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Hasenhuttl Prioritises Academy Before Transfers But A Balance Needs To Be Struck
Monday, 13th Jul 2020 09:33

It is great to see some young players breaking through into the Saints first team and making their mark, but youngsters need nurturing and we also need soe experience in the side especially in the centre of defence.

Older Saints fans will look back to the 1950's- 1980's when there always seemed to be a great youngster or two coming through the ranks, Ted Bates started the ball rolling with the likes of Terry Paine, John Sydenham and Mike Channon and Lawrie McMenemy built on that foundation with the likes of Steve Williams, Danny Wallace and many more, even Chris Nicholl enjoyed a golden period with Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer et al, but it dried up a little in the 1990's when only a very few players broke into the first team and established themselves.

The Academy had to be revamped, but the problem was that you have to start at the beginning, these days kids are signed before they reach 10, so we were scratching around and struggling to get the true quality we needed.

I have always maintained that you only find out how good your recruitment process is 10-12 years after the event, when Luke Shaw broke through in 2012 he had joined the club in 2003 aged 8 and then been nurtured by our coaching system since then, the fact that he was in the first team in 2012 was not a testament to the manager or academy heads then, it showed that we were getting things right in 2003.

So the likes of Will Smallbone and Jake Vokins breaking through now are telling us what our academy system was like in 2008-2010 etc etc.

But when we consider whether we should look to the academy or transfer window we should also remember that Bates, McMenemy and Nicholl did not use just youth, there was always experience, each brought in those who could pass on their experience to the youngsters, Alan Ball was a great mentor to Steve Williams, Jimmy Case did a similar job for Chris Nicholl's team.

This is where we are lacking now, if Pierre Emille Hojbjerg goes to Spurs then we could replace him from within the club, Oriel Romeu has been a player of the year, some would argue he is better than Hojbjerg, Will Smallbone could also do a job.

But the real issue in the tem has been the centre of defence and has been since January 2017 when Jose Fonte left in a huff and Virgil Van Dijk was injured, we have never replaced them.

In every game this season we have been found wanting in the centre of defence because we have no leadership and organisation there, it happened again on Thursday at Everton where a simple long ball up the field found Richarlison completely on his own with not a Saints defender near him, that is not a lack of ability it is a lack of a leader and this needs to be addressed.

You have probably read all this before from me, why do I keep on like a broken record ? because nothing has changed, in every game since the restart we have been found wanting at the back, just in some more than others we have got away with it.

The solution to this problem is not within the club, it needs to be solved by experience, Jack Stephens will be 27 in the coming season, he has some good qualities but clearly he is not an organiser and a leader, Jan Bednarek is no longer a promising youngster, he has played over 60 Premier League games and played in the 2018 World Cup finals for Poland, he is a great blocker of the ball and stopper, but he is not the cultured player we need.

Both are at an age when they are not going to suddenly change, if organisation was within them, they would have already shown them.

The centre of defence is the one area where you need an experienced leader and we have not got one and that has cost us dearly.

So I agree with Ralph in the fact that he has to look at his academy before spending money, but he also needs to strike that balance, if we had signed Gary Cahill last summer, it would have made a big difference, yes he was way past his best but he would have organised the defence and made a big difference and we would have cut out those frustrating lapses that have cost us so dearly.

So we do not perhaps have to spend big in this transfer window, but we do have to spend and we need to spend it wisely, another promising 21 year old Central defender from the continent might improve us, but we need organisation and experience and they will not have that.

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mgprobert added 10:32 - Jul 13
I think you and I sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to Saints transfers - quality CB missing for some time now, when it should have been top of the list. You're right about getting the right balance but we are just coming up to transfer window - I wonder if this "look at the academy first" talk is just part of the negotiating tactic i.e. we don't really need your player, we've got our own, but if we get him for the right price...

saintmark1976 added 10:32 - Jul 13
The club preparing the ground for the now usual result from the upcoming transfer window. I fully expect that once again we will have the lowest nett spend of any club that kicks off the 20/21 Premiership season.

highfield49 added 10:43 - Jul 13
On the other hand RH states that we are desperate to sign a central defender, because we have nobody coming through the ranks, and watches the asking price for potential signings rise by £5m. I have no idea which players fit your age, experience, leadership qualities Nick but personally I trust RH to get the right players to fit the energetic style of play he demands. Not too many experienced leaders out there who still have the legs and lungs but I guess Lovren and his poisonous ego might be available for £150k a week.

