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Southampton V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Verdict
Monday, 27th Sep 2021 09:24

Wolves arrived at Saints a struggling side and left with their 3rd successive Premier League victory at St Mary's in a game where they attacked just five times, but unlike the home side they managed to convert one of those chances.

The only surprise when looking at the stats is that Saints only had 57 % possession, it seemed like far more and highlighted how little appetite for getting forward the visitors actually had.

They spent much of the game timewasting and their game plan was simple don't concede a goal and hope they nick one at the other end,

This happened in the 61st minute and from then on they barely left their half again until the final seconds of injury time when they caught Saints on the break but Alex McCarthy saved well.

Alex McCarthy was called into action just three times, a good early save, the 61st minute goal that should have been prevented although Raul Jiminez took his goal well and that 95thm minute effort.

For the rest of the game it was all Saints pouring forward, but in the main failing to cash in and turn chances into goals. 18 attempts but only 6 on target tells you the story of the game.

If Saints had got the first goal then the game would have been far different, Wolves would have had to abandon their game plan and open up, but they didn't and the final half hour was a display of faking injury and timewasting that was purely embarrassing, just as shameful was that referee Andy Madley allowed them to get away with it and failed to show a yellow card even once.

But the timewasting wasn't the reason we lost, it came down to a lack of good chances up front and a failure to finish when we had the chance, we moved the ball well but couldn't in the main generate a decent chance.

I said in the preview we need to get one on one more often, but we failed to do that.

This was always going to be a tough game, in truth we don't like playing against sides who sit back and invite us on, we are better set up to be able to hold our own back line and then break with pace.

When we made the first change on 64 minutes I thought we took the wrong wide man off, many will disagree but Nathan Redmond looked far more likely to both create and score than Moi Elyounoussi, Redmond has some end product, perhaps he might be better suited as an impact player, but at least in most games he get a chance himself and makes them for others.

Bringing on Broja for Adams was a straight swap on 64 minutes and made sense for 10 minutes, I can see why Long came on for Walker Peters for the last 16 minutes, but if we were going to do that surely better to have left Adams on the pitch in the first place.

This was a disappointing defeat, one that now leaves us staring over our shoulders especially as the next game is at Chelsea, but it isn't a terminal blow, we can look at the game and take some plus's from it, yes there was a lack of imagination going forward, but we weren't outplayed we controlled the game and just got caught out the once.

We seem to have solved the issues we had at the back last season, but at the expense of scoring goals, we need something different at times, getting Stuart Armstrong back will be a big boost, he can drive at sides and score, too often on Sunday we got down the byeline well and crossed, but this was bread and butter for a Wolves side with 9 men in its own penalty area, this was a game where we had to drive at the heart of the defence and we didn't.

But there are 32 games still left, we lost this one we just need to get that first win and get up and running.

Photo: Action Images

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SaintPaulVW added 09:40 - Sep 27
Although many of us have banged on about our lack of leadership at CB/CM, a more glaring issue right since the Puel days has been our inability to convert chances. This was eased for one season when Ings came into form/avoided injury.

Too often our attacks stop allowing the defence to reset, or a chance is wasted by a really poor final decision. It's been like this for most of the last 6 years.

Yes Armstrong will help but he doesn't play every game. We need to work on the tactics and composure to start to score regularly or else this season could be painful. You don't stay up by drawing every game 0-0.

What is the point of having 2 of the fastest players in the Premier League if you aren't making use of that advantage?

We have plenty of time to put this right but need to start ASAP


DorsetIan added 09:48 - Sep 27
I disagree about Redmond and Elyounoussi. Throughout his career at Saints, Redmond has had a problem converting edge of the box possession into serious chances. He's had years and years to improve and he just hasn't.

Elyounoussi is not perfect but when he got the ball he looked to be direct and I think there is still a chance that he will get better.

All the forward players need to improve, the question for me now is which of them can?

saintmark1976 added 09:57 - Sep 27
Nick, without wishing to appear rude I’m beginning to think that you are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome ( where a prisoner forms a physiological bond with his captor). Ralph is the cause of our current problems and he will never be part of the solution, yet when commenting on yesterday’s game you hardly mention his complete lack of tactical ability or bizarre once again too late substitutions.

