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Absolutely ******* Disgraceful
Monday, 28th Oct 2019 09:26

It is now three days since the worst performance in the history of Southampton FC, I am no nearer recovering from it !

Unfortunately the following morning after the debacle against Leicester City i had to go on The Ugly Inside radio show on Voice 103fm and spend the best part of two hours talking about it.

But when I walked out of the studio that was the start of a self imposed exile from football and here on Monday morning I have still not read a report of this game nor have i watched any football on TV and I have no idea of any other result over the weekend in any division.

There was a lot of temptation to try and cheer myself up by checking the odd result or two, but the fact is it might well have taken me even further down so apart from a quick trip to the supermarket I have sat in a darkened room for 48 hours.

That is not quite true I have used my time productively, at least a lot more productively than the likes of Maya Yoshida and Vestergaard used theirs on Friday evening, having watched the entire first series of Only Fools & Horses, a few back episodes of Blue Bloods and read Louis Theroux's autobiography cover to cover, but even Louis has never had a Weird Weekend such as I have just endured.

The real thing that kept coming back to me though was that Friday night was a culmination of failing to replace Virgil Van Dijk and Jose Fonte, we have had 6 transfer windows yet we have not signed a capable replacement and also relied on those who 3 years ago were 4th & 5th choices in the side.

People accused me of having something against "Yoshi" and Jack Stephens, I have repeatably said that I judge them only on their footballing ability and I have nothing against them.

But there aren't many arguing me now !!!

The problem on Friday evening is that it showed that our central defenders would not get into a Championship side, I would even state this, I would rather have had Wesley Hoedt in the side than any of the defenders who played on Friday, but of course he did that Cruyff Turn at Bournemouth two years ago.

The other sad fact was there was a complete lack of leadership on the pitch, yes we were in trouble after 10 minutes when we were a goal down and reduced to 10 men, but there was no leader, no Alan Ball, no Jimmy Case who calmed the side down and kept them focused, 3 minutes and 2 goals later and it still never happened even after that.

We were a bunch of Schoolkids either too inexperienced or otherwise to do the job.

For three years I have been pointing this out, sometimes you have to bring in a player like Ball or Case to do a job and bring your team on, we have not done this, we have relied on the experience of Yoshida but age does not make you a leader, that is not Yoshida's fault, not everyone is a born leader.

So we have to try and take positives from this of which there is only one and that is surely those in charge of the club have to sit up and take notice of what has slowly happened.

Ralph Krueger and Les Reed were hounded out by the supporters, but at least they were sporting men who knew what was needed, they were not perfect but Reed knew about football and Krueger's experience as an Ice Hockey coach was vital in helping him run the club in the Chairman's role, he might not known much about football, but he knew a lot about sport and he knew what was needed to be done, but unfortunately for the social media keyboard warriors four straight top 8 finishes and a major cup final were not good enough.

I'm not sure we can yet say we are at rock bottom, two games against Manchester City might well prove to be that point, but once they are over we can move on.

In January we have to do what I have been saying for three years, we have to get in a central defender who can dominate not just in terms of quality of play, but in leading the team.

I think the rest of the team aside from the defence is solid, but it is disheartening for them to constantly see good work going forward undone by the same people making the same mistakes.

Yes you have read this all before, yes it has been almost three years of me seemingly being a broken record, but on Friday everything came home to roost, call me repetitive, but you can't say I called it wrongly.

Photo: Action Images

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ThermosNBlanket added 09:41 - Oct 28
How were Reed and Krueger hounded out?
Did I miss the banners, ground marches the green army being
Turned on it’s own supporters?
Weren’t Reed and Krueger responsible for the shocking recruitment
Not replacing VVD and Fonte and Hoedt meaning we have to play Stephens and your whipping boy Yoshida?

RobtheSaint added 09:46 - Oct 28
The club should issue and apology and refund the fans. The staff offering one days wages to charity is laughable.
I do not expect Saints to win but there are limits to whats acceptable. If we loose 4 -0 at home to a better side fair enough but this was way beyond that.
Talk of a director of football will not change the fact that sadly Ralph has increasingly failed to make the right selections, tactics and subsitutions, and he must take full responsibility for the lack of effort and team dynamic. This is after all more or less the same team that finished so well last year.

