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Saints Scapegoats Show They Have Fight
Tuesday, 5th Nov 2019 12:04

In recent weeks James Ward Prowse and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg have come in from criticism from Saints supporters, but they have shown that they have the fight to get out of the relegation zone and should be backed not slagged,

Ever since I have supported Saints going back to the early 1970's there has always seemed to be a scapegoat at the club, someone who the fans have loved to hate and pour the blame on, it hasn't always been a player, Lawrie McMenemy was a figure of hate at the club for the first 2 1/2 years of his time at the Dell before finally turning the boos into cheers when he got us to the FA Cup final.

In the past couple of years the latest target has almost changed by the week, 3 months ago Sofiane Boufal had spent a couple of years being put forward as the evidence that Les Reed had lost the plot and that our player recruitment was not what it had once been.

Now there are those who have championed him as the saviour of the club based only on a goal in a friendly at Feyenoord and a cross for an assist at Brighton.

Latest targets for the supporters wrath have been James Ward Prowse and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, it cannot be denied that in recent weeks they have not been up to their previous standards, but then again they are surrounded by players who are struggling themselves.

Hojbjerg has been asked to play in different roles than he has been used to including at left back, but in both games against Manchester City he showed he has what it takes in terms of grit and determination by sticking to his task despite having to face up to relentless pace down his wing.

He is not a left back, but he stuck to his task in a difficult situation, he will have learn't something from this.

James Ward Prowse has also been a target for the boo boys, he too has been asked to play a different role that usual and his versatility has meant that when substitutions are necessary and the team is reshuffled than it is JWP who is shifted to right back etc.

This has not been good for his personal form in that he has not been able to find the consistency that comes from playing regularly in the same role.

Sofiane Boufal has been championed by some who say that Ward Prowse lacks the flair of Boufal a player who can create chances, but the reality is actually just the opposite.

In terms of goals in the Premier League Ward Prowse has played 204 games for the club and scored 19 goals at a rate of a goal every 10.7 games, not a great ratio for a midfielder but then again he has not played every game in an attacking position, in contrast Boufal has played 58 times in the Premier League and scored 3 goals a rate of a goal every 19.33 games.

In terms of assists Ward Prowse has 21 to his name, that an assist every 9.7 games compared to Boufal's 4 which is a ratio of one every 14.5.

So that refutes the suggestion that Boufal is a more creative player than Ward Prowse, so I would say that Bouffal might give that impression as he has a penchant for some nice little runs with the ball, but he does not produce the end product that JWP does either in terms of goals scored or assisted.

Likewise there is the points per game ration, Saints have averaged 1.27 points per game when JWP has been playing whereas in the games Bouffal has played it has been only 0.83 per game.

Of course this will be distorted by the fact that JWP played in some good seasons for Saints under Koeman and Pochettino whereas Boufal didn't, so this is not completely accurate.

But if we compare the two full seasons that Boufal has played for the club in 16/17 when he played it was an average of .79 points per game whereas for JWP it was 1.17 and in 2017/18, it was 0.81 for Boufal and .93 for JWP.

These figures perhaps show the reason why James Ward Prowse still starts for Saints and Boufal doesn't, the Morrocan is undoubtedly a flair player and can run at the opposition, but all too rarely does he have an end product.

In his defence he can be brilliant, but that is not frequent enough as these stats show and at the end of the day long mazy runs don't win points, end product does.

Of course sometimes assists don't always tell the full picture in a move, but when we spread the data out over a long period of time, truly Boufal should have more goals and assists to his name after almost 60 games and it shows why he has struggled to get a regular place in the side.

So for the moment anyway, James Ward Prowse is ploughing a thankless furrow, fans don't give accolades for playing out of position they give them for the odd great pass etc, so JWP will not be acclaimed by the lasses whereas Boufal is.

Boufal can play a part in this season, but I am afraid it is going to be a bit part where he is used as a sub late on, but even that is far from guaranteed, lets be blunt Djenepo, Che Adams and even Shane Long are all in the pecking order in front of him at the moment.

