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Southampton V West Ham United The Verdict
Monday, 17th Oct 2022 09:46

There will be some who will be bemoaning a lack of quality for Saints in this game, but all that really mattered was that we didn't lose and gained our first point after 4 straight defeats, it gives us something to build on.

West Ham may have been missing a few players, but they arrived at St Mary's full of confidence after a run of wins, Saints team was fairly predictable, although Ralph did spring the odd surprise, recalling Moi Elyounoussi in place of Stuart Armstrong and sticking with Maitland-Niles as a holding midfielder.

The Hammers started like a train, they caught us right from the kick off and had us on the back foot for several minutes, but we gained our composure and got a grip on the game, so when Romain Perraud scored his 25 yarder on 20 minutes it was certainly not against the run of play and that gave us impetus and we dominated much of the rest of the first half.

But West Ham still where a threat and they broke just before the break and Armel Bella-Kotchap had to somehow make a last ditch tackle to ensure they never got in on goal, unfortunately it would be his last action and he damaged his shoulder and had to go off.

This was not good but Caleta- Car came on and slotted in well, he didn't have an outstanding game, but he did his job and did we need him too in the second half as West Ham took a grip on the game.

The second half started well for Saints, but as it progressed the Hammers started to get more and more possession and tried to make it tell, last season this would have been the sort of game we would have capitulated in, but we held firm in the main although it was not pretty to watch.

In the 64th minute though the away side equalised with a curling shot that gave Bazunu no chance and by now West Ham were in command, so much so that it took Ralph Hasenhuttl almost 5 minutes to be able to get his substitutes on the pitch, he had them lined up after 69 minutes, but such was the visitors dominance it was the 74 minute before he could do so as the Hammers poured forward and when the ball did go out it was either for a corner or throw in to them and Ralph didn't break the golden rule of never make substitutions when you are defending.

He brought on four players, you don't see this very often in the Premier League, changing almost half of the outfield players at once, but the changes brought fresh legs and in the final 15 minutes we got back on an even keel and even had chances to win it ourselves.

David Moyes had a moan about Saints goal claiming that it was a foul throw by Kyle Walker Peters and that VAR should have picked that up and disallowed the goal, if VAR starts to check throw ins then there is something wrong with the game, perhaps Moyes would have been better questioning why the linesman standing only feet away didn't pick it up or for that matter the referee.

Indeed Saints could have a claim themselves as to why the game wasn't stopped when the ball hit the referee seconds before the equaliser, Saints certainly stopped for a second assuming that the game would be stopped, but the referee waived play on and as mentioned seconds later the ball was in the back of our net.

So relief for Saints fans when the final whistle went, but the real relief was the rot had been stopped and we had shown we can match sides, yes West Ham did dominate for a long period, but we didn't collapse, the Hammers had 25 shots yet only 4 of them were on target, that showed that we battled hard to stop their possession turning into clear chances, also they went for the aerial bombardment route at times and we stood up to that.

From our perspective we had 10 shots but we had 8 of them on target, Che Adams battling hard in the first half had two of them and saw the first canon off the legs of the keeper and the second saw him make a brilliant reaction save.

This was a game where we took a step forward, we are at a crucial stage of the season and we need to take the positives and not allow the negatives to drag us down, those that say Ralph has lost the dressing room had no supporting evidence in this game, it was a team that had heart and battled for every inch of ground even when it was backs to the wall.

It is a young team and that is the big problem, there was not enough Premier league experience on show, but with every game comes lessons learned and this side will get better.

The bad note of the day was that we remain in the bottom three, but the only table that counts is the final one, not the one after a quarter of the season has gone, as we know from topping the table ourselves two years ago at this stage of the campaign.

When we did that there was no one saying that we were title challengers, so being in the bottom three doesn't mean we are going to stay there.

Of course there are still things at St Mary's that are not yet quite right, but this was a start, we have to build on that by going to Bournemouth on Wednesday night and winning, if we do that then we will have taken another big step forward.