ThermosNBlanket added 10:02 - Oct 28
Not one mention of our supposed leader Hojberg in the initial post yet Yoshida isn’t a leader where was the captain Friday? 3 fouls conceded all night isn’t it the midfield meant to protect the back 4???
We are here because of shocking recruitment including Pellegrinos 19m on Carillo who sanctioned that?
Our tactics are abysmal watched Spurs yesterday they had 6 in midfield at times we have only Romeu

arfurdent added 10:08 - Oct 28
refunds or apologies are pointless. It is obvious the players could not give a toss as they still get paid and will get contracts elsewhere

TV was happy as it was a great spectacle for the armchair viewer and illegal streamer

this is a relegation side with owners and management who might be slightly upset to see the TV money go, however the parachute payments will probably give the owner time to leverage the funds he wanted out of China against the club. Even as a Championship club it should cover a significant portion of his loan with the bonus of transfer fees for those players departing who consider themselves too good for the Championship

Footbal is a business like banking. They all smell the same.

redwight added 10:08 - Oct 28
I would only take issue with one of your statements Nick, and that is that one central defender will not be enough. We need two, and have done ever since VVD left.
You make the point about leaders in the shape of Ball and Case which is quite correct. Oh for a Dave Watson and Chris Nicholl now - it worked for Lawrie Mac.

wessexman added 10:10 - Oct 28
Nick, many of us warned against this for over two years. Two escapes from relegation through luck and the ineptitude of other teams did not seem to ram home the message. Reed and Krueger were not hounded out, they paid the price for our dreadful downturn since Koeman left. After Friday, all of a sudden there is talk of a full scale overhaul, buying players in January and moving on. Talk about mucking out the stable....this should have been addressed the night we beat Swansea 18 months ago. Also, I'll see it before I believe it. This mauling was coming and the surprising thing was that it seems to come as a total shock to many. The worrying thing is this utter lack of fight and backbone does not bode well for our fate in the championship should the worst happen. Ralph is a good manager but he is not a miracle worker. He is now the latest manager since Koeman to be confronted with the club's disastrous transfer strategy and he is looking increasingly desperate. Changing manager now would only re-enforce our sense of a club in total chaos.

StEdmund added 10:11 - Oct 28
VAR is turning football into a video game. None of the pundits thought that Bertrand should have been sent off in those conditions.
Okay so it's a non-contact sport nowadays and we would have probably lost 5-0 anyway. Sad demise of the all-action,non-stop, combative game we loved. Come back Chopper Harris all is forgiven.

wibbersda added 10:11 - Oct 28
Maybe Ralph will buy us all a pint at the next game!
Although P*55 up in a Brewery springs to Mind.

DorsetIan added 10:16 - Oct 28
It's over 2 years since Gao took over. There were doubts about whether he was 'fit and proper'. He seems to have invested very little. There seem to be cash flow issues. We have not strengthened the team. This is where we end up.

I used to think, 'oh well, at least we have a great manager' but since Rohl left we have been at best average tactically, so perhaps we used to have a great assistant manager.

There is very little to be positive about.

wibbersda added 10:18 - Oct 28
StEdmund, you are right about VAR. How can someone sat in an office, miles away, understand the mood of the game being played better than the Ref who knows the intent of the players in realtime and up close? Who made the call, a secret Skate?

oldeastterrace added 10:30 - Oct 28
Three days later I am still struggling to get my head around it. IF you lose 9-0 at home that is beyond a thrashing, Beyond dreadful, beyond appalling, beyond shocking and beyond belief! I totally agree that we have not addressed the central defensive issues and there is NO EXCUSE!!! To not address a blindingly obvious issue for AT LEAST six transfer windows is GROSS NEGLIGENCE!!! I also maintain that the sell to buy policy will see us back in the Championship and we all know it might not stop there!!! We are not a pig to be fattened Mr Gao, we are a football club that you bought and if you fail to help us out you will be losing all of the Premier League TV money, IF we have to raise transfer funds by selling then we are f----d!... I can't see any salable assets apart from Ings I honestly doubt that we will not recover from this. The year Sunderland lost 8-0 to us they went down, the year Ipswich lost 9-0 to Man Utd they went down. Defeats like this will sap any belief there is within this squad. The ONLY WAY I can see us somehow make a recovery from this is DRASTIC ACTION taken by Owners, directors and management. If there isn't then relegation is inevitable. YOU DO NOT LOSE 9-0 AT ANY LEVEL OF FOOTBALL WITHOUT THERE BEING MAJOR ISSUES IN THE DRESSING ROOM AND WITHIN THE CLUB. ........SORT IT NOW!!!

Sanguin added 10:31 - Oct 28
To be fair, the lads obviously worked hard. You wouldn't have guessed that we were playing for 80 minutes with ten men. We were no worse than we normally are at home.

