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Saints V Tottenham Hotspur The Verdict
Sunday, 20th Sep 2020 16:34

I have been saying the same thing since January 2017 and nearly four years later nothing has changed and is indeed getting worse, anyone care to tell me I am wrong ?

As Saints went down to their third defeat of the season and three games which they have conceded 8 goals, all of which have seen dismal defending, I a about to rest my case for the defence, or should I say case against the defence.

I keep banging on about the same things but the reason I do is because they keep happening, some people tell me I have something against Jack Stephens and others, but the truth is all I have against them is their inability to defend and repeated basic errors.

Put bluntly we have a top 8 side going forward and a Championship central defence that keeps getting caught.

Today against Spurs we should have been dead and buried first half but Var & The linesman kept us in it, we took the lead and almost held it to half time, but almost is not good enough.

Spurs game plan was simple, just play the ball forward, we cannot defend, it could have been another 9 today, the only good thing about the day defensively was team spirit kept us going.

How devastated must the rest of the team felt when they battles hard to get us into a winning position, only to see the defence throw it away though poor defending, an inability to actually be organised and handle attacks and ball watching.

Some people got quite animated when I suggested during the re start that we had got lucky in some games, some even told me that Jack Stephens would play for England, I ask you today, does anyone still think that ?

I'm sorry to have to make him the scapegoat, truth is it is not his fault, he is an honest player being asked to do a job that he is not good enough to do and that is hold the back line.

The blunt truth is that the two fullbacks are good enough, the rest of the team is good enough the centre of defence is not.

Perhaps Salisu will improve matter but he will not be the complete solution.

The thing is the solution is cheap, there must be a 31-33 year old experienced central defender out there who can read a game and organise our back four, find him sign him and things will improve.

I have been saying the same thing for nearly four years, last season I said that some weeks we get away with it others we don't, this season in the first three games we haven't got away with it at all because all our opponents have sussed it, sling the ball forward we defend like schoolboys.

We are a good team, we are a good squad, but the problem is glaringly obvious, I have been saying it for a long time, does anyone now disagree, or do you think we were just unlucky. !

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stmichael added 16:51 - Sep 20
You are like a guy who knows nothing about the game , has never played it but spouts on about it.
I know you’re better than that.
Ralph cost us last week did the same again and cost us today and if he does it at Burnley it will happen again.
He and no one else is to blame.
Already in a 2 year tenure he has had to completely change direction twice and now he has to do it again.
Before I’m accused of bed wetting I back him to do that(again).
Ralph go home watch the video admit your errors and let’s go again 👍⚽️

codge added 16:58 - Sep 20
Totally agree Nick l also have had the same misgivings about our defense for ever,we just can’t play a high line with the players we have in the middle that are way to slow.KWP was caught way out off position for one but overall had a decent game.Midfield doesn’t move the ball fast enough it l thought Armstrong and Djeppeno had decent games along with Ings and Adams but we need help in midfield and as we have said for years defense.

LordDZLucan added 17:01 - Sep 20
I have been a supporter of Jack Stephens but not today. He played really poorly and although not as badly as Bednarek who was awful. You think both full backs are good enough? On today's performance I'm afraid they're not The back four as a unit was exposed which probably means there were things going wrong elsewhere in the team as well such as a lack of pressing because the fitness levels are not yet where they need to be.

Saintsforeverj added 17:02 - Sep 20
I agree with this Nick and I think you are right. Some may blame Ralph for playing a high line. I understand this but let me remind everyone that the same Stephens and Bednerak were making the same errors under Pellegrino when we played a deep line. So how come? But where I think we might be slightly at odds Nick, is that the reason we have the same defence for 4 years, is because the owner is skint, won't invest in the team and insists on only bringing in young players, who are likely to have a sell on value. So you are right, we need an experienced defender, but will our owner allow it? Probably not, so who is really at fault? Like you say and I agree, Stephens can't help not being up to it, but he is the best we have.

mattthelegend added 17:11 - Sep 20
Is Ralph trying to prove a point? If your players aren’t good enough for the system why play it?

