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Hasenhuttl Knows What He Needs In The Summer Transfer Window
at 03:57:21

I love the fact that Ralph is upset with the way the team played the last couple of matches after safety was secured. He gave the team a few days off after the B'mouth draw and it seems they really got back to 100% commitment, which was worrisome to me. Less worrisome now that I know he feels the same way. Here's hoping we get at least 2-3 players of real quality in over the summer--assuming we do, I'm quite looking forward to next season!
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Saints V Huddersfield The Verdict
at 03:52:22

Thanks, Nick. I visit this site regularly and enjoy both the articles--for what it's worth it seems I tend to agree with you about most things (apart from Yoshida) more some other commenters on here--and the comments. It can be difficult to find sites whose commenters don't abuse one another for sport, making things miserable for the rest of us, but I'm happy to have found one here. Long may it continue.
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Lemina On Verge Of A Return
at 12:55:14

LeGod: I suppose it would be helpful to have Lemina fit for this 8 -games-in-five-days stretch, but really we shouldn't even need him. These pampered footballers are making millions of pounds. No reason other than sheer laziness that they couldn't handle that workload. If I had the chance to get paid for playing a game...etc, etc.

In actuality, I'm not sure I could handle eight in five...that's an awful lot of pints!
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Saints V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Verdict
at 01:21:18

As an American who regularly watches sports with video replay, I'd like to warn everyone about how poorly this can be used. Yes, it would undoubtedly mean the top six sides got "the rub of the green" less often, but it can really detract from the enjoyment of watching matches...unless you enjoy play being interrupted for 2-5 mins to watch a dozen or more replays of a particular 50-50 decision that could reasonably be given either way.

The most insidious aspect of video replay is dampening the eruption of enthusiasm/spirit/joy when your team scores a goal (or touchdown, in American football). Whereas once there was uniformly an automatic intense celebratory response, now the common reaction is, "Oh, that could be good...but will it stand?" And after everyone has settled back down emotionally while watching replay after replay, the goal/touchdown is confirmed, leading to a muted, sort-of, "OK--that's good" reaction. Imagine not being able to celebrate goals properly out of a constant fear that they'll be overturned. It detracts from the game.

And beware of mission creep...it has been the case in American sports that reviews have become more and more common over time, with the justification that it's better to get every decision correct (at the expense of watchibility).

In short, I'd rather put up with the occasional mistake than the effect explained in the above paragraph. I can respect other views, obviously, but know that video replay has its faults.
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Saints V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Verdict
at 20:59:33

Interesting to hear the perspective of people who watched the whole match. I saw only the last 25 minutes, tuning in between the double substitution and the 3rd goal. Over that time span Saints looked by far the better side, nearly scoring several more times (Yoshi and Bednarek having shots saved at point blank range and Vesters--to my amusement--dribbling around in their six-yard box) while Wolves, despite being two down, didn't really pose any sort of threat. Then when I watched highlights on youtube Wolves had but two--Jimenez forcing a save from Gunn in the first half and their goal, while we had ~10. I was surprised to hear that the first hour proceeded much differently than what I saw.

Also got to see the last half hour of Cardiff's loss to Wolves. Good lord, they're awful. Could barely get hold o fthe ball the whole time, despite being 1 down...to Burnley, of all teams. I'll never understand how they beat us twice. At least they're going down--they definitely deserve it.
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Saints Have To Sit Back With Fingers Crossed
at 11:57:50

Not a good day to be a Burnley supporter. Losting at home to ten men in the midst of a relegation fight is depressing indeed. Obviously good for Saints, though. It's strange, but despite being just 2 points above the drop zone things are looking awfully rosy: Burnley and Cardiff have just four matches each against clubs outside the top six whereas we have seven. We've got a better goal difference as well. And most importantly, Burnley and Cardiff are crap sides, especially Cardiff, who are very lucky to be on 28 pts to begin with. It's hard to believe both of them will reach 36 pts, meaning two wins will do it for us. I trust Ralph and company to get it done.
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Hoedt Explains Why He Had To Go !
at 19:29:27

The worst PL defense you've ever seen, Nick? You must be mad...unless...perhaps you watch only the last five minutes of every match?
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Ryan Bertrand Nearing Return
at 01:43:56

Interesting thoughts, Nick. I agree that Targett has played well and it's no certainty that Bertrand will immediately step in for him. And yet Bertrand--assuming he is completely healthy and close to his best--has enough class to warrant a place in the team. I could certainly see him on the left side of a back three; Koeman played him there at times, so it wouldn't be foreign to him.
Mostly I'm just glad he's back because, aside from giving us further options, we were going to be in quite a bit of trouble at the back if Targett got hurt before Ryan's return.
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Claude Puel Appointed Leicester City Manager
at 02:37:21

Re my post immediately above, I should balance out the bad memories with the good: the EFL Cup final was exciting and enjoyable, and the eventual disappointment was tinged with more than just a bit of pride. Furthermore, the goal that sealed our place there--Shane's finish with an assist from Sims at Anfield--is one of favorite memories as a Saints fan. So thank you, Claude, for the role you played in bringing that about.
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Claude Puel Appointed Leicester City Manager
at 02:09:38

Hmm, let's see....Leicester likes to cede possession and, when things are working well for them, hit teams with a vicious, quick-strike counterattack. Claude likes to have a lot of possession, and slow build-ups were a hallmark of his time with us. Seems like a perfect fit.

