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Saints At Manchester City The Verdict
Sunday, 3rd Nov 2019 09:07

It was agony at the end, but Saints put in a performance that gives hope for the rest of the season and Saints fans can again be proud of their team.

The game was always going to be about City's attack versus our defence, the question would they swamp us with goals or could we get a result even if it was a defeat that we could build on.

Ralph Hasenhuttl made changes from the side at the Etihad a few days earlier and it had a more balanced look about it.

The pattern was set from the start, but it would be Saints who would ht the first goal, the pace of Nathan Redmond & Danny Ings was always going to offer more than we had on Tuesday and we were at least getting out of our own half.

A good move saw Armstrong's shot firm but straight at the keeper, but James Ward Prowse had followed in and as the ball was spilled he banged the rebound into the net to give Saints an unlikely lead.

The pattern then returned to normal and we were spending most of our time in our own half on the edge of the penalty box, but City were trying to walk the ball in, they were passing and passing, but they could not find a way past our resolute bank of players.

But some of our old traits were there and when they did put the ball in the box we often struggled to deal with it with some poor marking etc, but we got away with it by battling.

With 20 minutes to go we were starting to believe, but we were giving the ball away too cheaply and we were going to pay for that and City got to the byeline and pulled the ball back to find Aquero unmarked who fired under McCarthy to equalise.

City poured forward but we stayed firm and with three minutes left looked like we might see the game out, a City cross from the touchline looked innocuous, but sadly Alex McCarthy came and flapped at it and his slight touch diverted it down to Walker who fired home to give City a win they deserved but a defeat that Saints didn't.

There were many plus points to take from this, Pierre Hojbjerg and James Ward Prowse have got a lot of stick on social media of late but both put in great performances and led the way.

Overall this gives us something to build on and the spirit has returned, however it should be tempered with the fact that a lot of our problems in the back line remain, the three central defenders played well, but they were far from tight at times and got through with a combination of sheer battle, luck and some poor finishing from City.

No one would have put money on us being in this game to the final minutes and although a point would have been brilliant, sometimes it is the performance that can be worth more than a point.

Next Saturday is a big big game, it needs a packed St Mary's all behind the team to help them to all three points, the Leicester result should be forgiven and forgotten, we need to move forward not back.

Photo: Action Images

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BuenosSaint added 10:05 - Nov 3
Many of us have rightfully slagged off SFC recently but this was a performance that deserved a lot of credit. Even the commentators were purring at saints defence at times! I agree Nick JWP and PEH did well particularly the latter at left back who hasn't had a good season imo.

I expected and hoped this sort of performance for the cup though but guess in Ralph we must trust and he went for caution on Tuesday. Still, this result improved and impressed and I can't wait for a fit djenepo to start for saints.

davidargyll added 11:02 - Nov 3
Only listened to the commentary on (a far from totally biased) BBC Radio Manchester, where they definitely gave the impression that the Saints were defending like lions and Citay were a bit toothless, at least until they slotted home their first.
Clearly our lads raised their game considerably from a week back, but...
and this is where I continue to have concerns.
They have to play with this intensity FOR EVERY SINGLE GAME from now on, if we are to have any hope of defying the drop.
Nick you mentioned in a previous post about winning ugly. And that is exactly right.
I almost feel that our season has only just started, so can we now keep playing to our best, that is the question: our main characteristic over the last few years, let alone the last few matches, seems to be to play well one match, then lousily the next one...in other words, inconsistency is our middle name.
So my fingers and toes are firmly crossed that next weekend we continue to defend like lions, snatch the odd goal and break that deathly pattern...

landsdownsaint added 12:28 - Nov 3
I will never understand football , how can we lose 9nil then go to city & nearly win ? Maybe the Leicester result has grounded RH a bit ? I’d really like Jack Stephens to step up becouse his attitude is exactly what we need atm , get Fonte in as Ralph’s assistant !... dreams

saintjf added 12:29 - Nov 3
In isolation a good performance against one of the best teams. We have to look upwards now and try and gets some points from some of the teams nearer our ability so we do not get bogged down in the relegation area where our goal difference is not going to help us survive. We have to take the positives from this performance and build up confidence and self respect as we go along.

