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Southampton V Brighton The Verdict
Monday, 15th Mar 2021 09:27

A disappointing day at the office for Saints as they went down tamely to a Brighton side who wanted it more, this was perhaps the worst defeat of the last two months given that we had almost a full squad to pick from.

This was meant to be the day that now we had many of our injured players back fit again that we put any lingering relegation fears to bed, from this perspective it was the most disappointing of the last two months, even worse than Manchester United, in that game we had every excuse in the book for the heavy defeat, but at St Mary's against the Seagulls we had none really, we just didn't turn up.

In some respects a draw would have been a fair result certainly the stats for the game were fairly evenly matched although we did have the lion's share of possession, but the difference was that Brighton as a team wanted it, they stepped up a gear where we seemed to have very little impetus until the final minutes when we suddenly realised that we were going to lose.

Up to that point we seemed to be strolling around confident that we would score at will.

The game started badly for us with Brighton looking lively and when Dunk got a free header he powered it home in the bottom corner, not many headers of that power and in that spot get saved.

But Saints kept passing and when on 26 minutes we were back on level terms when Che Adams fired home from close range after a well worked move you felt there would be only one winner, but Brighton might not score man, but they don't concede either.

They got to the break all square but it was Saints on top.

The Seagulls were dangerous on the break throughout the game and Fraser Forster had to be in good form on several occasions, however 10 minutes after the restart he could do little as a lovely well worked move saw us fail to pick up Trossard and straight through he finished with aplomb.

Now Brighton has something to hold and their spirits were up, they worked like trojans and never stopped running.

We in comparison were pedestrian we didn't take the game to them enough, we continued to pass around the back and midfield as if we were 3-0 up and seeing the game out, we needed to up the intensity and push the visitors on to the back foot, but we never seemed to be able to do that.

We thought that we could pass our way to a win, but against a side like Brighton you have to bombard them, put them under pressure, but we never did.

Too many players seemed to be playing at half pace, didn't seem to want to get out of first gear, Nathan Tella barely touched the ball, we needed to get him running at them as he did against Sheffield United, but we never did, we had our chances in the second half, but they were too few.

In the preview i remarked that it would be hard to tell who should partner Adams, should it e Minamino or Tella, we made the wrong choice Tella might have been better coming from the wing where he could get the ball and run at players, too often he was isolated.

As the game went on we seemed to run out of steam, there was an excuse for those who were just back from injury, but not for the rest of the side, perhaps two players could walk off the pitch feeling satisfied they had earned their wages, James Ward Prowse and Che Adams.

In contrast Brighton had an entire side that put in a shift, not least ex Saint Adam Lallana who pulled the strings from the midfield.

But this game is done and dusted now, a win even a draw would have been good enough to see off those lingering injury doubts, but the truth is our position did not get any worse, Fulham started the weekend 7 points behind us and they finished it with the same gap, but one game less to close it.

All that matters now is the game against Bournemouth this weekend, win that and we are in an FA Cup semi final and we then concentrate on three games against sides around us, games that we can get the points needed to banish those niggling worries.

Fulham host Leeds United on Friday and Brighton are at home to Newcastle on Saturday, we will have to sit back and hope those games go our way, but after next week with hopefully Danny Ings and Theo Walcott back we will have firepower that was missing on Sunday and get back to winning ways.

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HythePeer added 09:36 - Mar 15
"There was no plan, no clear idea" Hasenhuttl.

DPeps added 09:44 - Mar 15
I'm sorry to say that I'm losing the faith in Ralph. As I've said before, he is very streaky. It's becoming obvious to me that we were saved by lockdown and restart last season, which gave Ralph the chance to get players back from injuries and reset our playing style. If you take the end of last season and the start of this season out of the equation, his record is poor.

We're like an old BMW: great when everything is in working order, but dreadful when one element is out of sync. The major issue at the moment seems to be midfield - we are too easy to play through. I think Diallo is classy and will be a good player, but it's too much to expect him to adapt this quick and with such an unhelpful playing style.

The question is would getting rid of Ralph help? It's hard to say, but our current form suggests that he doesn't have the minerals to stop the rot.

IanRC added 09:45 - Mar 15
Will Danny Ings make a difference or is head already somewhere else ? Not sure we can rely on Theo Walcott either, seems to do well when things are going well but not otherwise. Agree fully with Nick’s article, a shocking lack of urgency although I did think Ff should have been down faster for their first.