I've got nothing personal against the guy--he certainly conducted himself professionally at Saints--but I have to say I'll never forgive him for playing for a nil-nil at home against an inferior team (I'm speaking of Hapoel Beer Sheva of course) with Europa League knockout stage qualification on the line. No Saints match has ever made me angrier.

Ahh...water under the bridge, I suppose. Let's hope the trip east Sunday proves more entertaining and fruitful!
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Saints V Manchester United The Verdict
at 04:49:56

Well, if anyone needed proof that not all 0-0s are created equal, all they'd have to do is watch the Hull match and this one back to back.The tactics were what I hoped for: they played expansively and didn't sit back--night and day from the Liverpool match. Furthermore, the performance was (almost) what I hoped for: not only did they not get hammered by playing aggressively and pushing men forward, they looked the better side against a top six team for the first time since the match at the Emirates in September (don't even get me started on that travesty of justice).
Of course, we still couldn't actually get the ball over the goal line, but I lost count of how many times I rose from my seat (on the couch, mind you--I live abroad) in anticipation of the breakthrough. Ultimately disappointed in the result, but in a good way--we deserved more against the "mighty" Man U.
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Saints Reportably Sounding Out Portugese Managerial Pair
at 02:40:15

I am generally pretty conservative when it comes to changing managers but it certainly would not break my heart if Puel got the axe. Seems like a decent guy but in the end the on field product has lacked both effectiveness and entertainment value. Having said that, an extra goal or two in one of the Europa league games, in the cup final , and in, say, two league games, and the season looks far different. Small margins.
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Saints V Arsenal The Preview
at 13:29:42

I respectfully disagree, Nick. I would much rather see us be at least a bit more adventurous than we were against Liverpool. We've had good success against Arsenal, particularly at St Mary's, since our return to the PL, both in terms of results and actual gameplay. I see no reason why it can't continue tonight.
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Saints At Liverpool The Verdict
at 12:33:44

My thoughts exactly, Nick. Yes, it's a good point. No, I can't blame Puel for the tactics; it's been clearly shown that to get a result against Klopp and his charges you're better off playing "negative" football. And the team did put in a good shift--we didn't ride our luck so much as kept them from creating any really dangerous chances other than that late header.

That said, I just couldn't help but thinking that in previous years we'd've had a proper go at them. It didn't always work out, but I always felt like we were happy to play our own game and very often put a scare into the top six clubs, even coming away with quite a few deserved victories. Made me proud to be a Saints fan. Now...well, our tactics were befitting of a club in the bottom three. Like I said, I understand, but I miss the way we played under Poch and Koeman.
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Martin Caceres Finally Signs
at 02:18:42

Whew...was getting nervous with how long that was taking, but very glad to see it's been finalized. Seems we're all in agreement here: the player who Claude deems most up for the job should be the one picked at Wembley, and hopefully that will be Caceres. If it is, I hope Jack will understand...and I hope CP's man-management skills are good enough to smooth things over.

Funny, with our fixture congestion this year, this is the first time I've gotten truly impatient for the next match. Still 10 days away, alas.
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Does Puel Have A Long Term Future At Saints ! Next Two Games May Decide !
at 13:00:14

I have no problem with Puel's rotation policy. It was advantageous for several reasons last fall: with matches coming fast and thick it gave players a rest, allowed some young players a look-in, and let Claude see what worked in terms of players and combinations.

Now, however, with essentially a one-game-per-week schedule, I suspect (and hope) that he'll generally play his "best" eleven (whomever that is in any given week).

My biggest issue with Claude is our style of play. Matches, irrespective of result, have been less exciting than MoPo's high press or Ron's lightning-quick counterattacks. We see a fair amount of the ball but often it seems like we don't care to do much with it.

In any case, here's hoping for win up north tomorrow. I would prefer not to have to seriously worry about relegation. And while we're at it, let's go ahead and thrash United at Wembley as well :)
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Saints V Happoel Be'er Sheva The Preview
at 04:51:41

How ****ing fitting. We have the ball the whole ****ing match, create some half chances that come to nothing, they get the ball around our box and create a chance twice, score once, and we're done. It's been the story all season: Watford, Sunderland, Hull, at Inter, etc. At first I thought it was bad luck--more possession, more chances, surely we'll start coming good. But no. I don't know if it's tactics or personnel or what but I do know it's frustrating. Embarrassing too, We can't beat an Israeli team at home to get out of the group? fing ell. Rant over.
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Saints V Crystal Palace The Preview
at 16:07:20

My thoughts regarding team selection: given the importance of the HBS match Thursday, does Claude select for that match first and then work backwards for Palace? Not if the other EL fixtures are anything to go by, but of course this one is make-or-break. If he does, perhaps he sits Bertrand, Davis and Boufal since that would be 3 matches in 8 days for them (FF and VVD too, but CP has shown he'll play those two to death).
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