He’s responsible for two 9-0 defeats in eighteen month, the worst run of consecutive defeats in the club’s history, 31 points from the last 36 games, a cup semi final without a shot on goal and now no wins in the last eight Premiership games.

As much as he may be a likeable chap, the time for him to go is now. Put simply, he’s had is chance and it’s over.

Colburn added 10:08 - Sep 27
I blame Jack Stephens.. If he hadn't have got injured, we'd have got at least a point yesterday..
Redmond as usual offered nothing in attack and his oppo was often left unmarked when wolves attacked. Elyonoussi also underperformed, not using the ball with enough composure. Ralph keeps picking certain players who are not doing the job for him and he keeps selecting them.. This is why we have only won 4 of our last 27 games! I expect Djenepo will be back in for the tougher games and Redmond will miss his chances to hurt weaker oppositions, this seems to be the pattern.
If you don't score goals then you don't win games and he brings on Long while Tella gets nothing.. Bizarre decisions from Ralph again and again no win..

allsaint54 added 10:12 - Sep 27
Normal service resumed, slow, ponderous build up with next to no creativity or urgency.
Our midfield is nothing short of dire. Playing any 2 from Redmond, Djenepo, Elyounoussi or Walcott just doesn't work. Armstrong returning to full fitness can't come soon enough, but no doubt RH would prefer Redmond.
JWP is back to his old self with slow, safe passes allowing defences to get organised. Even his set pieces are now predictable with little or no threat.
Up front we are just too lightweight, Adams & Armstrong doesn't seem to be working as a partnership. As for bringing on Long with 15 minutes to go was just plain stupid. If that's the best that Ralph can do then it's time for a change.
On the plus side Livramento looks a real star & Salisu is improving with each game.
Unfortunately I really fear for this season as I'm struggling to see 3 teams worse than us.

stmichael added 10:14 - Sep 27
The defending for the goal was laughable.
Both defenders go to ground far too quickly.
We will miss Jack..

Number_58 added 10:24 - Sep 27
Am I missing the paragraph where Nick castigates the defence for conceding such as easily defended goal? If Jack Stephens had let Jiminez get past him in such an easy fashion he'd have dedicated the whole report to it. As for the "I can see why Shane Long came on..." Please explain how someone who hasn't scored a goal in years, has played hardly any football in months and couldn't get into a Championship side last season, could possibly make a difference yesterday.

HythePeer added 10:33 - Sep 27
If you take out Livramento and maybe KWP (when playing in his correct position!?) Hasenhuttl has created a top notch Championship side.

sidsaint added 10:45 - Sep 27
We have now seen what happens when :- replace a £30m striker with a £15m one.
2. you have to play a right back as a left back, as good as he is.
3. when you sell a tall centre back who is a nuisance at corners and don't replace him.
4. we were meant to have 2 players for each position, a couple more injuries would be serious,
Looks like a long season again despite the defence looking more stable.

wrathoftazz added 10:46 - Sep 27
The only championship Ralph will win, is the one nest season. I'm not sure he realises that the Championship is actually a relegation instead of a win.

redwight added 11:24 - Sep 27
Watching KWP getting into great positions and then trying to put in a decent cross with his left foot was enough to make you weep.

wessexman added 11:40 - Sep 27
We can dress it up how we like. Alarm bells are ringing loudly.

SanMarco added 12:03 - Sep 27
We have problems due to a lack of quality. Too many journeymen and one of our only two/three quality players playing out of position. Although we are defending better we STILL managed to hand a very poor Wolves side a winner with some comedy defending. The thing with Ings is that he can turn a match like that by doing something. Adams and Armstrong buzz around like wasps around a jam jar but they do not look like scoring. And, to be fair to them, the total lack of creativity in midfield hardly sets them up with much anyway.

The elephant in the room is of course the position of Ralph. In just about every other club, and indeed with us at any other time, he would be long gone. To put it bluntly - are we seeing any progress? I felt that Ralph's position would become untenable if we had a poor start to this season. The Leeds home and Watford away are looking very big indeed now.

