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Southampton Linked With Denmark Midfielder But Does This Suggest A Change In Tactics For Ralph !
Wednesday, 30th Jun 2021 09:11

As the transfer window reaches it's real opening on July 1st Saints have been linked with one of the stars of the European Championships, but if he did sign would it signify a change of tactics for Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The latest man to be linked is Danish central midfielder Thomas Delaney currently about to start the last year of his contract at Borussia Dortmund, very much a holding midfielder it does ask the question whether either we will lose a central midfielder in the transfer window or whether there will be a change of tactic for Ralph Hasenhuttl in that area.

At the moment Saints have 5 players who are vying for a spot for the two central positions in Ralph's preferred formation last season, James Ward Prowse, Oriol Romeu, Ibranhima Diallo, Stuart Armstrong and Will Smallbone.

That is good cover in that we have three who are specialised players in that position, another who is usually played out wide and a promising youngster, many would say a good balance of options.

So why would we be looking for a sixth in that position and why another holding type of player ?

If the answer isn't that we are going to lose one of our options in that department, then it has to be that Ralph Hasenhuttl is looking at changing formation.

Ronald Koeman used to like to play with two strong holding players in the middle, Victor Wanyama Steven Davis, Oriol Romeu & Morgan Schneiderlin being deployed in what was often a 4-5-1 formation with the two wide players working hard to supplement the lone attacker Graziano Pelle but also having defensive duties.

Perhaps Ralph is going to opt for that formation again and will bring in Delaney to sit with Oriol Romeu.

But equally he could play a formation that sees 3 central defenders and two wing backs with three in the middle meaning a more advanced role for JWP.

Certainly Ralph isn't adverse to changing his team, although last season injury dictated a more rigid formation.

Many of our issues last season stemmed from getting caught on the break, too often the midfield and full backs pressed forward and we got caught one on one with our central defenders not able to handle a quick counter attack.

Claude Puel may be much maligned by some, but when he lost Virgil Van Dijk to injury and Jose Fonte to greed, and had only Yoshida & Jack Stephens to rely on he changed tactics for the final quarter of the season, up to the League Cup Final we were a team that could score goals, but Pule knew Stephens and Yoshida could not handle counter attacks, he adapted a more holding formation in midfield and although this stemmed the goals at our end it also saw them dry up at the other.

Puel's tactics worked in that he took us to 8th, but it cost him his job as it was a nail in his coffin for some supporters.

Now Ralph may look to stem the tide again and he may turn to Thomas Delaney.

The Dane who sounds more like he should be from Dublin doesn't fit the normal Ralph blueprint though, usually it is the younger players that we look for, but I have said for the last few years we need someone who is experienced and a leader, JWP and Romeu lead by example, but they are not leaders of men.

Delaney is 29, but he is only tow months off turning 30, he has 58 caps for the Danes and a lot of experience both in the Danish league and also 5 seasons in the Bundesliga firstly with Werder Bremen and then with Borussia Dortmund for the past three seasons.

He has the experience but the only thing against him is his injury record, last season he played only 20 times for the German side, the previous year it was just 11 after his first season total of 30 out of 34 games.

A similar patter at Werder Bremen were he player just 45 games out of 68 Bundesliga games he could have played in.

Perhaps this is something that comes with the territory and it should be noted that for most of the times he was adding anything between 6 -11 games in European competition to his total.

Bizarrely this might be a good thing for any club that does sign him, with so much time out his body will not be so battered as it would have been if he had been a 34 league games a season year in year out man.

So on paper this could be a good signing for Saints, much needed experience in the team, he is described by German sources as a player that has stability and consistency, he is solid and never has a bad game.

Delaney as he turns 30 wants to test himself in the Premier League and Southampton might just be a good fit for him, with just a year left in his contract and his age he will be available for a good price.

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felly1 added 10:05 - Jun 30
Love to see a player like this come to Saints. Hopefully Ralph has learnt from last season and he approaches games with a little more defensive pragmatism. Our defence and midfield were overrun at times , particularly the 2nd half of games once fatigue set in. If we can keep Ings and Adam's up front we have goals in the team, just got to be better at not conceding.

Colburn added 10:38 - Jun 30
You keep mentioning Armstrong as a cdm, but when he plays there, we lose our attacking edge as he has been so vital for our attacking play.. We have 3 cdms with any sort of experience in that position and last season Ralph didn't trust one of them after selling Targett to bring him in.. If we had injuries to JWP and Romeu, can you see us winning any games without them and with the current stand ins? I can't, because Diallo and Jankewitz were not trusted and now lack the experience they need to step in.

Monksway added 18:19 - Jun 30
Agree with Colburn. Whilst Diallo can cover for JWP we have nobody to cover Romeo. Either Delaney or the Swansea boy would be good additions if we are to stop the flow of goals everytime JWP or Romeo are out/ off their game.

Peterx added 12:20 - Jul 1
Provided we can get him at the right price I think Delaney would be a good signing to add some grit to our defence.

Also Armstrong's best position is as a 10 although he was highly effective holding. Smallbone is also versatile and I for one have great hopes for him taking it to another level when he is fit again but he is more likely to play further forward.

So in fact we only really have 3 proper defensive midfielders, namely JWP, Oriel, Diallo, so an additional top quality signing would help us not to run out of players as we did last year.

The other point is this is assuming that Lemina is a project we are no longer interested in which may not be the case.

underweststand added 22:11 - Jul 1
1) I recall that Ralph has said he didn't want to pursue "older players" so I thought that it sounded a bit odd if he is indeed interested to bring in Delaney.

2) of course the man has a lot of experience and is a seasoned international, and recalling that Steven Davis came around this age and DAJFU for quite a few seasons, it might not be a bad deal.. but I won't hold my breath on this one.

KriSaint added 22:57 - Jul 6
I have followed this player for years, being from Denmark myself. Left footed, hard working guy with a lovely personality. I'm sure he'd love to come to Saints, so - Saints leaders: please get it done.
Buy, please.

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