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Southampton At Norwich City The Verdict
Sunday, 21st Nov 2021 21:36

Another game of two halves that saw Saints completely dominate the first half and then struggle to keep the momentum in the second half, ultimately throwing away all 3 points with two lapses in concentration.

An irate fan after the game thought that the game was thrown away by Ralph Hasenhuttl's substitutions particularly the decision to take off Che Adams and replace him with Theo Walcott who is fast becoming the brunt of the wrath of a section of the fanbase.

Whilst I would agree that it was probably not the change I would have made either, it was not what ultimately cost us a game that should have seen us take all three points and move up to 8th in the League, if we had done so then every one would be happy, we didn't but it shows how close we are to getting things right.

But in my opinion what ultimately cost us the game where two goalkeeping errors, having taken the lead after only 4 minutes through a nice finish from Che Adams we really should have gone on and won it, we had the momentum and indeed when we went in at half time the stats showed total dominance with 12 attempts on goal with the home side registering just 1, but that one attempt went in.

Last season Alex McCarthy seemed to have a weakness at his near post and that reared its head against at Carrow Road when he allowed two attempts to slip into the near post when he really should have done better.

A goal up and completely in command the lead lasted barely 3 minutes when Pukki headed in a cross at the near post, the keeper had got his angles wrong, but he should still have kept the header out.

Saints still dominated the first half but the damage had been done and we would pay for it.

The second half saw Norwich come out fighting, but the truth was that we rarely looked like conceding till we did, as a team unit we coped well, Ralph Hasenhuttl made a couple of substitutions fairly early in the half and brought on first Broja for Elyounoussi and in doing so changed the shape and then Walcott for Adams.

The latter was a strange move given that Adams had scored and looked the most likely to do so again, but we still had Broja and Adam Armstrong on and so players who could score.

Walcott did not have a good game and he capped it by missing a great chance in the dying seconds putting a close range header wide when he really should have hit the target, but he was no worse than Broja who never really got into the game, but didn't seem the get the stick Walcott did from some.

But although we were not creating the chances we did in the first we still looked comfortable and a draw looked the least we would get, but then came another poor piece of goalkeeping.

Ironically McCarthy had made a find save just a few minutes earlier when he kept out a Pukki shot at his near left hand post, but when Hanley headed down in the 79th minute it was on target but not with any real power, it should have been easily saved, but once again the keeper could not keep it out.

These are the things that win you games, having a keeper that can make the saves at the right time and this was not the situation here.

I have said in the past that we are gambling a little in not having a truly Premier League class keeper at the moment, I thought that Fraser Forster should have got the nod ahead of the first game of the season and his displays in the League cup have made me think that should still be the case.

Alex McCarthy is not a bad keeper as back up, but I feel that he doesn't have the concentration for long runs in the team,, I think Norwich was a game too far for him, they were only brief lapses, he was ok for the remainder of the game, but keepers have to concentrate for all of the 90 minutes they can't afford one lapse let alone two.

Those berating Ralph Hasenhuttl should think on a little, if his keeper had performed to the standard expected then today we would be 8th in the League., a manager can't legislate for individual error. We are not quite there yet, but we are getting nearer each week.

So this was a disappointing result, but it is not a terminal blow, we have had a good run and now we need to put together another one, perhaps it won't start next week at Liverpool, but there are some winnable games after that and we can move forwards.

For me a good team needs a good keeper and at the moment we don't have that, if we had then we would have won this game, in January we really need to look at what we can do, whether that is a bid for West Brom's Johnstone or we go for a loan deal for Manchester United's Dean Henderson I don't mind, I just think it is a position that has now been a problem for the past 4 years, we need to deal with it sooner than later.

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IanRC added 21:51 - Nov 21
The failure to disallow the first Norwich goal was a clear and obvious error but given the referee and VAR official’s record against Southampton was to be expected. That said, although I am a big supporter of Ralph, he did his best to gift Norwich the game. When will he learn that Walcott contributes nothing and is dead weight for the team, Tella may not be the finished article but he or Long would have been more effective. Taking Romeu off too was a big error unless he picked up an injury. Salisu had his worst game for some time and appears much better in the centre. Tino too looked very tired in the second half. Need to sharpen up for Liverpool, three very valuable points surrendered yesterday …. and yes Fraser Foster should get a game after that performance by McCarthy.

lemmsy added 22:08 - Nov 21
For me Mccarthy was at fault on both goals.Also as much as saints dominated the first half we were often sloppy with simple passes which kept Norwich in the game & in the second half it contributed to there head of steam. Salisu’s worst for a while & perhaps he & tino are tiring a little bearing in mind there age .I would guess Ralph took che off due to his international exertions & if Walcott scored as he should have done it would have been celebrated as a masterstroke.All in all fine lines that weren’t necessarily down to the manager

A1079 added 22:17 - Nov 21
I recall Lawrie McMenemy when he was manager quoting a conversation he had with John Lyall, the then manager of West Ham who said that a good goalkeeper can be worth up to 20 points a season (I am not sure if it was 2 points a win then). On the back of that conversation McMenemy went out and purchased Shilton.

