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Southampton V Manchester City The FA Cup Verdict
Monday, 21st Mar 2022 09:45

Saints FA Cup dreams came to an end in what ended as a comprehensive defeat to Manchester City, although for 75 minutes Saints fought all the way and looked like they might sneak a result.

Ralph Hasenhuttl didn't quite put out his strongest side, in essence he left his first choice striking pairing on the bench and as Jan Bednarek was not joining them, you have to assume that Jack Stephens in the back four was an enforced change.

The game plan seemed to be simple, still be in the game in the final 20 minutes and then bring on Armando Broja & Che Adams to run at them.

The first half was fairly even, Saints could have gone ahead and hit the post through an Adam Armstrong shot, but after 12 minutes we shot ourselves in the foot when we failed to execute a simple clearance in the box and scuffed it to the opposition who had the ball in the net within seconds.

When you are playing a team like City you cannot afford to hand them chances like this.

This did not deter Saints though, they dug in, survived one scare when City thumped a chance against the post and then on the stroke of half time had a stroke of luck when La Porte deflected a cross into his own goal.

At half time things looked ok, we were on level terms at half time and battling hard.

But with Mike Dean refereeing you are always only a few seconds away from a controversial decision and that came just after the hour when he pointed to the spot after Mohammed Salisu touched Jesus, ironically with Broja & Adams on the touchline waiting for the ball to go out of play and Ralph ready to implement the second phase of his plan with 15 minutes left on the clock.

In truth it was a harsh penalty, but with Jesus going nowhere, it was a little naive of Salisu to even put a hand on him, he went down and Dean pointed to the spot, it was never going to get overturned as Salisu had touched the player, no matter how gentle it might have been!

Saints were 2-1 down but not beaten and they battled back, Che Adams saw a good effort well saved but with 15 minutes left suddenly City clicked into gear.

You cannot argue with the quality of City's third goal, a curling shot by Phil Foden and then 3 minutes later Mahrez coolly slipped a sublime shot into the bottom corner.

With 12 minutes left it suddenly had gone from a competitive game to a potential rout, there weren't many in the ground that thought that this would be the last City goal of the game, but Saints hung on and the game ended 4-1.

It was a disappointing ending, for 75 minutes Saints had competed, both of City's goals had been handed to them by rash play, we had given them a game, but truth is the gap between the class of the players of the two teams was just too wide, sometimes you can breech that by sheer effort, but you still need to make no mistakes and also ride your luck.

Watching their players against ours was a lesson in what makes a truly class player and that is quick feet, they could literally dance round our players and we kicked at where the ball was and met only fresh air.

Those who ranted at the result after the game, should take a moment to consider the gulf between clubs like Saints and the likes of Manchester City, indeed few teams in the Premier League can match them, even fringe players like Jack Grealish cost them £100 million.

All you can do is battle hard and hope for the luck, we did that twice in the Premier League and got two points out of it, sadly this was not our day.

But it was not a result that reflected the game, yes City had the bulk of possession, they had 19 shots, but we had 13, they only had 6 shots on target though, but they were clinical with their shots and we weren't, we got only 3 on target and we really should have done better.

Suddenly in the space of a fortnight our season has changed, we went to Villa with hopes of a top 7 finish and an FA Cup semi final, 4 games and 4 defeats later, both dreams are ended.

But that is football, sadly until a European Super League comes in and the likes of City & Liverpool leave the Premier League and join it then this is the state of football, few clubs these days break the big club monopoly.

Even the Big Six is dead, it is now a Gigantic Two, City & Liverpool and then the other four, that may also change with the emergence of Newcastle as a mega rich club.

Look at the semi finals, 3 of the 4 teams are the top 3 in the Premier League, Crystal Palace the token also ran side this season.

Even the League cup is now a Manchester/Liverpool thing after this seasons final, itself competed for by two of the top three.

So we are out of the cup, let's just be proud we got to the quarter finals and for 75 minutes gave them a game .

