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Saints At West Ham United The Verdict
Sunday, 1st Mar 2020 10:06

Well guess what I am going to harp on about ! Does anyone have any arguments ? Thought Not !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When the team news came through an hour before kick off our little group in a bar a mile away from the London Stadium were baffled as to the sections made by Ralph Hasenhuttl, two right backs on the bench and our best midfielder at right back, add to that Danny Ings also sitting out the start of the game and all the talk was about why we weren't playing our best team.

In my preview I mentioned that we had to try and dictate the game, but it went just the way I feared, we had the bulk of the possession, but the Hammers kept on catching us on the break.

Time and time again they caught us on the break with our central defenders not knowing where the other was and not knowing who to mark, add to that another goalkeeping mistake and it was a comfortable win for West Ham once we had gifted them the second goal on the stroke of half time.

We have to hope it was a bad day at the office and as I have often said, defensively too often we gift the opposition chances and too often there are individual errors, some games they will get punished and others they won't, it happens in every game and that is not good enough.

At time Stephens and Bednarek have formed a partnership with promise, but the goals against tally does not lie and all the evidence that you need was in this game and this was not a one off, it has been better of late, but it is still far from being good enough or consistent enough.

It was a funny performance, we could have easily have got something out of it, but we kept gifting them goals, if we had gone into the break level pegging you would have felt that we could have pushed on in the second half, but the goalkeeping howler by Alex McCarthy meant that the impetus was now with the home side.

Even when Stephens and Bednarek combined to gift them the third with one failing to get tight and leaving his man with an easy flick on header and the other being totally lost as to where his man was.

But even after that you felt that if Saints could get a second then the Hammers might crumble, but that goal did not come, bizarrely the third substitution with 22 minutes late saw Jannick Vestergaard brought on and a change of formation what it needed was was perhaps the strength of Che Adams given that he was the only attacking option left on the bench at this stage.

Sadly we just have to write this one off as one of the games where we didn't get away with it and come the end of the season we will look up the table and think of what could have been, of how many games like this we have undone a lot of good work by lapses of concentration, poor defending and individual errors.

I'm sure that some will disagree and point to missed chances by our forwards as an excuse, but no team scores every chance it has, that is the nature of the game, but why do our opponents finish their chances far more than ours ? this game answered some of those questions, we don't mark and we get caught on the break.

I would have loved to have written about a great win, how we were now only a point or two from safety, how we might finish in the top 10 etc etc, instead once again it is all about defensive errors, last six league games 12 goals conceded, that tells you whether our defence is good enough or not, not my opinion or otherwise.

But this game is now gone we have to look to the next one and that is vital so that we keep daylight between ourselves and the relegation strugglers.

Photo: Action Images

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LordDZLucan added 10:42 - Mar 1
You can bang on about defensive mistakes but at the end of the day we were woeful all over the pitch. We gave the ball away far too much and only had 2 shots on target. You rarely get anything out of a game with that.

JoeEgg added 10:45 - Mar 1
Although Ralph was quick to blame his defence, he must surely shoulder much of the blame himself with his extraordinary team selection. Moyes on the other hand got it just right. Let Southampton have the majority of the possessioand then we have the players to catch them on the break - if it works against Liverpool it can certainly work against Southampton! With Norwich, Watford and West Ham all picking up three points there could still be worrying days ahead for the Saints. Its not just the defence that needs to learn quickly - but Ralph too needs to stop trying to be clever and stick with a system and players that works!

A1079 added 10:57 - Mar 1
Nick, I know I criticised some of your pieces on Friday suggesting that there was too much focus on the failings of the defence and lack of emphasis on the failings up front - of course, that criticism by myself has come back to bite me severely on the bum - though, I am sure you take no pleasure in being proved completely right yesterday as Saints fans we are all disappointed when we have a bad day like we did yesterday, no matter what your personal views - we all want our team to do well and feel disappointed and even angry sometimes when they don't or they are makers of their own downfall, as much of it was yesterday.

Your assessment of yesterday is completely right. It was a defensive and goalkeeping horror show. We are kind of used to our defensive frailties and incompetence, but now we have a goalkeeper who is showing frailties again - not just yesterday but in the last 3 games - last week he got away with it, against Burnley and yesterday, he did not.