HythePeer added 12:30 - Nov 3
The manager, frightened by previous events, set a sheepish team which failed to mount much serious threat. Basically, he played for a small defeat and got it. In reality against Manchester City that makes little difference, but it remains to be seen if he has been frightened into adopting that position in every game from now on, in which case Saints will be doomed. Djenepo might just drag him through?

sandywelsh added 12:59 - Nov 3
Why are the fans getting excited over another defeat? Most of the game we were camped in our own half with desperate defending and no possession. At least when we went behind yesterday Ralph did put on 2 strikers to try and score unlike the Leicester game when he put on 2 more defenders when we were 5-0 down. Armstrong and Hojbjerg played well but apart from score I though Prowse had another poor game. Against Everton we need to start with 2 strikers and Armstrong, Romeu and Boufal in midfield.

AmericanSaint added 16:48 - Nov 3
I think anyone who question or doesnt understand why RH selected the team he did doesnt understand football. This was a game about mentality and not the score. The players needed to prove that they deserved to play and not just show up. I think they did that. I There was a desire to play hard football and while it was not pretty it should their resolution. I agree with Dadidargyll - this type of performance and attitude needs to be at every game, not just MC or Liverpool etc. This game showed signs of hope, but as I have said a few weeks ago, the next 5 games will determine our season. As for the players, I think PEH and OR did a great job and while I hate to say it Vestagaard and Stephans one almost every ball in the air near them, which frustrated MC on their crosses. The key is how we set up for more of an attacking formation as we can sit back like this every game. One small point about hte game - RH needs to do bette ron the timing of his subs - Ings needed to come off at the 60 min mark not 70 as he was out of gas from running down everything. Well now we have Everton and it will truly be a game to show if we have rebuild our confidence and can win it or are we stuck in neutral and going nowhere. COYR.

saintmark1976 added 18:15 - Nov 3
Please excuse me if I don't join in the celebration of yet another game where we got absolutely nothing. City's first goal was scored because we let Aquero be allowed to stand unmarked in the middle of our four, yes four defenders. As for their second, McCarthy and only McCarthy has the faintest idea what on earth he was doing.

If we put aside the Ralph hype the facts are that he has been the manager of a team which has conceded fourteen goals in a week and has won but two out of the last sixteen Premiership matches. After next Saturday there appears to be a break in our fixtures. Put simply it's my opinion that if we don't beat Everton then the club should use the break to install a new manager.Before anybody asks me who, all I can say is that I don't care because it's almost impossible that they could be worse.

the_saint added 18:44 - Nov 3
Sorry lads and ladies I know we put in a battling performance but I just cant get excited about losing just creates losing mentality

mikesaint added 23:01 - Nov 3
It must be the last chance saloon for Ralph on Saturday against Everton. If we lose he must go. His team selections of late have been bazaar to say the least. He needs to play only 4 at the back with Adams and Ings up front. With Armstrong, Romeu, Boufal in midfield and either Redmond or Djenepo plus McCarthy.

Saintsforeverj added 08:57 - Nov 4
A better performance with a lot more effort. We can take that small consolation from the game and not a bad result over the course of a season. However, we are entrenched in the bottom three and won't even get out, even if we beat Everton! Make no mistake, with Arsenal away afterwards, Everton next week is a must win game. The players must make sure that they get give blood, sweat and tears and get the 3 points, otherwise, we will be in massive trouble. We might have played well at City but we still lost. We are also so inconsistent, Everton have some good players so who knows how we will react to the pressure or what the outcome will be. It needs to be Saints win, that is for sure.

Jesus_02 added 10:29 - Nov 4
@saintmark1976 (and everyone that feels like him). Firstly I completely understand. Being a Saints fans has been pretty much an exercise in resilience in the 40 odd years that I have known. I am by no means a "Happy Clapper".

We are suffering now from selling all our decent players and buying a host of average ones that we hoped to polish into Liverpool players.

Ralf managed to do enough with very average squad players to just about stay up. Peoples expectations naturally grew. However this season was always going to be a question of trying to offload players and scrape through.

If (and its most definitely if) we scrape through, Ralf will have done a fantastic job with the likes of Stephens, Vestigaard,Valery and Yoshida in defense and basically 1 goal scorer. I honestly don't believe we could get anyone else to do a better Job.

