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Southampton 1 v 3 AFC Bournemouth
Barclays Premier League
Friday, 20th September 2019 Kick-off 20:00
Saints V Bournemouth The Verdict
Monday, 23rd Sep 2019 09:15

A late verdict this week as I wanted to let the meltdown on social media die down a little and take a look at the game based on a bit of rational thinking rather than knee jerk reaction.

Saints lost only their third game of the season after Bournemouth won 3-1 and although it cannot be denied that we got our tactics and selections completely wrong in the first half, it was a game we still dominated.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has been a breath of fresh air to Saints, he has instilled a sense of pride and optimism missing for a long time, but good managers make wrong decisions sometimes, that doesn't make them a bad manager, just one that like every other ones in football makes mistakes.

The old adage in football is to put square pegs in round holes, playing your right back at left back and your big powerful central defender at right back was not a wise decision and Eddie Howe spotted this and Bournemouth did what they do best, ripped us apart on the counter and caught us napping at a set piece.

Our defence is not the strongest at the best of times, all the switching and changing does not help it, keeping a settled side at the back is crucial.

Going forward we stuck with Che Adams and left Danny Ings on the bench, I rate Adams but perhaps this was a game he should have been taken out of the firing line and come off the bench, but the game cried out for the clever football of Ings or even the physical force of Long, we did a lot of attacking at pace, but too often it came to nothing.

Indeed the fact that Ings did not make an appearance till the 77th minute was strange, likewise bringing on Stuart Armstrong in the final minute.

In the second half we changed it and spent most of the time camped in the Bournemouth half, but the fact is for all our possession, we created very little, Sofiane Boufal had some great runs, but too often failed to deliver a killer ball, we did not have enough guile to break down the Cherries.

It was a bad day at the office, but the defeat actually offers more than many seem to realise, the way we dominated a team like Bournemouth shows that we are not a bad side, we are just short in a vital area and that is a leader on the pitch in the centre of defence to direct operations.

If we had that we would be in the top six today not 13th, but we now have some good foundations to build on, hopefully the return of Ryan Bertrand to action shows that he and the manager have put their differences to one side for the good of the team.

So this was a very disappointing result, in some ways predictable due to our lack of leadership at the back, something we have been lacking for near on three years now, so it is not just carelessness in the transfer market that is costing us games, by now it should have been sorted.

Saints will win games and they will lose them, at Sheffield United we got away with it when we presented them with soft chances due to poor marking, on Friday evening we didn't.

The rest of the season till January will be frustrating at times, we will win games when we get away with poor defending and we will lose some when we don't, the last two games have highlighted that.

We have to get to the New Year clear of relegation and then make that key signing in January. if we do that the second half of the season could be very exciting, if we don't then it is going to be a long frustrating winter.

But there is no need for panic yet, the trick is to keep calm, stay behind the team and make sure that a problem that can be solved does not escalate into a disaster.

Photo: Action Images

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HythePeer added 09:28 - Sep 23
I have to say it again: This manger can pick a good bench.

DeargDoom added 09:52 - Sep 23
It was our 3rd loss of the season.

SaintPaulVW added 09:55 - Sep 23
Fair review.

I agree it's not panic stations yet. Some good work upfront being undone by poor choices with the final ball. We looked great at times but couldn't take advantage. Shots need to hit the target to stand any chance of scoring. Redmond and Boufal look great but didn't produce enough to trouble the keeper.

JWP and PEH didn't have the best of games either.

I'm sure Adams just needs to nick a goal and he'll be away. I hope Ralph was just trying to get Danso a bit of game time to get him up to speed rather than seeing him as a starter at right back.

As you say, comedy last goal aside, there was a lot there to be encouraged by in the early season.

geezershoong1 added 10:06 - Sep 23
Clearly the lessons from the 1st half of the Sheff U game were not learned. It didn't work - we just got lucky.

Tactically we were inept, players played out of position.

There are mountains that turn quicker than Vestergaard.

Gman added 10:12 - Sep 23
Playing players out of position helps nobody, Ralph has been great but sometimes the easy options are the best ones. Overlooking Bertrand for Djenepo now Cedric is just crazy.

McCarty, Bertrand, Yoshi, Long and Ings to Start the game tomorrow.

