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A Bad Day At The Office For Saints Now Just Regroup Refocus & Move Forward
Monday, 30th Nov 2020 09:49

Saints fans were taking to social media to berate not just one but over half the team for the capitulation in the final half hour against Manchester United, but it is time to praise the side for it's great run over the past two months and move forward again.

I was taken aback by the fingers being pointed at individual player after the defeat to Manchester United, not just for individual errors but for just about anything that could have been imagined.

One site claimed that Kyle Walker Peters gave the ball away 23 times so it is time that he is dropped for Yan Valery, I myself did think that Walker Peters wasn't at his best, but he rarely gives the ball away in his own half , as full back he plays a lot of balls along the line, both as passes and clearance these are percentage balls not passes as such.

Che Adams was berated for having made less passes than Alex McCarthy, he only completed 19 out of 24 passes was the rant, at 79% that was worse than Alex McCarthy ! Yes but forwards have to try and make the killer pass, whilst goalkeepers often pass short simple balls to defenders under little pressure.

Again Adams like KWP did not have the best of games, but he has been superb in most of the other games.

These are only two examples of those being berated, not because of any real individual error, but just because they had a dislike of a particular player.

I have been accused of this on many occasions, but when I slate an individual I always do so by explaining a good reason why, Jannik Vestergaard has been the brunt of my keyboard in the past and it would be easy to take him to task over the second United goal when he got caught napping and playing Cavani onside, but the Dane has been superb over the last couple of months and this has been an isolated error.

The problem on Sunday was not individual errors per se, the whole team looked jaded, we seemed to want that extra touch on the ball and too often we were slow to react and thus caught out.

There was barely a player who could come off that pitch and say they had a good game, if I am brutally honest the only three players who could hold their heads up and say that are James Ward Prowse, Oriol Romeu and Theo Walcott, all three never stopped battling.

But aside from them we were poor.

But that does not mean we are a poor side, it means we just had a bad day at the office, Liverpool got beaten badly at Aston Villa and shipped 7, but they like us yesterday just had one of those days.

I think the issue is with injuries in key areas we have not been able to change things around when needed and this came home to roost when we played United who are a good side on paper.

Yesterday our two wide players were not having good games, Stuart Armstrong seems to have lost a little something since his bout of Covid 19 and Djenepo just didn't suit a game that needed him to be back and supporting Ryan Bertrand.

But Ralph had no real option to replace either other than to drop Theo Walcott back, but the loanee was offering so much up front it would take something away there.

This was a game where it needed men not boys to come in hence Nathan Tella or Dan N'Lundulu being untried options were perhaps not the best for the job, their time will come.

It is testament to the team spirit that we have these days that we could take a 2-0 lead, it is just sad that we couldn't keep it, but United in contrast were having one of their good days, we could have crumbled after conceding the second but we hung on in there only to lose it so late on.

So we now need to dust ourselves and go again in a weeks time, hopefully we will have players back from injury that will offer us options to change again, a week on the training ground and then we have the perfect couple of opportunities to get the season back on track.

I offered a word of caution a week ago, saying that we will lose games, when we do it doesn't signal the end of the world, just a bad game, we have to take things in runs of three's to give a more balanced view.

The three games in November were tough games Wolves was a good point, United with a game in hand could currently move into the top 5 if they won it, even Newcastle who are 14th are only 3 points behind us in 5th.

There is a tough fight ahead in the middle ground, 4 points from the last 3 games is a little below the 5 we should target, but against these 3 sides is a good haul.

For those ranting on social media this morning look at the League table, appreciate what we have done so far this season, accept that we are still not the finished article and we can't win every game. Also accept that we cannot go from the shambles we were a year ago into title challengers overnight if at all, but we are making good progress.

If you can do that then you will see the good steady job that Ralph Hasenhuttl is doing and the squad he is building, it is not perfect yet, we do not have the money to do it overnight and we are still burdened with paying a big chunk of wages to several players out on loan, as we free that up then we will be able to do a lot lot more.

It was a bad day at the office not a terminal blow !

Photo: Action Images

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Berber added 10:24 - Nov 30
A bit harsh not to include McCarthy in your short list of players who did not have a bad game. I am not his biggest fan, but his shot stopping was superb, and apart from the near obligatory pass to an opposition forward, kept us in the game. United were not poor in the first half, and it could have easily been 2-2 at half time. There is no doubt that the tempo, passing and closing down dropped off drastically in the second half. That is not unusual for this team. What we saw was United come out in the second half with belief and determination to get a result, and they have the players to do that. United fans will be happy with the result, but should be perplexed as to why their team doesn't fight like this every week.