Centurion added 09:51 - Mar 15
When Danny Ings was playing and on song, he created such fear in the opposition efences that as well as scoring he pulled defenders out of place. This helped our own players to attack as Danny created space all over the place! We could whip in fast passess and crosses.
Danny has not been the same since his injury and neither has the team.
FWIW, I think Ralph has been reluctant to give up his high pressing system, but he needs to recognise that we need to get tough and try and grind out some draws and wins. Substance (results) are form more important now than style or we will be playing Championship football next season.

davidargyll added 09:52 - Mar 15
Ralph: “One of the worst games we have played this season!” And who am I to disagree? No spirit. No fight. Just a cloud of inevitable defeat overhanging the team almost from the off. And when the only good thing you can say about our performance was that we didn’t pick up any fresh injuries you know you’re in trouble!

BHA were quite determined to get out of the mess they are potentially in and played accordingly. Whereas we appeared to be vastly over confident, took the view that the game would fall all into our hands and that we are not really in any trouble. How wrong we were. The second half especially, which was just an embarrassment of zero penetration.

So what on earth is the matter with us? Were we just tired? Or was it the absence of Oriel Romeu to shore up our very fragile defence? After our last two ok to improving performances yesterday we took a serious step backwards, apart from Che’s goal, there was no threat in our play at all. The team played as if they didn’t realise they are being dragged into a relegation battle. Earlier in the season, and even back to the Chelsea game, we defended like lions, everybody was prepared to throw themselves under a bus to keep the oppo out. Now that do or die spirit seems to have evaporated and yesterday we just let Brighton wash over us.

So what now? If nothing else they need a really good kick up the arse in my opinion to get them out of their complacency, because the likes of Fulham, Palace and West Brom will have watched that game and come to the conclusion that the Saints are very brittle and there for the taking. There are no easy games in the PL and we are so easy to play against: soak up the pressure and catch us on the break. And even Bournemouth must be licking their lips. They will have nothing to lose and I predict that game will go to extra time, will completely knacker us and then where will be but further in the mire.

Nick you said in your preview: “So a big week is starting for both Saints and Brighton, from our perspective it is to stay in the running for perhaps our greatest ever season and as I have said elsewhere this is one of the few seasons in our history we have been able to say that in March.”

Our greatest ever season? Whether that was true yesterday it sure ain’t today. And I cannot believe I am alone in starting to have that recurring nightmare that’s goes all the way back to when Nottingham Forest were relegated: “too good to go down...”

LordDZLucan added 09:52 - Mar 15
Well that was Groundhog Day. The level of performance in the 2nd half fell off a cliff…..again! Is it tiredness, is it due to tactical changes made by the opposition which we don't counter, or is it a lack of belief? Probably a bit of all three. Also, a point would have been a good result yesterday so why didn’t we prioritise getting that point and play accordingly? Something has got to change and I’m loathe to say it but the only thing that we’re able to change at this point in the season is the manager. Can we get Rafa in for the last 9 games? Also, let’s use the cup to find the answer to our problems rather than thinking we can go all the way. Premier League survival is the priority.

PaleRider added 09:59 - Mar 15
The current team has no leaders and no guts. Many of the players are just an embarrassment. However, the management and leadership of Saints are equally lacking in leadership and gutless from the invisible man through Semmens (who was all to happy to be in the media when things were going well but is now also invisible) through to Ralph (who seems to have no clue as to how to motivate when things are not going well).

I think Saints are a club that is rotten to the core and 2020 just papered over the cracks. This has been the case ever since Gao started sniifing around Saints - he has to go.

halftimeorange added 09:59 - Mar 15
In defence of Nathan Tella I would like to point out that he was never given through balls to run onto and all his forward runs were ignored by, generally JWP, Vestergaard and Bertrand, all of whom were guilty of stopping play by either turning back or passing sideways. The one player we might expect to create an opening, Stuart Armstrong had a completely off day, probably his worst game for us. Creativity has been a major problem for Saints for some months - in fact, since other sides got wise to our pressing game which yesterday became more of a gentle nudge than a full-on press.

wessexman added 10:05 - Mar 15
This far from the first time we looked pedestrian and not really up for it. Newcastle away was a prime example. The manager and players had better buck up their ideas because we are counting down the games, plummeting down the league and sleepwalking into disaster. Given our circumstances and who we were playing yesterday, the performance was an insult.

Block8 added 10:06 - Mar 15
One question, why are we happy to take,sometimes suicidal, risks across our own defence but have to find the perfect pass around the opposition's?
I know I'm not the only one shouting, no not backwards please (clean version for this site).

saintmark1976 added 10:07 - Mar 15
In reference to yesterday’s defeat. I cannot think of anything to add to the comments posted on The Ugly by many other disappointed and concerned fans over the weekend other than to say well done to the Brighton players and their manager.

Given Ralph’s recent track record of four points from the last thirty six. Surely the way forward now for both him, the players and the club is to put him on “ gardening leave “ until the end of the season?