I did not understand Ralph's selections yesterday. His penchant for not playing players that have available in their natural positions is odd and more often than not, it has backfired. I like Ralph alot and he has done more good than not, but he annoys me when he seems to try to be too clever. You have 2 right backs on the bench but does not use them! You have a frail opposition but keep your main strikers on the bench?

I have noticed that teams that have loads of possession seem more likely to not win! We again only scored a single goal - we lost yesterday because we were poor in key areas but we are not prolific scorers as well as bad defenders. One moment when we had a corner and we ended up nearly conceding bordered on the farcical - though all credit to JWP for how far and quick he ran back to make an important intervention when others were nearer and seemed wooden.

Other things that have become apparent - we are light weight when it comes to physically demanding opposition - we don't seem to have the stomach for a real fight. We are good when teams give us space but less able to cope when teams are in your face.

There are wider issues. We purchase players and we seem to need an eternity for them to bed in and make an impact and yet other teams bring new players in and they seem to fit in quickly and have a positive impact on the team. Is it something to do with our coaching and training or is it we are buying the wrong players or is it because the manager/coach does not have confidence in them - and in some cases - i.e Danso and now KWP - we get them and then don't seem to want to use them for the position that they were brought in for?

Yesterday is no concern for the panic button. It was a bad day at the office and we move on. It highlighted our failings but none more so than what we not already aware of. Annoying that we again failed to turn up against West Ham and at their stadium. The fans have been let down for 3 seasons now when facing them. But, I think we will crawl across the line though it places more pressure back on next weeks game and please, please, please, just because Newcastle are not at their best, do not assume we just have to turn up - all too often teams that cannot score or players on a drought have the habit of breaking their ducks against us. Lose next week, when others below seem capable of picking up points will bring the doubts and nerves back in.

Looking longer term, assuming we do make it to safety I really do hope that the board, owners and stewards of this club are planning and putting in place the things that need to be done to ensure we don't go into a 4th season of just trying to get by. It is not fair on the manager, the team, the fans or the club or the city of Southampton. There are no excuses for failing to act. If you do nothing or very little then I can see RH walking and who could blame him if he does. I think the fans need to hold back when purchasing their next season ticket - place the pressure on the board to act first.

Saints have a week to prepare for next week. Hope the team use it well and next week the stadium is full and this weeks result is consigned to history.

LordDZLucan added 11:05 - Mar 1
We tend to get bullied by physically stronger teams. That is what needs to be addressed.

Centurion added 11:05 - Mar 1
Great post.

davidargyll added 11:11 - Mar 1
Not much to say about this - of course I could go on about individual performances but let’s be honest, even if we were better in H1 than H2, we were beaten by a better side on the day. Yes our defence had real problems but the Hammers did have a presence, both in height (did we win any corners in the air?) and attitude, that a lot of the time seemed to overwhelm us. Far too often we lost the one-on-one battles, being bundled off the ball when, if we had been more physical, we could have won it, which inevitably resulted in a loss of confidence, passes going astray and errors being made. And I’m pretty sure having Danny on the bench for two-thirds of the match was a symptom if not the cause of a fall-off in our overall determination to win the ball.
With a side of more youngsters than previously, it was always going to be difficult up against the likes of Antonio but surely the answer in the future is to tell the lads to mix it in the mid-field and show a much more determined and tougher edge when faced with a no-nonsense opposition.

highfield49 added 11:21 - Mar 1
Yet another wake up call, the problem is that we all too often switch off the alarm and go back to sleep. Whilst the usual suspects peacefully slumber we all endure the nightmares that they ignore. Today my heart goes out to Che Adams whose self esteem must be getting close to rock bottom, when Vestergaard gets onto the pitch and you sit on the bench two goals down it's probably time to phone your agent and chat about your future plans. We're now back into the must win territory against Newcastle because the trips to Norwich and Watford are evidently very uncertain ground if we play like we did yesterday. Wins against Newcastle and Arsenal are probably going to be enough but I'd suggest that RH takes KWP and Che aside this week and tells them that they will be in the starting line up on Saturday before greater damage is done.

halftimeorange added 11:29 - Mar 1
Every time we come up against an aggressive forward we seem to capitulate. Anyone who saw Antonio against Liverpool would have seen this coming. It's happened in the recent past with Glen Murray and Andy Carroll, for example. Of our two centre backs one needs to be a hard man and the other quick and efficient. Bednarek and Stephens are willing but neither of those things. I agree with others that playing JWP out of position was foolhardy. Not only did that reduce our creativity it weakened our midfield defensively. Even so, JWP was no match for a full steam Antonio. Who knows what's come over McCarthy, once again a resident Saints goalkeeper seemingly losing his nerve whilst the on-loan Forster is playing out of his skin. Maddening.

