Southampton At Liverpool The Verdict
Monday, 29th Nov 2021 09:28
Anfield has become Saints bogey ground after they made it 5 defeats in a row on Saturday, with 16 goals conceded and none scored along the way, sometimes managers get it wrong and this was one of those days where Ralph Hasenhuttl tinkered too much and caused confusion.
This game had a familiar pattern about it, Saints concede sloppy goals and find themselves on the wrong end of a good beating, but unlike most of the previous 4 defeats on the bounce, in this one they showed spirit to ensure that a drubbing didn't become a rout.
When the team was announced an hour before the game I was a little surprised, Ralph Hasenhuttl had switched from his usual solid 4-4-2 and had a 3--4=3 with 3 up front.
But perhaps his biggest mistake was whom he left out, there was no place for Kyle Walker Peters, nor Diallo or Elyounoussi from the team that lost at Norwich, but the problem was he had dropped players who actually played well at Norwich and switched the back 3 and midfield around too much.
It actually started well for Saints in the first 60 seconds or so we attacked, but the moment Liverpool got the ball you could see we were all at sea, Tino Livramento looked like he didn't know where he was supposed to be and they burst down the wing and crossed the ball, we had plenty of defenders in the box, twice as many as Liverpool had players, but we were ripped apart and no one seemed to know who they were marking.
It was a well worked goal but 1-0 down after 90 seconds was not ideal to say the least.
In fairness Saints never stopped battling and to a degree stopped the tide and also had attacks of their own, Broja creating a good chance for himself but the keeper saved well, but after holding out for another 30 minutes, suddenly we lost our way again.
Again we failed to mark men and block crosses and Jota again had a simple tap in with our men stood watching.
Liverpool got lucky on their 3rd the ball taking a big deflection past McCarthy who could do nothing, the ball would probably have flown wide, but when your luck is out your luck is out.
At half time we changed things, went back to a 4-4-2, bringing on Nathan Redmond & Nathan Tella as wingbacks and restoring Livramento and Perraud to a traditional back four, initially that didn't seem to do the trick, Liverpool had made it 4 on 52 minutes, Virgil Van Dijk completely unmarked and a free shot, which to be blunt should have been saved.
With 40 minutes left it looked like being a long day, but the plus point of the day was that we stuck with the task, kept our heads up and hung on to ensure that it didn't get any worse.
Indeed we could have and should have reduced the arrears when Tella crossed perfectly for Adam Armstrong, his shot lacked conviction and was blocked by a sliding tackle by a defender, the type of defending we needed in the first half, the ball fell to him again but his second effort was also weak and the keeper saved it easily.
The stats don't make good reading, especially the first two of 4 goals to 0 and only 35% possession, but for all their domination Liverpool only had 6 attempts on target and 4 of them went in, we had 3 attempts on target ourselves.
Ultimately though the manager has to take the blame for this one, he changed the side too much and although that might have worked he had too many players in who did not have enough experience in the Premier League to be able to switch the way they had to play and cope with it.
Tino Livramento had his worst game for the club, he was constantly out of position and didn't seem to know who he should be tracking, Salisu was our best defender, but truth be told there was a lack of leadership and organisation, Jan Bednarek was the man with the experience at the back, but he looked a shadow of the player he was last season.
If we are going to change things when we are playing one of the best teams in Europe and by far and away the best attack in the Premier League, you have to have leaders, as i have been saying for a long time, we don't have one at the back and we needed one on Saturday.
But Ralph Hasenhuttl is not the first manager to call it wrongly and certainly greater managers than him have got it wrong in team selections from time to time, all that matters now is putting it right in the next two games.
In these reviews I do call it as I see it, but I also try to take the plus points, no one can be happy by the way we played on Saturday, you cannot gift a team like Liverpool 4 goals and we did gift them each and every one, but we can take some positives from it, we were playing one of the best teams in Europe if not the World, we kept fighting from first to last even though we knew it was a lost cause.
This being the case we can go forward with some confidence, but we have to do so remembering what we do best and not trying to do things that we fall short on, if you are trying a new formation, do it against someone whom it might work on, not the likes of Liverpool.
Now we have played the best three teams in the Premier League away from home, we can move forward, take 4 points from the home games against Leicester and Brighton and we take a big step forward.
It's a marathon not a sprint and I don't just mean this season, but over the past few years where we have been hampered by huge salaries on our wage bill and players that cost us fortunes and contributed little to the club.
This is starting to ease up and we are slowly building a squad, small steps at a time perhaps but we are moving forward.
