Southampton FC Half Term Report 2021/22
Tuesday, 4th Jan 2022 09:31
For some Saints supporters this season has been one of struggle, but I disagree, we have had our issues, but overall given the circumstances we have had an average first half and if we improve on that in the 2nd half by just a little we can have a solid season.
This time last year a look back at the first half of the season was done with optimism, after 19 games we sat on 29 points in 8th position only 6 points behind West Ham in 5th and with a game in hand.
This season we are in 14th with 21 points and although that is a disappointment, we are not as far off last season's position as some would think, in simple terms the difference comes down to that four game spell at eh end of October/ start of December where we gifted Norwich a win and gifted goals to both Leicester and Norwich to give them a point in games we really should have won.
OK that is all ifs and buts but it shows how near we are to pushing for a top 10 place, in a best case scenario from those three games with an extra 7 points on board, we would now sit in 9th place and there was no reason why we shouldn't have done that.
Even in a worst case scenario where we should have just held on at home to Brighton we would be only 13th but only 3 points off of Brighton in 9th, it really is that close.
If we make a direct comparison with last season's results and this, taking out the 2 promoted sides we have played and just taking into account the 17 fixtures played so far this term and comparing them with the same game last, we get this result.
Of those 17 games last season we took 9 points from them, this season we have taken 18 points from those same fixtures, last season we took just 9, that is a remarkedly better points return and shows that we are improving.
Likewise the at this stage last season we had won 8 games, drawn 5 and lost 6, in the first half this season we have won just 4, drawn 9 and lost exactly the same amount, just 6.
The difference is how many games this season we have turned potential wins into draws with slack play and on that note we now look at how the areas of the team have performed.
Personally I see most of the issues coming from the lack of a solid goalkeeper for much of the first half of the season, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but at the start of the season i was very surprised that Alex McCarthy got the nod over Fraser Forster, McCarthy had had a poor second half of last season and was replaced by Forster and his pre season had not been great, in most people's books Forster should have started the season in goal.
The writing was on the wall at Everton, a 1-0 first half lead was lost in the second and the keeper did not distinguish himself, although he had not made glaring errors all three goals looked like he should have done better and that is what makes a solid team having a keeper that makes saves he shouldn't do.
He had a few games where he was fairly solid, but the standard started to drop again and the trip to Norwich was disastrous, only three shots all fairly routine to save, but two went in at the near post that should have been stopped, follow that up with a similar goal conceded in a 4-0 defeat at Liverpool and then one thrown in and a positional error against Leicester and the writing was on the wall.
The Brighton game the keeper played better, but if Forster was fit he really would have been dropped you felt and unprofessionalism in not telling the bench he was injured led to panic in the final minutes and another goal conceded that really should not have been,
Cabbalero came in and did ok especially at Palace and then Fraser Forster back in the side has made us look a stronger team, not quite all there, but the confidence coming back.
I don't like such damning verdicts but the truth was there for all to be seen.
The defence saw the arrival of Tino Livramento and that has been a revelation, but it left us wondering what to do with Kyle Walker Peters and left Ralph puzzled for a while.
The centre of defence saw Salisu really start to show why we bought him, but Ralph struggled to decide on who best to partner him, for some reason Bednarek was dropped and in came Jack Stephens, my thoughts on him are well known, great squad player, but if he is the first choice then we really have a problem, Jack can give you a short run of good games, but he doesn't have the consistency over longer periods, a little like Alex McCarthy really.
Jan Bednarek struggled for the first part of the season but has looked better of late and Lyanco has something about him, the truth is we still haven't signed that experienced older pro to hold the back line steady in times we are under the cosh.
Oriol Romeu & James ward Prowse have held the midfield firm and Ibrahimo Diallo is a decent player when called upon. but our issues here have been the wide midfield players, we have a plethora, Nathan Redmond, Theo Walcott, Moi Elyounoussi, Moussa Djenepo, Stuart Armstrong, even Nathan Tella, truth is for a variety of reasons, in this position only Nathan Redmond has taken a game by the scruff of the neck and turned it around as he did at Newcastle United for instance. Mostly the wide men have failed to impress for far too many games.