So in conclusion both Pierre Emile Hojbejerg and James Ward Prowse have proved their worth for Saints over the past few years, form is temporary and class is permanent, they both showed on Saturday at Manchester City that they have the spirit to drag us out of this mess.

Photo: Action Images

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RobtheSaint added 12:27 - Nov 5
I just wish JWP would look to go forward rather than back or sideways. I appreciate players are not working the space or flanks particularly well but just look at the great Alan Ball to see how a simple pass forward can keep the momentum going. At present too many of our team are slow to get forward giving the opposition time to get back.

geezershoong1 added 12:42 - Nov 5
What an OTT article...

stmichael added 13:08 - Nov 5
An article about scapegoats where you pretty much slaughter one of yours BOUFAL😉

saintsnutcase added 13:13 - Nov 5
Can you please stop lecturing the fans about how to behave? We have had 4 miserable seasons, and more recently (I think) two wins in the last 16 Premiership games under Ralph. What do you expect us to do? Celebrate?

SNAILOB added 13:18 - Nov 5
I believe most criticism has come from the midfield three being lacking in pace and creativity.
Question - were the midfield three broken up on Saturday ?
Do you think the inclusion of Armstrong in the midfield 'might' of made a difference ?

You know there is a difference in constructive criticism and making a player a scapegoat.

halftimeorange added 13:32 - Nov 5
One can make statistics fit any picture. The truth about JWP is that he regularly stops our build-up play by turning back, he has no pace and mistimes his tackles - hence no bids or interest from the big six. This season he has been very poor, to put it mildly. As for PEH, he seems to have gone off the boil with the weight of captaincy - something I thought he was ideally cut out for. Maybe he was made captain too early. Either way, I see him as more of a battler than JWP. As for Boufal, he adds flair and a bit of excitement and expectancy to my viewing experience. Whether a team deep in the relegation mire can afford that luxury is, of course, another matter.

schatfield added 13:38 - Nov 5
You forgot Jack Stephens. Our fans love to hate him. And more recently Gunn. Actually, I am unsure if our fans like any Saints player....

1970 added 13:44 - Nov 5
Every team have scapegoats its been going on for years for various reasons some reasons are very petty and un-realistic just like arsenal fans for example for their persistent abuse of wenger, Liverpool fans for their disregard for any other team to have the cheek to win trophies ahead of them etc etc..
I don't think saints fans have ever been un realistic of whats going on with are players especially if they are trying their best, although I will say a player not good enough such as Guly or Fox ,Harding just to name a few, have come in for some stick but only minor,as mentioned above if you have the last few seasons we have and the 9-0 drubbing I think you are entitled to say whatever you want,
its also funny how the club state from the start of the season we will be playing a fast high pressing game and then the core of our team are the slowest players in the premier league in vestergaard and bednarek and a snail called JWP in midfield so what is that all about?

redandwhitedee added 13:47 - Nov 5
For the life of me I cannot understand why pierre’s battling midfield qualities are being wasted at left back when we have a young left back in Vokins, or Cedric can play there, or ... even, in these seemingly desperate days, Hoedt at least is left-footed !
To get the midfield driving forward rather than sideways, Armstrong and Boufal should be starting in a midfield 5 of Romeu, PEH, boufal, Jwp, Armstrong with djnepo or Ings up front.

wessexman added 13:53 - Nov 5
Are you suggesting the criticism directed at these two was not justified?

HythePeer added 13:55 - Nov 5
JWP starts every game. Saints are in the relegation zone. Any connection?

saintmark1976 added 14:05 - Nov 5
By your own admission Nick there is a very important pivotal game coming up on Saturday . Your contribution? Posting that J W P is the best thing since sliced bread and Boufal is basically rubbish.
Smashing way of getting the fans behind the team don't you think, or did you just not think?

Jesus_02 added 14:23 - Nov 5
"Ever since I have supported Saints going back to the early 1970's there has always seemed to be a scapegoat at the club, someone who the fans have loved to hate and pour the blame on"

Ironic that this is pretty much the only thread that does finger Yoshida to blame :)

JWP takes the free kicks and corners and most pens. How many goals and assists come from this. Also I would like to see stats on forwards passes JWP probs does fewer than Owen Farrell. His completion stats look fantastic as a result.

