Saints V Brentford The Verdict
Thursday, 17th Sep 2020 08:52
A really bad day at the office, with just about everybody having an off day, but this is not the end of the World, Ralph Hasenhuttl just needs to get things back on track, but he needs to address some of the same old issues from the past few seasons.
Saints put out a full first team, we should have won this game at a canter, but we seemed to have struggled to motivate ourselves and as I have been banging on about, we lack organisation and leadership at the back.
Brentford were up for it and they had done their homework, time and time again they got the ball forward quickly and stretched us at the back.
I am not going to point the finger at individuals, but a good tea is build through strength through it's spine and this starts at the back, but we have not got this, defensively we were dreadful last night, we lacked organisation, we lacked leadership, we lacked basic marking.
The two goals were examples of this, the first a free header from a corner, we had no communication and no one seemed to know who was marking who and leaving it up to someone else.
Likewise the second goal, the ball was pulled back and again a man unmarked to pick his spot.
This has been going on for nearly four years, it is fine relying on youngsters, but they need a leader, we need a cool experienced head at the back, who leads and organises, unless we get that we will just repeat the last few years ad infinitum.
Jack Stephens get a lot of flak from me, but the problem for him he is in a role he is not suited for, he is not a leader or an organiser, Jan Bedanrek is the natural stopper, the man who attacks the ball and marks the man, so that leaves Jack as the man who holds the back line together, but he can't do that, that doesn't make him a bad player, it makes him one being asked to do a role he cannot do, that is not a criticism, if you put Lionel Messi in the back four, he would probably not be able to organise it either.
So last night needs to be a wake up call, but more than that the alarm has been going off since January 2017, we need to sort out the centre of defence and have partners in it who are not only contrasting but also compliment each other's play, we haven't got that.
We have lost the opening two games because teams have sussed us out, they know we can't defend quick breaks, they know we are disorganised at the back and can't mark our men.
Some will say it isn't just a back four problem and they would be right, it wasn't a defender who let their man run for the first goal, but it was hard to see who let him go because there were at least three Saints players standing around watching and not marking anyone.
At Palace it wasn't the defence who gave the ball away, but the defence is there to defend, it is there to bale out the team when it loses the ball, there to make sure we defend situations, but it is not doing that.
Would Jose Fonte have allowed those around him to ball watch and chase shadows ? No he would have been talking, organising and making sure that in any situation everyone is in position and doing their job.
We need an old head, someone who might not even play every week, but is on the training ground and handing out his knowledge and experience.
If we play the same players and do the same things we will continue to get the same results! we have become complacent, the good results in the restart papered over a few cracks, we started to believe the hype, we forgot that Norwich should have been 2-0 up in the first game due to Pukki left unmarked in a similar position as Zaha was on Saturday.
We celebrated the City result and ignored the fact that the only difference between that game and the Leicester one was team spirit, there was just as much poor marking and a lack of organisation, but we got away with it.
I said that in literally every match preview last season and I was right, there were alays errors and there still are, the only question is whether we get away with it or not, in the restart we did, this season we haven't and now the opposition have cottoned on to it and are targeting catching us on the break.
This game is now done and dusted, we need to address the issues that we have and deal with them, I am sick to death of saying the same things and seeing them happen time and time again, but more to the point I'm sick to death of writing about it.
Photo: Action Images
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|wessexman added 09:14 - Sep 17|
You state we have had the same issues for 4 years....and you are right. I was at the fans forum when Ralph had just arrived. I asked him about our defensive issues then. We are now 18 months on. We only have a few weeks left and the transfer window will be shut. There are so many issues to address....issues which should have been sorted a long time ago. Brentford's first goal summed up everything for me. For a long time we had very little quality but plenty of quantity. With this wafer thin squad the quantity has now also gone. I am not holding my breath on seeing any more players coming in....this is going to be a long, long season.