Photo: Action Images

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DorsetIan added 10:03 - Oct 17
"He brought on four players, you don't see this very often in the Premier League, changing almost half of the outfield players at once, but the changes brought fresh legs and in the final 15 minutes we got back on an even keel and even had chances to win it ourselves."

Utter tripe. Taking off Adams, Armstrong and Aribo at the same time in a game where we were trying to score was complete madness. In the final 15 minutes we didn't get back on an even keel and I think we had only one chance. My young son spend the whole of the 3 minutes of injury time asking why we couldn't get the ball.

This is why people want RH out. Game after game he makes tactical decisions which make sense only in his head.


felly1 added 10:21 - Oct 17
I thought the 4 subs were a positive change and we did pick up and Diallo, S Armstrong and Edozie played well.
The Cult of the anti Ralphers will want to analyse his every decision and pick fault.
Clearly we are in trouble this season and yes Ralph will have to get sacked if we don't pick up points fast, starting with a win against Bournemouth which I fancy we will.
The manager makes mistakes... Errr like all all managers do, it would be pretty incredible if he didn't.
We are crap in Premiership terms.
We have been mainly for a good few years now.
Under Ralph, Hughes, Pelligrinio and a Puel(8th place 49pts.. yes but we were crap)
This all comes down to good players getting sold and crap players being bought and the quality of our academy. ( mainly crap).
Let's change the manager for a bounce and possibly some good wins and possibly survival. Great.
I get that, but soon enough reality will dawn and the same lack of quality players will see us no better off.
We need investment in top quality players or the sheer luck in recruitment that we had in the days of VVD, Mane, Pelle etc.


JoeEgg added 10:32 - Oct 17
"It is a young team and that is the big problem, there was not enough Premier league experience on show, but with every game comes lessons learned and this side will get better."
I suppose that's the reason for taking off the most experienced players in Adams, Armstrong and Aribo!
In truth we were very lucky to get a point and how West Ham didn't get a penalty after a rugby tackle in the box is beyond my comprehension! This young team are playing with energy and enthusiasm - but to try to claim that this is evidence that they are playing for their manager is quite ridiculous.
West Ham were without key defenders but still it took a deflected shot from a defender to register a goal. Half time came and its always the opposition manager that makes the changes that alters the pattern of play and West Ham soon took complete control.

" we have to build on that by going to Bournemouth on Wednesday night and winning, if we do that then we will have taken another big step forward."

With the greatest of respect if we play like we did against West Ham we have no chance of beating Bournemouth. However this game is probably of more significance for Hasenhuttl's future with Saints, than it is for our eventual survival in the Premier League. Lose this one Ralph and you might as well start packing your bags.

saintmark1976 added 11:06 - Oct 17
One point from the last Twelve available. Thirteen points from the last Sixty Six available.

Yet more points squandered from a winning position.

Three attacking players taken off in a home game ten minutes from time with the score at one each.

Incoherent down cast mumbling when interviewed on radio post match by the patsy reporter Blackmore.

More life blood sucked out of a well below capacity crowd.

Welcome to just another chapter in the continuing nightmare of Ralph’s World which if allowed to continue will inevitably consume the whole club and it’s supporters, Nick excluded of course.

wibbersda added 11:20 - Oct 17
Don't rate Caleta- Car at all.

Billeewithers added 11:24 - Oct 17
Adam Armstrong should have been given the whole game.

kingolaf added 11:40 - Oct 17
Absolute drivel.

I’m not surprised.

Ali_Diarea added 11:42 - Oct 17
We should of kept hold of Romeu, our summer transfer policy was fundamentally flawed, too pre-occupied with potential sell-on value and forgot that staying in the PL is the first priority.

Ralph has to go but I think the lack of a proven striker will mean we’ll struggle to stay up this season whoever is in charge…

forest_saint added 12:19 - Oct 17
Hassen got a clue has ruined our club. £60 to watch a home team camped in their own half for almost the entire second half. Ward-Prowse with one pass forward in the second half and that was to a West Ham player. The manager needs to be sacked.

