthened, i still am!

Nick-I don't agree Danso should be thrown in but have a sneaking suspicion he will be. And if you're looking for the defender in the club that will throw himself in front of shots, make blocks, put his body on the line etc. then that man is Yoshiba-despite the mistakes he sometimes makes the aforementioned is definitely a strength of his.

Saintmark1976-i couldn't agree more with your assessment on JWP and Ings as well as your suggested formation for Saturday.

Jellybaby added 13:34 - Aug 14
I felt Stephens was more culpable than Vestergard for the first goal, why did he not even try to get a block in?? Baffles me that we persevere with him,

GeordieSaint added 14:12 - Aug 14
I'm not too certain about the reasoning behind that argument. Chuck in someone who has never played a premier league game, while he is still learning his team mates' names, against a team that hammered Barcelona 4-0 a couple of months ago? What if we ship 6 and it destroys the kid's confidence and the crowd are on his case? Realistically this is a game saints are unlikely to win, it would be incredibly short term thinking to throw him in at the deep end.
Unless Ralph thinks he's ready of course, in which case I'm al for it.

SaintBrock added 14:19 - Aug 14
Much too early for Danso.

Ripleys_revenge added 15:55 - Aug 14
Must agree that as bad as Vestergaard was against Burnley, Stephens more than matched him. His defending for all three goals was absolutely appalling - if you watch them closely you will see his positioning, technique and desire to make a block or indeed any sort
Of meaningful action are all sorely lacking.

He looks great carrying the ball out of defence with time and space but as soon as he is put under any pressure he crumbles. Truly painful to watch. Let’s not also forget that it could easily have been 4 0 if his slip up wasn’t redeemed by the offside.

Ultimately what does for Stephens is not just his technical deficiencies but he seems to have a bit of an attitude problem where is everyone else’s fault and never his own. I remember after the Bournemouth draw last season where we secured safety he didn’t join the lap of honour and headed straight down the tunnel. Struck me as a bit off at the time, and seeing how he interacts with his team mates on the pitch when he does play gives me zero confidence that he contributes anything in the way of being a good lad off it.

Truly and utterly incomprehensible that he is still employed as a premier league footballer. Of all Les’s f@ck ups, Stephens’s reported 45k per week has to be the worst

djtsaints123 added 20:04 - Aug 14
We had a chance to buy a proper cb we didn't, bar bednarek we dont have a premier cb so a relegation battle will ensue Ralph is great but you can only teachcoach so much yoshi wont stop diving in stephens cant concentrate for 90 mins and hoed is woeful so sad had a real opportunity gone

bstokesaint added 00:59 - Aug 15
Got to agree with the majority of the other posters Nick, your bashing of Yoshida is completely without reason. He’s the most experienced of our centre backs and the quickest. He’s also probably got the best leadership qualities and gives it everything every time he plays. You’re still harping on about errors he made seasons ago. Okay so he’s not world class, but Stephens is an average an Championship player, at best. I’m not sure Vestegaard is any better, despite his decent Bundesliga record, he’s done nothing to prove himself any better that what we already had and makes costly mistake after costly mistake. As for Hoedt, I’m not sure he has the right attitude and yes he does slide in, but normally the ball is in a different postcode when he gets there. I’ve seen carthorses with more pace and agility! I’d be tempted to go 4-5-1 against Liverpool. Stick Bednarek and Yoshi in centre of defence and trying and stop the Scouse from over-running the midfield like they do every time against us. Maybe if Adams is up top on his own he might get the one chance to convert. Hey, it’s negative yeah, but if we take another hiding so early on we’re going to go into our shells and all the positivity of the new season under Ralph is going to dissipate pretty darn quickly.

bstokesaint added 01:01 - Aug 15
Oh and I meant to add I’m looking forward to seeing the new lad in action and getting some game time, but a baptism of fire might lead for a short-term career. Our expectations with centre backs are high, after what has come before.

ElSanto added 09:10 - Aug 15
Andywelsh, how, and I mean HOW, do you believe Yoshi is the fastest player after shane long in the squad? So he's faster than nathan redmond? hahaha

LoisDeem added 10:18 - Aug 15
Yoshida and Bednarek with one other -that might be Danso if Ralph wants to persevere with his 'true' three.
Yoshida has not made many mistakes recently Nick, so give him his chance eh?
(Tongue in cheek)
Is it me, or does he always appear to be called for the tougher games, i.e. after the horse has bolted?

saintjf added 10:45 - Aug 15
This is getting tedious as an issue. We are arguing about fielding our least worst centre backs. As many state it is unbelievable that this is where we are at the start of the new season.

ElSanto added 13:54 - Aug 15
OK, I checked that piece out about speed. The article also says that maya yoshida is faster than Sadio Mane and the same speed as Walcott. Total garbage stat to go by, both those players would leave him on his backside.

bstokesaint added 18:13 - Aug 15
Santo, are you Nick in disguise? The stats speak for themselves.

kristianJ added 18:43 - Aug 15
Vestergaard was clearly at least partly to blame for all 3 goals, but he barely gets any criticism. Better to pick on Yoshi (who wasn’t on the pitch) and Stephens (who wasn’t on the pitch for the last goal - despite what one of the comments above states). Against Liverpool we’ll need pace in the side. Assuming that Hoedt won’t play as Ralph, rightly, doesn’t seem to rate him then I’d gamble on the new kid, stick Yoshi in and go for Stephens or Vestergaard. Stephens is more mobile, but Vestergaard might be needed to defend set pieces against VVD. Bednarek is very slow and the likes of Mane and Salah will have a field day with him.

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