|vanmans added 09:21 - Sep 17|
Brentford made six changes from the team they fielded at the weekend and we made 0ne. Just shows how poor our squad depth is. I think the 0nly time I heard Redmonds name was when he got injured to many players just didnt turn up. To make things worse Stephens today signed a 4 year contract extension why was he given this? I would be happy if we signed a new commanding centre half to play along side Salisu and Stephens never played again. Why did Forster not get a start maybe after tonight he might on Sunday.
|halftimeorange added 09:33 - Sep 17|
Brentford obviously watched the Palace game. Our weaknesses have been highlighted early on and will be seriously exploited. The only comfort is that there is time for the shortcomings to be addressed.
|IanRC added 09:42 - Sep 17|
|DPeps added 09:45 - Sep 17|
Haven't posted on here for a while, so I'll sum up my thoughts on saints over the last few months.
The end of the season was excellent, although it's given us a false sense of security. Let's not forget that pre-lockdown we were, more often than not, poor. Indeed, we may well have gone down if lockdown and restart hadn't happened. The restart allowed us to get back to basics, and it seemed to me that the clubs that fared best were those that focused on physical fitness and sharpness. That's why we did well.
This season is another blank slate. We've done more or less naff all in the transfer market, which is concerning. I'm no great fan of PEH, and agree that selling him was the best move in the circumstances. However, our midfield was poor before we sold him, and now it's a bit worse...
I like the faith that we have in youth players. However, that only works if they can slot into an already decent and consistent midfield. I feel for smallbone because I think a lot is being asked of him. I've always said that Romeu is a back up player, and JWP and Redmond are decent but sometimes totally anonymous. I'm also concerned that we seem to be selling Boufal. Again, I don't think he's great but we have dwindling options as it is.
Bottom line: don't rest on your laurels, we need a midfielder, maybe even two. We definitely need a DM
|SaintPaulVW added 09:52 - Sep 17|
Last night, Redmond got passed the ball, he ran backwards, tried to pass, missed the pass and the ball went into touch.
Summed the whole team up for me.
|SanMarco added 09:57 - Sep 17|
I have to confess I don't really understand this. One moment we are third in the post-lockdown final table and the next we have been 'found out'. I am also puzzled as to why fitness and lack of a pre-season is an issue when that was the same for all teams. Of course this is 'not the end of the world" but it represents 50 per cent of our hopes for silverware.
The "whose fault is it: defence or attack" argument that wil inevitably continue after this awful showing reduces things to an either-or debate where surely the truth is that on the evidence of the first two games we have several problems. I still think defensive problems are our biggest weakness but we are too reliant on players like Redmond, JWP (and even Adams) playing as well as their publicity says they should. I have tried very hard to rate these players highly, so has the club, but are they good enough to be a major part of the core of a very good team? (Yes, unfair to blame two when 11 play poorly but they are key players).
Perhaps greater fitness and a couple of new players (another CB on top of the new one + a defensive mf) will quickly turn it round but my (uncharacteristic) optimism of such 5 days ago has now gone. A good performance (and good result too would be nice) against Spuds would now be very timely.
|DorsetIan added 10:07 - Sep 17|
Ralph tried to use this game as away of drawing a line under Saturdays performance.
Now we’ve got two bad games to try to overcome and a more tired team for Sunday.
Best laid plans.
|ElSanto added 10:27 - Sep 17|
"I am not going to point the finger at individuals..."
"Jack Stephens get a lot of flak from me, but the problem for him he is in a role he is not suited for, he is not a leader or an organiser...so that leaves Jack as the man who holds the back line together, but he can't do that..."
Our defense spine is shit. Would really like a good ball playing midfielder, too. Someone capable of playing nice passes.
|SaintNick added 10:39 - Sep 17|
ElSanto I was constructive in my criticism of the back four as a whole . I didnt point the finger at Jack Stephens and just call him sh*t, I actually did the opposite and gave him an excuse, I said he is effectively being played out of position, we need to bring in an experenced leader and let Jack battle it out with Salisu, Benarek etc to play alongside him,
|SanMarco added 10:49 - Sep 17|
Nick is right on this. I think he uses JS as a 'lightning rod' but his general point applies to the whole defence. A wise(r) head is needed. Doesn't have to be a past-it player - just an organiser with plenty of PL experience (the problem, of course, is finding such a player. Which team DOESN'T want one!!). That we neeed strengthening elsewhere is a separate point.
|underweststand added 10:51 - Sep 17|
So we can see why Brentford ALMOST made it to the Prem. They are probably better than last season's Villa and Norwich, even though they've sold their best players since.