schatfield added 17:13 - Sep 20
There are positives in this game. Djempo looked good and Ings goal was superb. Saints are very much a confidence team, once we concede heads drop. And not just the defense but the whole team. Nick no need to keep slamming Stephen's though, we get that you dont rate him. Likewise no need to keep banging on about buying a 30 year old+ defender because the club dont operate like that.

goalie66 added 17:18 - Sep 20
WE were the better side first half and Spurs were all over the place and with luck could have three and then out of the blue we gift a goal and McCarthy is rooted to his line again. Thereafter, our high line gets exposed and we could have conceded another eight. It is all very blaming Stephens but the Manager has to take the blame AGAIN. Unless we have a fast sweeper to cover our defense then every side knows exactly what to do against us. First of all we need a keeper that is not afraid to close forwards down and narrow angles not back off in a one on one. I agree we need a fast Sweeper Centre half who will org anise those in front but until we do then the SYSTEM has to change to accommodate the players we have . I would get another midfielder in place of Adams and let Djenpo play in the hole.

SonicBoom added 17:23 - Sep 20
Central defence isn't good enough, but then playing a high line simply exposes them further. That is brainless. I cannot understand it at all.

felly1 added 17:28 - Sep 20
The pivitol moment for me today was Mcarthy dithering for the equaliser when he should have been out in flash to clear up. It was the worst time to concede.
Upto that moment we were in front and clearly bossing the game. Heads then dropped and Spurs showed their quality and exposed our high line.
Stephen's and Bednarek were poor and couldn't deal with the threat Spurs posed.
Adam's not taking his chances when we were on top also played a major part in our fortunes.
Nick must have run out pins to stick in his Jack Stephen's voodoo doll today!!

Consigliere added 17:30 - Sep 20
"The verdict" normally comes 24 hours after the result and that is a good thing, it gives us time to reflect especially after a bad result. Personally I'm still thinking about this and am too cross to draw any conclusions as yet though I don't think this was all down to the defence and am more inclined to the "system error" view. However we must also remember that the attacking high line is also what made this team so attractive to watch at the end of last season. Much to ponder.

vanmans added 17:37 - Sep 20
Why did the club give Jack Stephens a new 4 year contract when he is clearly not good enough? Him and Bednarek were awful. It must be time for Alex McCarthy to be dropped to.
Once Romeu went off the defence had no midfield cover. I thought Armstrong, Adams, Ings & Djenepo all played well.

HythePeer added 17:42 - Sep 20
The manager blamed the players too in his post match interview for them employing the wrong tactics while he was there all time the at the touch line telling them how to play. He should have gone at the 9-0 defeat, there will be another one soon!

SaintPaulVW added 17:43 - Sep 20
Well, at least we can stop blaming the home fans.

saintmark1976 added 17:50 - Sep 20
There is more wrong at the moment than our defence Nick, although on the basis of today’s result and performance alone I must agree with your view.

Our problems originate with the owners and filter down accordingly. They show no desire whatsoever to Increase their investment and thus the club has no ambition at all other than to stay in the Premiership. Put simply we have become a “make do and mend” organisation. The owners attitude is sensed by the management and then the players, finally reaching us fans.

Nothing will change at St Mary’s until the current owners both sell.

IanRC added 17:55 - Sep 20
Absolute rubbish today, we should have been leading at half time if Che Adams had taken his chances and McCarthy hadn’t dithered. Thereafter absolutely appalling, KWP and Bertrand were little better than the centre defenders, Bertrand ambling back behind an unmarked Son for the 3rd or 4th, can’t remember which, completely unacceptable. Fed up of these pathetic starts to the season ruining our chances of finishing in a decent position.

Saintsforeverj added 18:12 - Sep 20
SaintMark said "Nothing will change at St Mary’s until the current owners both sell".

Whoever is manager, whoever plays, this is the truest, most precise statement of the day.

Ali_Diarea added 18:12 - Sep 20
I agree Nick, the defence has been awful for 4 years so what I don’t understand is your unwavering support of the current owners. If the owners aren’t to blame for our dreadful defence and threadbare and lightweight midfield I don’t know who is.