Kingsland34 added 10:45 - Oct 28
Yes VAR is ruining the pattern of the game. Bertrands tackle might have been rash and subject to some viewpoints of it being reckless. But it took place right in front of the Referee and Linesman neither of whom indicated a foul at the time let alone a Red Card. Are the match officials now abdicating decisions wholesale to remote VAR?

SAINTSNIL added 10:56 - Oct 28
Cannot seriously believe you are standing up for Les Reed. I think you must be suffering from PTSD!
For goodness sake he was responsible for the recruiting of the players!
So yes we did replace Fonte and Vandick, but unfortunately with players chosen by Les Reed. Admit it we are a shambles of a club relying on a decent spell of recruitment that has long gone and is now in serious (understatement) decline.

Rustyhelmet added 11:00 - Oct 28
VAR is not to blame FFS, if it had been a Leicester player doing that and getting away with we would have been screaming blue murder, it was a red card all day long, get over it. I dont honestly think it would've changed anything, Bertrand has been playing at 60% all season anyway!!.

Huge rebuild from top down is required, PEH and his "really sorry, so embarrassing" interviews are becoming such a regular feature even he must not believe a word of it anymore, squad full of second rate has beens and those that never will be, on huge over inflated contracts, the majority of which were given by a bloke who is now laughing his ass off up at the FA.

Relegation, and the restructure of the club cant come soon enough, who the actual f*ck would sign for us in January at present?

geezershoong1 added 11:01 - Oct 28
At the end of the day, it's very simple - if you replace quality with sub standard crap players this is what happens.

This has been a long time coming. Will anything change Will lessons be learnt?


Whiteknight added 11:13 - Oct 28
Nick - I share your pain, however I think your analysis misses some key points:

1) The players are gutless pathetic excuses for men and the offer to donate a paltry day's wages to Saints Foundation only adds insult to injury. Contrast the men/boys' teams to the women who won 11-0 yesterday;
2) To defend Kruger and Reed is frankly laughable - the rot started whilst they were "in charge" and they must share a big part of the blame, even though they are thankfully gone. If they were hounded out - then good as they deserve to have been;
3) The blame must ultimately lie with the owners. Your mantra has recently been that they have done nothing wrong - but what the f*ck have they done right? They are as gutless as the players and also deserve to be hounded out - however I suspect that they will not dare show their faces for a long while.

Colburn added 11:35 - Oct 28
Reed and Kreuger went because they failed miserably after Paul Mitchell left. We benefitted from the tail end of his work then after that, well, we all know about the transfers over the last 3 summers.. So they had to go and we were slow to realise this.

Secondly, Case and Ball were the midfield engine and their experience helped us in shielding our defence. As I see it, our midfield is one of the weakest in the league when it comprises of Romeu, Hojbjerg and JWP. It lacks pace, strength, height and leadership. I do blame Ralph for continually picking the same abject midfield set up and expecting a different outcome. Is this not the definition of madness? But I do like Ralph, his ethos and his energy. He is perhaps a little naive still in this league. Personally I would play Valery in JWP's position as he has pace and great feet, just not the best at defending. He will create chances though and win possession and free kicks high up the pitch. It seems JWP is 'undroppable' and im a bit fed up with hearing the same media narrative about him, all because he captained under Gareth Soygate for England U19. The league passers players by each season as it gets stronger and we seem to buy those players who are on that knife edge each year.

It doesn't matter if you have Fonte and Van Dijk, if you can't protect the back 4 and dont create enough, you don't win games. Neither do you win them when there is no pressure on the starting places for some and not others.

Its not just the back 4 or 5 Nick and we have struggled since Rohl left. Ralph needs proper experienced help asap and we need a solid, knowledgeable hierarchy in the club or we'll be in league one again before we know it,along with Stoke and Middlesbrough.

undertoomers added 11:59 - Oct 28
It's worse than just the Saints worst result in our history. IT'S THE WORST RESULT FOR A HOME TEAM IN THE 131 YEAR HISTORY OF THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE !

SanMarco added 12:20 - Oct 28
I have not taken the hermit route Nick did but I still can't get my head around 0-9. As a consequence I have changed my mind about 5 times on whether Ralph should go (currently stay).

Friday was (hopefully) the culmination of a process that started as we came to the end of Koeman's last season. We have (hopefully) hit rock bottom. All the illusions and excuses have to go now. Our squad has gone from one capable of 6th to one capable of 0-9. The actual cause of that is buying rubbish to replace quality. We can allocate blame as we want for that but where I disagree with Nick is in saying we didn't ignore the defensive issue - we have bought enough CBs - it is that we bought RUBBISH. Just a couple of competent CBs + one with some Cahill style experience bought over the last few windows and we would be alright (not brilliant, but alright).