Neither of our main keepers are bad but they are not great either and you would not put your mortgage on either of them. They do an ok job for the most part but you are just waiting for the next error or bad game. It is not a matter of if but when!

On the issue of why Walcott got a negative response to his performance and Broja didn't. True Broja did not make a difference either but........Walcott has years of experience, he has a positive media, he is earning alot of money and yet consistently fails to deliver - not just for us, he failed to deliver for Everton and to a large extent Arsenal. On the otherhand Broja is fresh, new, inexperienced and learning and probably not earning anything like Walcott. Broja needs time, Walcott has had more than ample.

Errors in goalkeeping ultimately cost us the game but game after game we are not taking our chances when we are on top which gives hope to the opposition. I recall the recent Watford game where we were miles ahead of them throughout the game but all we had was one goal to show for it. Ironically, McCarthy nearly cost us a goal with an error at his near post which KWP managed to clear (and I accept McCarthy made a good save late on) but in a game in which we were significantly on top could have ended up a draw because for all the chances we had we only scored once - and so it was in the first half yesterday. That failure to score more than the one goal was as culpable to a defeat as the errors in goal.

On Ralph. I wouldn't berate him but he is frustrating. His judgement at times seems poor. Ok, none of us are perfect but his decisions are strange at times. He cannot be blamed for errors in goal and sometimes substitutions work and sometimes they don't, but it is his choices and his judgement which are raising questions as to whether he is learning from his time as manager. I am not calling for him to go, far from it, I want him to succeed, but he does not have an infinite amount of credit.

Herts_Saint added 22:25 - Nov 21
Forster needs a run of games yet I suspect Ralph won't drop McCarthy. Fair enough, if he doesn't rate Forster so bring in a new keeper. I'd personally be move earth and heaven and earth to get Areola. Thought he was exceptional for Fulham last season and it's got to be better than sitting on West Ham's bench on loan.

JoeEgg added 22:31 - Nov 21
So now we cant even beat the struggling bottom club despite a total domination in the first half! I have consistently argued that our greatest problem is still the manager. The players are played out of position and there is so much tinkling with the line up and tactics that it is no wonder the players dont know where they are. Good players like Livramento, Diallo and Salisu lost their way in Ralph's 'system' on Saturday.. Once again half time arrived and I feared the worst. Two managers went into their respective dressing rooms and after the interval we saw a completely different game. The new Norwich boss immediately got a response from his team while it was another 20 minutes before we even had a shot at goal. It was if we were content to hold on to a point and so doing we rarely threatened the in the second half.
We lost the chance to get Eddie Howe and although its early days new managers certainly did their stuff for Watford and Villa at the weekend. I fear we will stick with Ralph and will miss out on a great opportunity for a good manager to work with a very young and promising squad.

saintmark1976 added 22:51 - Nov 21
Another result from the Ralph playbook of “How to lose a football match from a winning position” signed copies of which will shortly be on sale in the club shop.

Time without number his team selection and tactics have been unfathomable and Saturday was no exception . His game management skills are consistently non existent and I can’t think of any logical words to describe his choice and use of substitutes.

With him at the helm we are sleep walking toward the Championship.

dirk_doone added 23:45 - Nov 21
I'm not calling for Ralph's head, because like most Saints fans do, I like him, and I'm not sure that we'd get a replacement who'd be any better. But, his decision to pick McCarthy instead of Forster in goal and to bring Walcott on as sub are what ultimately cost us 3 points and prevented us from being in 8th place tonight. When Ralph finally learns that neither McCarthy or Walcott should be anywhere near our team, we'll improve and win more games. I really hope he learns that fast because I want to see him succeed.

HythePeer added 00:01 - Nov 22
There is no point in sacking Randomnsubs Hasntaclue cos Nobody Withaclue would work for Southampton with the current regime.