Merlin added 11:49 - Mar 1
There are good days and bad days. I know we have our share of bad ones but we’ve had some good ones in recent months. Liverpool had a bad one yesterday too!

Number_58 added 11:56 - Mar 1
How come certain other players never get named and shamed when they have shockers? PEH passed the ball to the opposition so many times yesterday I wouldn't have been surprised if WH had given him their MoM award. Criticise those you don't like by all means Nick, but don't leave out those who equally contribute to a poor team performance.

wibbersda added 11:57 - Mar 1
Just we we started to look comfortable with recent performaces RH decides to screw it up with his formation tinkering. I have no idea what he thinks he can achieve do this given the problems it caused in the first half of the Season. Stop it Ralph it does not work!!!

saintmark1976 added 12:00 - Mar 1
No coincidence that since our penny pinching owners dispensed with the services of Cedric and Yoshida we have gone into free fall once again. We've played five matches, lost four, let in twelve goals and been dumped out of the cup whilst leading two one with twenty minutes to play.Our one success being a win against an absolutely dire Aston Villa, only safely secured by a last gasp goal whilst their keeper was trying to play as a centre forward.

Has anybody other than Ralph got the slightest idea as to what he was attempting to achieve with that team selection yesterday? He couldn't have chosen a better line up to lose if that had been his sole intention in the first place. Ings not starting, a midfielder at full back and a lightweight rookie( Smallbone) in J W P's place. Those that were chosen looked lethargic and disinterested and as for the keeper their are no words which can adequately describe his efforts for their second goal.

We won't go down (100/1 against with Betfred )but if yesterday is a glimpse into the future of the Saints with the owners continued lack of investment, I'm now beginning to wonder how many fans will wish to make the journey with them.


underweststand added 12:19 - Mar 1
Much already said above, but even in a bad game we need to analyse individuals.
JWP DAJFU at RB, but he is much more effective in MF, and with two young candidates for the full back spot why did Ralph choose to leave both on the bench.(?) with less than ten games left we need to sort out who is the best choice..or will we buy someone else ?

WHam's had a big, tall back line, and with only Stephens, Bednarek and PEH carrying any height in an (otherwise) short and lightweight side who were were bundled out of the game. Sadly I am not convinced by PEH who made many bad passes (and if he is to end up at Spurs ..I hope we get a good fee this time).

Boufal was less than useless for all the skill he shows in possession going forward, his defensive tackling only ends in conceding free-kicks. Ralph defends our retention of ChÈ Adams why didn't he get on instead of Vestergaard(?)..we needed attackers at that point

Overall a very poor show, YES we can blame McCarthy for his error, but last week it took us 28 shots to manage 2 goals. More responsibility is needed up front, instead of continuously blaming the defence after every match.
We lacked a fit Ings... and a fit Redmond - and it showed.


LordDZLucan added 12:48 - Mar 1
I have to agree with the contributors who have commented on PEH. If you were to ask me what his key strength is I'd be hard pushed to come up with one. It's not tackling, it's not shooting and it certainly isn't heading. He can pass ok but he's not the best in the team by a long way. Take the £35m!

SaintPaulVW added 13:23 - Mar 1
West Ham played exactly like the last game so RH being unprepared for that was suicidal.

The team selection was crazy. We did well when we had a settled back 4 of specialist players. KWP or Valery should have been played at RB from the start. These bizarre selections must unsettle the players.

Had a proper RB been played KWP could have played further up.

Romeu should have been on from the start.

Boufal is an impact player. Playing both him and Smallbone from the start left us overrun.

Obafemi clearly needs to learn a lot. Hopefully this game time is helping.

All goalkeepers make blunders. Hopefully McCarthy can just forget and move on.

