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Southampton At Newcastle United The Verdict
Monday, 1st May 2023 09:26

For 45 minutes Saints fans dared to dream that the great escape was on, but in the second half the bubble burst and we succumbed to yet another defeat where we snatched a defeat from the jaws of victory, or at least a draw.

It is hard to decide whether Ruben Selles is blindly panicking or whether he is just trying to be too clever for his own good.

Initially when he replaced Nathan Jones he appeared to have a game plan, he seemed to stick with a core of players who got some good results, but then he started to tinker, some of that could be blamed on injury, but overall his latter games have all the hallmarks of a man who is tinkering as he cannot decide what to do for the best.

It could be said that it is not his fault that few of his squad have truly done enough to demand that they are automatic choices, but yesterday at Newcastle there seemed to be changes for changes sake, when you make 5 changes from your previous starting line up, there is something fundamentally wrong.

Settled squads are the ones that win games of football, that is because they have players in them that know their roles and know that if they play well then they will be picked.

In the past month or so that has not been the case it is chop and change, yes some are injury related, but as in the case of Joe Aribo a man who was ignored for 3 months and then was suddenly in a starting line up, before being cast out again.

Likewise Stuart Armstrong who is in and out of the side when once he was an automatic choice.

Some are now adopting the same scatter gun approach in their criticism of the club that Selles himself had adopted in his team selection, they are slagging off everyone in the hope that they will hit the person responsible with one shot.

Saints will not be relegated because of this display, a match against arguably after Manchester City the in form team of the Premier League and one heading for the Champions League.

They will be relegated due to the inability of the players to win games of football and the frustration is that there have been many occasions this season when we should have won games or at least got points from, this was not one of them despite the first half lead and not conceding the winner till the latter stages of the game.

This season is defined by 1-0 or 2-1 defeats where we conceded soft unmarked goals where our players stood back and watched unmarked players, head home, tap home or similar from close range, where Bournemouth any better than Saints ? not really, their team just did it's job in a way that Saints couldn't do this season.

I can understand why people rant on social media, they are frustrated by what has happened, but although this season is a drama, it does not have to be a terminal crisis, it will soon be time to stop thinking about what has gone on and start thinking about what can be changed, what happens next season.

We have heard it and seen it all before, back in 1974, again in 2005 and now here we are again in 2023.

But on those previous two occasions when we have been relegated from the top flight, history tells us that we can recover, in neither case it was instantaneous, but we went on to have our two best ever periods of our history.

Yes this season has been royally ****** up by those who run the club on a day to day basis, who panicked in November by sacking Ralph Hasenhuttl, how much they were influenced by the constant abuse hurled at the Austrian on social media we will never know.

But they did not stand by him and to be blunt, I doubt there are many Saints fans out there now who would prefer Nathan Jones or Ruben Selles to Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The board and the board is not necessarily the owners, panicked in appointing Nathan Jones, then in sacking him and appointing Ruben Selles, did no one sit back and say "Hang on we need experience here" our managerial appointments mimicked our player recruitment, sack good experienced men and replace them with inexperienced kids.

I have diversified here, mainly because there is little i can say about this result on the pitch that I haven't said before, I could rant about a keeper who stayed on his line and allowed Newcastle to put in a succession of crosses into the six yard box that were not dealt with, or about our inability to get forward with any sort of belief in the second half.

Few players could come off the pitch with any sort of pride in having done their job, Jan Bednarek was one who constantly threw himself in the way of balls into to box and defended them in a way few of his team mates did, ironic given his bad boy status earlier in the season.

Newcastle knocked us off the ball as if we were 10 year olds, we were scared to death, some fans have questioned Ruben Selles tactics in the second half, saying he instructed us to sit back and defend, I am not so sure, we were pushed back by a side with better players and belief, I am sure we would have loved to have surged forward and put them to the sword, but this wasn't the Arsenal side of a week or so earlier, under pressure, this was a side playing without fear against a team of rabbits frozen in the headlights.

All that matters now is what happens next, that will probably be a limp towards the finish line with all and sundry in the fan base ranting about all and sundry in the club, but this will achieve nothing.

We have to look forward with belief, yes a few will throw their toys from the pram, both in the playing squad and in the stands, there will be players and fans missing from this season.

But we can now press the reset button, get in a good manager, sell a few players for big money, buy some more and restore the confidence to those current players who will still be here next season.

