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Southampton 1 v 1 Middlesbrough
SkyBet Championship
Friday, 29th March 2024 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton V Middlesbrough The Verdict
Saturday, 30th Mar 2024 17:07

Saints started well against Boro, but as the game went on and they failed to take their chances the writing was on the wall, but we failed to ,manage the game out to what should have been 3 points.

Saints could not have got off to a much better start, they took the lead with a superbly taken goal from Adam Armstrong, they should have at least doubled their lead and for half an hour it looked only how many that we would win by.

But then all the old issues appeared, we got caught out playing from the back and Boro saw their effort come back off the post, it was a warning sign that was not heeded by Russell Martin.

In the second half Che Adams had two glorious chances he should have buried and also a goal ruled out, so where did it go wrong.

The truth was that we failed in our game management, although we entered the last few minutes a goal up, we were being pulled all over the place at the back, there was no organisation and no leadership anywhere on the park, we didn't seem to be able to work out who who was marking who.

In fairness to Jack Stephens, although he was part of the problem, he did make a superb tackle chasing back after it looked like he was left for dead, but as Boro sensed blood we sat on our hands.

The first two substitutions on 65 minutes were understandable, Sulemana had been good in the first 30 minutes but had drifted out of the game and Che Adams was having one of those games were he was never going to score, David Brooks & Ryan Fraser were obvious subs and for a while we picked up momentum again.

But as Boro pushed for an equaliser from the bench nothing, on 85 minutes Adam Armstrong was taken off, this put pressure on us in that he is one our few front runner that can hold up the ball and draw fouls that takes the pressure off, I had a bad feeling at this moment.

Two minutes later it was confirmed when Boro headed home, in fairness Joe Aribo was waiting to come on, but that should have been done 10 minutes earlier, we were all at sea at the back, why was Bednarek not brought on, why no Rothwell in midfield to add fresh legs.

Perhaps Russell Martin had one eye on Monday at Ipswich, but in football you get each game won as they come, I am sorry but Russell Martin sat on his hands in those final 10 minutes of normal time and did not batten down the hatches when it was needed.

Before the game the mood was buoyant after Leicester lost at Bristol City, suddenly there was an opening, by 5pm it felt like a defeat, we have the squad it just isn't being used to it's full potential and the manager has to hold his hands up for this one.

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Centurion added 18:09 - Mar 30
well said.
RM is going to need time to gain experience.
TBH I think he will be allowed that if/when we fail to get promoted this season.

JoeEgg added 18:28 - Mar 30
"the manager has to hold his hands up for this one."

Well he might as well keep his hands up - for several lost games recently, and most probably a few more still to come! This stubborn determination to play out from the back and the total lack of leadership on the field has once again contributed to our downfall, and a great opportunity to get back into a realistic position for automatic promotion has been wasted (again!)
The back four didn't do badly although you need to remember that Middlesbrough had no less than 11 first teamers out injured and consequently didn't pose much of a threat until the closing stages. Our midfield is weak and failed to stamp any authority on the game. They are Championship players and no more. Up front Che Adams put in yet another poor performance and not for the first time was the prime culprit in leaving us just the 1-0 up instead of three or four ahead.
We have a few experienced players who should by now have found their places in the team and probably have the quality to more than hold their own at this level. , Fraser, Brooks, Aribo and Rothwell might just add a little more quality and threat. But Russell Martin has failed to get the best out of his players and few of the team seem to know where they are or what they are supposed to be doing out there. I keep wondering what an Ings or even a Tella might have added to our effectiveness around the box.
I've frequently claimed that although we have some talented players in our squad it isn't head and shoulders above those of our main rivals. We can compete but not necessarily defeat. That's where your team selections, tactics and manager can make or not make all the difference. We have a stubborn 'Championship-level at best' manager who has fiddled about until almost all of the self confidence has been drained .from our side, and with no plan B, even the bottom of the table sides have rumbled the plan. And it doesn't look as if its going to change!

saintmark1976 added 19:37 - Mar 30
A performance lacking in desire to win. As others have suggested on the Forum part of Nick’s site, yesterday to me it looked as though some of our players aren’t that interested in being promoted. They looked to be in “ let’s just do enough to get by mode”.

Alternatively perhaps some of the more senior pros have seen that Martin’s tippy tappy method of play without a plan B simply isn’t worth putting the effort in any more.