I think it's the worst game I've watched in a considerable time. Almost 70% possession but most of it sideways -passing in our own half.
Untypically ...Danny Ings missed two chances he would have put away with his eyes closed last season, and Adams (again) hitting the post from agood position.
Although we probably won't miss Hojbjerg, we certainly miss Armstrong, and now with Redmond likely out for a spell, our midfield looks decidedly "lightweight". Good to see the likes of Smallbone and Tella getting games time, but they maybe OK in a side playing well, but not one struggling to assert it self in tougher games. Maybe look to Hesketh or Slattery on Saturday.(?)...because this game is important to both sides for different reasons..
I wouldn't blame McCarthy too much, but the lack of organisation at the back with 5 Saints' marking 2 attackers prior to their second goal. Bednarek is best as last man , and I could really see Stephens filling Hojbjerg's role as he is more attack-minded and shows real aggression, as IMO ...he somewhat wasted as last man.
|WestSussexSaint added 11:00 - Sep 17|
The concern I have is that two teams of distinctly average players have come away with wins because their tactics were better. Having one way of playing is high risk/reward. It relies on consistent execution to be better than the oppositions plan to combat it. We don’t have the execution consistently enough hence why Palace/Brentford came away with wins using the same plan. Get that consistency or have a plan B when plan A isn’t working.
|HythePeer added 11:19 - Sep 17|
I'm surprised Saint's games are allowed to be played under the CV19 rules, you are only allowed to play "organised sporting events"
|Colburn added 11:50 - Sep 17|
Knew it would be Jack Stephens fault... Utterly pathetic Nick.
How many goals have we scored this season Nick?
Why haven't you criticised the eternally awful Redmond who loses the momentum every time we attack? He has been poor for 2 years and his attitude is also poor.
Some things never change.. Including a lack of goals meaning a lack of wins. I'm sure this is Stephens fault too. Your claim that this is not picking out individuals is just an insult to the intelligence of the reader, we've seen it all before, so it's not surprising..
Can someone else from the UI please write the match reports. I can't believe it's just this one clown available..
|davepid added 12:08 - Sep 17|
Come on Colburn show Nick some respect and if you chose not to ,please, move to another site .
|LordDZLucan added 12:19 - Sep 17|
Hear hear, Colburn. I've basically given up reading this forum because of the lack of objectivity and the pathetic vendetta against one player. But after the defeat last night I thought I'd just have a little look to see who'd been blamed and, 'Yes', it's poor old Jack Stephens again. I'll go back to giving it a miss I think.
|Berber added 12:36 - Sep 17|
There is no doubt that Stephens is playing well below his level from post lockdown. But for me, Redmond is the poorest performing player in the squad, notwithstanding Romeu's shocking passing.
|ExiledSupporter added 12:55 - Sep 17|
Well Nick, I agree with you entirely, bar one aspect...this was a worse performance than most that I can remember (okay, at home to Leicester was even worse) and you have been far too mild in your criticism!
This was as hopeless as I have seen us for a long while and reminded me of the darkest Puel days, of slow progress up the field with two passes backwards for every one forwards.
Yesterday the team seemed to have little energy or much commitment to the cause. Several players were notable for their lethargy (Barnard, Redmond, Romeu for starters) These are all players that I normally respect and approve of! Our 'famous pressing was at about 40% of the effort put in after last season's restart, while Brentford demonstrated far more commitment, energy and concerted press. The midfield was woeful , balls into the box were haphazard,(JWP seemed to have retreated into his shell) and simple passing seemed beyond us and we preferred sideways and backward mostly.
