Saints At Sheffield United The Verdict
Sunday, 15th Sep 2019 10:47
Sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and get down in the mud and get dirty and that is what Saints did to get three points that takes up up into the top half of the table.
I said in the preview that last season our problems were compounded by the fact that we lost crucial games in the first half of the season away at Fulham & Cardiff, that we needed to battle in these matches and make sure that we were not beaten.
This is what we did at Sheffield United and although this was not a win achieved in a organised and disciplined fashion, it was one honed from sheer graft.
Going forward and in midfield we were very good, but all of our issues were caused defensively where in the back three we lacked any sort of leadership and for the first 40 minutes were totally disjointed.
The central defensive trio did not talk or organise and we were getting ripped to shreds down the left where repeatably they got a man over as Moussa Djenepo struggled to come to terms with his wing back role, he wasn't playing badly, but he was getting no help from the back three to talk him through what was needed and were he should be.
Just after we nearly went ahead through Che Adams, we should really have gone behind when the hosts played a simple ball that found David McGoldrick completely unmarked and through on goal with both Yoshida and Vestergaard stood watching, neither communicating with the other that the ex Saints forward was completely unmarked.
After that Ralph Hasenhuttl reshuffled swapping Cedric to the left and we started to get a better grip.
But it was still not pretty to watch and either side looked like they could break the deadlock.
Saints again had to rely on VAR with the Blades having a goal ruled out for offside and a handball claim which after viewing it whilst I can understand why it was ruled out if I had been a home fan I would be a little disappointed we didn't get.
If we were disjointed at the back then in midfield going forward we were sublime, Boufal and Dejenepo ran at the home defence and Hojbjerg, Romeu and JWP provided the foundation winning the ball and feeding it to the attacking players.
Che Adams continued his run without a goal, but he was unlucky hitting the post and seeing a decent header produce a top drawer save to keep the scores level in the first half..
Moussa Djenepo won the game with a great mazy run, best described as Le God with pace and slid the ball into the corner.
Then it was just a case of keeping it tight, which we could not quite do and always looked like we might give it away as the Blades piled forward with gay abandon.
But we won because we never gave up and never stopped battling and played with confidence, we know what the problems are and they still need addressing, sometimes these failings will cost us goals, at Bramall Lane it didn't so I think we have to be prepared to accept that we will win some we will lose some, we need to get to January well clear of relegation problems and then look to make that key signing who will turn us back into a solid top ten team.
A good win because we won it with at least four players who would normally have played, Nathan Redmond is of course injured and you feel that we would have torn them apart with him, Kevin Danso would have made a difference at the back if he had not been suspended and it seems that there is a reason that we are unaware of why Yan Valery and Ryan Bertrand were not in the team, we certainly seemed to need at least one of them in the first half.
So it was good to win with so many players missing and that bodes well for the rest of the season.
It was good to see Billy Sharp get a good reception from Saints fans when he warmed up and a bigger one when he came on, but it was not to be a good day for Billy when he was sent off for a tackle on Stuart Armstrong, first thoughts are it was harsh, but on watching it on TV although he didn't follow through with what could have been a nasty tackle, he still made enough contact and raked his studs down his shin to perhaps warrant the straight red, harsh yes, but not the miscarriage of justice many thought at the time.
On a bizarre note, my seat was right in the corner, in all my years of watching football the ball hits the corner flag and stays in rarely, i have gone years without seeing it happen, but in this game the ball hit the same corner flag in front of me twice and stayed in to the the home sides advantage, whether this was a Chris Wilder tactic to use that post as a 12th man of sorts i'm unsure but it is certainly a rareity in football.
Photo: Action Images
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