If we get through and manage to permanently create space in the squad. Forster, Elyounoussi, Hoedt, Lamina, Carillio. Then maybe we can rebuild.

Its going to be a long season. Everyone is going to be needed


halftimeorange added 11:16 - Nov 4
A heavy defeat by a disjointed and damaged Everton is unlikely to see the back of RH. I'd be surprised if the board does ditch him. His decision making has been that of a desperate man but, the players are, after all, mainly seen as worthy of representing their countries so, elementary mistakes on the pitch cannot just be down to RH. Sometimes they look as though they need coaching just to play football and that is down to them not RH and his staff. Their job, which I don't personally think they're equipped to do is to get the players to play as a team, not as individuals. Having said that, the Everton game has assumed massive importance and I am not convinced we'll beat them. Maybe all out attack is the answer, but I bet Saints don't play that way and we see the usual faffing around in defence and midfield and few defence splitting passes - something already a rarity for us these days.

LoisDeem added 12:33 - Nov 4
Doesn't seem that long ago we were a team with plenty of chances on goal, just needing to convert them -what happened?
It will take a long time for many of us to get the "Every ten minute grand giveaway" show out of our minds -so Saints need to match this effort, and go toe to toe in every game.
These were our expectations at the start of the season, surely they're the clubs and Mr Gao's? Maybe something has been lost in translating 'self sustainable' along the way?

beynali73 added 12:54 - Nov 4
Not looking great on the whole is it. There isnt an easy fix and I am assuming that the players we have now are the players we'll have come May. If that is the case we need to look to the manager to turn things around. Again it's hard to guess what the board will do should we lose to Everton on Saturday. It will possibly depend on the nature of the performance as much as the result and the next person through the door will not be a long term appointment but another fixer.

We know that over the last 3 seasons we have stayed up as a result of there being three worst teams that us. Can we achieve that again.....do we want to, merely for the next season repeating the last.

Modern top flight football is about either spending (very) big every season or, failing that, keeping the core of a team together with a few improvements each season. Saints are not going to do the first option and we cannot seem to do the second.

There does not seem to have be an overall plan for the way Saints have operated over the last 3-4 years other than damage limitiation. Without a swift change of direction and a strong vision for the future the club will go down (which might be less frustrating than being fixture fodder in the top division.) As things stand today I cannot see the situation changing over the next months.

NewburySaint added 13:26 - Nov 4
But we lost..again.

bstokesaint added 14:02 - Nov 4
I’m feeling very mixed about Saturday’s ‘result’. I never thought at any stage we’d win, but with minutes to go a point would have been great for confidence. I’m also unconvinced about sacking RH. Yes, he’s made some (quite a few) bad decisions, but I’m not sure he has the coaching staff and players at his disposal to do much better. He clearly doesn’t trust a number of players. We nosedived after Puel (and before if you favour exciting-attacking football versus a cup final and respectable league position) before bringing in Pellegrino and Hughes. I’d be genuinely scared about recruiting another manager. The constant chopping and changing is embarrassing and quite frankly I have no faith in the board/recruitment team to pick anyone better, or who would even be willing to come to us. I feel like our managers are operating with a number of limitations. And we seem to have too many players just going through the motions, which is a shame because new investment is just a pipedream until we get a proper investor.

NewburySaint added 15:04 - Nov 4
Oh, and having just read JWP's interview on the official site where he states nobody can question their commitment, not for Saturday they can't mate, no, but he / they just don't get it (or even care) do they-where was that commitment against Chelsea at home and, more pertinently, against Leicester at home where the club suffered the worst day in our history??

SNAILOB added 13:36 - Nov 5
I'm surprised that anybody who watched the game on Saturday could criticise the performance from the team.
Yes, it was not pretty, yes we lost, yes we did not have a lot of possession but sometimes you do need to factor in the level of opposition.
There was obviously a game plan to frustrate Man City and try and take chances on the break and bar one or two small errors, it almost proved successful.

If Southampton were to set up the same against Everton at home, then i believe manager could well be open to criticism but no one should be attacking the team for the performance I saw on Saturday. It was a true 'team' performance from front to back.

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