DellBoyWally added 20:04 - Mar 30
Why is Che Adams playing? He's going, everyone knows it. He's not playing for his place or future, someone will buy him. And he cost us the game. I'd rather see someone like Mara instead. He'd be playing for a spot next season.
Middlesbrough's goal was always coming, me and all around me knew it. We just waited and boing!
We could have Badnarak on, packed the middle of the defence with 3CBs, and had someone tall who could have stopped the header instead of a diminutive FB.
RM seems not able to read a game when we're under pressure. Agree with Nick about AdamA. We should have had 5 at the back 4 in front and AdamA loose up front for the wellies up the pitch! Not pretty but who cares if we get the 3 points that could have got us back into serious contention.
At least on Monday I'll be warm and dry. Not driving down from Yorkshire on the Bank Holiday!!

Farlow added 20:53 - Mar 30
We play two centre halves. Ive lost the count of the number of times a cross comes in and
neither of them mark the penalty spot area i would have thought that was basic.
This goalkeeper has not improved 1 iota. I,M not saying he could have prevented the goal but his handling was dire throughout. But hes great with his feet.
If Che Adams doesnt want to be here why is he in the pitch.Weve all said we needed another striker but we keep getting wingers.Its all very well having the best squad in the championship but the manager needs to know how to use them.

UgandaSaint added 21:01 - Mar 30
The real irony is last month we were all hoping for automatic promotion because the play-offs are a lottery. Now we are glad the play-offs are a lottery because we are not the third best team in the Championship, but a lottery gives Saints a chance.
Nick, do your research, the threshold for suspension has now been raised from 10 bookings to 15, with Bednarek on 9 before this match there was no way he would be risked even for 10 minutes.

darthvader added 22:40 - Mar 30
Manager fooked up for me .. no changes at half time kamel should have been hooked off for fraser as he actually crosses the ball and is direct rather than the rabbit in headlights approach of the former . He is frustrating the way he literally just stops with the vall sometimes instead of using his undoubted pace.
I was expecting 2 subs at halftime possible stu or will for rothwell or aribo .
Too late to bring on when he did . Whats the point in having a strong bench if they are only given 5 minutes.

Also after their goal 2+ minutes delay wasnt added on fully ....there was no urgency to try and win the game after they scored.. like previous games

Maras hair hair of the match

davidargyll added 22:51 - Mar 30
Yes, rubbish finishing by the usual suspect(s) didn’t help, but ultimately I put yesterday’s result down to RM waiting too long to bring on the later subs. We could all see that the players were tiring around about the 75/80th minute and that’s when he should have done it. But he didn’t and paid the price.
I know others have also suggested at least some of the squad were only giving 90%; but you could equally argue it was understandable because they want to last out the ten games they have left to play in the next five weeks (plus the playoffs, which is surely our lot now).
And if we are brutally honest Boro could easily have scored twice if not three times, so maybe a draw was actually a fair result.
But regardless of yesterday’s outcome, what came to mind is that we are increasingly looking like Middlesbrough themselves were last season, ie a team good enough to get to the playoffs if not better, but…
And this is what concerns me. Given that Boro are this season stuttering after falling at the last hurdle in 22/23, like them we have shown plenty of glimpses of quality throughout the last eight months, such that we could be judged good enough for automatic promotion. But after yesterday’s performance, can we really say we good enough to make it through the playoffs?
Forget about whether we are good enough for the PL - we aren’t - and OK yesterday maybe we were suffering from a bit from “three-weeks-off” undercooked-ness, but frankly, unless we improve A LOT in a short space of time, at best we are going to struggle to win the playoffs, and at worst, we are doomed to one if not several more seasons in the league for also rans.

Jesus_02 added 23:59 - Mar 30
In fairness to Jack Stephens he isn’t as good as Jan

kingolaf added 00:26 - Mar 31
We will have zero success whilst Martin is our manager.

ItchenNorth added 08:33 - Mar 31
It looked like we hadn't played for 3 weeks, but even at 1-0 up St Mary's was very quiet, so to me everyone inside the stadium fell short. Not good enough on the day, everyone.

NewburySaint added 09:30 - Mar 31
Unfortunately (because I like him as a footballer) Che Adams was a big reason we didn’t win.