DorsetIan added 10:26 - Sep 23
It is only one game and Ralph is still a good manager, but that defensive selection was a real own goal. It's not that long ago that Cedric couldn't get into the team as a right back, so it was optimistic to expect great things from him on the left (and didn't PEH has a really good game at left back recently, if we were looking to fill a gap?).

Likewise, expecting Danso to play right back wasn't fair to him. He is very young, there are a lot of expectations on him - he looked completely out of his depth, even when he was then moved to one of a central three.

Have to say that although we dominated the second half, Bournemouth were on the defensive by then. In the first half, their passing was far superior to ours. Watch the replay of their second goal - from the edge of their D to the goal was 12 passes without any Saints interception. Pretty impressive, whereas we struggled to keep hold of the ball for 2 or 3 passes.


saintlee added 11:16 - Sep 23
If Ralph has an issue with Bertrand then it needs to resolved and quickly. Leaving an international class left back on the bench for the sake of saving face is both arrogant and pig headed. Cedric left foot is only good for standing on hence he was coming inside all the time and Danso should be no where near the full back spot. Vestergaard looks a nervous wreck in the middle. I think he should be dropped for Yoshida but that's just my opinion. Going forward we seem to run out of ideas pretty quickly on Friday night. The final ball was shocking. Still, no panic. Still think were a decent side when we get it right.

saintmark1976 added 11:54 - Sep 23
Firstly all credit to Bournemouth who deserved their win. During the first half in particular they were everything that we currently are not.Had it not been for VAR we could quite easily have gone in three down at half time. Frankly Nick, we were abysmal in every area of the pitch.

We improved second half but up front made the now usual errors with J W P back to his old self and Redmond not knowing when to pass and when to shoot once again.

I felt sorry for Boufal who's on the ball skill deserved a better response from his teammates and Adams who is a "box striker" and needs a centre forward to play off.

As for the manager, if he makes any more similarly ludicrous team selections then I suspect his tenure at St Mary's may be shorter than many fans imagine given that we have only won two from our last eleven Premiership matches.


vanmans added 12:44 - Sep 23
Why does he keep playing Ward-Prowse he offers us nothing most of his passes are backwards and he is supposed to be creative. On Friday night if he was half a decent player he should have had a hat trick. He must be dropped.

Sanguin added 13:00 - Sep 23
I was pretty angry by half time about Bertrand being on the bench. You could see Cedric couldn't use his left foot when he got into good crossing positions and Danso was poor at full back.

The second half was a joy to watch, we just failed to take our chances. It's the problem we've had for a few years, we have a weak defence and we don't have enough natural goalscorers. I think Djnepo and Adams will come good up front though.

I felt we wouldn't have beaten Brighton without the red card and I think we were lucky to get 3 points against Sheffield United. As you say the second half of this game shows what we can do, but we need to learn from it and keep improving.

NewburySaint added 13:31 - Sep 23
Bad day at the office for Ralph was all it was, just forget about it and move on-not bad having your 1st real bad day after about 10 months of employment.

law101 added 13:50 - Sep 23
Manager has to take a lot of the blame for Friday. On another day though it would have been a different game had we taken one of those chances. A note on PEH, I personally don’t think he’s played particularly well all season so far. Out shone convincingly by Romeu and struggled to have an impact on any of the games.

pintsizedsaint added 13:51 - Sep 23
Very wise Nick to let everybody calm down first!

I haven’t had much time recently to comment here, but this game has prompted me to make a few quick observations:

1. Ralph needs an experienced assistant manager, given he is very capable but still inexperienced in what is the most competitive league in the world. I suspect the lack of a calming presence next to him is resulting in some of the strange starting formations.

2. I respect Ralph’s tactic of ‘always keep them guessing’ but I agree with Nick that we haven’t got enough confidence/stability at the back at the moment to be doing it there. Keep it consistent and get them used to each other first.

3. I hope that this was the ‘shot in the arm’ Ralph needs to stop with some of this meddling. Whatever has gone on with Bertrand needs to be sorted. You cannot keep playing players out of position and not expect it to hit their confidence. Danso’s must be rocking at the moment.

