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Southampton FC 2020/21 Season Review - The Right Back Spot
Tuesday, 1st Jun 2021 09:27

This time last year all the discussion was about the right back spot and whether Kyle Walker Peters would even return for the final part of his loan spell, this year it is all about the left back spot, but there are some interesting decisions to be made around the career of Yan Valery.

This time last year the season hadn't ended, in fact it hadn't even restarted and all the questions were being asked about the right back berth rather than as is the case this year the left.

Kyle Walker Peter had been overlooked before lockdown and it looked like he would not even return to St Mary's for the restart, but the rest as they say is history and KWP went on to be signed permanently and was a mainstay of this season, aside from when he was injured he would start 30 of the 38 games in the Premier League and would be undisputed first choice in the right back spot.

Kyle Walker Peters has been one of our best signings of recent years and we robbed Spurs at the price we got and if we consider that although Pierre Emile Hojbjerg wasn't directly a part of that deal it is easy to make comparisons, we got the best half of the two transactions, it will be interesting to see if Hojbjerg is still in the Spurs side next season, Spurs fan seem to be already rueing selling KWP.

If a review of Kyle Walker Peters season is fairly straightforward, then a review of Yan Valery's might take longer to write than he played.

Two years ago he looked set to make the right back spot his own after breaking into the team and starting 20 games in the Premier League plus 2 as sub in 2018/19 season, not to mention a couple of goals including a screamer at Old Trafford.


He started 2019/20 in the side but then was dropped for no apparent reason and rumours abounded that ranged from an unexplained injury to behavioural issues to far darker reasons.

But overall you did think here was a talent who can once again flourish when fit.

But this season saw him struggle to even make the squad and it was not until January that he featured in the first team, an 8 minute cameo appearance at the end of the 1-0 win over Liverpool suggested that he might be back to fitness, as did a shorter appearance away to Leicester, indeed the full 90 minutes against Arsenal in the league, plus a full game in the FA Cup win over Shrewsbury gave hope that he might just be back in contention once he got back up to Premier League sharpness.

But It seems that despite his return he wasn't in Ralph's plans and he was shipped off to Birmingham City on loan where he has had a mixed time and that is putting it lightly, he started brightly enough but seemed to fall out of favour quickly and only completed 90 minutes twice, the final time being his last appearance at the club on 6th March barely a month after he arrived.

So the mystery still goes on about Yan Valery, why has his career seemed to nosedive so drastically in the past two years.

The big question is why he was sent out on loan when we had no specialised cover for KWP, it can only be two reasons, the first is that Saints like many other clubs were looking to slash costs and get players out on loan to save the wages, that is entirely plausible, we had a bolted on number 1 right back in KWP and several others who could fill in there, let Valery go on loan, get his mojo back and save some money along the way.

This seems to have only succeeded in terms of saving money.

The second reason is that for whatever reason and I can't believe it is entirely football related Ralph has lost patience with the young Frenchman.

So the question is will we try to sell Valery this summer or do we still, harbour hopes he can become the player he promised to be, I hope it is the latter as I think there is a good player in there somewhere and in these times of austerity we have to prioritise the transfer money we have and being blunt it will be cheaper to keep Valery as a back up than sign someone else.

So for next season it is clear who will be the number 1, but who will back him up, will it be Valery, will it be the likes of Jack Stephens or JWP or will we look to get someone in.

Photo: Action Images



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halftimeorange added 10:01 - Jun 1
You're right - he showed promise but, if his face doesn't fit (as appears to be the case) then it's better for all concerned to say "goodbye", otherwise it'll be wasting both his time and the club's as there's little loyalty on either side in today's football.
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WestSussexSaint added 10:46 - Jun 1
KWP is one of those players whose value is shown when he hasnt played this season (like Romeu). He gives us an excellent attacking option and width which is more limited in the front players of Ralph’s 4-2-2-2 formation. I think he still needs to work a little on his defensive stills and is prone to a lapse or two (in keeping with the rest of the defence) but given this is essentially his first full season in the PL he is still developing so the future remains bright.

It’s clear Valary’s time at Saints is done for whatever reason and hopefully the recruitment in the summer provides not just a first choice LB but also cover for both full back positions.
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underweststand added 11:34 - Jun 1
Quite often good players become "square pegs " in a club for a number of reasons, and
obviously there is far more to football than 90 minutes on a Saturday (or whatever day of the week they play). There may be unknown factors to Valery's make-up that don't tick all the boxes and the team, OR ( the squad - as it now is ) is like a family and it's very important to keep things balanced on the right level.

We could all make a good YouTube clip of Valery's better performances including his great goal against Man U. a while back, and looking at his better qualities I think there may well be a good fit in a club for Yan - somewhere out there - but it clearly isn't Saints.

KWP clearly has the RB spot nailed down at present, but we need someone else who can step up when required and previous experiments with Yoshida, Stephens and Bednarek clearly hasn't worked out, and playing JWP at RB means we lose his influence in midfield.

At the time when wing-backs seem to be the priority, it would be nice to get a full back with a bit of pace about him and who knows how to tackle a speedy winger and as we say " have him in his pocket."
Will be good to see who Saints come up with.
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aceofthebase added 13:48 - Jun 1
Yan Valery can be played in attack as well as defence and can be excellent when not coached to pass the ball back as KWP has been. Valery has been blasted by some some fans and seems out of favour with RH (not uncommon). I think that he can rival KWP for RB and therefore should be kept.
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Big_T added 17:18 - Jun 4
I still think we need a RB , it has showed clearly the kwp hasn't played a full season ! ( At 23 that is criminal ) . Don't get me wrong I like KWP going forward, that's it. Maybe when Ryan has gone he will learn to get back as quickly when needed, his defensive side of his game needs lots of work imo. It has shown since about January that he has not been used to the full season demands and has imo looked quite leggy in games fading to obscurity ( not alone in that ) , hopefully next season with a good rest in the summer he can build his consistency to the whole seasons demands.
A new RB should be brought who can tackle and keep positional awareness for "the tougher games" , I doubt this will happen as more important this summer is the LB situation.
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