Photo: Action Images
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|saintmark1976 added 09:43 - Nov 29|
Wrong team selection, again.
Unfathomable tactics, again.
Wrong substitutions too late, again.
What little goal scoring opportunities we had missed, again.
So far out of his depth if he were to be stood in a puddle.
|SanMarco added 09:44 - Nov 29|
Ralph will have lost a few more friends after that idiocy. Away vs possibly the best attacking side in the world and he does that. Yes - we battled but the fact it was not at least seven was more down to Liverpool than heroic defending from us. I am not going to call for Ralph's head but he really does have to grow up and realise that eccentricity is all very well but for those who have travelled hundreds of miles to a freezing cold stadium such nonsense is pretty annoying to say the least.
He needs to manage the team/players he actually has rather than some fantasy team in his head. If he does want to ever be at one of the big boys and play the exotic eccentric on the touchline then I would say he needs to do a lot better with US. Brighton got a draw there and Brentford also drew with them. A point wasn't impossible on Saturday - until we saw that team sheet...
|ItchenNorth added 10:04 - Nov 29|
I am sure that plenty will be critical on here of Ralph and his formation but games like this are a free hit. He had the bottle to try something different, knowing Liverpool would have planned for our usual formation. He changed things up, it didn't work but just look at Liverpools last four home results for some perspective on this weekends result. 2-0 win vs Porto, 4-0 win vs Arsenal, 2-0 win vs Athletico Madrid. Liverpool are bang in form and let's face it, in a different league. The next three games for Saints will tell us more.
Up the Saints. In Ralph we trust.
|Colburn added 10:13 - Nov 29|
Ralph is clueless.. It has been obvious the last two games that Livramento needed a rest and he plays him at Anfield and drops the more experienced KWP in a game where he starts with 3 centre forwards.... Bednarek was woeful again, allowing the ball to bounce over his head leading up to the first goal. I'm not sure what has happened to him but he's slow and cumbersome these days and giving a first start to Lyanco at Anfield when not resting a teenager who needs it and while playing three centre forwards,, I mean seriously Ralph..? I can understand trying out a tactic like that against poor sides we can beat but at Anfield! Guaranteed he will go in negatively against the poorer teams, pass the ball sideways all day and get boring draws in the hope we scrape 40 points.. I expect Failcott will be back in the side on Weds just to rub salt in to the wounds.. Pathetic Hasenhüttl, utterly pathetic and the biggest problem was seen at the end of the game when Ralph was having a laugh and a joke with Nazi Klopp.. He is obviously too comfortable, there is absolutely no pressure on Ralph and this shows. How anyone at the top of sport can perform when there is no pressure is beyond me and sums up why Ralph will never get the Vest out of the team. Crazy situation, no wonder he sees us as the perfect job. Unsackable..... Terrific....
|HythePeer added 10:15 - Nov 29|
The worse coached side I've seen play in the Prem. The defenders have to chase the ball leaving players queueing up in the penalty box to score; the attackers don't keep up with play and are never available for the tap in, they hide behind defenders and just panic shoot; midfield pass it backwards and let the opponents get organized; everyone has to go up front for set pieces which never work, leaving someone like Bednarek marking some rabbit, he's never gonna catch, on the halfway line.
|Colburn added 10:16 - Nov 29|
Itchen North.... He started with 3 centre forwards.. This isn't brave, its utterly brainless. Unless you consider brave to be running headlong into an enemy who has loads of weapons and you have a plastic fork...
|131153 added 10:28 - Nov 29|
I'm definitely of the opinion it was worth a try in changing the team formation against Liverpool. Ralph held his hands up about the mistake, not many managers in the PL over the years have been so honest. I still feel he is the right manager for us, I can't see many alternatives on the horizon. The reality is there is no reason why someone like Gerrard shouldn't have left Rangers and come to us to start his managerial career in the PL. However the truth is he has followed the money to the "bigger" club with richer owners. Surprise.
With two home games this week I hope we can get 6 points always nice to wipe the silly grin off Rogers face.
|underweststand added 10:30 - Nov 29|
We all hoped for that one win ...every 15 years or so ..when visiting Anfield, but with Liverpool in their current form the score was predictable and aside from those clubs who have scraped a point there, the 4-0 scoreline was probably par for the course just now.
Ralph's altered formation failed to outwit Klopp, in part because (as quoted above) we more or less gifted them all 4 goals. The second half was a bit better, but we failed to score (again) even with the chances we did get, and have now scored just 7 goals in the last 10 Prem. games and our 3 wins were all by that slender 1-0 margin.