We should not be in this position, but we are, we have to live with it and move forward as the strap line says "We March On" maybe a cliche but still relevant.

Photo: Action Images

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felly1 added 09:47 - May 1
Same old same old Nick.
Any mention of Adam Armstrongs non performance?
Usual Ralph guff
Slate the fans for moaning about individuals but do the same about Mccarthy..and on and on

Ali_Diarea added 09:59 - May 1
There needs to be a massive autopsy at the end of the season and blame needs to be laid at the feet of those responsible, mainly due to the sheer number of major mistakes that have been made since SR took over but also to ensure it doesn’t happen again. We need to learn and quickly, not just accept it and move on to the next mistake.

You’re right Nick we did recover after 2005 but only after flirting with bankruptcy.

EvertonSaint added 10:25 - May 1
Let’s get this season over. We then have to do five major things after relegation.
1 A new manager
2 Say farewell to Djnepo, Mo, Walcott and send Maitland- Nile’s back to Arsenal
3 Hang on to the youngsters as they are the building blocks for a future team
4 Put the away supporters in a corner at the other end
5 Finally, bring back the identity of the red and white stripes

There will be other suggestions, but at 71, 66 years of watching Saints I like many others is fed up with the lack of effort, organisation, motivation and respect for the supporters. Just carry on driving around in your expensive cars wearing your expensive watches while to rest of us have to deal with the cost of living problems. I can best sum it up by saying what a load of Rolex. Whatever happens, I WILL still support the Saints and continue to shout from the stands. The only good thing about this season has been Saints Brass who continue to motivate us.

EvertonSaint added 10:28 - May 1
PS….forgot to include farewell to A Armstrong and Che Adams.

SanMarco added 10:32 - May 1
Thousands of words will be written on here alone as the inquest gathers pace. All roads and pointing fingers must end up at SR. We weren't a great side when they took over but we weren't relegation favourites. Every decision that led us here was taken by them. Yes some of the seeds were sown earlier but SR took over a club whose fate was in the hands of their decisions.

It is obvious that (just like Cortese still for some) Ralph is going to become the king over the water for many, including Nick. That is the way when things go catastrophically wrong. The fact that things got even worse (although statistically not that much) after Ralph left is (as far as we can ever know) down to SR's decision-making over his replacement. All clubs would have the same manager for ever until they resigned, retired or dropped dead if you took the view that we can't change because things might get worse. It is an easy and comforting thought that if we had kept Ralph all would have been well - and, of course we will never know. My alternative universe has us appointing an Emery type figure last summer. Would we now be rock bottom - possibly not...

As for the game - we showed fight but once the Saudis actually started playing the only miracle was that we got so close to the end still level.

pjt50 added 10:41 - May 1
Not so sure that Jones was a panic appointment. Saints liked to tell us that they were continually monitoring prospective managers, so presumably he'd been lined up as a replacement for Hasenhuttl for some time. That's what made it such a desperately bad decision.

A1079 added 10:50 - May 1
I went yesterday and for 45 minutes it was unexpectedly enjoyable and I actually felt we played quite well and deserved the slender lead but it all went a bit pear shaped in the 2nd half and the timing and mass substitutions seemed to upset our structure. I had a good day out overall, enjoyed being in Newcastle meeting some people for a drink but as for the result etc it was what I expected and I am currently immune to the expected defeat and half baked performances, selections etc. Our actually thought our support by the fans was pretty good.

We will as you say Nick stumble to the end of this awful season a season. The worse thing about this relegation, is that it didn't need to happen and it shouldn't have done. We do now need to look towards putting all the ills right in the club and I would hope (probably unreasonably) that SR and whoever is in charge has a plan in place now and will react with sense and direction something they have miserably failed to do since they took over. That said, I don't believe all our ills come down to this one season - it started when Kat Liebherr sold to Gao, it started when we let Koeman go without a coherent plan, it started when we sold quality players and either did not purchase until it became desperate or purchased sub standard PL players. This season is a catalyst to season after season of poor decisions or lack of timely action.

