Southampton V Manchester City The FA Cup Preview
Sunday, 20th Mar 2022 09:18
The first question on all Saints fans lips is Will Ralph Hasenhuttl put out a full team? the message from the supporters is Don't let us end this game wondering whether we could have won it !
In last years FA Cup run Ralph Hasenhuttl mainly put out his strongest side, but then again he had little choice given the number of injuries etc that we had in the first months of 2021.
This year he has changed the side drastically for all three games of the our FA Cup run, whilst the multiple changes were excepted in the first of those two games and worked out ok in the third and in some respects could be excused due to the Premier League fixture list, the truth is we now have the hardest tie of the quarter finals, we need to play our strongest side and their is no excuse not too given the fact that we don't play another game for 13 days and realistically we are not going to get into the European qualification places nor get relegated.
So what side will Ralph play ?
The honest answer is that no one knows except the manager and his coaches and that makes it very hard for me to write this preview, in that without effectively writing two separate previews, one for each potential side that could be picked, how can I actually give an accurate assessment of our chances against the Premier League leaders.
All I can say is that I have yet to meet a Saints fan who would be happy to see anything other than our strongest side put out this afternoon.
This is our last chance of glory this season, we have the chance of a visit to Wembley for an FA Cup semi final, the chance to win a trophy, why on earth would we not play our strongest side, whilst I support Ralph Hasenhuttl wholeheartedly and believe he has been key in stabilising the club over the past 3 years, he like any manager can get things wrong and that is normal.
However in this case the team selection is clear, we don't expect to win trophies as supporters of Southampton FC, but when we get the chance to get near doing so, all we ask is that we have given it our all, that we leave the pitch with no regrets, that we have played our best side who have given their all.
In simple terms that is the feelings for all football supporters, if we can't do this, then what is the point of supporting your team.
Hopefully though when the team is announced our fears will be dispelled.
But the early signs are not good, Willy Caballero and Jack Stephens featured heavily in the club's own media build up to the game, that has led some supporters to feel this is an indication of what side will be put out.
On the face of it they could have an argument, but I would say a couple of things, the club's media department have no real idea of what team the manager will pick, they are as much in the dark as us the supporters, they can only really base the build up on the previous rounds.
Secondly Ralph is known for keeping his cards close to his chest, he likes to say things that are designed to confuse the opposition, how many times has he said a player is fit/not fit and then it turns out he isn't/is.
I wouldn't put it past him to instruct the media dept to concentrate pre match on players who played in the last round, to give the illusion that he is sticking to his FA Cup team so to speak.
So I am fairly confident I speak for most Saints fans when I say I want to see our strongest side out, that means:
Elyounoussi, Ward Prowse, Romeu, S Armstrong
I would not think that at this time many would disagree with this as our strongest side, if there is one or perhaps two changes to it tactically or for injury then that is acceptable, but anything more than that is pushing it a bit.
We have played City twice and earned two draws, in both games we matched them for effort and desire, we showed we could compete with them, but we did so with our best side out, today we have to beat them, it has to be our strongest team.
So a big day for Saints, we as supporters have to turn up and do our bit whatever the team selection is, the West ham game worked out ok, but this is not the Hammers, this is Manchester City and they are a different proposition.
To finish where I started, as supporters all we ask is that our best team gives it's all in a game, if we can't do that when we are in sight of the chance of some glory then what is the point !
Photo: Action Images
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