Our defence is still one of the best in the bottom half, and KWP might have been a better choice than Perraud, who is still finding his feet in the Prem. Tella was the best of the subs. but (sadly) Redmond was invisible for long periods. As quoted above, Bednarek is far from the dominant figure we saw last season and his lack of pace is obvious, but at least Salisu and Lyanco showed some resistance.
Having blamed our defence for conceding the goals, once again we need to ask ourselves is McCarthy was to blame for any of them ?.. and the call for Forster to replace him, cannot wait until the next FA Cup game in January.
Two home games against difficult opposition this week must give us at least 4 points in order to stay well-clear of the drop zone, as the December fixtures - with 5 games against London clubs before New Year - are unlikely to yield many wins - on our current form.
|DorsetIan added 10:49 - Nov 29|
Back to back cock ups from Ralph. Doesn't respond to Dean Smith's changes at half time last week and now this.
We went into the Norwich game with a nice run behind us, looking solid and with the chance of getting three on the bounce.
Instead we're now on back to back defeats and with a first half performance at Anfield reminiscent of some of the more shambolic days of last season. And all thanks to the manager.
Interesting two games ahead. We could win them both. We could lose them both. This team/squad is not strong enough for all Ralph's tinkering and cock-ups. He needs to get a grip of himself.
|TimSaint added 11:48 - Nov 29|
Ralph - WTF were you playing at ? Experimenting at Anfield of all places.
Wrong Team, Tactics and dare I say Wrong Manager ?
Too many were off their game and there is nowhere to hide or be carried at Anfield.
If ever there was a case to play a right footed player at left back, then this was the time - Salah usually cuts in onto his left foot. What did we do ? Drop KWP !!
Too much pressure and expectation on Livramento - he is 18 and played a dozen top flight games FFS. Cut him some slack - he has still got a lot to learn and hopefully the Anfield experience will help him.
On to Leicester then, who scored 4 yesterday. Let's hope our keeper does better than that Watford keeper. Hopefully we will have a few back from injury, as we need a shake up for sure. Diallo fully fit, S Armstrong, even perhaps Stephens and Redmond !! :-)
Hopefully Leicester will do us a favour and start Vest and Bert, but I don't even know if they make the bench/squad for them these days.
|landsdownsaint added 11:59 - Nov 29|
Ralph should be fined wages for that defeat surely Martin Semmens with whatever football knowledge he has must’ve though wtf is he doing when he saw that lineup, I’m in the Trust ralph camp but what manager experiments with that formation & introduction of players who’ve hardly kicked a ball in the PL against the best forward line maybe in the world ? I thought Ralph made himself & saints players look stupid … again !!
|Number_58 added 12:12 - Nov 29|
Livramento was arguably our driving force when we went on that decent little run, but something happened to him in the second half of the Villa match and he's clearly been struggling since. Whether he's carrying an injury, or whether he's just hit the 'wall', or maybe the weight of expectation is getting to him, I don't know, but I think he needs a break. If we get him and Stuart Armstrong back and firing on all cylinders I think we'll be ok, but they need to be man managed carefully.
|benalisbroom added 12:13 - Nov 29|
Managed to get to this one and although I've been critical of Ralph at times, I think that he at least tried something different for once, and credit to him for doing that. It didn't work, as the new system left vaste swathes of space between our midfield and defence - if you go to Anfield, I guess you need to keep the midfield compact and ours was anything but. Perhaps we ended up with a bit too much width, as an array of diagonal balls from Liverpool were just not getting intercepted.
I think Ralph tried something new, knowing full well that Klopp expected him to mirror his tactics from the Man City game, it didn't work but it was a free hit against a team that are scoring for fun at the moment. I also thought that Lyanco showed some good touches and Salisu was excellent. a 4-0 defeat and yet I didn't go home in my usual frustrated state of mind.
|davidargyll added 12:14 - Nov 29|
1. It was “only” four nil, on which basis we must be better than Man U!
2. Nathan Tella was great and unrecognisable compared to his last appearance a few weeks back;
3. Liverpool were a class above us in all departments, so only being thrashed (as opposed to being completely humiliated) was a result;
4. We didn’t collapse in a heap at any stage.
Not so good things:
1. Salisu continues to be very in and out and he nearly cost us another goal, so suggestions that he is a future VVD in the making are somewhat premature;
2. Jan Bednarek often seemed to be out of position and/or got taken/nutmegged in the lead up to when goals were scored, or am I being unfair? Whatever, I still think he looked nothing like as sharp a defender as we need him to be;
3. VVD showed just how much Adam Armstrong has to learn about turning defenders and getting into the right position to shoot;
4. Broja had a brilliant opportunity to score but for taking one touch too many - a sign of lack of experience I suspect;
5. We did give away the ball continually and loads of free kicks (because Liverpool were too good) and our killer passes, such as they were, were generally intercepted.
