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Southampton V Crystal Palace The Preview
Tuesday, 11th May 2021 12:39

After having any lingering fear of relegation ended last night with Fulham's defeat Saints now have four games left this season in which they can play without fear and try and win a few games and end the season on a high.

There are a few dilemmas for Ralph Hasenhuttl now that Saints place in next season's Premier League has been confirmed, the first being does he concentrate on getting points on the board or does he look towards next season.

There are benefits to both, beating Crystal Palace this evening would not only move Saints up into 14th only a point behind the Eagles and make the league table look a bit more respectable, but more to the point 3 places is worth £6 million in prize money and that is not to be sniffed at . overtake Palace in the run in and that's another £2 million.

So when planning for next season does Ralph go for getting cash in the pot by playing his best side, or does he look to getting some of the promising fringe players a game and experience ready for next term.

The answer is probably a bit of both, at the back I would like to see Mohamed Salisu given game time, he was signed last summer to replace Jannik Vestergaard and although the Dane rallied and was in superb form before Xmas, since his return from injury he has looked more like the player of old.

With that in mind he could be our best hope of raising money to strengthen the squad, but first we have to play Salisu and find out just how good he is or for that matter isn't.

So for me I would partner Jan Bednarek with Salisu in the centre and drop Vestergaard to the bench, assuming Ryan Bertrand is still not fit then I would leave Jack Stephens at right back.

Of course there is the option of playing three at the back and again I would like to see that option tried.

With regard to Bertrand it seems he may have played his last game, he is supposedly injured but contract negotiations appear to be stalled on the length of any new deal and it seems Ralph may as he did last summer with Hojbjerg look to the future in the final games and not to those who won't be here.

I would also like to see Nathan Tella given a game, whether that is up front or out wide no one is sure where his future lies just yet, but so far he looks promising.

Up front the big question is whether Danny Ings is fit or not, personally I would prefer him on the bench this evening rather than start and to make sure that he is truly fit for Saturday against Fulham.

No one is saying that Saints do not need to make a signing or two in the summer, what we do have to find out though is who is going to be a genuine contender for a first team place and who is going to drop out, all clubs will be strapped for cash this year and we may have to sell to buy and that is why I think Jannik Vestergaard might just be expendable.

Tonight is a winnable game and it along with Fulham on Saturday will give us a big indication for the future, for me we have some good foundations and this has been a season decimated with injury, we showed before Xmas what we could do with a full squad, our drop in form wasn't a full team playing badly, with a full squad there is plenty to look forward to next season.

But we have to now do it where it counts and that is on the pitch, beat the Eagles and make our League position look respectable.

Photo: Action Images

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A1079 added 13:02 - May 11
You make a very good point Nick about the difference in places could be the difference of receiving £6m. That is not to be sniffed at for anybody whether you are an individual, a business or an organisation. Why would you not go for it but do you think football players, especially ours understand what that sort of money means to you and me and what a difference could make?
The reason I ask that is that a couple or so seasons ago we played West Ham in almost the final game and we didn't turn up. We lost out on £6m and the reaction was the game was a nothing game it did not matter. Yet that same team and club were repeatedly going on about being cash strapped as they do now. £6m could buy supporters season tickets or membership cards etc. It could pay a wage or two.

I really hope it is being drilled into the players that every place represents a pound to the club. It matters, it should matter but I am bewildered as to why players (not just ours) don't seem to get it.

saint22 added 13:02 - May 11
"A signing or two?"
Master of the understatement, we need 5 at least

WestSussexSaint added 13:22 - May 11
Planning for next season starts now. Every member of the squad should consider themselves not guaranteed of a place when the new season starts whether that means there are better options already in the club or we need to recruit.

Colburn added 13:35 - May 11
I agree Salisu must start and I would prefer to see Armstrong in his best position. It's time we saw Jankewitz again and he or Diallo should start or I don't see the point in them being at the club as they were, on paper, Ralph's back ups for JWP and Romeu. I also agree that Tella should start and Ings on the bench. Djenepo deserves another start too ahead of Walcott. I also feel that our current available squad looks better suited to a back 3, but it's not Ralph's preferred way. Finally, Obafemi looked hungry, lively and strong on Saturday, as did Smallbone in his last game before he got injured, looked like a different player, so hopefully we will have those two next season pushing for first team regularity. I think they both have big futures if their mentality is well nurtured.