halftimeorange added 10:49 - Nov 30
What worries me is the signs of second-half fatigue in the Saints team which were apparent in the Villa, Wolves and latest display against Man U. It seems to be both a mental and physical thing which makes me wonder whether Ralph's method of playing is actually too demanding on our squad. The Brighton game could highlight this problem as they're not a bad side as Saturday's draw for them against Liverpool showed. If we take control again early on and then fade (which was easy to see on Sunday) then the substitions need to be made earlier than they were then. Also, having seen Dan N'Lundulu in a few games I would respectfully suggest that his pace and physique would have kept United's defence on its toes rather more than giving Shane Long an ineffectual outing. As for Diallo, how fair is it giving him ten or so minutes when our tired team is under massive pressure? Some rethinking on these few matters might help us see out time more profitably because yesterday the management imaginatively threw in the towel.

underweststand added 11:08 - Nov 30
Agree with many of the points in the article (Nick) but some fans seem to think we played badly but in truth it wasn't our best side against a United team who didn't look outstanding but were saved by their star players. However you look at it - we held United for 90 minutes and sadly missed Redmond and Ings and Armstrong didn't get into the game at all. On another day Ings might have been "our Cavani". Djenepo isn't first choice in the side and his attacking prowess didn't show up well in a game where he was forced to defend a lot.
We have to leave the best to last, and that was Ward-Prowse again who looked a cut above everyone else on the pitch, both in defence and attack. His yellow card for the ankle tap on van Beek was a polite introduction to the Premier League, and the Dutchman can expect far worse than that from some of the tougher types in this league.

A good run unbeaten YES, but with our limited resources we couldn't have fielded a stronger start side than we did, as a closer look at the bench would have confirmed.
Win, lose or draw, the most important game is always ...the next one. (!)
Let's hope we can get our act back together for the Brighton game.


Centurion added 11:20 - Nov 30
We live in age of instant gratification.
All teams lose sometimes.
TBH, we have had a great run and with a bit of luck could have had at least a point.
The main thingis to get behind the team, take 3 points off a very resolute Brighton side and and move on.

LordDZLucan added 11:31 - Nov 30
I'm more worried after yesterday's game than I was after the Spurs game. In the Spurs game we played far too high a line which gave Son & Co. too much space to run into. That was easily fixed and Ralph dutifully did so. Yesterday certain individuals repeated mistakes that they had exhibited in previous games and 3 of them got punished. But there were a lot more than 3. Goals more often than not come from mistakes by the opposition so clearly you cannot make too many them in the wrong areas of the pitch. Each individual in the Saints team has his own type of mistake which he tends to repeat. I don't want to single anyone out but, by way of example as Berber has already mentioned it, Alex McCarthy does like to play a weak goal kick straight to the opposition. Ok on this occasion he redeemed himself by making three fantastic saves one after the other to deny the opportunity but on another he won't. So why can't these mistakes be coached out of the players as they seem to be very personal and very repetitive? The fact that they haven't been worries me.

saintmark1976 added 12:04 - Nov 30
Other teams and their management have worked out how to play against us. They don’t appear too concerned to go a goal or two down in the early part of the game because they know that both physically and mentally we can’t play a high press game for 95 minutes. To be honest I don’t think that there is a team in the Premiership that can do what Ralph presently requires of his players.

Our management team need to find a Plan B when we are in control of a game or I fear that yesterday’s second half situation will become the norm. There is a reason why that since Ralph arrived we have lost more games from a winning position than any other team in the Premiership and it’s not simply all down to bad luck or Ings not being fit.

highfield49 added 12:09 - Nov 30
Once again wrong substitutes at the wrong time. Please trust in N'Lundulu or Tella to play up front rather than the ageing legs of Shane Long. Equally, giving Diallo game time when we're on the back foot is a recipe for disaster, Armstrong needed replacing somewhere between 55 and 60 minutes to consolidate. A bad day at the office agreed, but don't make life easy for the opposition. We can only dream of having a Cavani on the bench but Long isn't the future or even the present these days I'm sorry to say.

Colburn added 12:11 - Nov 30
Ralph bottled it, pure and simple.. Changed tactics at half time and removed all of Utd's fear for them. Yet again a big side not at their best, there for the taking, and we didn't believe it. We handed them the game it wasn't any players fault but Ralph's.. But would we rather have any other manager? No! So we move on, but Ralph has to learn this lesson he keeps failing with and soon or we will lose our way again.. Can't keep taking the foot off the gas and handing the onus to the oppo, the evidence is there for all to see, 42 points in 2 years and could have been more..

SanMarco added 12:12 - Nov 30
I agree entirely with the sentiments from Nick. This is not the end of civilization as we know it - we (just) lost to a team who spent the greater part of the game playing better than us and who were able to bring on players like Cavani for the second half. I think Ralph maybe could have been more proactive in using his subs in the second half but in the end it wasn't to be. We were due a loss and Manure were due a defeat at St. Mary's - pity that our 'due' came up rather than theirs!! As Nick says - look at the table.