Colburn added 00:02 - Nov 22
Ralph out.. Clueless, strange, imbalanced line up, square pegs in round holes yet we supposedly have a squad of depth now.. No balance on the left, why did we buy Perraud? KWP can only turn back on his right because he can't dribble with his left. What position was Diallo playing? Poor guy being asked to play in a role he never had before and Tella sits on the bench waiting for the next game at Stamford Bridge.....
What sort of substitutions were those!? Taking off the focal point of the attack and the goalscorer and putting on a clown who is scared of upsetting his woke haircut.. Failcott... Waste of a squad number, its no surprise he is the brunt..
Yes Mccarthy was at fault, someone needs to put a rocket up his rear end, same with Forster, they stroll around like its a fashion show and don't cover their near posts properly, basically because they are laid back dreamers.. Look at the energy of Ramsdsle..
Pathetic Ralph, utterly pathetic.
You can crap on about 8th place etc but it's irrelevant, it's the points that matter and the teams we have now to play after a woeful collapse yet again, we now have a tough run of games which we will repeat the same mistakes game after game. The three one nil wins have merely papered over the cracks and our team still doesn't know how to attack oppositions or understand what seizing the moment means.
I think you need to think again Nick about your obsession with excusing these same deja vus time after time.. Time for a change and a manager who doesn't bottle it and display a lack of belief in his own players through ridiculous over caution and negative mindsets and someone who doesn't fall to his knees crying if we beat a decent team.
Sick of this groundhog sh**

allsaint54 added 00:34 - Nov 22
Yes, the critics will be out for Walcott & rightly so. He is one of the highest earners at the club & most experienced. Yet we're still waiting for a half decent performance let alone a decent one. Where as Broja although not at his best has shown plenty of promise. The first half saw lots of crosses into the box with little aerial threat & yet when Broja comes on I can hardly think of a decent cross apart from Walcott's awful miss late on, say no more.

Peterx added 05:06 - Nov 22
Bad goalkeeping, but this game could also have been very different if we had Djenepo, S Armstrong or Redders as options in the second half. Players who can run at defences with a bit more trickery and pull them out of shape.

saintpete01 added 06:07 - Nov 22
Ralph Huggers
What football planet are you on

JimmyMeliaPhD added 06:17 - Nov 22
the goalkeping errors shouldn't have made a difference. The basic weakness with the team right now is that it dominates for one half but doesn't go for the jugular. And then it tries to shut down in the second half when the other side has changed tactics. RH screws up his 2nd half response 75% of our games. He seems to be blindsided by the fact the the other team will change, and then he makes really frankly astonishingly bizarrre substitutions. There have been one or two games where that wasn't true, but not many.

If McCarthy lost us 3 points this week, RH loses us 3 points more weeks than not.

davidargyll added 07:42 - Nov 22
Goodness this is going to be a long season! Saints don’t half put their fans through it! Because we do expect everyone to play well all the time, and when they don’t - like on Saturday - we all get worried. Of course some will always be better than others but players are not machines, we do have a lot of youngsters in the team, and inconsistency (especially amongst the smaller clubs) is the name of the game in the bottom half of the PL. (Witness how Watford, Burnley and Newcastle all played decently over the weekend but high flying Brighton didn’t). I wish it wasn’t true for us but that’s how this season is turning out, but I’ll take inconsistency over a string of losses anytime. And in that light maybe 13th in the table at this stage of the season isn’t so bad.

Main thoughts:
1. So many players seemed to be having an off day at the same time v Norwich, especially in the second half: Salisu (although he did have his moments in particular a fantastic through ball to AA), Tino, McCarthy, Walcott (so what’s new), KWP, Elyonoussi, Broja, even Diallo (at times)
2. Once again, there is far too much “trying to be clever” close to our own goal in order to keep possession at the risk of safety;
3. KWP proved yet again he hasn’t got a left foot; surely he must practice left foot crosses day in day out if he wants to play there permanently;
4. Surging runs by Salisu, Diallo, KWP, OR, etc look great but so often they seemed to have no idea where to pass the ball to and several attacks ran out of steam;
5. Am I the only one to wonder what has happened to JWP’s corners? They seem to be so un-deadly these days?

So here’s to continuing inconsistency which hopefully = a top quality performance at Anfield!

landsdownsaint added 08:19 - Nov 22
If your the opposing manager playing saints all you have too say is “ weather the first 45 mins try not too go more than 3 down by halftime & we should win come 90 mins

wrathoftazz added 08:40 - Nov 22
Once again, the inability to condem Ralph astounds me. NONE of his subs were anywhere close to making sense and taking off/moving a decent partnership was just stupid.

RALPH showed us YET AGAIN, that he is a one trick pony... he was tactically outdone at half time. We always play decent football 1st half and then get owned 2nd. Why? Because all the decent managers know he is useless, slow to react and follows a script (no matter how much it needs changing)

I've said for WEEKS, a couple of wins does NOT make his run of form a thing of the past... winning by 1:0 to crappy teams is not progress, its luck... and, at Norwich, that was proven.