sandywelsh added 13:56 - May 11
I would sooner play Kayne Ramsay at right back rather than Jack Stephens and see what he is like. We all know that Stephens is crap and should be one of the ones to go.
It would also be nice to see Alex Jankewitz given ago tonight. We should play Minamino and not Walcott also.

halftimeorange added 14:18 - May 11
I wonder if we could swap Che Adams for Mitrovic and offer Nathan Redmond to RB Leipzig in exchange for Lookman? It does show that the relegated clubs do have some talent in their ranks just like us. And just like us they have too many on their books who just aren't good enough. I, too, would like to see Ramsay, Tella, Ofabemi and Jankewitz given outings and I still think Djenepo has possibilities but, all of them need that leader on the pitch with them. In my opinion a solid captain should be top of Saints list.

HythePeer added 14:26 - May 11
The current crop of players have played their part in guiding Saints to be, atm, the worst team in the Prem. Any younger squad player showing a modicum of talent needs to be tried, they can do no worse.

redwight added 14:35 - May 11
Why all this talk of playing Stephens or Ramsey at right back? Has anyone told KWP that he is now surplus to requirements? Perhaps I have missed something here.

underweststand added 14:56 - May 11
Let's not pretend that many weren't worrying about a miraculous Fulham revival (if it was ever a concern for the players) - they don't have to think about the possibility of the "R word" anymore, and just get on with the job of winning points.
4 games to go, so expect Ralph to experiment a little with some of the bench names who would normally line up with the B team, and a last chance for some others to show up and be seen, and maybe nail down a place for themselves next season's sqaud.
In my reckoning we will unload AT LEAST half-a dozen players -(some who are out of contract) - and although there may not be a lot of big transfer business, it will free up a lot of money presently designated for salaries.

We all have our own list of names who ought to go - or, be given a proper chance, but thankfully we won't need to take responsibility - if we eventually get it wrong.
Nearly everyone makes the obvious points about good defensive replacements, but we need one or two extra names up front who are proven goalscorers on a regular basis, as the absence of Danny Ings - in any game - leaves a irreplaceable gap up front where there was once " a Pelle , a Tadic ...and a Mane ".

I still think it only needs a coin-toss for choice of goalie, but aside from more cover at full back, we need a CB pair that can work together properly, as at present .." it ain't there".

There are enough choices in midfield - IF only Ralph can find the right combination.
You can have JWP and /whoever you choose, but without some " muscle " (like Romeu) we are far too lightweight in the middle. We don't need a " Vinnie Jones ", but someone who can ride / and win a tackle AND find own own players when they pass a ball.
Great pity when Jimmy Case left (but that was 30 years ago.......)


allsaint54 added 15:07 - May 11
Agree with most of your comments, but now we're free from the fear of relegation I believe Ralph should be more radical & look to next season. That means no Walcott, Redmond or Djenepo. I would also leave out JWP to speed up play through midfield rather than the continual sideways backwards play that he gives. If that means sacrificing his free kicks then so be it. So I'd have Tella, Janko, Armstrong & Diallo in midfield. If Ings is unfit then Obafemi upfront with Adams.

beynali73 added 15:32 - May 11
Not much left to be said that hasnt already been repeated in the aftermath of most matches over the past quarter of the year.

Lets hope the players turn up for the next 4 games ready to play football rather than wearing flip flops, sunglasses and with their return tickets to Dubai hanging out of their shorts.

AirFlorida added 16:17 - May 11
We've not been playing with fear! That's been the problem! We've been playing with the opposite, apathy- perhaps brought on by amassing a good haul of points early on. Religation has never entered our mindset and we've cruised from loss to loss not worried about our slide down the league. I actually wish Ralph was capable of putting fear in to some of those players!!

Block8 added 18:05 - May 11
Hallelujah we have woken up to the fact that we need to have a look at our kids!
Continually playing underperforming players or fitting them in out of position has got us where we are, so we know that doesn't work. Looking at the back up squad, one of two at a time, just might save us some money?
Tella looks like a young Wallcot, let's hope for an improved end result! So for me tonight is Jankewitz & Nlundulu to start and Caleb Watts to start the next game.
We paid £14 million for Djenepo and its not really come off, Tella looks a better option, who else might we have hiding on the bench??

WestSussexSaint added 19:24 - May 11
So much for looking at next season. Why is Minamino starting when he won’t be here. Good to see Danny back though. Hope is fully fit!

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