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Ralph Admits Defensive Problems
Wednesday, 11th Mar 2020 09:16

Ralph Hasenhuttl has admitted that Saints poor form of late has been down to poor defending, see what he has to say here.

I said back in January that Saints had taken a calculated risk in not signing a central defender, something that has been a problem at the club since before Hasenhuttl arrived in December 2018.

I felt then that the Club were confident that they had enough in the squad to stay up with some to spare and therefore gambling on getting through the final months, initially that looked good and several good wins boosted the fan base and for a while all the comments on social media had been relatively positive, some even suggesting that one of our defenders should get a call up for England.

But the truth is bad players don't become great overnight and vice versa and in a week when the club has publicly admitted it was willing to transfer Jannik Vestergaard in the summer, Ralph has shown that he is aware of the problem.

Hasenhuttl has expressed his frustration at the soft goals we keep conceding, errors that have left us losing 4 out of the last 5 games and have taken us from a position where we were in with a shout of a Europa League place, to now looking nervously over our shoulder if this run continues.

The manager said on the situation:

Asked why they’ve struggled for success at St Mary’s, Hasenhuttl said: “We concede too many goals at home. It’s simple.

“In the end, this costs you a lot of wins and a lot of points.

“The draw isn’t really our result because we either win or lose.

“It’s really crazy.

“We have a lot of wins this season but also a lot of defeats. We have exactly the points we deserve and not more. We are not better than 34.

“If we want to be better than the 34, then you must have more home wins which is our goal for the future.”

The Austrian is spot on, I have said for most of the season going forward we are a top 10 side, but defending we are not even Championship Level, some will defend our central defenders by saying that the strikers have missed chances, yes that is true, but football isn't like that, no striker puts away every chance, but at the back it is tougher, strikers can afford to miss sitters, goalkeepers and defenders cannot afford to make mistakes, so although it is true that you need both units to be functioning at 100% strikers get a second chance when they err, defenders and keepers don't.

Harsh but it is the reality, the simple reason that we don't take more points at home is that on the road we are naturally deeper and this suits us, we can cover up our defenders shortcomings and not allow teams to get in behind us, but at home it's different, we can push teams back, but that exposes our weaknesses and the first is we can't defend on the break, Wolves ripped us apart on the break, both Burnley and Newcastle won it on the break and even Villa had several chances that they did not take.

Hasenhuttl knows this but what can he do ? sadly only what I have been saying all season, hope that this like the Villa game is one of those days we get away with it.

He knows that it doesn't matter what he does on the training ground it is not going to change things, some things in football cannot be coached into you, you have to have them in you, an ability to read the game, an ability to concentrate for 90 minutes and the ability to talk , Mark up and organise.

We do not have a player in our current back four who can do any of that, if we did then we would have more than 34 points, Ralph Hasenhuttl would not be pointing that out and I would not have to write the same post match review time and time again as we repeat the same mistakes time and time again.

Everyone has their opinion about why we are struggling, but the reality is that we can now only play what we have in the squad, so all we can do is put in the kind of support we saw at St Mary's in the second half on Saturday against Newcastle and help get our team over the line, then we can start to reorganise in the summer.

Photo: Action Images

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A1079 added 10:29 - Mar 11
Your last paragraph - lets get over the line and reorganise in the summer - I seem to recall that is what we said at the end of last season and the season before that - guess what - the club did sweet FA about the areas that needed addressing. What makes you think that they will this time?

Ralph is just stating what you and all of us have been saying for the last 3 seasons (it is as if the penny has finally dropped!), so why hasn't it been dealt with by the club?

I disagree that our strikers are a top 10 side. On what evidence? Our conversion rate against chances are poor. So combine our poor defending with our poor strike rate it is no wonder that we have had 3-4 seasons of struggle. But, all we are all doing is just repeating ourselves. It's a long broken record that has become tiresome. Everyone knows the problem, but what and when are they going to do something about it?

highfield49 added 11:38 - Mar 11
The irony of the situation is of course that a few years ago we recruited some rough(ish) diamonds and turned them into stunning gems, sadly all long departed to clubs with higher incomes. The more recent gem collection not only contains a few fakes but also several that no amount of polishing will make them shine. A few of the expensive items have been loaned out for show elsewhere but buyers aren't showing much interest.