He should have been sacked months ago... he blames everyone apart from himself, he can't motivate, organise or react and is simply NOT PL material. We will be relegated if he isn't gone before Christmas and then I wonder which side of the Ralph fence this site jumps on... I would guess still sucking up to Ralph but goto blaming owners or money...

LanzaSaint added 08:44 - Nov 22
We have just been beaten by the worst team in the premier league.
A second half tactical disaster class from Ralph.

petedoors1 added 09:21 - Nov 22
That was a total Disaster! Fraser Forster must be in goal in our next game! Walcott is not even good enough to be on the bench! Why was Che Adams taken off and why was Nathan Tella not brought on? Ralph doesnt have a clue when it comes to substitutions That should have been an easy 3 points Norwich where very poor. After that embarrassment I cant see where our next points are comming from. If we keep playing like we did in the second half yesterday we could be in the bottom 3 at Christmas. We need to get a tactical genius to be Ralphs number 2.

aceofthebase added 09:47 - Nov 22
Don't worry about the goalkeeper as I noticed on MOTD nearly every goalkeeper was beaten at his near post. When they are sacked due to fan pressure then we will have plenty to choose from.

JoeEgg added 09:57 - Nov 22
After the apparent euphoria of scraping home against a weakened Villa side I was disappointed but not surprised to be voted down when I dared to suggest that the manager was still our main problem.
A truly shocking second half at Norwich and the pendulum swings agaib and the vast majority of voters are back in the 'Ralph out' movement!
This guy has had three seasons to sort his ideas out and I merely repeat SaintMark's comment above, which I think for most of us football loving Saints supporters, accurately sums up the current situation as we see it:
"Time without number his team selection and tactics have been unfathomable and Saturday was no exception . His game management skills are consistently non existent and I can’t think of any logical words to describe his choice and use of substitutes."

PaleRider added 10:10 - Nov 22
So many points to discuss:

1) The abject refereeing. It's embarrassing how bad this was. My brother in law is a Norwich fan and after the game we went back to his and he was complaining about Atkinson. However, the majority of decisions that he got wrong were against Saints - including for the first goal. If the man is not on the take, I'm a dutchman;
2) When we brought Walcott on we went down to 10 men. The guy should have the decency to retire;
3) Forster must be in goal for the foreseeable future. We need to go for Johnson in January window;
4)As someone else mentioned, what's the point of J W-P's corners?
5) Ralph makes major mistakes in his substitutions. He urgently needs an effective number 2 as I worry his sell by date may be rapidly approaching.
6) We also need a leader on the pitch - this was sorely lacking in the second half.

I_would added 10:12 - Nov 22
"A manager can't legislate for individual errors."
Yes he can Nick, McCarthy shouldn't have been on the pitch, as you quite rightly say. This was yet another gross error that cost us yet another match. For some reason Ralph hasn't got the necessary guts or judgement to play in-form players and until he does we will flirt with relegation.

mattlegod added 10:26 - Nov 22
It's ok to focus on the performance of the keeper but surely the majority of focus needs to be on the fact that we have considerable possession but never make it count. Offence is the best form of defence (apparently!!).

highfield49 added 10:59 - Nov 22
After yet another loss from a winning position I think I'm right in saying that there is a sense of frustration amongst the supporters. Something needs to change, because so many people identifying the same causes is certainly reason for concern. We know that whilst he clearly has the ability to put out a team with the tactics that cause other teams problems in the first half RH, far too frequently, fails to either adapt to or pre-empt tactical change from the opposition. This critical flaw needs addressing either by bringing in a new coach or an assistant who reads the game better and can influence his decisions. At present I don't see any of his coaching staff having the ability to give him any useful advice whatsoever.

Colburn added 11:07 - Nov 22
I don't recall one moment on Saturday when someone played a first time ball, let alone seeing two on the bounce. This singular abject method of ball use is why we look so stale. Boring possession football which puts us at more risk than the danger we give the opposition. Playing three CDM's in a game against the worst team in the league, a perfect game to rest a slightly jaded looking 18 year old and unleash a hungry pacy young attacker who has shown potency when given the chance before. Two CB's whose distribution leaves as much to be desired as the keeper.. Smallbone is a no.10 and was overlooked by two who can't play in that position. The nonsensical decisions and one trick pony tactics stops our players from developing and flourishing. Ralph holds them back, he belittles the players with the shackles and directs play too much from the sidelines. They are becoming like robots without being able to express themselves or go for the jugular when it is clearly exposed. These issues create the reasons why our first half and second half performances are as they are..
We need a manager who releases the shackles of courage and enthusiasm not hold us back, which is what Ralph is doing and bringing back Walcott on a big wage shows he has a lack of something. Scouts have done well with the youngsters but as for Ralph wanting Theo... Its a joke. Still can't believe he took Adams off after an hour.

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