It’s almost certain he won’t be with us next season, we’re almost certainly in the playoffs already, so let’s stop starting him, he isn’t the future (although he would be useful to have on the bench) & I’d rather see Armstrong or Mara played in the centre forward position, both of whom are potentially part of our future, as well as the present.

Rightly or wrongly, and probably incorrectly, Adams could start to become a scapegoat because of his imminent departure and that would be of no help to the team and himself…..

janecook added 10:03 - Mar 31
How many games have we won this season when Jack Stephens starts and how when he is not in the team. He is one of the worst defenders in the League!!!!

Boris1977 added 10:39 - Mar 31
RM is a limited manager but the big issue at the club is sports republic. They've made several odd decisions in the short period they have been around and seem to hedge bets when buying and letting players go. It also seems like their director of football also wants a day in how the team plays which is not healthy for the club - the manager should be left to make on pitch decisions.

Sports Republic also prefer buying potential potential youngsters and the aforementioned hedge bets (Ross Stuart) which for a club like us partially makes sense, but we've not had a solid reliable old hard at the back for several seasons or a reliable striker which sent us down.

Letting the Tella leave last season reaked of profiteering after over spending on several flops the season before and the cash from ward prowse would surely have covered a large percentage of the losses from the previous season.

If RM was given a decent CB and a proven championship striker (Tella) RMs style of play may have paid dividends.

The reasons why Sports Republic operate as they do isn't something we'll ever know but they make seemingly odd decisions for a team supposedly chasing promotion

Bowlercow added 11:14 - Mar 31
Why is RM getting so much stick? For me he has done as good a job as anyone could have No one was moaning about him overseeing our record breaking run
He and the players will not give up while there is a mathematical chance So therefore niether should the fans

ItchenNorth added 11:26 - Mar 31
Bowlercow 👆

ItchenNorth added 11:29 - Mar 31
Spot on Bowlercow ⬆️ (because 👆 might at a glance look like a middle finger lol)

SanMarco added 11:46 - Mar 31
I think the question (unanswerable of course) over RM is whether this squad could be doing better with different tactics. By not bothering to defend we leave ourselves open at the back and time and time again even average teams look like scoring against us. Our players aren't technically good enough to maintain the levels needed to play this way. If we have the 4th best squad then RM is doing okay - if we have the 2nd or 3rd best squad then he isn't.

I hate this way of playing. Yes we perhaps should have been out of sight but a team worthy of promotion should be able to play out a 1-0 against a mid-table side. Sometimes you are only 1 up with a minute or two to go however good you are. Instead we sat back and gave the winger plenty of time to cross onto the head of a forward with no defender within five yards. Appalling. The defenders aren't that bad it is the way we are playing that invites trouble.

I rarely agree with Klopp but perhaps if we are to stick with this we need another year to perfect it. I would fear for us in the top division under this manager. It was bad enough on the occasions when Ralph got it wrong...

saintmark1976 added 12:16 - Mar 31
Boris 1977, “ we’ve not had a solid reliable old hard at the back for several seasons” ? Would have
been a great line in a Carry On Film.

codge added 12:43 - Mar 31
Does Russell Martin ever read these comments l doubt it otherwise he would see the obvious that he needs to change the way we play out the back once in awhile.

Number_58 added 13:32 - Mar 31
Astonishing Nick. Our centre forward misses a couple of chances you'd expect an average Hants League striker to bury and you still manage to apportion blame on Jack Stephens. Are you I_Would in disguise?

LordDZLucan added 14:19 - Mar 31
I’d just like to point out that Jack Stephens was named Man of the Match by the Saints supporters in St. Mary’s on Friday. So you Jack Stephens haters are completely out of touch with the majority of true Saints supporters. But of course you know better!

wrathoftazz added 11:27 - Apr 1
I'm not sure why all the hate for RM recently! Sure, he has made a few 'iffy' decisions around subs and game plans but there was no doubting him a few weeks ago. To be honest, if CA was to do his job, the decisions by RM wouldn't be questioned.

Same goes for Sports R, I'm not a fan of SR, to be honest, I can't stand them but there was no SR THIS or SR that, when we were winning.

Truth is, no matter how good the game plan or how good the decisions by SR is, if the players don't turn up (and it is always the same ones), we will lose.

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