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2019/20 Season Review - The Wide Men
Monday, 3rd Aug 2020 11:43

Saints have had a plethora of options out wide, here we take a look at how each have fared in the last year and what the next season may hold for them.

Saints used a number of player out wide in midfield, at times some where those that usually played in a more central role and have been covered in our last look at the season, so here we look at the those not so far mentioned.

The first player is Nathan Redmond who divided opinion at times, but for me he is a vital member of the squad who might at times frustrate, but ultimately he has an end product and although his goal tally wasn't great, he was the highest ranked of our players for assists.

He was the one player that we had out wide that could consistently scare opposition full backs and his partnership with Ryan Bertrand was a feature of our game, meaning that sometimes he would not get the assist, but he would have done a lot in the build up.

So a good season for Redmond and there are plenty of signs that it could be an even better one next season.

Stuart Armstrong also had a good year, playing 30 of the 38 Premier League games, although only 19 were starts, but he had an eye for goal after the turn of the year scoring all of his 5 goals in 2021.

A different sort of player than Redmond, a hard worker rather than a flying winger, he had 3 assists and a decent contribution from Armstrong in the season just gone.

There were high hopes for Moussa Djenepo and initially he looked the part, scoring twice in the first three matches of the season, but it was clear that he was a raw player and he more than most struggled in the Autumn as things disintegrated.

Injuries hit his season and he started 10 games with another 8 off the bench and he was not helped by a sending off in the final game before lockdown which meant that he missed the first three games on the return through suspension and then got an injury that kept him out of the rest.

There are high hopes for Moussa in the coming season, now having a little more experience and coaching at this level he could truly be a player who excites next season and proves his worth.

Sofiane Boufal scored a goal in a friendly at Feyenoord and launched a message board friendly that he might finally turn his undoubted talent into consistent performances.

Initially that looked to be the case when in the opening games he had a couple of assists, but sadly the rest of the season panned out pretty much like the rest of his time here, at times he could show pure brilliance, but too often a mazy run would have nothing at the end of it, whether it was scoring or laying on chances there was little end product after the first few games.

His only goal came in the FA Cup at home to Spurs a late equaliser that earned us a replay, but truth is most of his 8 starts and 12 off the bench came in the first half of the season and he was behind Redmond, Armstrong and Djenepo in the pecking order, indeed Ralph seemed to prefer to start JWP or another central midfielder out wide than play Boufal, after the New Year he only played 152 minutes of Premier League football.

He now enters the last year of his contract which is bad because his transfer value has dropped, but good in that he may now be willing to take a drop in wages in order to get the security of a short term deal, it cannot be said that Boufal has not had many chances to show what he can do, the truth is he has shown brilliance but it has been all too rare and not enough to justify keeping him any longer.

Indeed in the time he has been here Josh Sims has had far more end product and played far fewer games.

Which brings us on to Josh Sims who was strangely sent out on loan to New York Red Bulls in August even though it meant he would play few games before their season ended and he would be left kicking his heels until the restart of the season in March assuming he signed another six month loan deal.

Sims has showed promise when he has played, but just doesn't seem to be Ralph's sort of player, I think that he might be looking at another loan spell or more likely as he is in the final year of his contract being allowed to leave on a permanent basis.

I had high hopes a few years ago for Josh, but sadly it just hasn't happened for him, the luck just doesn't seem to have gone his way, I thought that his performances at the end of the 2018/19 season might have kept him at the club for this season, but the choice seemed to be keep either Boufal or Sims and loan the other out, that goal at Feyenoord swung the decision, with the benefit of hindsight I'm not sure it was the right one.

Nathan Tella made only a fleeting appearance for the first team as an 88th minute sub at Norwich, but seems to be highly rated by the club, that means that in order for him to progress then both Boufal & Sims will need to leave.

Photo: Action Images

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WestSussexSaint added 13:45 - Aug 3
For me Redmond still flatters to deceive on too many occasions. Decent runs too often end up in a cul de sac or the wrong decision i.e. passes rather than shoots or the other way round. That is not to say he doesn’t add value to the team and he is ahead of Djenepo, Boufal and Sims in selection terms. It could be so much more though. I can see why Pep got so frustrated with him in that game a couple of seasons ago.

Armstrong is quality. It is no surprise that when he has been fit and in the side Saints have looked a better balanced side and more threatening going forward. I’m not sure wide right is his best position as I seem him better as a more central attacking midfielder but he has had to adapt to Ralph’s preferred formation.

Djenepo is still one for the future and gives us an impact sub option. Boufal can be sold if we can find a buyer as he has had too many chances now and rarely delivers.

TimSaint added 13:45 - Aug 3
Let's not forget our wide player who just won The League, The League Cup, May yet win the FA Cup (November) to complete a domestic treble, got to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Champs League, Got Past the Group Stages of the Europa and made it to the Round of 32 in that tournament. Must surely be worth a run out at Saints - actually no, because we are talking about Elyounoussi !! :-)

felly1 added 17:39 - Aug 3
I thought Elyounoussi looked awful for us. Totally out of his depth. Zero goals or assists and barely went past his man.
Redmond is a really good player in my opinion. He is coming into his prime and has matured into a top player.
His weakness as Nick pointed out is not enough goals.
If people expect him to be an absolute world beater to be tearing defenders to bits, scoring tons of goals and assists then he hardly would be at Saints for very long would he?
It's about being realistic and accepting the absolute top players are not going to either stay or come to us so a Redmond level player is the best we're going to get in terms of creativity.
Armstrong too is a great player, particularly for only 5 million.
We are lucky to have both of these guys.
Djenepo is exciting but erratic. A good sub.

ItchenNorth added 20:21 - Aug 3
Boufal still looks the part for me whenever he plays. He can unlock a chance, a game with touches of brilliance. He not a lazy player either and always tracks back.
Redmond had a relatively quiet season but is still a starter for me. When he cuts inside, you know he's a danger.
Djenepo looks good, but we've really not seen too much of him due to injury. Exciting player though.
Armstrong has been quality this season.

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