Such an action would cost the club nothing and enable one of the existing coaching staff to take over and hopefully secure our Premiership membership for next season. Equally, if not more importantly it would enable Ralph, who gives me the impression of being a decent man who is currently struggling an opportunity of having a rest and a chance to get his head together so to speak. Premiership position secured he could then return for next season.

aceofthebase added 10:07 - Mar 15
This possession football is a waste of time if it starts in their half and finishes up with FF only for another few minutes tippy tapping in our penalty area. Puel played more attacking football than what we witnessed against Brighton. Bertrand invariably is passed the ball, stops and without any thought of going forward passes back to the central midfielders. KWP is learning this negative play as well. Prowsey demands the ball in midfield from our defenders but then passes straight back. Only Armstrong wants to get on with it and advance up the pitch, I suppose I should mention Vesties cross field long passes.
Dialo is a little more attacking, Tella was playing on his own as was Adams, very little teamwork in their half, apart from passing it back, back, back to FF. FF must be said seemed slow to react to the headed goal, perhaps unsighted, he has been better at getting those low balls but not that one.
This was a night that I didn't want to watch MOTD, nor did I

Farlow added 10:11 - Mar 15
We were outclassed by Brighton,a draw would have been a travesty.We are sleepwalking into the Championship.We need a change.

Daisy_cutter added 10:13 - Mar 15
Saints are on that icy slope and if Ralph doesn't give the players an ice pick blooming quick they will be in the bottom 3 before the end of the season, so it's looking like a mass exodus of players come summer even if we stay up

SaintPaulVW added 10:16 - Mar 15
Good match report.

It really is the hope that kills you. If we hadn't been on such a good run earlier in the season we wouldn't know what the players are really capable of. The side that played yesterday have played far far better in the past so that performance yesterday feels like an even bigger kick in the teeth.

The team just seems to lack leadership onfield and increasingly it seems off field. I agree that as much as I like Ralph, he is the one thing that can easily be changed at this point in the season. In a result's business, good managers still get the sack. Given his comments after the match the team don't seem to be playing how he wants it to and that is on him to sort out.

The Cup post Bournemouth is in danger of becoming a distraction ...and Lord knows what happens to morale if we conspire to lose against AFCB.

While the loss yesterday wasn't fatal, it's left us right in the xxxx.



redwight added 10:28 - Mar 15
Was going to post but aceofthebase has said everything for me. With hindsight (yes, I know), Bertrand should have been the one sold and Targett kept.

aceofthebase added 10:29 - Mar 15
Nigel Adkins is free. We could need him to get out of the Championship.

Foreverred added 10:50 - Mar 15
I agree with all the above, and it’s time to roll up their sleeves and show some commitment and passion, which was sadly lacking yesterday.the pretty possession football is fine when your winning and in control of the game, but with time running out on the clock ,we needed to get the ball in the the box and put Brighton under pressure. Brighton manager managed the game much better than Ralph, and putting in walbeck was a master stroke he and lallana was the catalyst behind their victory. Maybe we needed to get young n lundulu on earlier, this could have change the pattern and more direct balls in the box. I think we need to change our style in the coming weeks,get tough and win ugly. Put young n’lundulu in from the start at Bournemouth and see how he get on with Adams, be more direct and use him as a target man, I think Adams could benefit from it and a more robust style in our play might change our fortunes also.

JoeEgg added 10:59 - Mar 15
Well I think Nick you could at least admit that all your 'this could be our greatest season' talk before the Brighton match was completely misplaced and inappropriate and perhaps it should be replaced by just offering us the hope that Saints might just survive, probably thanks mainly to poorer form from our rivals.
The manager says the players had no plan and no ideas! The second half was the worst period of play that I have seen from the Saints for a long long time. This time, as you have been repeatedly doing in the past, you cannot offer the usual excuses blaming injuries, VAR, referees or just plain bad luck! It was nothing short of pathetic and I half expected to see Ralph on his knees at full time (Liverpool style) this time completely exasperated and devoid of hope! The manager is the guy who should be sending the players out with ideas and a plan- and Ralph clearly needs someone alongside him because right now he really needs some help. He needs support because it must be a very lonely job right now.

deanosfc8 added 11:00 - Mar 15
Keep calm.. ! Were not down and why all this change the manager rubbish! Do you honestly think the board will sack him.. No I don't think so. Ask Watford about changing managers. I'm not going to defend yesterday, we all know and see what happened but I will say be patient. Beat Bournemouth, have players back after the international break and we still can have a successful season. At the start of the season if you said to me finish on 40+ points and a cup semi final at Wembley then that is success for a club of our size and resource...Fact.

mattlegod added 11:14 - Mar 15
So, we have had reasons for poor results over the past two months. This wasnt just a poor result, it was a poor performance and to be fair we have not have many of those over the past two months where I came away with the thought that the team were not trying.