There is still a lot to play for this season, we now need to find our form again and try to finish in the top 10, we have a side that is competitive again in the "have not's" section of the Premier League, lets just enjoy watching our team with no pressure on it.

Photo: Action Images



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wessexman added 10:07 - Mar 21
Match summary is simple.....against a top team or any other for that matter. we need to take the few chances we are presented and stop gifting the opposition simple chances through defensive mistakes. Copy and paste report of how many games so far over how many seasons?
6

wrathoftazz added 10:34 - Mar 21
So... our blip of winning and let's face it, that's what it was has officially ended.

We can't beat top teams (insert excuse), can't beat relegation teams (insert excuse) and can't beat teams around us (insert excuse).

I'm sure the Raplh bandwagon crew are ready with all the tried and tested excuses from the past year and I personally can't be bothered to listen to the same nonsense over and over. Facts are facts, he has achieved NOTHING on the pitch in over 3 years.

To the people who say we played nice football, well, you don't win games with nice football.. you win games with goals or at a push, resolute defending... with no partnership up front ans Salad fingers in the back, we have no chance.

The new owners need to wake up REAL quick ans realise what a sh1t show they bought. They need to sack Ralph, forget about new contracts and actually make changes, instead of the same rinse and repeat.
-12

JoeEgg added 10:35 - Mar 21
Well we dont have a central defender that can be relied upon and can demonstrate some degree of leaderhip. Broja apart we have no natural goalscorers. For 75 minutes we showed that we are reasonably strong in other departments. The priorites for next season are clear and by no means impossible to achieve.
If the right players are to be attracted here we need to demonstrate that we are a level above the Watfords of this world. We can be encouraged by much that happened against City, but in recent League games we have been dreadful. That is the challenge now for Ralph and his squad. To bounce back with convincing perfromances and goals and a sequence of three point victories. For both the fans and the new owners, what happens next will throw considerable light on the Club's future.
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landsdownsaint added 10:45 - Mar 21
I thought we were excellent! We’re a team where some players showed exactly where they are in the progression of there careers , Man City ain’t got that ,each one of them are either the finished article or they’re not far from it . After the game I met my Man City mates & they said “ how dare you play like that against us” … not many teams rip Citeh” a new one & we was doing that ! We gotta keep the faith in Salisu he’s a great talent & he’s aware of his failings he will overcome these indiscretions
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Sadoldgit added 10:48 - Mar 21
We are not a sh1t show and Ralph is not a bad manager. He has done well with what he has but we are an average team who, on our day, can compete with the best but we don’t have the resources to have the quality in depth to find the consistency to step up. Just look at the players City had on the bench yesterday. We are nowhere being the best but we are also not the worst and for a club with our resources that is all we can aspire to. Whether the new owners make a difference in the future, who knows, but given the investment in the squad in recent years, avoiding relegation and some good cup runs is the best we could expect.
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saint22 added 11:16 - Mar 21
it wasn't a soft penalty it was a stupid blatant foul on a striker going nowhere
all he had to do was stand his ground but he lunged in - Salisu has promise but he is no VVD

That coupled with our shot shy strike force and the non defender that is Jack Stephens and we were never gonna win

all bit unsurprising really
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felly1 added 11:33 - Mar 21
I thought our midfield four were generally excellent along with our full backs. The rest of the players not so good!
Saliso is clearly our best defender but there's no denying he is as culpable of big errors as the rest of them. Also I wouldn't describe Che's miss at 2-1 as unlucky as he clearly should have scored.
For me this was a pivitol moment in the game.
5

SaintPaulVW added 11:55 - Mar 21
I thought we competed well. I really enjoyed most of the game. Deservedly, we went in level at half time. Then it all fell apart mid way through the second half.

Our heads seemed to have gone down for the last 2 goals, good shots but no real marking.

Gifting them a chance and a penalty and failing to convert 2 really solid chances did for us.

Those picking on Salisu seem to forget how young he is. This is Van Dyke at Celtic, not Saints. He was clearly upset at his mistake at the end and before the penalty was taken. It's counter productive to get in the backs of young players like Salisu and A Armstrong, they need time to develop.