Having had 24 hours to ponder I do possibly wonder whether there were certain psychological factors involved. To use the cliche: Manure seemed to 'want it' more than us. Is it because we were playing them as 'equals' rather than looking at them as a 'superior' big side who we need to really get at to beat?? Its just a thought but most of our great wins against Manure were 'upsets'. Yesterday we played them as equals (they are still below us even now) and somehow their money showed through. Once we were on the backfoot we kept trying to match them rather than park the bus! I know parking the bus is bad but it might have got us a point or three!!

Roll on the Brighton match - a win there and this will all be forgotten...

DellBoyWally added 12:36 - Nov 30
I don't agree Vesta was at error for goal 2. He was doing his job, covering for the keeper who was inevitably out of position after going for the punch. Unfortunately the punch was a weak one to a Utd player just outside the box. Quick cross, McC still not back (ball watching) Vesta still covering. Result - goal.
The team as a package looked off the pace. Even early in the first half there wasn't the usual press, the side looked spread out rather than working as a unit, wide players didn't have there usual effect. The result? A non-Saints performance. We could have been 3 down by half time but for McC (Because of McC in one case!)
Annoyed and disappointed cos we lost but not about to make dumb comments about the manager or return my season ticket. Tough game in7 days. Recover, prepare, pounce, 3 points.

WestSussexSaint added 13:06 - Nov 30
It could be worse. Just be grateful we don’t support Arsenal.

MRHALL93 added 13:14 - Nov 30
I think for Ralph's pressing tactics to work everyone really has to be on top of their game. I think it shows that if only a few players have a bad game we can ship 3 goals. I don't think it's right that a lot of fans and outlets are targeting individuals. I think if United had got the first goal and the match had ended up 3-2 the perspective from fans would be a lot different. It's easy to point out the players like Vestergaard, maybe he shouldn't have come out for the first goal. However, in recent games he's been excellent at reading the danger and coming out from the back and winning the ball back, he did it a few times yesterday. And I agree with you Wally, the more I rewatch the second goal we conceded he's the only one who's gone back and anticipated that something might happen for Man U, and the goal was very similar to the goal we conceded to Wolves a shot comes in from outside the box and we're second to react. It's easier to point out Vestergaard because if he pushes up with the rest of the team than Cavani will be offside, but instead, maybe the rest of the team shouldn't have been too hasty to push out as McCarthy didn't effectively clear the ball.

Again Djenepo angered fans and I can't understand why? I don't know what the fan base expect from him as simply saying he's not good enough doesn't really work for me, they can't expect him to beat the back 4 every time he gets the ball. Sure his decision making and final ball isn't the best but the only way he's going to improve is if he plays more football. He was probably our best player in the first half, creating loads of space for himself out wide, dragging AWB over to try to deal with him. Going on a run which leads to him being fouled, which lead to the goal. The only downside to his game is that he probably doesn't have the chemistry that Bertrand and Redmond have, which means he's the one who needs to do most of the attacking work going forward.

The truth is we never really got into the game, we looked to get forward as fast as possible and try to get early balls into the box as fast as possible. This is probably why KWP was adjudged to give the ball away so many times because it looked like he was just trying to get the ball into the box every time he got forward to catch out both the centre-halves.

Saint4Life247 added 15:30 - Nov 30
I'd like to see Diallo start in place of Romeu on Monday night, with JWP and Armstrong just in front. Theo and Che are working work well so no changes there. I like Djempo but in truth he is a bit hit and miss. His pace is disrupting defences and that is useful but he just needs to learn to deliver an end product more often.
I am still intrigued about Salisu though. I hope he can get match fit soon as I think will do wonders for our defence, injecting much needed pace and presence.
McCarthy is playing really well at the moment. Some of the saves against Man U were sensational
Perhaps use N'Lundulu rather than Long next time and maybe a little sooner. Long can run but his goal threat is in minus figures. N'Lundulu is young, keen and a little unknown to some players.

Scrappy2020 added 17:22 - Nov 30
We need to know how to handle a first half lead,press or not to press? We don't seem to know what to do,ahead against Spuds,Villa where we almost threw it away and now Man U, If we had won all the games we had been ahead we would be top of the league,that is the problem,whether there is an answer I don't know,felt great at half time,and sick at the end,Its only a game my wife says!!

AmericanSaint added 01:49 - Dec 1
"Wally and MrHall" make great points on the 2nd goal and Djnepo. I have watched the game and highlights 3 more times and JV was covering for AM who was out of position. Next, the commentators in the US praised Djenpo for making AWB look foolish throughout the first half. They even stated that the best defense against MU was to attack them and make the play in their side of the pitch (which we didnt do). I also agree that Ralph did not use his subs well in this game and SA should have come off at 55. I can see the SL sub to try and stretch the field but also agree that the younger guys would have given more spirit and possible outlet pressure. Ok, now that we have all had time to dissect the game, I hope we can all look at what we have done so far this season and be honest and happy with where we are sitting right now. Let's start another 7 game unbeaten streak with a win at Brighton and we will all be on here next week singing the praises of your favorite player. COYR beat Brighton.

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