IanRC added 12:08 - Sep 27
Yes we were poor up front but Wolves were awful. I thought Burnley were the worst team to watch in the PL but no WolveS now have that title. Dreadful time wasting and completely unpenalised shirt tugging at every opportunity, including on Bednarak in the build up to the Jiminez goal. Where was VAR then, bet we wouldn't have got away with it.

Clear that our strikers need a goal to bring some confidence back and the return of Stuart Armstrong cannot come to soon. I disagree with most on here about Djenepo, I would certainly have started him rather than Elynoussi. I also disagree with most poster's on Redmond I think he is much improved, particularly his defensive work. I still think Bednarak and Salisu are our best defensive partnership but clearly they still have things to learn.

At least Chelsea next week will make a game of it and come forward. Really hope Wolves go down after that disgrace.

Colburn added 12:28 - Sep 27
Ian RC can you give an example of Redmonds improved defending? He seemed to wave a leg in the first minute with the man he was supposed to be watching receiving the ball in acres of space and we were nearly one down with their first attack. Aside from a cameo against a very poor Newcastle, can you advise me of when this guy has performed in an important game in the last two years? You may be able to, but I can match it tenfold with abject failures. Perhaps it is the manager, who appears to be good at improving players against the ball but serms to take our attacking players backwards.. I would love to see Redmond provide more decent end products but he rarely produces and this has been one of our biggest problems, him slowing play down during the rare opportunities we actually move the ball forward quickly.. He just hasn't done it yet plays all the easier games. It is of no surprise that we have zero wins because after looking like Ralph was regenerating the team with fresh blood and using those like Tella who has shown already he carries a big threat, he has reverted back to those who have produced this run of 4 wins in 27, while trying to shoehorn in KWP out of position.. Crazy..
Same old story..
Time for Lampard please Semmens..

GeordieSaint added 12:47 - Sep 27
Saints would have won that with ings in the team. He is going to be near impossible to replace. Armstrong is the other big miss as he is the only really talented ball player in the squad. Can see saints struggling to get 40 goals this term but I still back Ralph, doubt anyone else could do a better job with the financial constraints.

schatfield added 12:50 - Sep 27
Agree with most comments here. and yes, if Stephens had made that defensive error that Bednarak did, Nick would have spent a paragraph complaining about it. But we all know that....
Our strikers do look poor tbh. Lots of running but no real quality. KWP out of position isnt helping. Redmond awful but gets in the starting line up every game (I am fearful that Theo is back soon and will get likewise). Tella must be wondering what he has to do when Shane Long gets on in his place.
Sleep walking our way to relegation....

underweststand added 12:54 - Sep 27
When you look for success in any team it often revolves around one or two players.
In the Prem. Vardy at Leicester, Kane and Son at Spurs etc, for Saints... it used to be Ings.

Now we have Adams and Armstrong former lower league marksmen who like; Maupay, Benrama and Bowen before them set the Championship alight but just don't cut it at the highest level.
There doesn't seem to be a partnership forming yet between "our A men ", who are all over the field in an attempt to get some action. At one stage on Sunday, Armstrong was back near his own penalty area in an attempt to get an attack started.
Needless to say, with the new "relaxed" view taken by referees of what constitutes ... " a fair physical challenge ", our two strikers are at a real disadvantage when coming up against the type of tough, tall defenders - who don't take any prisoners.

Ralph's new strategy seems to be for anyone within range to " shoot on sight", and not to be over-reliant on the two men up-top, but it didn't work this time around. Wolves tactics of "parking the bus" after they scored worked well and the long list of those " injured " Wolves players delayed the game, and the delays broke down much of our attacking zeal. Indeed one or two of the Wolves players will get an Oscar nomination - when they ought to have got a yellow card for feigning injury. Some of them didn't seem physically prepared enough to last for a full-blooded 90 minute game.

This was a game we needed to win after those marathon efforts against United, City and West Ham, but now it has begun an uphill task to keep clear of the bottom three.


felly1 added 14:01 - Sep 27
Don't understand why Ralph can't see it would be so much better playing Livramento in front of KWP. We would have a proper attacking threat down the right and allow Perrau to come back in on the left.
Ward Prowse was awful yesterday and looks a shadow of himself.
All our attackers and attack minded midfielders are average at best and you can't see a goal coming from them.
The difference between the two teams yesterday was simple.. Jimenez. .. We used to have a game changing forward.. God I'm missing him!!
Glad to see Nick didn't elaborate on the defensive error leading to the goal yesterday. Perhaps he understands that these things happen in games and not to continually single out individuals.. Mmmmmm.

