James Bree Proves That The Depth Of The Squad Is Vital For Southampton
Thursday, 2nd Nov 2023 14:30
A little over a week ago James Bree was the forgotten man in the Saints squad, there weren't many supporters who thought he would play much part in this season, how quickly things can change in football.
Eight days ago James Bree had spent all but 5 minutes of the 12 Championship games Southampton had played going into the match at Preston North End being either not in the squad as he was in the opening game or as an unused sub in 10 of the other 11, his only action was the final 5 minutes of the 3-1 win over Leeds United at St Mary's.
But Ryan Manning's suspension offered an unlikely opportunity for him to deputise and he has now played two full League games and helped Saints take 4 points from those games.
Some would say he has been the missing link, that with Ryan Manning in the squad our left side was exposed as manning surged forward and Kamaldeen Sulemana failed to cover him, certainly Manning was not a popular man in some circles.
There were several options for replacing Manning for the trip to Preston, but some credit to Russell Martin for spotting where Saints were being exposed and dealing with it and putting Bree in as left back to give defensive cover on the left.
The temptation must have been there to restore Manning for the Birmingham game, but again Martin knew that if is to get the best out of Sulemana he has to give him something of a free rein and that means playing someone behind him that is more defensive minded than Manning.
I don't think Manning is a bad player, although some certainly do, but I think as an attacking full back, he has to play with a player in front of him that can compliment his style and know how to cover back when needed.
But Bree Kept his place for the visit of the Blues and put in a solid performance, but more to the point his presence allowed Sulemana the freedom he needed to express himself.
But there is a bigger picture and that is the depth of the squad, the fact that we score so many late goals is no coincidence, when we make changes we can bring on quality, look at the subs made at Preston, we had Sulemana, Alcaraz, Fraser, & Stuart Armstrong coming off the bench as well as Sam Edozie, the home side had nowhere near that quality, so it's no surprise we score so many late goals, we can bring on players who can truly change a game, most of the clubs in this division cannot say the same Preston brought on 34 year old Ched Evans.
So although the headlines will go to those scoring goals and indeed those creating them, just as key will be those in the squad that are unsung, like James Bree, Jack Stephens, Joe Aribo, Sekou Mara, Mason Holgate, even dare I say it Ryan Manning, players that have experience and can do a job.
James Bree has shown that you can come into the side and turn opinions, two weeks ago he was the forgotten man, tarred with the same brush as the man who signed him Nathan Jones, a poor game at Preston or against Birmingham might have seen him get the fans on his back, but he put in a shift and showed that even though we might not like them, it doesn't mean that any of our squad can't come in and change the fans opinion of them with a good display or two.
Photo: Action Images
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