JoeEgg added 10:56 - May 1
Having read this 'article?' by Nick I wouldn't know where to start! Throw in a huge 'well done' to Eddie Howe - of course he's received huge financial backing at Newcastle, but the guy has also done a great job - for example the changes he made Sunday at half time. Nick will remind you he wasn't considered good enough for Saints - we had RALPH!!!
Four shots at goal from us in the first half Sunday and how many in the second? Totally outplayed and outclassed. We now face the departure of many of our so-called young 'stars' who clearly are determined to remain in the Premier League. There will be no shortage of prospective buyers. Unless we import some experience to guide what remain of our young players there is surely NO WAY that we will bounce back next season.
In my view the fans have every right to be angry and disgusted with the club management who, through their many mistakes and errors of judgement , have not only taken us down a division, but more importantly, have robbed us of the privilege and pleasure of supporting a team that attacks, scores goals and provides the high level of entertainment that we have the right to expect for our money.


zonehead added 10:57 - May 1
The irony is we will probably need someone like Nathan Jones to get us back up next season!

Rustyhelmet added 10:59 - May 1
The reason social media was filled with anti RH narrative was because his football had become turgid, one dimensional and lacked any different tactical approach - I see little point in trying to come up with an excuse to make him the next coming. SR got it hopelessly wrong in his replacement, and paid over the top for unproven (albeit some with potential) talent under the wrong type of coach. RS has proven to be further out of his depth, but it is as always the cheapest option for us.

We were never going to beat Newcastle, a well drilled, fit, organised team looking to improve, so let’s embrace relegation, reset, and go again.

saintmark1976 added 11:06 - May 1
For pity sake Nick give us all a rest concerning keeping Ralph. He was a completely busted flush at the end of last season and should have been sacked during the summer break. You appear to have completely forgotten that had Fraser Forster not played out of his skin at home against Arsenal for a 1-0 win we may well have been relegated last season, not this.

Please also at least try and remember that Ralph was the manager in charge of a Southampton team that continues to hold the record for the biggest home defeat and joint biggest away defeat in the history of English top flight football. 9-0 twice if you need to be reminded.

Not forgetting of course that he also owns the record for being in charge during the longest period of consecutive straight defeats in the club’s entire history.

One of The Board’s biggest mistakes, of which there are many this season, was allowing him to continue to manage the club when it was obvious to every man and his dog that his time was over.

obelisk added 11:23 - May 1
Look at the Saints collapse of form at the end of last season for a reminder of why Ralph should have been replaced back then. He is not the answer and the Ralph 2.0 in charge currently offers us some idea of what might have been the result of another season with Ralph.
I'm beginning to wonder whether we might have had a better chance under Jones. That's how bad things are right now.

Colburn added 11:31 - May 1
I think the acceptance of banal mediocrity from some fans in respect of their desperation to keep hold of a nice man who brought us two 9-0 defeats and but for one lucky win nearly took us down last season, playing one 19 year old loaner up front on his own at home to teams like Watford.. has been far more damaging than the 'abuse' you refer to on social media. I don't recall any real abuse, much mockery and frustration at the obvious, yes..
Our failure to replace Ralph and Danny Ings, together with two naive windows of uncalculated purchases is what will cost us in the end. So the fans who didn't want to rid of Ralph should shoulder the blame for accepting bang average football from a manager who tells the world we have no ambition and are a feeder for young players.. Game over..
Unsurprisingly the game was lost after bringing on the dross which has hamstrung us in the majority of games under this latest clueless individual. The club urgently need to get in the right man now but the likes of Potter won't want relegation on their CV..

Colburn added 11:33 - May 1
Ralph also the man who sent Tella out on loan when he was ready for more PL game time.. Idiot..

SaintPaulVW added 11:37 - May 1
45 minutes of 50:50 game, wrong subs, 30 minutes of a totally disjointed team. I don't think he answer is ever Ely.

Charly and Sulemana don't seem to get on too well. Seemed to be arguing quite a bit.

Pretty much numb to it all now. This season can just drift away now. In the last few years, I used to joke that Saints players were all ready on the beach in April, this year, I'm there myself already.

Was 'Ralph in' but his time was up. Poor bloke was burnt out after keeping a small squad with no backing up. Then, failing to buy a seasoned PL level striker rather than a load of FIFA prospects, did for him. He had done his best.

The decision to change wasn't wrong but the decisions on the replacements have been.

It's a leap into the unknown going into the Championship. Is it better to cling on to the PL year after year, or go down and be forced to make big changes to get some momentum in the team. If we can hang onto a few of the right people we have every chance of returning quickly.

