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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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BuenosSaint added 11:28 - Sep 15
"Raked his studs down his sh!t " , now that is one dirty tackle indeed.

A1079 added 12:05 - Sep 15
Good summary Nick. Cannot disagree with that. It does look like Sheff U may have had a case for a penalty having seen it on MOTD but not the strongest of cases.

What do we do about this defence Nick because I think every conceivable combination has been tried and for the life of me I have no idea which is the best combination and I don't think Ralph knows either. Bednarek seems the one stable diet in it, but beyond that, they all look a touch away from a calamity. Hopefully, Danso will bring some sanity to the defence but it places alot on him. It is bewildering how our main CB's just don't seem to learn from their errors.

A good day out though - enjoyable game and for all the errors etc, we do look a team prepared to get stuck in now and show some grit, sprinkled with some skillful players. Our midfield was good yesterday - worked well as a group.

schatfield added 12:22 - Sep 15
Moussa was class (and giving something to the kid in the crowd was extra special). Che was class too, didnt score but a lovely shot that came off the bar. Some top saves from Gunn.
Vestergaard was given the run around a bit and we are lucky that mcgoldrick couldnt hit a clean strike all game.
Good game though

highfield49 added 12:46 - Sep 15
Many managers would have substituted Djenepo having realised that his defensive positional sense wasn't up to expectations. Fair play to RH he shuffled the pack without an early substitution and Moussa scored a stunning goal to take the three points. Adams and Boufal were terrific up front and JWP showed his value to the team, not only with some excellent delivery from crosses and set pieces but also taking on a defensive role. Gutsy performance all round but we have to hope that Danso will develop into a regular choice alongside Bednarek sooner rather than later. Once again lots of hard work from Yoshi and Vestergaard but too many simple mistakes as well. I don't think that there's any mystery about Valery and Bertrand being on the bench Nick. Cedric was picked on merit and Bertrand is recovering from an injury so in my view they'll both return when they are ready to compete.

SaintNick added 15:13 - Sep 15
Highfield, Bertrand has been back in training for two weeks, Im not surprised Cedric is in, but given the problems we were having on the left flank till we moved Cedric across im surprised we didnt see either Valery of Bertrand brought on to shore things up

highfield49 added 15:35 - Sep 15
That was the point I made first though Nick, that RH didn't use up a substitution when we were exposed on the left by Djenepo's lack of defensive skills. The obvious thing to do was take Djenepo off and bring on Bertrand swapping experience for lack of experience or take off Boufal, who was having a good match, and move Djenepo up front. It could of course be that Bertrand is having one of his sulks and RH was showing who's boss. It's going to be interesting when Redmond is fit because I'd expect Bertrand to resume on the left side with either or both Boufal and Djenepo back on the bench. At last we have a squad with genuine options in most formations, apart from the central defensive conundrum.

SonicBoom added 15:51 - Sep 15
I'm not particularly sure the Ralph deserves praise for playing Djenepo out of position where he was dreadful - then playing him in his own position and he wad great. In his first games he was on the bench as he's new to the league. Now he can start above more experienced players in an unfamiliar position.
Very odd.

underweststand added 18:46 - Sep 15
OK Djenepo played out of position, but he scored the winner. It's the 3 pts. that matter.
Of course, VAR may go against us sometimes but you can only guess what the result may have been - had it not been there for everyone to see.

Everyone put in a shift and played their part. Just hope that Che Adams has patience enough to wait for his first goal....long dry spells have a bad effect of some strikers, and this wasa game where we started without Redmond AND Ings.

I've no complaint with Ralphs tactics / substitutions - as it creates new possibilites with another formation in the second half - if things aren't going according to Plan A.

If we are to have a respectable showing in the Prem. we need to beat the Brightons and the Sheffields in this league but now we face two "derby matches" within a week. Bournemouth because it would strenthen our league position, and Pompey - for obvious reasons- and a real chance of a Cup run.
Two wins would set the pattern for the season - otherwise it's back to the drawing board.


ExiledSupporter added 13:40 - Sep 16
Yep, defence looked hollow in the middle, aside from Bednarek who gives his all pretty effectively. Vestergard turns slowly and doesn't seem to concentrate as much as even Yoshida; and we all know his fallibility on occasions. As things stand I would have to play Bednarek, Danso (on the basis of one and a bit games only) and Yoshida. But I am at a total loss to know why we don't recall Hoedt who I think has been very unreasonably treated and seems to me would be the better option on the left side of a three man backline (or in the middle of that line with Danso on the left)

But we need two defensive orientated full backs and away from home that should be RB and Cedric, with perhaps Valery at home, but I'm not convinced about his defending.

Djenepo must start in his proper position and not be wasted further back down the field trying to defend. Because Boufal seems to be making an increasingly better contribution than in the past I think we should persevere with him as a No 10 and play Redmond on the left

So I would go for the following only if we are going to have three centrebacks:

Redmond Boufal Djenepo
Hojberg Ward-Prowse
Hoedt Danso Bednarek

Anyone got a better starting eleven?

ExiledSupporter added 15:19 - Sep 16
Apologies, have just realised that Hoedt has regretably been junked off to Antwerp; doesn't seem to make any sense to me given the weaknesses we still know all too well about about

Whatsforpud added 15:34 - Sep 16
The defence is so weak that we have let in one goal in the last four matches (including the cup) ! I think that we are in a better position as far as attack is concerned, and that will take off some of the pressure in defence. I think, though, that we could cut out some of the passing from keeper to central defender, who sometimes is in no position to take the pass.

SaintBrock added 17:41 - Sep 16
Good accurate report Nick. Well done.

I'm not sure Redmond should be a shoe-in when he's fit again. On the basis of Saturday's match, a happy rejuvenated Boufal and the young emerging talent of Djenepo are in my view both potentially better than him. Had Redmond been as prolific a goal-scorer as say Sterling then he would deserve to be an automatic starter by right now for me he doesn't score enough goals for all the fancy running around that he does.

The jury must be out on him and Hutch has shown that he doesn't give a toss about reputation or offending players by leaving them out when the mood takes him. Hence we have the Bertrand situation. Why Adam doesn't ask him the direct question afterwards we'll never know.

Of course most of us are very happy that Sofiane and Cedric have been re-integrated in to the squad and they seem to be delighted as well. Maybe all that expenditure was not wasted as many critics have moaned last year. It would have cost us one hell of a lot of money to buy in their quality, determination and loyalty

SaintBrock added 17:47 - Sep 16
Sadly Sheff U are another physical, long ball team that is dragging down the quality of "the best league in the world".

I'm pretty sure they'll get relegated and part of me hopes that they will. We pay to see football not out-of-control physical players raking their studs down the shins of far more talented players. The ew moments of attractive football they played does not out-weigh the raw fact that they are not a very good team worthy of the Premier League.

I bet Adams hoped he had left all of that behind him.

LoisDeem added 10:33 - Sep 17
Exiled Supporter 16/9:
Your concern for Hoedt is misplaced anyway, and we do have Vestergard, Cedric, Bertrand, Yoshida and Valery all more capable and available for multiple defensive duties anyway. If they're available for the bench then they should be fit to play.
No worries...It's getting better.
Like that we're winning without two sure first picks Redmond and Danso.

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