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2019/20 Season Review - The Full Backs
Wednesday, 29th Jul 2020 11:00

There were several options at both right and left back throughout the season, but it was only after the restart did we truly find a winning combination, here we take a look at those who played in the positions.

Before I start I will state that I am only going to look at those who were seen as genuine contenders for the position, James Ward Prowse for instance filled in right at back on several occasions, but this was not his main role.

So let's start on the right, on the opening day at Burnley though we played three at the back in Stephens, Vestrgaard & Bednarek with disastrous affects, so initially this season we played wing back's rather than full back's, however Ralph Hasenhuttl soon realised he did not have the personnel to play this way and reverted to a back four.

The first on the right though was Yan Valery and no one was arguing with this at first, Valery had occupied the position the previous season, but something had changed, he did not look the player he was.

He started the first three games and looked Ok, but suddenly he was on the bench and strangely not in the team , the club initially said he was injured and then later that he had a virus, but the rumour mill said different and stories of his off the field lifestyle abounded.

The fact was though that Ralph was not playing him and for many games would prefer anything other than Valery.

He spent over 3 months without playing at all and then came back in for the last game before the break against Newcastle, the performance will be remembered for the late error that gifted the winner, but the truth is he was unlucky on that and his display was not bd.

Certainly he was back in for the first two games after the restart but then found himself dropped again for the on loan Walker-Peters.

Valery is a talent, but there is something not quite right at the moment and I think the issue is due to off the pitch rather than on it, let us hope it can be sorted.

Cedric Soares came back into the side and played well, but the issue was that both Saints and the player had agreed that he would leave at the end of his contract, he played well enough to attract Arsenal and this being a good deal for Saints in that they would get a loan fee and his full wages paid, an agreement that was said to be worth £5 million to the club, off he went and in came Kyle Walker Peter's on loan.

Walker-Peter's first game against Burnley was a loss, but he did not look out of place in the team, he hadn't played much football in his career so was obviously low on match practice and confidence that comes with playing regularly, but he looked a tidy player.

It was therefore a surprise that he did not feature again in the last three games before the suspension.

During the recess there was much speculation that he would not return to the club, but he did and although he again sat out the first 2 games, he returned for the 3rd and improved game on game.

Now there are not many Saints fans who would be disappointed if he was signed on a permanent basis, it would be good to have two good option on the right along with Valery and competition might be a spur for Valery, who can perhaps see his career slipping away.

On the left Ryan Bertrand looked disinterested in the first third of the campaign, I felt in 2018/19 he had been crushed by his shock omission from the World Cup squad and that he had realised that the big move he had perhaps hoped for had not come his way, he had lost his mojo.

There is no doubt that on his day he is a quality player and in the second half of the season he found his form again and looked something like the player that he was, he is 31 next week but hopefully he may still have have a couple of seasons in him left yet.

Kevin Danso came in on loan and we were told he was a Central defender who could also play in the centre of midfield, certainly he looked a big strong strapping player, but strangely we never used him in any of those positions, he was initially used as a left back with Bertrand out injured but had played his last League game by the start of November indeed his last start in the league had been mid September.

He was switched to right back for the two FA Cup games and put in reasonable displays, but the question still remains as to why Danso was not played in the centre of defence even when we were in total disarray.

With Ralph Hasenhuttl your face either fits or it doesn't and it seems Danso's didn't, the talk is that Hasenhuttl is considering whether there is a future for Danso at St Mary's but his lack of game time suggest's this is more professional courtesy than a real intention.

But the light on the horizon at left back is Jake Vokins, making his debut still only 19 at Man City in the League cup in the 89th minute, he made his first start in the FA Cup against Huddersfield and not only put in a decent display but capped it with a long range effort goal.

He would make his Premier League debut against Brighton after the restart and play the full 90 minutes and did not look out of place, I would say he has the potential to make the left back spot his own if not this season where the club will start to use him more and more, but the following season as Bertrand gets older.

So overall if Saints can get in Kyle Walker Peters permanently alongside Yan Valery and with Jake Vokins coming through the ranks, the full back positions look secure for the coming season.

Photo: Action Images

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underweststand added 16:45 - Jul 29
Looking back a few years, it sounds odd to see the RB role so uncertain - even dodgy.
Cedric wanted away, and finally got himself a good contract with Arsenal, but he had few friends on this site. Yan Valery looked promising after last seasons good displays, but (as Nick diplomatically noted) his off-the-field activities have caused more concern than his fitness issues. KWP 's displays have improved with every game, and if we can avoid any weird exchange deals with Spurs and Hojbjerg - he would IMHO - be a v. good signing.

Ryan Bertrand has had the LB spot nailed down since he arrived and even in his absence Matt Targett didn't do enough to take over that role when he had the chance. The age factor comes into play and even if Bertrand is still OK his best by date is surely close.

One name missing from this equation is Sam McQueen, who DAJFU even in the Euro League games and came out of the Milan game with good reports. Successive managers loaned him out and last heard he was back recovering from a bad leg injury. He is still under contract till 2021 and if he can recover form, would be another viable option.

Jake Vokins looked good as a 15 year old (when he was drafted into the U23 side) but he has a way to go before he can take over the LB shirt for 38 games a season, although he does seem to have impressed Ralph very positively of late.

There are so many rumours over this role and a few of them look to be "agent-inspired Fake News" reports to get their man into the limelight. I'd be happy to leave this decision to Ralph and The Board.


ItchenNorth added 22:45 - Jul 29
Bertrand and Walker-Peters have played well and should be our start full backs next season.
As for the rest, Valery looks lost at times. He is better going forward than defending but not really a wing back (yet). Most frustrating though, is his lack of composure on the ball. Too many times he just lumps it into row Z when he has options available if more composed and then at other times, he is trying to play out from the back when he should be getting rid of if. Something has not quite worked for him this season, which is a shame. I'd rather see JWP fill in at full back if we are short.
Volkins on the other hand has been impressive in his first few outings for Saints and hopefully he can push for a starting place next season.
We do need another full back in the transfer window though.

SaintPaulVW added 08:22 - Jul 30
I may be wrong but the only period in which Cedric really convinced me of his ability was this season when he was in his final year. Whether that was because he was looking for a move, who knows?

Bertrand is a class act, our most consistent defender for several years, but at times this year didn't appear to be 100% focused.

KWP, if we can work a deal, and Vokins look really good.

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