LordDZLucan added 11:31 - Jul 13

petedoors1 added 12:16 - Jul 13
That says it all. Saints have No Money!!!!!!

schatfield added 12:35 - Jul 13
Before I read this article, I wondered if it would be yet another bash at our central defenders. Suffice to say, no surprise.....

Colburn added 14:35 - Jul 13
I didn't realise you had an issue with our centre back pairing Nick..

Evertons defence got lucky, they could have been 3 down at the break. Man City were lucky not to concede another against us and only had 2 more shots on target than us. Norwich defence got lucky, we could have put 6 past them, as with Watford. Arsenal we gifted them the game, not the CB's. Apart from that we have 10 points from the other 4 games, conceding just 2. You can talk all day about luck but it's the same for every team. Get off the backs of our centre backs! It is boring and unbalanced. One player has really underperformed since the restart and you never criticise him..

Yawn indeed

Colburn added 14:38 - Jul 13
I mean seriously, are you going to blame our centre backs for coronavirus next or what?

erick added 14:46 - Jul 13
The major issue for me it is not centre backs, they didn't not receive sufficient cover. We miss Wanyama more than Van dijk. The last few games with romeu at the base of mid we have been excellent. We limit more shots for opponents, wardprowse is traditionally more attack minded, hojberg an 8, we lacked CDM. Though we need a shift from Bednarek, Bertrand, Redmond, long. Harrison Reed should comeback and replace hojberg. Sign KWP, then this summer we dip in the market and act on that whole side.

redandwhitedee added 14:49 - Jul 13
Absolute tosh as usual.
Stephens and bednarek are developing into an excellent partnership and I would take them over most other CB pairings in this league. You seem to forget how often the CB heroes of the past like Fonte and Lundekvaam were found wanting. VVD saved Fonte so many times and Svensson did same for Klaus.
Tell me which “cultured” CB wants to come to play in one of the smallest capacity top flight stadiums in Europe with no hope of winning anything ? And if you do somehow find one better than what we have.. how many months do you expect him to stay before yet again we call upon Jack Stephens to plug that gap superbly.. again (Just count how many clean sheets jack stephens helped us to when Fonte & VVD were absent.. ).

benalisbroom added 15:53 - Jul 13
Nick, although I kind-of agree with some of the points you raise, it seems a bit churlish to be moaning about our CB’s a week after the best performance by a Saints CB pairing in living memory. You may be right - neither Jan nor Jack might not be the long term solution, but given their recent endeavours (and factoring in Stephens’ growing excellence in his distribution of the ball from the back) it seems like the perfect moment to really get behind these two young fellas.

felly1 added 17:43 - Jul 13
Personally most fans would welcome a new centre back to bolster the squad and compete with Stephens, Bednarek and Vestergaard. We need to sign KPW as well or if we can't work out a deal with Spurs then a right back will be needed.
That's the balanced view in my opinion.
Unfortunately this writer has a footballing grudge against Jack Stephens and before him it was Yoshida.
If anyone dare criticise Redmond he'll say the fans are hounding him whilst seemingly not realising he does exactly the same with Stephens.
There is nothing wrong with not rating Stephens if that's your view, just like fans who don't rate Redmond are entitled to express their view.
The point is even when Stephens and the rest of the defence have a good game, or don't concede there is never a mention of this or any praise. A fragile ego afraid to admit they're sometimes wrong exists here in my opinion.
No doubt after the Man U game or the following ones where we let a few goals in and maybe a mistake gets made he'll bang on about how he told us and how right he is and so on and so on.
This is why you end up losing respect for the writer and his views as there is no balance.


Number_58 added 22:42 - Jul 13
Can someone please give Nick's stereo a whack, his record's been stuck for the past three and a half years.

davidargyll added 07:08 - Jul 14
Nick, you seem to have this view that if we concede it’s ALWAYS a defensive fault if we score it’s ALWAYS brilliance in attack.
The RicharLlison goal came from a superb arrow-like pass and good execution. Our win against Man City came basically from amazingly good luck. And if you cannot see that you need to go to Specsavers.
FFS occasionally you have to get off your horse and say that our back four are not always awful and our offence is not always fantastic.

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