|Everton 3 v 1 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 14th August 2021 Kick-off 15:00
I'm Sorry Ralph ! But You Got The Selection Wrong At Everton
Monday, 16th Aug 2021 11:37
I like Ralph Hasenhuttl as a manager but sometimes I have to call it as it is and he got his team selection at Goodison Park on Saturday totally wrong and an Everton side who were there for the taking were allowed to get a win that they didn't really deserve.
Before the Everton fans rip in to me for saying their team didn't deserve to win, I will quantify this remark, it isn't sour grapes, but in a game when neither goalkeeper had to make a save that was beyond bog standard, either side could have won it and neither side really deserved too on the overall run of play until the last 14 minutes.
I like Ralph Hasenhuttl as a manager, at a time when he is just become the longest serving Saints manager since Chris Nicholl was sacked 30 years ago, it has been good to have continuity, something lacking over that period.
He came in at a difficult time and inherited a squad bloated by players on big salaries and nowhere near the first team, it was never going to be an overnight easy fix, but slowly but surely he has dismantled the squad in place when he arrived and built one that is stronger and with more depth.
The fact he has done that on a tight budget, not just because of the Chairman's inability to get money out of China, but because we had so many on big salaries and in truth it wasn't the transfer fees that were stopping us, but the wages we were carrying on our books.
So in my book Ralph Hasenhuttl has been a good manager and more importantly a good fit for Southampton Football Club, one that cares about the whole club and not just the first team.
Indeed his win ratio compares well with just about every other Saints manager in terms of the top two divisions.
Win ratios aren't always an accurate way of judging a manager, but they do give some indication and Ralph's at 36.84% as of today is better than Gordon Strachan's 35.45%, Alan Ball 32.84%, Ian Branfoot 28.91% and even Chris Nicholl at 34.13%.
Most of the managers above him were more short term and not that much better, Ronald Koeman as you would expect has the best ratio at 48.35% and Lawrie McMenemy 's at 41.74% is a surprise given that 4 of his seasons were in the old second division.
One surprise is Mauricio Pochettino, his win ratio is only slightly better than Ralph's at 38.33%
If Ralph Hasenhuttl's side had won at Everton on Saturday, this morning he would sit on 37.74%, but the fact is we didn't win and the manager has to take some blame for this.
Most Saints fans were shocked to find stalwarts from last season on the bench in Stuart Armstrong, Jan Bednarek and Kyle Walker Peters, if you had polled the 2,000 Saints fans up at Goodison you wouldn't have found many who would not have started all three in the team.
Take those three out and you take a big part out of the team and I felt it was folly to leave them on the bench, especially when you consider that we would be putting out a team with 3 debutants.
Ralph has explained his reasoning saying that "The players out on the pitch today, they showed most in the pre-season. "
But I'm not sure about that, I was also surprised to find Alex McCarthy in the side given his poor pre season, so in my opinion that was an error.
Likewise although Tino Livramento had a great debut, he should not have started ahead of Kyle Walker Peters, most at the game felt that and thought that if the manager had played both then we would have been stronger on the right.
“Okay he (Livramento) was not that long here like Kyle but it was not an easy decision.
“But I was looking for his physical one against one qualities he has defensively against Richarlison. I think he did it fantastically to be honest.
“We (know) he is immediately that he is a player who can play in the Premier League and this is very positive for us.”
Dropping Jan Bednarek was also strange especially given Ralph's awareness of the physicality of the Everton attack, the Polish centre half is our strongest player, he is the man who cuts out more balls into the box than any player in our squad and indeed most of the premier League. Jack Stephens is not the most physical of players.
Stuart Armstrong was also a big loss and we missed his surging runs.
It would be hard to argue with Ralph that the players who came in did well,, for most of the game they did, as mentioned Livramento was a great success, but the others a little more varying, Jack Stephens was ok , but no more than that, Theo Walcott had his moments but ultimately lacked a bit of end product, certainly there weren't many who would have played him ahead of Stuart Armstrong.
So I am afraid in this game Ralph was brave in his selections, no one could accuse him of not trying to take the game to Everton, but ultimately we came up short because we lacked experience to see out the game.
We failed to hold firm as Everton came out of the tunnel in the second half on a mission and we really needed to have calm heads and we didn't.
Managers make mistakes, that doesn't mean they should be sacked, on Saturday Ralph Hasenhuttl tried to do something different and it didn't pay off, we lick our wounds and go again, on a bright note we found that the three signings who made their debut's at Goodison look to be solid signings.
Adam Armstrong looked fast and has an eye for goal, it is still early days but he could be better than Danny Ings, Tino Livramento will give Ralph a few selection headaches and will give Kyle Walker Peters a run for his money at right back, although personally I would have preferred to see him playing just in front of KWP.
Romain Perraud looked a combative player and a decent replacement for Ryan Bertrand, one advantage being that he actually looked like he wanted to be in the side, unlike the now Leicester player who for much of the last three years appeared disinterested at times.
The sale of Jannik Vestergaard has given us some money, we still have £15 million left over from the Danny Ings sale and now we have doubled that with the sale of the Dane, we need to spend it wisely, a good quality experienced central defender who can organise should fit the bill.
Photo: Action Images
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