StRipper added 12:24 - Oct 17
It does appear that the pressure on Ralph is affecting his decision making. We dominated for long periods. For me, our attack was playing well, despite strugglingidfiekd support.
So when we came under pressure and finally let the Hammers back in, it made no sense to me to take off our effective entire front line, rather than change central Midfield. Four subs and removing some of our most experienced players. Adam Armstrong had a blinding game and when given a chance to were causing real problems for the opposition.
It turned the game into a backs against the wall end to the game that we were lucky to come away with anything.
The changes killed our effectiveness and fluidity.
I don't know why we didn't take an approach to take back more control. Edozie was great, but he had no one to work with due to the ineffectiveness of Stu and Mara.
Nuts. We could still have won this game but the subs destroyed any chance of that

underweststand added 12:30 - Oct 17
I agree with those who express regret at Romeu's departure, and it has taken time for JWP and KWP to adapt to his absence, but there had been times earlier (in the year) when he started to show weakness and make mistakes. It was good of the club to let him move but inevitably he would have had to be replaced soon anyway.

As for the game ... we might have been 3-0 up before HT had it not been for Fabianski's feet (!), but Perraud's goal showed what an asset he is as an attacking force.
If we compare the fact that WHam had 22 shots in the games, and scored only once, maybe Saints' meagre tally of 10 shots did at least produce 8 on target for our goal.

As for KWP's foot...over the line. It didn't lead to the goal directly, and maybe Moyes had a point about the ref. getting in the way, but maybe we deserved that one anyway.
Question is ..if the ball has to be 100% over the line before it is a goal, or out of play for a throw ...why don't the rules state " the whole foot" and not just his big toe on a throw-in?.. and if it was that important ...why don't linesman speak up more when a player "steals" 10 yards on a throw-in? A distinct Lack of consistency in the rules somewhere.

Bazunu making more saves every game, and the defence looks a little more stable, but we still lack "bite " up front to get the ball in the net.

SanMarco added 12:35 - Oct 17
"There will be some who will be bemoaning a lack of quality for Saints in this game, but all that really mattered was that we didn't lose and gained our first point after 4 straight defeats, it gives us something to build on" is Nick's first sentence. I actually agree with it to the extent that it reflects a 'severe relegation danger' mindset. There are certainly not 3 worse teams than us at the moment. Bournemouth were supposed to be one of the 3 so Wednesday is certainly a crucial moment for us and for Ralph's career.

I will leave Ralph's future to others but my brief question is: Did we get it wrong in the summer? The Leicester and Chelsea results (against sides defending very poorly) perhaps distorted our vision - my questions are:

Did we bring in too many youngsters without thought to how they would fit into whatever Ralph's 'scheme' is?
Should we have let Romeu go?
Should we have bought a goal scorer?

Anyone saying no to the last one is a Pompey supporter of course but having, largely, sorted out the defence we have weakened midfield and attack to the extent that Nick's first sentence is true. The damning fact is we weren't saying that after any of the three good performances versus Wet Spam last season (even with last season's defence). Wet Spam are no better than then so something has changed for the worse. Interestingly Wet Spam in the cup was the last game before the long decline, and of course that decline started long before the summer. I'm totally confused by it all - the only thing I do know is it's not the fault of us fans...

I_would added 12:39 - Oct 17
When there was paper talk of a new manager there was hope. Now it looks like the management are paralyzed and are waiting for the WC that hope has been dashed. We will be 19th by Sunday evening.

onetowatch added 13:35 - Oct 17
If there was 1 player who needed to be substituted in the 2nd half, it was JWP. No presence in the midfield, no threat with a single forward incisive pass - why, in the eyes of RH is he irreplaceable???

schatfield added 13:58 - Oct 17
Firstly, I support the manager unlike most of the folk on here. Secondly, we had some good performers - Bazunu, very good keeper. Defense pretty solid too.
The midfield and forward is where we are struggling; Aribo barely runs and in a side like ours we cant afford passengers. JWP seems off the boil, unsure why. Strikers try but look at the West Ham forward and see the difference.
Ralph is trying though, the 4 subs was needed and a good idea. We were lucky to get a point in this game tbh, West Ham did most of the pushing, and should have got a pen.