I_would added 15:12 - Nov 5
Ward Prowse is the fastest return passer of the ball on the planet. He is also the most willing jogger. He runs here, he runs there and here again. That must count for something.

underweststand added 15:16 - Nov 5
Nick..one of the points that comes out of your epistle (above) is that some players are being played out of position - in the hope they may become another *Joe Payne.. and find their natural role in the team. Too often Prem. teams (Saints are no exception) buy a good prospect and then play him out of position in a team formation that is different from that where he had succeeded. We know SPL isn't the same as the English Prem. but Moi Elyounossi is on a good run at Celtic whereas he couldn't hit a barn door when selected for Saints....in short ... Celtic play a formation that suits him much better.

Prowsey's goal was another example of his poaching style in the 6 yard box ( and he scored in a similar follow-up situation a while back. I'm sure Danny Ings would have appreciated that one).
As it is every time Ralph changes formation. JWP gets pushed further back and ends up as a wingback, when his best performances last season were as an attacking MF.

Same goes for PEH (and laterly Redmond) , who now has to work very hard in middle of the pitch, whereas he terrorised defences last season playing wide on the left, AND scoring some great goals. One can hope that players find their correct role in the squad, but meantime the experiments will go on.

* Joe Payne was half-back (MF) for Luton in the mid 1930's. Prior to one game when all the regular Luton strikers were injured, he was given the CF shirt....and scored 10 goals.

(we all live in hope)

the_saint added 16:02 - Nov 5
Yes this article is a non starter got bored half way through had this jwp and boufal stats last week.we do have to get behind the boys but a couple of average performances from jwp and peh doesn't mean they have turned the corner

allsaint54 added 17:05 - Nov 5
One half decent performance & a goal from a keepers error & all is forgiven with JWP. You can't ignore 3 years of underperforming. Grant you he's the best midfielder to slow up the attack & forget forward passes can be quite profitable. Hopefully a couple more decent games before the transfer window & someone may want to buy him, god knows who though.

A1079 added 18:14 - Nov 5
On the whole I have not responded to these type of articles, but, when I first read this, I felt sort of angry with the tone. Not because of this article alone, but because of what feels a long list of articles or snipes or digs at Saints fans as a whole. I am not saying that we are perfect or that our vocal support (especially at home) couldn't be a whole lot better, but heaven knows, we really are not that bad a fans. We rarely, if ever, really dish it out on the club, the manager or players no matter what the circumstances - yet, there have been quite a few occasions we could quite easily have done. Do you not think, that if this was West Ham, Arsenal, Newcastle, Liverpool etc, all hell would have been let loose by now and no doubt some on here and certainly the media would be talking about the passion of those fans, not that they are being unreasonable?

After the 9-0 thrashing, several fans of other clubs said to me, there is no way they would allow their manager to stay after that or let the players get away with that sort of result. I don't agree with those fans as it happens, because, most of us Saints fans know that that 9-0 thrashing was a culmination of window after window, season after season of ineptitude and failure.

I am sorry, but 2 spirited, yet unproductive performances against Man City do not suddenly make it all alright and as desperate as we are for a win against Everton, we all, also know, that if we don't, it is probably curtains for this season. But, yes, we have to get behind the team and create an atmosphere and hope that the players do the basics and put in a shift and fight to the bitter end and hope that a win, will give us a chance......but that is all it does.

As regards scapegoats - I for one, am not anti-JWP. He is not having a good season, but neither is anyone else that much (say Ings). JWP is slow and ponderous, but on the right day and in the right position he has in the past made a difference. He has not kicked on as I thought he would from his younger days and he does not look happy playing at the moment - but then, who does and neither does the manager. In respect of PEH. Usually I rate him, but this season he has been poor and looked lost - but how much of that is down to him or poor instructions, I do not know. I am not a Boufal fan as it happens. He clearly has skill, but does not use it well and is wasteful - but then, you could argue, so is Redmond - his end product no way matches his endeavour. The trouble is, we have an average squad, who are collectively playing badly. I believe Ralph should stay and I see little point in changing the manager, but he has made some bad decisions this season - but then, so has the board etc. It all has a knock on effect.