So where does that leave us after this defeat?
Yes we can defend - only Brentford in the bottom half of the league has let in more goals. And Yes, the score on Saturday could have been seven or eight nil, but our problem remains that WE SIMPLY CANNOT SCORE, in fact I note that ONLY NORWICH HAS SCORED LESS GOALS than us. With Adam Armstrong looking increasingly like Theo’s understudy, Stuart A still out, Che looking tired, Broja not the finished article and Tino also needing a rest, something or someone really has to start working up front and PDQ or else we are going to be in real bother by the time Santa has packed up his sleigh for another year…
|davidargyll added 12:14 - Nov 29|
Sorry, only Brentford has let in less goals…
|SaintPaulVW added 12:22 - Nov 29|
I think Ralph probably agrees with a lot of comments on here.
It was a free hit. However, if you are going for a defensive approach, you probably wanted KWP on for Tino, who looked like a guy in his first season and frequently left Robertson unmarked.
It sounds like Diallo was injured, so that probably brought Broja into the mix. Really needed another defensive midfielder. Redmond or Stu Armstrong, again injured tho, maybe to try to run at Liverpool.
This all left us with an odd mismatch of a formation 5:2:3 in defence or 3:4:3 in attack but usually 7:3 or 3:7 with no midfield in sight.
I was pleased to see the usual classic move against Liverpool which we seem to do every season. Everyone goes up for a free kick. Liverpool get the ball break quickly and get a gilt edged 3 on 1 chance, usually converted. Do we never learn or just rely on Liverpool missing?
We did have several good chances tho. All of which were squandered with one too many touches, not passing and damp squib shots.
Tella looked good. Deserves more time.
Oh well, pick ourselves up and aim for 4 points in this week's games.
|JoeEgg added 12:33 - Nov 29|
I was so pleased to read that Ralph had a team and a game plan for each of the forthcoming fixtures in this crowded period of Premier League matches. Goodness knows what he has in his head for the Leicester and Brighton games but most probably we will be back to a formation chosen to hold on to a 0-0 or 1-0 scoreline! doesn't look so bad as 4-0!
it is easy to blame our defenders that could easily have conceeded 8 or 9 goals again on Saturday. But how do players like Bednarek (who was awful) know what is expected from them when Ralph continues to change things with every match and still hasn't a clue what his best defensive formation is. Listening to his explanation for leaving out Walker-Peters confirmed to me that Ralph is just NOT the right person for this job..
I have a little sympathy for Ralph when it comes to the number of goals scored! Maybe we should try four centre forwards next time? I have to say that Armstrong is still struggling and sadly, this season, its hard to see goals coming from any midfielders or defenders.
Of course we can all relax - that was Liverpool after all - lets conveniently forget the more successful and intelligent performances there by the likes of Brighton and Brentford. I firmly believe that the results of the next two home fixtures will define our season better than any games and results that are now history. I read Saints fans calling for 4 points from these games. Well both Brighton and, particularly, Leicester are more than capable of upsetting whatever team and game plan our Ralph has in his head. If we pick up 1 or fewer points from these two games then Ralph should be gone by Christmas.
|wrathoftazz added 12:46 - Nov 29|
I keep reading "A free hit" how is any game a free hit? The confidence lost and players morale of back to back defeats is not a free hit, it could be catastrophic. The players could doubt Ralph and as such mess up even more and before long a slippery, downward spiral. Like I have said before (and been called a troll for) the little run of wins was not a run, it was simple luck and that was evident by Norwich.
We have a team that can't score, leaders that don't lead and a manager who acts like he is just starting out on his managerial career. Ralph has achieved NOTHING since joining, he is no closer to showing us its turning around either. He needs to leave and we need to bring in someone else.. who? I have no idea now (maybe Lampard??) As Saints do as they always have, react late, reactive not proactive, and get the 3rd hand managers no one else wanted.