Really don't like the layout of the ground for fa cup games. Giving them an entire stand just feels wrong. Must be a way to split up the away support.

I can sort of understand a bit of eye rolling when the team was announced, but even after the game, there seems to be plenty of criticism for Adam A and Shane. Look at our performance in the first half though, I thought they ran their socks off. Pep was clearly worried as he went ballistic with his defenders midway through the first half.

I thought a few players who have recently seemed a bit off off raised their games, Stu A, JWP, Romeu and Tino all looked a lot better. Mo Ely showed his worth by getting a goal out of nothing.

Agree on the ref. I think they give far too much leeway to big 6 players. I was surprised that a few things weren't checked over a bit more obviously on VAR.

Shame, just not to be, although again we had our chances.

COYR
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SanMarco added 11:55 - Mar 21
Yes - for once we can't blame Mike Dean for that one - very stupid from Salisu.

I know there will be a sharp divide on the starting line-up and Nick manfully manages not to mention JS by name but I am simply going to emote how I actually feel after yesterday. No real thought just my emotional reaction to our most important and also last important game of the season:

Ralph let us down and I believe that is because his self-reflexive narrative as a 'personality/eccentric manager' is more important to him than any respect he might have for us. We hadn't played for a week and are not playing for 2 weeks. The players showed they were up for it by being 10x better than vs Watford so what we needed was all guns blazing from the start. What do we get? Long, A. Armstrong (his 'shots' are only a surprise when they are actually hit hard enough to reach the goal) and then of course JS smack bang in the middle of the defence. If Bednerak really didn't want to play then he should be sacked and never play for the club again but even he with his mind on other things (or Valery for that matter) would have been better than the cataclysmic Stephens.

There is an element of the Harry Redknapp in the way Ralph fecks up and then blames the players. I know that people will, quite rightly, respond that we were finally let down by a Salisu calamity and a poor finish from Adams but those are our better players. If we lose due to their errors then we lose, full stop. Losing to errors from JS and A. Armstrong is a different matter - the manager chose them above better players. The idea that we were going to stay level and then bring on the big guns near the end may, I suppose, work once in a hundred times (and the lucky equaliser helped there) but that is not the way it usually goes under Ralph - the key hard workers tire and the forwards are left not getting the ball. You bring on A. Armstrong and Long near the end to run around ineffectually to help protect a lead, if you bring them on at all.

I will probably disagree with some of what I have written if I re-read it later but I do say that I am (whether I am right or wrong doesn't really matter) very fed-up with Ralph's antics. I am almost tempted to say let Manure have him. At least in next year's quarter-final he can drop who he likes...
-4

Saintaxidriver added 13:39 - Mar 21
I saw this as two main issues.
1) our inability to finish when good chances come and also make the most of good positions around the box. A Armstrong seems to has lost his ability to even hit the target tho he put in a really good shift overall. We should have started with Broja and Adams.
2) Our defensive frailties. Stephens is a player who would give his life for Saints and has a really good performance occasionally but he is always prone to mistakes and has been all through his career. Salisu was rash in his movement for the penalty but having seen it several times I still can't see how it was given for a hand on the back. Very harsh!
I prefer 3 at the back because that allows Salisu or whoever to come out and challenge to snuff out attacks.
I do find Ralphs choices sometimes baffling but being a Saints fan is always a rollercoaster and I for one am quite enjoying the ups and downs of this current ride!
3

Farlow added 13:48 - Mar 21
It was a great shame Lyanco was not fit,of all our centre backs hes the only one with leadership qualities.As soon as i saw Shane Long on the start sheet i knew we were in trouble,i cant fault his effort but he was past it two years ago.Not to start Broja and Adams
was ridiculous.We simply have to buy a really good goalkeeper.
2

WestSussexSaint added 14:03 - Mar 21
I think St Paul summed it up well. We competed for most of the game and I for one would rather that than try and contain a superior opponent and lose 1-0 as per last years semi final.

We have a lot of young players and they will be prone to the odd mistake. Those than are more experienced are either past their best or the best is a level which isn’t going to be perfect in every game.