So, should fans/supporters vent their feelings. On the whole, during a game, I think it does not help. But, players, managers, club management need to know how we feel. These players are well paid and supposedly professionals. They did not just have a bad game against Leicester - they downed tools - that is unforgiveable. To some extent they did it against Chelsea and for most of the game did not show up against Bournemouth.

Our home performances are not poor, they are abysmal and have been for several seasons now. We pay alot of money to see our team play. We should at least expect those on the pitch to remember that. We have had very little to cheer about.

If, one, is going to write an article about how bad the fans are and about scapegoats, you need to be careful of not throwing stones - especially, when I recall the adverse criticism (some warranted and some less so) that is administered towards Yoshida, who is no Van Dijk or Fonte, as we all know, but all too often is usually more prepared to put in a shift than many of those in front of him.


Billeewithers added 19:58 - Nov 5
I like JWP. An honest trier who plays anywhere for the team. He is slow and seems to lack vision going forward. However taking the city example he allowed Arguero to run past him into the six yard box without even a look. He scored and JWP was rooted watching the play. He is not the only player who commands this skill for ball watching. None the less I feel he does not command in midfield as much as the likes of Ball or even Jimmy Armfield. At 25 he needs to be showing more. Let’s hope he finds it.

Block8 added 20:15 - Nov 5
Not such a good article as far as comparison goes IMO Nick
JWP is a good player and I have sung his praises over the last few seasons but he is in the side, currently, purely because Ralph likes players who can change position to enable him to make changes in tactics, with or without substitutions!
On your comparison of Boufal's 50 appearances, prior to this season, 27 have been as substitute. Even his wonder goal against West Brom was After coming on in the 80th minute! He has never been afforded a decent run of games and if you know you will be dropped it not exceptional there is much pressure. When you know you will be picked regardless, you get results like last week.
What you seem to miss is that we need someone to create things, which with our current midfield 3 we don't have. Bournemouth and particularly Leicester proved that if you push up on our wing backs we are completely impotent, attack wise.
We also have Armstrong kicking his heels whilst we have no potency through midfield. I personally have no ads to grind with either JWP or PEH but feel we need to play with two holding midfielders & Romeu is head & shoulders above either of these two!
Oh and just another point Boufal has a pass rate of 80% compared with JWP at 77%.

saint66 added 20:19 - Nov 5
An article written by a man who has criticised Jack Stevens at every opportunity.
Suffering with loss of memory are we Nick???
I feel a professional footballer who plays as a creative midfielder should be able to at least deliver corners with expertise when he is receiving the salary being paid.

vanmans added 20:48 - Nov 5
Prowse is the most overrated Saints player ever. He is to lightweight, slow, cant tackle and wont run forward with the ball. How this useless article plays every minute of every game is beyond me.

amsterdamsaint added 21:41 - Nov 5
Is JWP better than he was 6 years ago ? No. Thanks Poch, Koeman , Poel, Pelli, Hughes, Hass.

perazi added 21:43 - Nov 5
The irony of an article from Nick about Saints "scapegoats" is not lost on anyone.

Just a piece of context about the accumulated statistics seeking to showcase JWP's talents. A very healthy percentage of his "assists" and goals come from the corners, free kicks and penalties he has taken. Given that WP has taken hundreds of corners and free kicks in the last 7 seasons there is bound to be a pay off in the Stats. column - that doesn't make him a creative player....he is not.

Stop taking us for mugs...and deal with your myopic ideas.

davidargyll added 07:55 - Nov 6
Having been a JWP fan I am not now, period.
Why not?
Because the life of a footballer is all about earning a living doing what you love.
So you start playing as a a kid, as a teenager, you develop, you get better, you play above yourself, people say nice things about you and lo and behold you’re playing for a top team.
Then what happens? You’re in your mid-twenties, you’re living a great life style and guess what, you begin to worry about maintaining that life style, about maybe getting career-ending injuries and you start to cruise.
Now the top top players - eg Raheem Sterling - see their mid-twenties as the chance to really motor on, the lesser lights don’t.
Now in which category do you think JWP, and most if not all of our squad reside...?

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