SaintPaulVW added 14:06 - Oct 17
I would have taken a point before the game to end our poor run.

With all the new players Ralph is taking time to find a settled first 11. Our defence looks good but needs time to get everyone familiar with each other. Unfortunately, ABK being out for a few weeks doesn't help us.

Similarly Midfield. Romeu was a loss but he wouldn't have gone on for much longer anyway. Diallo, Lavia and AMN all now have a chance to make that position their own.

JWP and Stu A both have looked off form this season. They looked better yesterday.

Finally our big problem this season is not getting a proven striker to give us an additional 10-12 goals. Mara is nowhere near the finished article and Adams and Arma are brilliant EVERYWHERE..... apart from in front of goal.

Plus, when Ralph can find out where Mo Ely has those pictures hidden...

I agree that it might have been better to get a few less youngun's and a bit more experience in the off season but we are where we are.


ItchenNorth added 14:20 - Oct 17
We showed fight and there were good performances in there, notibly Maitland-Niles, KWP, Peraud and Bazunu for me. I was surprised to see 4 subs cone on, but we really needed to try something different in the midfield and forward lines.

To me this just goes back to the same problem, in that ithe club were not able to sort out the striking problem this summer. When Tino, Lavia and now Bela are buck, we are a significantly better team, but it's the striker that affects the game most. Whoever the manager is, this will be the same problem until the club address it.

But, we saw fight, we dug in and we go again at least knowing the players are playing for Ralph or self pride.

davidargyll added 15:36 - Oct 17
Am I the only person who thinks that the direct consequence of playing four at the back is you lose an attacking edge up front? Looks dead obvious to me. All this rubbish about not buying a striker in the summer…it wouldn’t have made any difference because you can’t play twelve in a team! So with four at the back and only one main striker in Che Adams, guess what, he’s going to be marked out of the game, especially if Bazunu invariably boots the ball in his general direction. You takes your money…
Ok so we aren’t scoring but at least we aren’t letting in a load - yes I know we are still losing matches but I do sense defensively we are edging better.
Re yesterday, I disagree with a lot of people who say we played really well in H1. I thought we were very lucky not to be three or four down at the break, because WHU missed a hatful of chances each time by only a matter of inches. And our players seemed to me to be standing around far too much not looking like they wanted to get involved. IMO we scored against the run of play and I always thought that if we could get away one all that would have been a good result.
H2 again I seem to be one of only a few who thought we did start to string a few passes together. And when the subs came on we shifted up a gear and in the end were on the front foot. So one all I reckon was just about OK.

A couple of gripes:
1. Why do we take ages to take throw ins and no one moves at all towards the thrower? Look at all the top teams - even WHU - they don’t waste any time, but we take an age. Deeply boring, unprofessional and we lose any momentum we may have had.
2. Long throws are a complete waste of time, so why oh why do we persist in doing it when not one in two seasons has it yielded anything.
3. We always used to challenge the oppo’s goalie and backs, forcing them to make quick kicks which often led to us regaining possession; why have we stopped? Again top teams do this with regularity and we really should take a leaf out of their book.


halftimeorange added 16:44 - Oct 17
To my mind these are the main causes for our evermore precarious position:-
We seem to be set up to play in the shape of an hourglass with a back four and Adams and Armstrong starting on the wings. This leaves a huge swathe of space directly on either side behind Adams and Armstrong. Aribo fills the area behind where a centre forward would be and behind him are Elyounoussi, JWP and AM-N. West Ham accurately played wide balls to wing men who were rarely marked. No wonder we were under the cosh after the break.
Our passing is possibly the least precise in the EPL. We just give it away time and again.
We have no real height up front and when Adams does win an aerial duel there is simply nobody near enough to him to take advantage (unlike when he's in the Scotland team).
Why, when we have no attacking stature is every cross by JWP at head height.
There is some real talent in our young squad but, we shouldn't be starting home games (even without a recognised goalscorer) in such a negative formation.

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