Up front Che Adams is showing that he can be a striker that can get into double figures and for that matter so is Armando Broja, Adam Armstrong started well at Everton with a goal, but has struggled to score since netting only the winner against Villa since.
But he has not played badly and has done well in most of the games he has played it has only been his goals tally that has let him down, older fans will remember how long it took James Beattie to adjust to the Premier League, younger fans will remember that two years ago Che Adams didn't score his first goal for the club till way after the half way mark.
Shane Long gets plenty of stick, but the difference between this season and last was that at Palace and at home to Spurs we had the likes of Long to bring on up front when we were lacking options, a year ago it was Dan N'lundulu who to be blunt has struggled to get into Shrewsbury's team, starting just 6 League games so far on loan.
The problem this season like last has been players in key positions letting us down.
But overall I think there are plenty of green shoots of recovery to see, the problem last season was not only the lack of quality in key areas, but a lack of depth in the squad, this season we have a lot more depth.
The purse strings are starting to loosen as we lose high earners from the books and this summer will see more high wages off, as I said Shane Long is unappreciated in some areas, but we are now bringing him on when the squad is stretched and not an untried youngster.
We are perhaps a decent goalkeeper, an experienced pro in the centre of defence to mentor our youngsters and a truly effective wide man away from being a decent top 10 chasing side, even with the issues we have we are solid mid table and now just need to repeat the first half of the season in the second to stay well clear of relegation.
The situation with the owner is what it is, it is no use crying over it, he would rather have been able to invest, but due to a World situation beyond his control he can't we have to work with what we have got and be positive moving forward.
The position we are in is far better than many were predicting back in August, we still have the likes of Dynel Simeu & Thierry Small yet to be unleashed and if we think that Tino Livramento is good, both are rated higher.
There is a lot to be positive about in the squad we have, in the main I think many people are, certainly the pessimism on social media doesn't materialise at the games themselves these days, we can either let a situation drag us down or we can accept it for the moment and try and help it achieve the best that it can.
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
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.
When Saturday Comes #21 by wessex_exile
Here we are then, what should have been the first home game of 2022, and I discover seconds before posting this that the game is called off because of a waterlogged pitch. Having gone to the trouble of writing this, even though we’re not playing I’m going to post it anyway – it’s not like you’ve got anything else to do this afternoon.
When Saturday Comes #20 by wessex_exile
Finally, When Saturday Comes…and the U’s (for now at least) have a match to play. Mind you, I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, so there’s still time yet for yet another Covid/ injury postponement, I guess. I certainly hope not, as I’m planning on heading over to Crawley for this one. Mind you, now that the EFL have decreed there will be no on the day testing to eliminate the possibility of last-minute cancellations, I think I’ll defer buying a train ticket until this evening. Needless to say, a repeat of our last visit to Broadfield (The People’s Pension Stadium under the terms of a sponsorship deal) would do very nicely indeed.
When Saturday Comes #19 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…and the U’s find themselves fixtureless again, following Hartlepool’s request to postpone the game because of positive Covid tests amongst their squad. To heap further fixture congestion problems on the U’s, in short order Forest Green Rovers did likewise for our already rearranged match at the New Lawn on Tuesday night, and for the same reason. They’re not on their own either, with in all (so far) four Premier League and 19 EFL matches postponed today – all for positive Covid tests in their squads.
When Saturday Comes #18 by wessex_exile
A little later than usual today I’m afraid – ‘tis the season to be jolly and all that, so I have just been out for the obligatory Xmas tree – bah humbug. Mind you, I was treated to the sight of literally hundreds of Santas (and the occasional elf) on a charity fun run through Calne on the way, which for want of a better expression was certainly surreal. Officially entitled Santa’s Scamper, the entry fee for participants goes to charitable causes, and to date the organisers have raised nearly £8k for charities such as Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Dorothy House, Hope for Tomorrow, Barnardos and of course their main charity every year, Hannah’s Trees – well done Santas!
[ Vote here ]