Our present owner turned out to have invested in the wrong business, thinking it would make him even wealthier without putting in any effort other than purchasing a few tins of paint for the toilets. Sadly it doesn't look as though we'll be able to restock any time soon without auctioning off the poor investments and attracting a businessman/woman who understands the nature of sporting success and failure. Although I'm not a huge fan of Cortese I'm actually hoping that he is contemplating investment because he's not a fool and understands passion without rose tinted emotion.

Fingers crossed that we push on to gather another six points or so asap and that some financial restructuring is in place to enable us to continue to support the club we love, with our own rose tinted emotion, for many years to come.

andywelsh added 11:40 - Mar 11
To be fair we have spent a lot of money on central defenders over the last few years only to find they were no better than what we already had at the club. I can understand the club being reluctant to splash money in January with the Carillo disaster fresh in their minds. If it were easy to source Premiership class defenders, all the teams in the league would have solid defences which they don't. We can't spend 50 million on an established defender because they won't want to come to an unfashionable club even if we could afford the wages. Therefore we will continue with the same strategy of buying up and coming players and hoping to develop them. For a few years we got it right and were successful, for the past few years we appear to have got it wrong despite spending more. I'm afraid there are no easy answers here. In Ralph I think we have a manager who agrees with the strategy and can develop players. We now need to clear the decks in the summer and hopefully find a few uncut diamonds from somewhere.

codge added 11:43 - Mar 11
The perfect response from A1079,couldn’t have put it better myself.

wibbersda added 11:54 - Mar 11
How about sitting deep at home as we do away then. The fans may not like it but at least we could get draws rather than losses.

HythePeer added 12:17 - Mar 11
Better players will want to play for a better side so a team can only get players of a particular standard. (as noted by andywelsh). The defenders that exist need to be organized in a way that works, even if VVD returned he would be of little use because RH would have him over-committed and enthusiastically chasing players and getting out of position. Team selection is made on players conformation to his ideals and not on their ability. RH has some idealistic view of how football should be played and will continue to play that way even if it doesn't work, every week the wrong players will be selected, every week players will be played out of position, soft goals will be conceded, every week he will blame his players. With good fortune the team will just avoid relegation every year.

BoondockSaint added 12:47 - Mar 11
Tonight on Mastermind:
Contender: Ralph Hasenhuttl
Occupation: Football Manager
His chosen subject: The Bloody Obvious.

DPeps added 14:17 - Mar 11
A1079 has nailed it

The only thing I'd add is that our midfield doesn't protect the defence very well. The success we had in the past was not just the result of a solid defence, but also having a great midfield

saint66 added 20:08 - Mar 11
Continue to play the same old tune about the central defence but the club has greater issues which if not addressed wil witness a real collapse of Southampton FC.
We have a Chairman who lets face facts is not interested in the club,has apparently defaulted on securing the 50 % of the shares he was buying from Kat and now has informed us that he will not be investing further money into the club and now it seems wishes to make an exit.
Regarding the team as a whole,we do not seem to have a leader or anybody from our goalkeeper within defence who can read a game or keep concentrating for the whole 96 minutes.
We lack bite in midfield and rely heavily on Ingsy scoring our goals which seem to have dried up.
I really feel sorry for Ralph as I think he is a good manager but has been left with a heavy load on his shoulders.

LordDZLucan added 08:08 - Mar 12
I think it's no coincidence that when we are able to play Redmond and Armstrong on the flanks we look a lot more cohesive as a team. We defend so much better down the flanks and we also create a lot more chances. Djenepo and Boufal are not of the same standard and give the ball away far too easily in bad positions on thee pitch. They can only be played as attacking players as they are a liability defensively. If one or both of Redmond and Armstrong are missing I would push Ward-Prowse out to the flank and play either Smallbone or Romeu in the middle to make us stronger defensively.

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