I would like to address the weak midfield point made above (sorry can't find who in a quick scroll). I thought our MF kept us up the last two seasons but I see it crumbling now. Playing as many CBs as midfielders is a large cause of this + demoralisation in what is the engine room of the side. How would I feel if I was Romeu right now. Sick - it isn't his fault, PEH I know there is debate on but he is another hard worker. JWP is too light weight to be one of a MF 3 in front of those CBs. 4-4-2 or where necessary 4-5-1 has to be brought in for THE REST OF THE SEASON.

It is wrong to assume we are down. Rock bottom has been hit (as long at Man C don't get 10 of course) so the only way is up. We have a poor quality squad but it is still, overall, in my view better than several other squads in the league. Two competent CBs in January and we are still in the game - if nothing is learned then we will deserve the inevitable.

I_would added 12:26 - Oct 28
Hasenhuttl is the leader.
Hasenhuttl out!

Cerdito added 12:57 - Oct 28
Absolutely very disappointing because is this is first time in History which happen that , hoping will getting better in the future

Cerdito added 12:57 - Oct 28
Absolutely very disappointing because is this is first time in History which happen that , hoping will getting better in the future

bstokesaint added 13:17 - Oct 28
Nick, I’ve got to say how you can highlight Yoshida in an utter shambles of a performance is beyond me. Every one of our defenders was totally inept and lacked any leadership or organisation. The goalkeeper’s confidence is shot and the midfield neither offers no support to the defence or creates anything for the front men/man. I think Ings was the only one for me who looked like he was trying and he got subbed off. Anyway, shuffling formations and systems is just like the proverbial rearranging of deckchairs on the Titanic. The iceberg being Mr Gao and his interest in buying a football club and spending nothing. In this day and age that spells disaster. Please, please do the right thing and put the club up for sale so we can look for some proper owners/investors who can offload all of the deadwood and get us playing football again, preferably in some no-nonsense 4-4-2 formation where everyone knows their role. Alas, I feel the scale of change required is now seasons away and a lot of the good work done under Markus has been largely undone. It’s very sad.

pintsizedsaint added 13:47 - Oct 28
I think it is now time for reflection, but try to do that positively. It is hard, but it is the only way forward now.

It’s important to put things into context. In some respects, we can take heart that the manner and style of the defeat have not been overshadowed by the actual result. As Sven said after Man City lost 6-0, “I would rather lose 6-0 once, than 1-0 six times.”

That’s the most important thing – there is a complete lack of confidence and effort in the squad at the moment, which has now been completely laid bare by the record-breaking capitulation. It has meant our increasing frustrations have been amplified to the power of 1000 and everybody (including the SFC Board and all of the national media) are focused in on what is wrong. We could have lost 2-0 but the same fault lines would be there (just slightly masked). The point I am making is perhaps this will be the result that finally works as a slap round the face for everybody.

My view is that Ralph’s tactical style is simply too complex for the majority of these players. That’s not his fault, but the results of several seasons of piecemeal (and poor) recruitment. We have bought square pegs for round holes – despite the fact the ‘Southampton Way’ of high energy press is exactly what Ralph brings to the table.

Put simply, it appears that many of these players are not skilful enough to work in a way Ralph wants. It has led to a dramatic loss of confidence: of players simply giving up – perhaps on the notion that the manager will go before they do (and another, less demanding manager will come in). The Leicester game laid that so bare it hurt – a complete lack of willingness to compete. It’s been identified by every pundit and even Ralph himself.

So that is why I am so glad the Club have made a quick and bold statement. They are sticking by Ralph and it will be the players who go first.

We don’t need a sixth manager in three years – that’s the classic sign of a club that hasn’t got a clue how to get out of this. Ralph is a good manager and perhaps this was the right conclusion to what was a sorry event. The onus is now firmly on the players.

What will be important is to see how exactly Ralph does pick now (most importantly, who is left completely out of the squad). Vestergaard surely has played his last game unless injuries come in. Stephens likewise. JWP will perhaps be resigned to a stint on the subs bench.

In addition, I suspect both Gunn and Valery will be taken out of the firing line.
We mustn’t forget that this is just one match. We have played well at times against decent opposition (Liverpool and Man Utd spring to mind) and so we haven’t become a league one team overnight. It’s just that some players have decided to ‘work to rule’ and its backfired on them. We will get a new Director of Football and hopefully have a better January Window than before.

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