Yes, the defence was again all over the place, defending high up the field and relying on McCarthy to play sweeper is surely a tactic designed to make an unachievable virtue out of our most obviously chronic failing...no speed on the turn in the centre of defence, attacking full backs stranded too far up the field when our abysmal passing gave the ball to opponents who were then nearer our penalty area than were our own full backs. Naive marking and low levels of aggression at the centre. On top of that Ings had an unusually poor outing, unable to get his feet to do what he wanted and Adams, again, progressively fading out of the game. I think McCarthy is a good enough (just) player inside our penalty area but he is extremely nervous once he goes up field and I shiver with concern every time he does it...if this practice continues we will concede half a dozen ludicrous 'give the ball away' (as vs Arsenal) goals every season.
Just a word for Tella, a promising debut in a seriously underperforming team who all (aside from Tella) deserve to have their match fee halved on the basis of this apathetic and limp performance
And of course there is one other question...how can Ralf decide to employ an on field strategy which depends on our defence not having the acute weaknesses and repeated failings that we all know they possess in abundance. What's going on in his head...
|ElijahK added 13:15 - Sep 17|
Sorry but that game was DREADFUL! I mean the fact that we’ve played two teams that could be in the championship next season with our BEST TEAM! And haven’t even SCORED A GOAL! let alone goal is just RIDICULOUS! I mean the sort of football we played was just like the sort we played under Puel, having loads of possession, yet we’re really sloppy and did absolutely nothing with the ball! I mean it certainly doesn’t help that we’ve done bugger all this transfer market and basically signed nobody (as Salisu we’d got before it even opened, and we were always going to get Walker-Peters after his loan)! Or even bothered for a position in which was also shown up agin tonight, which is a central midfielder as we’ve only got one decent one (Prowse), a young still learning midfielder (Smallbone) and one that used to be good but has been really poor recently and been messing up more than he hasn’t! (Romeo)! Sorry but unless we can get another central midfielder then I really struggle to see us avoiding a relegation battle, if not relegation itself!
|ItchenNorth added 13:55 - Sep 17|
Lacking a leader at the back; nothing new. Maybe Salisu is that man moving forward.
Lacking creativity; well play Boufal !
This game was another preseason game for all intensive purposes. Another game under our belt following virtually no preseason due to COVID (yes, same for all clubs, I know).
No need to panic, but we need to address centre midfield (even before PEH left), lack of creativity (hello Boufal or Redmond) and of course a better central defensive partnerships.
Ralph knows what needs to be addressed and this starts with fitness. I have full confidence he'll sort it out, but another player in the transfer window for sure.
|DellBoyWally added 14:50 - Sep 17|
I'd get another CB to join Salisu and move Stephens to DM. We need Stuey back soon. Only wide midfielder who can attack and also cover back for RB. Hasn't happened either side these 2 games leaving attacking FBs exposed. Smallbone looked lightweight, Tella also to an extent but was a small step above although left Bertrand exposed.
Both strikers should have scored: Ings bad miss; Adams good save from keeper but should have buried it. BUT if we'd scored and taken something from these games it would have papered over the cracks (chasms?) NO SPINE in midfield - Romeo and JWP been far below par - CBs.....somewhere but not where they should be (clue is in CENTRE!) Redmond again non-existent (another 0% game to go with last years 2)
This is relegation-guaranteed form with no solution in the current squad. Sunday (to be watched from behind the sofa) could be a stroll for a poor Spuds team. Odds on PEH scoring??
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Letters from Wiltshire #23 by wessex_exile
As I’ve been providing updates on the ongoing US presidential election, it is worth mentioning that the Electoral College votes have now been cast, which formally confirms Biden as the new President-elect. Normally a formality, as the losing candidate has usually long-since conceded defeat, but these are far from normal times, and America has far from a normal lame-duck President. Still, at least the threat of members of the Electoral College ignoring the popular vote in favour of an outcome demanded by Trump has failed to materialise. In the UK, new Covid tiers were announced this week, with London going into Tier 3. Colchester stays in Tier 2, but only just, with as far north east as Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford also moving into Tier 3 – and as if you need reminding, Tier 3 means no supporters at matches.