I hope now that the remaining league games provide a good finish and a platform to start next season on the front foot.
1

131153 added 14:29 - Mar 21
It would be sticking your head in the sand to be anything other than disappointed about yesterdays result. But it drives me potty when the moment we get a poor run of results out come the keyboard warriors demanding RH is sacked. Never do they make a constructive suggestion for a replacement. Assuming the top 6 who are if it's correct are paying their managers c10-15 million a year would anyone pick from the remaining 13 managers currently employed. Possibly Patrick Viera and the Wolves manager who has made a reasonable fist of things following a shaky start. I don't reckon many fans would have picked either last summer.. I can't say Lampard has turned Everton around.

We are where we are and have just announced a great big loss so the financial prospects are pretty poor at the moment. I felt we gave City a run for their money but two silly mistakes cost us dearly. Yes a soft penalty but had Stones pushed Adams in the same way we would have been incandescent if a penalty not been given.

Also it would appear after a very poor season last year the B and U 18 teams seem to be making progress. and I assume RH has a good deal to do with this after re-modelling the way all teams play.

Another bug bear to me is all the moaning about the position inside the ground of the away fans. I wouldn't mind betting this is controlled by the police.who insist the best place to control the away fans is leaving where they are currently positioned. I even saw one suggestion earlier today splitting the away fans in two. I've yet to see any ground where spiltting away fans happens.

2

ItchenNorth added 14:32 - Mar 21
We didn't play badly, but two silly errors cost us. Che also should be scoring to take the game 2-2.

I was surprised we started Long and A Armstrong. I would have gone AA and Che for this game, then bring Broja on late in the game.
It nearly worked though.

Ralph is a decent manager and I hope he sticks with us for at least a couple more seasons. The new ownership will know Ralph is worth his weight in gold and replacing him is not anywhere near priority. Further investment in the squad and key positions in the starting eleven is more pressing, like who we target if Broja can't sign, strengthen better centre back cover and a long tern new number 1 keeper.

In Ralph we trust lol 😆
2

underweststand added 16:59 - Mar 21
To blame the whole thing on Salisu would be cruel, but clearly the penalty took the stuffing out of our lads. Mo has improved out of sight this season, but he is still young and inexperienced and it didn't need Messers Shearer and Keown to tell us that his tackle against a top-class player showed up and made the mistake of making an "unnecessary " with a predictable outcome. Up until that point we were matching City kick for kick but luck needs to be on your side and when Adam A.'s shot hit the post and rebounded back into play, I sensed the inevitable. Goal chances were always few and that was our best.
Ché Adams has noticeably improved since his traumatic debut season and Adam A. is in the same mould. A top scorer in the Championship - but little has gone right since.

Since his remarkable start, Broja has now managed just 2 goals in his last 12 games.
No implied criticism - just stats, and Adams has now scored 3 times in his last 10 outings. One of these players may begin to impress in the future but sadly - we still have no obvious replacement for Danny Ings and it shows.
This may go down as Salisu's error that eventually cost us the game, but we have deficiencies at both ends of the pitch, but that is a problem for Ralph to try and solve -next season.
5

I_would added 18:21 - Mar 21
If we really wanted a result (which would have been 0-0 plus XT plus pens plus hope) we would have played five at the back, broke very occasionally and gone for seven plus yellow cards. I think it was ultra naive of Ralph to play MC sportingly toe to toe. The pundits were pleased we entertained them but I don't think Saints fans were very pleased with 4-1, as most lower teams like us would have used the above tactics to ruin the game for a chance of a win.
I think Ralph is trying to prove a personal point regarding his obsession with 'The Press' and it has cost us all cup hopes in the last three years and now we're looking at 15th place again. I suppose that's not bad but it's well risky and a rollercoaster ride.
-5