Hopefully SR are in it for the long run and have learned a bitter lesson from this experience. One on which they can build from in the future.

I expect JWP, KWP, Che, Lavia, Djenepo, Theo, Salisu, Orsic and Charly to leave in the summer. Hopefully Tella and Smallbone will be straight into the first team. Stick a bit of leadership in there - a proper captain and we should be able to get going quickly.


1teeminants added 11:40 - May 1
As you say Nick some of us have seen this all before 1974 and 2004 but we’ll still be there. I’m actually looking forward to feeling happier after games, visiting grounds I haven’t been to (Rotherham and Preston to tick off ) and enjoying time with mates. It beats shopping on a Saturday afternoon and I’ve been saying for a while how the premier league is dull, boring not competitive and a closed shop for the bigger clubs. Whoever goes up little Burnley , Coventry perhaps, Luton perhaps, sheff Utd we all know will probably be sunk without trace. Just what is the point.

IanRC added 11:46 - May 1
We rode our luck in the first half but there were some good performances in there including Sulemana. Selles sabotaged the second half by reverting to the defensive tactics and bringing on his favourites El Younusi and Walcott who contributed nothing, unless you are a Newcastle fan.

RomseySaint72 added 12:02 - May 1
Totally agree EvertonSaint and that 5 point plan. The interesting topic of the away fans being hehind our goal has Iritated the hell out of me since stadium opened and must be a massive advantage to the away team. Stick them where they can least effect the game. It's not just on the pitch the team accumulate the points, the stadium can help with this, as it stands the stadium is to nice for the away support.

Let the planning for next season commence. The club need to be on it right now, there are big teams in the Championship already and we will be taking two teams down with us all fighting for just 2 automatic promotion slots and lottery promotion slot in the playoffs.

ronniedavies added 12:44 - May 1
Time for a reset come 23/24 season in the Championship.
As Everton & Romsey have said something HAS to be done about giving the away team a massive advantage in giving them the Northam end, its just a ridiculous situation.
Why do you think we've won only 2 games at home this season!.....other teams wouldn't give them the pleasure of having nearly their whole end taken over.
At a stroke the atmosphere would improve 100% if the Northam was devoted to SFC.
While we're at it get back to the traditional red & white stripes (with a red crew neck colour preferably).....and change the crest for something more dynamic.

Stevebish added 13:04 - May 1
I see our failure very simply we do not seem to have had managers who can organise the team and work with the qualities that we do have. We have players with oace all over the attacking part of our team and we play slow football that means we never play yo our strengths by the time we reach the opponents box they are organised and ready and our team cannot break them down. Even Adam Armstrong who's game is about pace and running the channels looks awful because we don't play the balls for him to benefit from, all of this is why we are where we are.
We need to get some solidity and organisation back and we need the right manager for ghat to happen.

mattlegod added 13:12 - May 1
Plus point.. seeing Stuart Armstrong back in the side where he should be.

I've consistently said it in recent weeks and I'll says it again.. nothing is changing so might as well get a new manager in now, someone who can have some time to see what he has, what he needs to keep, what he needs to get shot of and have time to hit the Championship running.

Farlow added 13:23 - May 1
Selles is the most clueless coach weve had since Branfoot.It would not surprise me if
when we are relegated this crowd sell off all the best players and put us up for sale.

AmericanSaint added 15:02 - May 1
Well that was us in a nutshell - get the lead and then fold. Now it was to a NU team on a tear but still, we keep failing over and over. I think you all have said it - all the blame for this fiasco season lays at SR feet. BUT there will no changes, no backroom shake up. BNECAUSE they KNOW better then all of us - right??? Ho w does one become part of a backroom thinktank and make so many failure decisions and not get fired? I want that job. Again, like I said after the last game, expect 23 of the 30 current players to be sold/released/not signed. AND in 1 year, when we are not in the promotion race, SR will put Saints up for sale having made their money back from all the sales.

Ifonly added 15:25 - May 1
My review: haven't a clue. I've got about as much idea as Selles because I didn't go and didn't take any interest in the game. I had a nice day pottering about the house. Much better than watching this team. This season is over and I will have no real interest until I read the news that Selles has been fired.

Centurion added 15:40 - May 1
Still love to know what happened after the 4-0 defeat at Villa Park last year.

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