The fans also have to take some of the blame. Unlike other clubs who see an issue and are vocal about it, forcing hands and helping to make changes, we, as a majority are complacent, we accept mediocre managers and performances. We make excuses and convince ourselves it will get better - BUT IT DOESNT!! We blame Gao but forget he doesn't choose teams, tatics or make subs and even if we wanted him out, where are the banners? Where are the cards? Again, whispers on fan sites, moaning over a beer or coffee does NOT help the problem and indeed, makes it worse as when the fans are complacent, the board, owners, manager and players do actually get a FREE HIT.
|JoeEgg added 13:28 - Nov 29|
Many thanks 'wrathoftazz' for an excellent set of comments. Taking up one of your many interesting points I was finding it hard to come up with an English based manager who could do justice to this talented squad. Perhaps Franck Lampard as you mention but I cant think of many others around. I wonder if readers could come up with a few other possible choices ? Gerrard, Ranieri and Howe have all been scooped up - so what's left?
|halftimeorange added 15:53 - Nov 29|
The fact that the formation was wrong and was too easy to exploit was evident after about ten minutes of this game. Neither full back knew whether they should attack and leave no cover or stay behind and wait for Liverpool to attack again. So, why wait till halftime to change things? Why wait too late against Villa, Norwich, Burnley and Leeds to name but a few? Why not rest an obviously knackered Livramento? Why give Tella and Lyanco starts against the team they're most likely not to succeed against? These things add up to a manager who needs support and guidance but, will more likely lead to a round of "You don't know what you're doing" if Saints fall apart to Leicester on Wednesday. I believe we have the talent in most departments but, only confusion reigns. Sort it out, Semmens!
|saintmark1976 added 17:32 - Nov 29|
Some excellent posts today from contributors who like myself are obviously very disgruntled at the leeway that Ralph appears to be consistently given by the club’s owners and board members.
As halftimeorange says it’s now time that Semmens in particular took Ralph aside and reminded him that his job is to win football matches for the club, nothing more, nothing less. That is what Ralph gets paid six million pounds a year to achieve, not to engage repeatedly in some form of fantasy football team selection and tactics game. If that’s what he wants to do then I suggest respectfully that he does at home, not in real time with Southampton Football Club. It’s not too much to ask is it ?
|Colburn added 19:01 - Nov 29|
When we best Liverpool and City under Ralph, we were compact, tight and frustrated them. So he knows how best to get a result against them or minimise damage. So why try such a crazy idea and why wait 45 mins to change it. I'm staggered to see someone mention that only losing 4-0 is a good thing. I wonder how many other teams seeking a position higher than 18th would see it the same way.? There are no easy games in the Prem but I will never ever see a 4-0 loss as a positive unless it caused the removal of a disfunctional management.. Again, Ralph is too comfortable with no pressure on him, if he wanted to experiment a little and 'expected' a loss then why not give Tella a start and rest Adams, Broja or Armstrong for the next two games we could take points from.? I don't think he is the worst football manager we have had and could well succeed elsewhere but its about the glove fitting. If the players are not learning and executing the Ralph ways then surely one of those things has to change. We have had three years of Ralph signings so perhaps he is just at the wrong club and needs a big club with money to succeed with his ethos.
|deanosfc8 added 21:14 - Nov 29|
I think most of you are getting away from the fact of how poor individually we played, nevermind the ambitous formation.
Remember these are pro footballers, there was plenty of individual mistakes going on! Anyway bla bla... I see the Brighton manager is getting booed.. Maybe a few of you and some Brighton fans need to F...O.. and go and support Chelsea!! Ta Ta..
|felly1 added 22:43 - Nov 29|
I understand the frustrations of the fans who want Ralph out but personally I don't think it would make much difference to the results. At best the obligatory honeymoon period and all is well with the world followed by the harsh reality that Armstrong, Adams, Redmond, Walcott, Djenpo, Elyonoussi and S. Armstrong are not going to get you a shed load of goals. We have two average keepers, lots of average defenders apart from Salisu and a pretty ordinary midfield . The bottom line is you can'take a silk purse out of a sows ear.
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When Saturday Comes #22 by wessex_exile
It’s the 15th of January, and still the U’s are attempting to play their first home match of 2022. Weather looks good (check), players have returned from injury (check), no on-day Covid testing to get in the way (check), so barring fire famine or flood, I reckon we must have at least a 50:50 chance of a game at the JobServe this afternoon. Whether it’ll be three much-needed points or not, and if you’ll pardon the pun, I at least did see green shoots at the New Lawn on Tuesday. We still lost, and the table doesn’t lie, but definitely signs to encourage me that whilst it’s not going to be a comfortable journey, we’ll be alright by May.