Colburn added 20:08 - Mar 21
Some fair comments from different angles here. I thought we played exceptionally well in the first half, bossing the midfield, pressing City into errors and showing hints of being able to come through the tie with success. However, this game was different to the last round in that against West Ham, we faced a rather tired team who had youth on the bench, we took the gamble to rest our more potent strikers for the first half and although we could have gone behind by a couple, came though it with Broja coming on second half to finish them off. But.... This is Man City, possibly the best team in Europe and a manager who wasn't going to take chances against a side who he had failed to beat on two occasions this season. No Ake, no Zinchenko, no rest for De Bruyne, after all, there's a two week break. If you really want to beat a side like City, you surely must put out your strongest line up and Ralph for some bizarre reason did not. We had our most energy, strength and spirit in the first half amongst our midfielders, dominating their oppos, this was the moment to have your best strikers on the pitch but I think these things are obvious. Guardiola respected the cup and his opponents more than we did and so they deserved to go through. I agree that Long has a role and a place in our squad and our hearts but this was not the role he should have been given and it was unfair to expect him, or the confidence lacking Adam A, to put the clinical touches to our first half dominance.
Ralph got this horribly wrong and doesn't understand that once we were safe from relegation, the cup, with two wins from the final, should have been our priority because we have seen very little silverware as fans and the opportunities are scarce. The hour mark was far too late to see the best line up on the pitch and by then, we were virtually spent. Very disappointed.
1

RedandWight added 21:11 - Mar 21
Most of the above seem to be of the opinion that Broja and Che should have started. However if you look back at the game you will see that the speed that Adam Armstrong and Shane closed down the first pass out from the keeper was much much quicker. This gave us a substantial advantage that we lost when we changed AA and Shane for Broja and Che. Adam Armstrong has phenomenal pace next season he will be putting those chances away!
With Salisu I think he is that big commanding Center Back that we've been missing since Van Dyke. His decision making needs to improve, that will come with experience: bite the bullet and move on!
Its small margins, remember we were a gnats whisker away from being 2 all at one point. That could have changed the last 15 -20 minutes. Then we would all be scratching our heads asking how our tactical genius of a manager does it?
2

halftimeorange added 22:22 - Mar 21
Saints can afford players that might score, City buy players who do score. That's the rub.
2

IanRC added 22:27 - Mar 21
Glad Dean is retiring very soft penalty, also very selective use of VAR, even the BBC didn't show the incident again when Long went down in the penalty area during the first half. I like Pep and enjoy watching City, even have to admire Foden's goal too, but will always regard Jesus as a cheat going forward.
1

Colburn added 22:31 - Mar 21
I think the goals record this season shows that our best two finishers this season have been Adams and Broja. I'm not suggesting that Adam Armstrong was the wrong choice, maybe not Long, but I just don't think they are anything like the best partnership available. Only 3 goals between them. I get the point Redandwight about them closing down quickly in the first half and it did help apply the pressure but we needed more potency in front of goal and that meant either or both of Broja and Adams starting. The main pressing and ball winning was made by the midfield 4. Next season is next season and I like Adam A. I just think we should have done things in a different way with the front 2.
1

Fordy added 08:06 - Mar 22
The only thing I would disagree with is that it was a "good effort" from Adams. Any decent striker would have buried that. But Adams has no left foot so just tried to make contact. He works hard but he is very limited.
1

SanMarco added 10:26 - Mar 22
Having carefully read all the excellent points made I do not see any convincing arguments for Ralph's team selection. The tactics were fine - we stayed in the game and did very well, and it was a good game until 1-3 - but he got it wrong in thinking he could repeat a version of the Wet Spam idea. He got away with that one but as this game showed it was highly, highly unlikely to work against Man C. and it didn't. The alternative reality where one of our first choice strikers takes one or more of those first half chances and a more competent CB doesn't hand them a lead is of course a fantasy, we may have lost 0-5 instead - but I wish Ralph had given it a chance.
1

stmichael added 13:39 - Mar 22
It was a bit of a non event from
The moment the draw was made..
I was was pleasantly surprised at how competetive we were but the last 3 performances meant we had zero momentum and our bubble was burst before City came to town.
It’s what we are and who we are but we love em all
The same 🤷‍♂️😇
1


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