So, this is the first "bad day at the office" in terms of lacklustre performance. So, I now expect Ralph to turn that round in the next three matches starting at Bournemouth.

He can start by playing Minamino up front and not in Midfield. Also keep Tella in Midfield, his runs at the defence are so much more effective. And can we start to use the channels in the last 20 minutes of games, rather than stopping as soon as we have sight of the penalty area?!

KohSamuiSaints added 11:19 - Mar 15
OMG ...I am a massive Saints fan living in Koh Samui Thailand ... And was excited and happy to stay up late to watch the Saints v Brighton game as were 7 hours ahead of UK time here.
But what I watched last night was a team lacking premiership qualities..
JWP Who I have known since his youth football days passed the ball backwards every time he demanded it from his defence he gave it straight back to them.
Our midfield players in the centre of midfield seem defensive minded first with our attacking options from midfield seem to be only wide players ... when Southampton FC were top of the premiership I took photos and sent them to friends bragging about what a good team we had .... Now we’re diving down quicker than Tom Daley .... WHY ARE THE BOARD NOT STILL LOOKING AT FREE AGENTS TO SIGN NOW ....

SanMarco added 11:40 - Mar 15
Logically speaking we could win the cup and get relegated in 18th place and it would be our 'best ever season' because in 76 we came 6th in the second division (28th in the league structure). I think Nick is rallying the troops here and a lot of the talk after the Man C game was based on the fact that we were saving ourselves for Brighton. The bitter truth is that we are far more likely to go down than we are to win the cup given the teams left in and, more importantly, how badly we are playing.

My only comments on the game: Yesterday I posted on here something along the lines of "we looked clueless in the second half and seemed to have no idea how we were going to go about getting an equalizer." I was then shocked to see in the Echo that Ralph agreed with me!!?? That means there is something badly wrong. Ralph has to accept that his tactics are not working with the players he has available. He has to do something about that.

I notice that explicit 'Ralph Out' posts are still getting the thumbs down - I think that is right because changing now would not help. The Hughes precedent was all about Swansea's implosion and deanosfc8's comment on Watford is good. Let's get to the summer and then there has to be some hard-talking re Ralph, thin-squad, tactics etc. If we carry on as we are then next season (assuming we stay up - feck knows if we don't) could be extraordinarily difficult. We will have to sell to buy and to have a deep squad suited to Ralph's style we will need a hell of a lot of ins and outs and a lot of bargains. We should leave that to the summer and hope that over the next few weeks Ralph can prove to the club (and us fans) that he really is worthy of our trust. We are still in a solid position to stay up but we have reached the stage where another defeat and we are deep in the brown stuff.

TimSaint added 12:00 - Mar 15
Ralph gambled with the team at City to target a win against Brighton and failed big time !!
Never seen us look so pedestrian, un-iterested and not up for such an important game - so something is definitely wrong and that is down to Ralph.
The tactics were awful, same old predictable slow play, allowing the opposition to regroup quickly and defend against us in numbers. That then results in passing it back, sometimes all the way back !! Yawn.
Then we show no urgency chasing the game - I'm willing us to score 2 to win it, yet we are content to just pass it around in the hope that someone will take the responsibility and actually cross it or have a shot.
Then to top it all, Ralph make the subs, but we continue to play the same way - somehow expecting that the subs (who are on the bench because they are not good enough to start) will win it for us !! Complete Madness.

DellBoyWally added 12:07 - Mar 15
I'm surprised at the continued adoration of JWP. At best he's a bit-above-average midfielder and, at worst, rubbish. Lately, apart from free kicks and corners, he has been rubbish. And even the fks and cs are drying up leaving him a liability. He slows down the play then gives up, passing backwards. I've never been his greatest fan and of late, sadly, he is playing to my low expectations. We lack a real captain. We are short of class. Diallo will surely become a very decent midfielder, JVest is improving and becoming vital, (why don't we put him up front when chasing a game?) Stuey has been off lately, KWP didn't have his best game, JBad has become suicidal, Bertie was poor, Minimino was somewhere, his name was on the sheet! Tella was wasted and almost ignored as was Che. Even our goal was seasoned with a big sprinkling of luck.
And what do we do to liven things? Bring on Redmond!! Well, it provides plenty of laughs.
Play like yesterday and we won't beat our neighbours in the cup. Nor anyone else on the PL. The only good thing to come out of this will be cheaper season tickets in the Championship

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