4. Vestergaard. Doesn’t do it for me. I’ve given him lots of benefits of doubt, but he is far too ponderous and slow and he lacks leadership skills. I would start bedding in Bednarek and Danso (if a back 4 or with Yoshida in a back 3) to give stability.

5. Che Adams will come good, but I wholly agree he now needs some time and space to kickstart his Saints career by coming off the bench. I would deffo do that for the Pompey game.

6. I am not certain it is right to be playing two defensive midfielders in this current formation (and especially not at home) if you are trying to adopt pressing/attacking football. PEH and Oriel are good players but they are not creative midfielders, so this formation doesn’t current suit strengths. It is clear this is having an impact on creating golden chances for our forwards. I would play PEH and have Oriel as a solid substitute option.

7. But who to play in creative central midfield? We’ve not replaced Tadic. Perhaps JWP should be given a turn. Failing that Armstrong. Given them licence to roam/create and press.

8. Personally I think a 4-3-3 best suits us. Adams/Ings up front supported by Redmond and Djenepo. Have PEH and JWP/Armstrong in midfield – potentially with Danso sitting in front of back four. Bednarek/Yoshi (or Danso) in Centre with Bertrand/Valery and Cedric on the wings.

9. It’s still early days and we have done well – but we need a consistent game plan now.

SaintBrock added 14:16 - Sep 23
Hutch cocked this up big time Nick, let's face it.

saintlee added 15:03 - Sep 23
Quality post pintsizedsaint 👍👍👍

landsdownsaint added 15:39 - Sep 23
I thought it was a poor performance. We all know u can dominate possession & never be in control of the game these days & that’s what I saw against Bournemouth, I haven’t seen PEH have a good game for a while along with Vestergaard , JWP & Che Adams isn’t as good a striker as Danny Ings ... fact ! There’s still plenty of time for Adams to step up, Yoshida also ain’t the awnser but he’s the best I’m his position, my highlight was Romeu he seems to be getting better & better

Consigliere added 17:12 - Sep 23
I don't know about anyone else's knees but mine are still jerking even with a weekend to recover! As an experiment that first half formation clearly succeeded, in the sense that every experiment that provides a result is a success even if its not the one you expected. Conclusion - don't ever repeat that formation. Oh and if anyone ever criticises Yoshida again for a defensive error, they should be made to watch the third Bournemouth goal until they howl for mercy.

halftimeorange added 17:53 - Sep 23
Some very reasonable comments above but, I agree with Saint Mark. Our manager looked out of his depth in terms of the way the team was set up on Friday. I also caught his post-match interview on Radio Solent on the way home and he spoke rapidly like a man already under fire, without acknowledging his selection errors. We don't have a great team but they are better than what we saw against the Cherries. Too many more like that first half and we'll know Wreck It Ralph is in town and not just a cartoon character.

the_saint added 17:59 - Sep 23
As I said on another page the hoff played a masterstroke taking all the pressure off our centre backs by making our full backs look crap.

davidargyll added 00:01 - Sep 24
Sometimes I wonder whether we all saw the same game! Deserved to win? Do me a favour. I reckon we were lucky it was only three. Bournemouth I hate to say were the better team in both halves. How can you possibly say we were better when our first shot even vaguely on target was the pen after 41 minutes. But Bournemouth play a real pressing game and we were on the receiving end on Friday, let’s face it. Every time one of our players had the ball they were closed down often by more than one of theirs. That’s the way they play and we didn’t handle it very well. (The fact that I thought that was how Ralph’s was getting our lads to play is a moot point for discussion at another time). Everybody around me was bemoaning the fact that there was a lot of passing sideways and backwards like last season without actually realising what a good oppo bournemouth really are. They are no longer our junior Johnny come lately cousins on the south coast they are a GOOD side. The fact that we lost shouldn’t have surprised us. But look at it another way: isn’t three points from two games better than two from three which arguably it should/might have been? Oh and MOM without a doubt was Bednarek. Without him we’d have been at least two goals worse off than we were. And whilst we are at it, I used to be a huge JWP fan. But no longer. He just looks ...frankly not very good. The exit I think and hope is looming for him. And finally (honest) I am still of the opinion that Che has got to do one helluva lot more to justify his buy of the season tag. He huffs and puffs but IMHO makes very little impression ...

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