We can point to failed transfers until the cows come home, but all that matters is that we can all see the problem, it’s glaringly obvious, so why isn’t the club do anything about it? The buck stops with the owners.

derbydog added 18:13 - Sep 20
I do think it is unfair to blame the centre backs when they are being told to play on the half way line. At 43 minutes the only team which was going to win 5-2 was us. At half time Jose worked out what to do, did he not watch Palace working it out last week? And quick long passes behind our defenders changed the game round. Fonts and VVD playing on the half way line would not have done much better.

The only amusement I can find from all this is that our master plan has the B team and the youth teams playing the same way as the first team. Are they all getting thrashed in the same way?

Burnley will be be practicing long through balls to Chris Wood and JayRod all week so we need to surprise them with a Plan B. If we can’t beat Palace, Burnley and in the first half a poor Spurs side we really are in trouble.,.

ExiledSupporter added 18:29 - Sep 20
After the weakperformance vs Brentford I wrote on this web site the following day:

”...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 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... 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...

On today’s performance the answer must be that Ralf expects our team to perform at a level that is clearly well beyond the limited capabilities of those who hold key positions.

He clearly has very limited options in terms of funds available for transfers, so he must pursue two or three loanees urgently; or return to the less ambitious, but by our standards, successful tactics at the end of last season. Surely he has to accept that he must adopt tactics that are within the scope of the players he has available.

That means no more suicidal defence on, or about, the half way line with a goalie playing sweeper!

AmericanSaint added 18:38 - Sep 20
Well I am surprised the "verdict" came out so quickly, but warranted. I will agree with you Nick today, Stephans was awful. As stated midweek, we play a high-pressing game, but today we forgot to press. After the 2nd goal, RH should have told either JB or JS to sit back and cover. Our midfield of JWP and OR did not play well and gave the a ball away too many times. Even the commentators were saying that if you play a high press and dont attack the ball, it is a simple one-two over the top and the attacker is in on goal. Also, AM should have been off his line at the 18 yard box to get the 1st goal. I am in favor of dropping him and bringing in FF. McCarthy has become too comfortable in the net and doesnt think he will be dropped no matter his errors. Finally, RH has to take blame for goals 4 and 5 as after the 3rd he should have gone a defensive minded to stem the bleeding. Finally, all i can hope for is the US businessman buys Saints and injects some needed funds into the transfer kitty. Well we better get our heads up and out of the sand as Burnley will be gunning for us. Trying to keep the faith and I look at last year and remember it's not how you start but how you finish. COYR

Boris1977 added 18:45 - Sep 20
Hopefully this quote from Kane is the wake up call that is required. We cannot throw away games before a ball is even kicked. 'We knew there would be space in behind; we talked about it before the game. One of the passes I didn’t even look really, I just put it into the space because I knew he’d be running in behind.'

Ali_Diarea added 18:55 - Sep 20
Looking at the 5 (!) goals again and I’d say that the CB’s were only responsible for one, possibly two:

1. Romeu / Jwp swept aside far too easily in the centre of midfield
2. Stephens should have got a tackle in
3. Kwp playing them onside
4. Kwp not goal side of his man
5. Kwp / Stephens not marking back post

All basic stuff. Can’t really blame the manager for these things although he should have changed things after the second goal.

kevleykeegle added 19:56 - Sep 20
Nick will probably shut up about Stephens when we string together a few good results and he hits form. That’s what usually happens. Your constant bashing is do misplaced and boring. As so many have pointed out, this was High Line Ralph’s fault - tactical naïveté at it’s worse. When spurs Sussed us out and played through ball after through ball, scoring goal after goal, you change your tactics!

halftimeorange added 20:21 - Sep 20
Who said "Palace showed how to beat us and other clubs will have taken note. Sit back, wait for a Saints error, then counter and score". Oh, it was me. I rest my case.

mattlegod added 20:26 - Sep 20
Can someone please put a rocket up Jack Stephen's backside, he has no urgency about his play whatsoever. Couldn't believe the times he was walking when spurs were on the attack. I put more effort in my daily ablutions.

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