SanMarco added 14:18 - Sep 27
Interesting idea Felly. They could become the new Bridge-Marsden double act (but on the other wing of course.)


felly1 added 15:03 - Sep 27
To be fair SanMarco, Nick has suggested it a few times and I agree with him. Let's have a least one part of the pitch where we would have quality and a real attacking threat rather than watch Walker Peters struggle to cross with his left foot.

mattthelegend added 15:43 - Sep 27
that was poor wasn't it. Time for Ralph to go has had more than enough time and his record speaks for itself 4 wins out of 27!!! Why Redmond at least Djenepo ran at people? Imagine being Tella and having to accept that Long gets the nod over you? What is the deal with Armstrong not having it he is injured, rumour has it he doesn't see eye to eye with Ralph, hence his exclusion? Can we not try Livermento on the right with KWP in his natural position?

davidargyll added 15:54 - Sep 27
I rather agree with the simple fact that Wolves had loads of luck and a class striker who’s been out for nine months but has a touch of genius which he found yesterday. And we didn’t.
Had one of our shots got through then clearly it would have been different but, like the games against the two Manchesters and the Hammers, where we closed them out, I’m afraid the Wolves returned the favour by “doing a job on us”. Where I think we were naive and should have done better - but then again I can understand it because we were knocking on the door so often - is once again fall victims to the long ball over the top and defending too far up the pitch.
So I was depressed when I left SMG and even more so when I heard those tossers on MOTD going on about our tactical naivety and we are in effect staring relegation in the face. But then I thought, “We’ve only played half a dozen games for Christ’s sake!” And if you have defenders against you who are up to the job as Wolves’ were then it’s going to be extra tough to score, exactly as we did in the last two games.
Ok so we lost, and indeed our lack of wins in the last dozen games or so is pitiful, but are we the worst in the league? I can think of at least three who take that particular honour and on the evidence of yesterday I think we are improving, ok not in a straight line (more like two steps forward one step back) but I do feel more positive than six months ago I am under no illusions that our front men need to hit the back of the net soon but I don’t think they can be accused of not trying. I just hope that this goal drought doesn’t dent their confidence.


ElijahK added 16:15 - Sep 27
All the people calling for Ralph to go are just soo pathetic and plastic! I mean for starters looking at our first 6 games we’ve had, most realistic saints fans would’ve expected like 5 points (4 against Newcastle and Wolves with a win and the other as a draw, and another point off of West Ham or Everton) which is only 1 point more than what we’ve got so far, which is certainly not something you sack a manager over!

Then also you’ve gotta look at the players at his disposal as our defence has been really decent this season, it’s just our strike force hasn’t been getting anything even though they’ve been getting the chances. This isn’t down to Ralph as he gets no investment whatsoever so can’t get decent PL quality strikers, like the likes of Villa, West game, Leicester etc can during the winter transfer market.
I mean if we don’t have a win by October, then yeah maybe you can start to look at Ralph, as 3 of the 4 league games we should arguably win, but even then when you get bugger all investment off of Gao, there’s not a lot that managers can do.

pintsizedsaint added 20:24 - Sep 27
I am genuinely baffled by why some posters here continue to post aggressively towards both the author of this website.

Firstly, Nick (as the person who has set up this site) has every right to offer a view and criticise or praise who he likes. It’s a fan site after all. Whilst you may disagree with him, you don’t have to continuously slate his reports or make ironic comments that suit your sledging agenda. You don’t like his views, go set up your own fan site and crack on there.

As for the game on Sunday, Saints didn’t play poorly, but neither did they play with any cutting edge, and once again they were left to rue the chances missed with the only clear cut chance Wolves had since their shot in the first minute. It is frustrating, but it isn’t the apocalyptic doom some of us are making out, and conveniently forgetting good progress made in doing what Chelsea couldn’t in keeping Man City at bay.

I’m just as frustrated as the rest, but it’s early in the season. The goals and points will come.

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