Our attack as always looks completely disjointed. Players seem to have no idea where other players are likely to be. So a mass of chances just turn into aimless passes into space in the box.

Yes JS and JB were bad but they weren't solely to blame.

I was aiming for 9 from 15 points and it's now at 6 from the next 6. Still doable but everyone needs to raise their game.



Block8 added 13:55 - Mar 1
Difficult to argue with this result & extremely poor performance. Strange selections & tactics against a team we knew would look to exploit on the break. Couple of things, we have pace & they were at home, why didn't we play that way? The emphasis was on them to get a result!
Ralph also said we had worked hard in training to counter their style of play. It looked like that was for Stephens and Bednarek to attack the high ball and Smallbone to tuck in behind, evidenced by him being the last defender for all three goals. Why not employ Romeu for that job, it is after all what he is good at?
This isn't a disaster but unless we perform better we could still slip up. Upcoming sides now know how we don't like to mix it!

Block8 added 14:03 - Mar 1
Just needed to add that a very poor weekend was brightened a bit with Lovrens role in Liverpool's record attempt failing 😁😁😁😁

wessexman added 15:21 - Mar 1
Our lack of physicality and height will always be exploited by opponents. Ralph and previous managers can coach all they like but...concentration and bravery and things you either have or you don't. Looks like we are heading for a nervy end of the season.

Boris1977 added 17:19 - Mar 1
Play your best players in the correct positions. We're not good enough to rest our best players until safety is mathematically gurenteed. If you stay up the team needs investment over the summer and need to keep our best players. The pre season should be used to work on the best system with the players we have and go into the new season hitting the ground running. We're in trouble this season as Ralph seemed determined to use the idiotic 5 at the back for the first few months of this season despite it not working in pre season. Thankfully the Leicester humiliation killed that did system and the results improved.

We are 5-6 players away from being competitive but it's a big call to ask for this to be fixed over the summer so the rebuilding will take a few seasons. In the meantime we need to keep are best players - no selling to make a quick buck. Mr owner over to you.

saint66 added 17:42 - Mar 1
Perhaps we should also question our goalkeeper who comes off his line flaps about at the ball as a large body appears and also gifts a goal.
The defence starts with confidence in your keeper.
You have to question the desire of the whole team with this performance.

bigmart added 21:19 - Mar 1
Prior to the game I read that West Ham/Antonio would target KWP down the flank, as JWP had Grealish and Saha in his pocket in previous games I'm not surprised Ralph kept him at right back.
Ings picked up a knock and hadn't trained all week until Friday, again no surprise he was on the bench.
Every goalkeeper has a howler, DeGea had one today, I bet next time McCarthy is in a similar situation he'll stick his fist through the ball and player if need be.

Like everyone else, I can see the defence needs sorting, Jack has improved massively over the past few months but Jan seems to be falling away.
I have a feeling that PEH may be on his way in the summer, I'm not sure if it would be a great loss or not.

West Ham targeted Long, Armstrong and Boufal in the game with not much done about it by the ref.
At the end of the day, we didn't play well enough all over the pitch to get anything from the game.

redwight added 23:07 - Mar 1
It's all been said, especially by A1079, but JWP at RB made no sense whatsoever. KWP had 11 games to convince everyone that his move should be made permanent. Now he has 10. Total madness.

janecook added 09:01 - Mar 2
As Nick has been saying are defence is shite. I said before the match why did we have 2 right backs on the bench and then Prowse started at RB? If neither was fit enough for a full game why not play one in each half? Why did Obafemi start over Adams when Adams is a more experienced striker? Why when we were losing 3-1 did Ralph bring on Vestergaard when Adams would have been better bet? Maybe its time to start Gunn in goal and Romeu instead of Hojbjerg.

Saint4Life247 added 09:50 - Mar 2
I've said for a long time that PEH is poor/average at best. He has a reasonable game every now and again and sneaks under the radar for another month. If someone comes in and offers decent money over the summer I will personally drive him their, no petrol money needed.

kernow added 09:58 - Mar 2
Lots of negative thoughts expressed which are hard to disagree with.
Something positive, which nobody has mentioned as it understandably gets lost in the general gloom of a poor performance and abject capitulation, was Michael Obafemi's goal. That was a beautiful finish.

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