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Saints At Everton The Verdict
at 13:58:52

Boris's point reminds me, I wasn't very impressed with the "scarf" gesture either (genuine man-made fibre). If we assume a retail value of £1 a scarf and a manufacturing cost of 10p that would have cost the company somewhere between £25,000 down to £2,500 or roughly the equivalent of between one player's big toe and one player's big toenail!
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Saints At Everton The Verdict
at 11:56:24

In many ways the first half was more disappointing than the game against Leicester in that we had 11 men on the pitch for the whole match and were playing an inferior team, yet the performance was, in a word, dull. It was more boring than the most boring afternoons under Puel and yet we were losing, not drawing for most of the game.

I said in my last post that it was time for the manager to go but I now think that this is a necessary but not sufficient response. The problem is that it is hard to know what is wrong with this team as individually, we have some quite good players (Ings, Redmonds and Romeu for example) and it is interesting to see how many of our players who have been lent out or have moved on are now performing much better elsewhere.

What is needed is a root and branch shake up and I can describe this reference to one of my favourite films, "The Big Short" (you are going to have to stick with me on this one).

The film is about the beginning of the financial collapse and the role of "collaterized debt obligations" (CDO's) which are financial instruments in which many debt or mortgage contracts are bundled up into packages and sold on or used as security for further borrowing. The problem is that no-one really understood the value (or lack of it) of the underlying assets and whether the debtors could pay back what they owed. One of the characters in the film explains the problem thus: Imagine you run a meat pie factory and you find out that a very small percentage of your pies contain dog poo. Even if 99% of the remainder of your product is good to eat, you can't sell any of it because of the poo in a very small number of pies. Thus CDOs became valueless because some of them (actually quite a lot of them as it turned out) included loans that the debtors could never afford to repay although no-one actually knew which ones were completely useless and which were worth keeping.

So, returning to the Saints, we have a problem in that the manager does not know his best team, fiddles about endlessly in the hope of reducing the percentage of (what one might call politely) dodgy pies, and indeed he may himself be one of those dodgy pies. What is needed is to bring in someone who can identify what is needed to build our best team, one that will survive in this league (and that it clearly going to require bringing in some new players in the midfield and defence) and then stick with that team for the remainder of the season.

The alternative is inevitable relegation.
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Saints V Leicester City The Verdict
at 12:00:17

Well I assume that first thing on Monday morning the club will be contacting the nearest forge to ask them to strike medals to award to those few of us who remained in our seats until the final whistle. In nearly 40 years of watching the Saints that was the worst performance I have seen, and I have seen quite a few. It wasn't that we lost the game - that was always on the cards. It was the manner of the losing. The team simply gave up after the first goal and the sending off. We might just as well not have had a midfield. Its no use blaming the defence (although I do blame the defence), the midfield is the engine room of the team and it was simply switched off. The manager and the team need to ask themselves - can we work together. I assume from all I have read and seen that the answer may be "No" so whilst I am not usually one for calling for the manager's head, if that is the honest position then better now than later.

That by itself will not be enough of course. Who could get this team motivated if not RH? I heard talk on the radio of Allardyce (please, no) or Monk (see above post - not a bad shout) or even bringing back Adkins (always liked him and lets face it, if we go down to the Championship he was good for us there) but it needs someone who knows his best team, puts square pegs in square holes and can grind out horrible games in horrible conditions. RH plainly can't.

Sometime you have to lose, but some losses are career-ending. I think this is one of them.
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Saints V Chelsea The Verdict
at 09:16:33

The fact is that we were playing a much better team. The lady sitting beside me summed it up - she said that it was as if they had an extra man on the field. The pace of their attack, the organisation of their mid-field and the confident organisation of their defence was in a different class. Willan in particular was outstanding, easily able to shake off three of our defenders with sheer pace and skill.

So what do we need to change? Well we can't just go out and buy a squad of better players and truth be told, many of them would flourish in one of the top 6 teams. It comes down to better organisation, understanding and communication between the players we do have. I lost count of the number of times we lost possession in unforced circumstances and the corner kick in the first half that no-one knew how to respond to just about summed up the performance of the team. Lets be honest, we basically had our best team on the pitch yesterday and it was as if they had never played together before!

I don't know whether its because they are being asked to do things they don't understand, that the manager tinkers with the formation in training or they have lost confidence in one another but there is a problem and it needs to be addressed quickly because we are fast sliding into the relegation zone.
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Saints At Pompey The Verdict
at 10:00:41

Great game and great evening - I watched it in the hospitality lounge at St Mary''s, £10 for a curry and a pint and the chance to see the game with other fans and enjoy the atmosphere. Nice gesture from the club and greatly appreciated.
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Saints V Bournemouth The Verdict
at 17:12:29

I don't know about anyone else's knees but mine are still jerking even with a weekend to recover! As an experiment that first half formation clearly succeeded, in the sense that every experiment that provides a result is a success even if its not the one you expected. Conclusion - don't ever repeat that formation. Oh and if anyone ever criticises Yoshida again for a defensive error, they should be made to watch the third Bournemouth goal until they howl for mercy.
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Saints V Liverpool The Verdict
at 13:27:13

I've reflected long and hard on this game and read the many excellent points made above. The key question for me is this - if we continue to play as we did on Saturday are we heading for mid-table mediocrity or squeaky bum drop zone? I think its the former because against lesser teams than Liverpool (and lets face it, that's most of the league) we would have been good for a win on Saturday. There were errors for sure but they were mostly forced errors and Nick is right, Ing's failure to put the ball home right at the end was because it was a lot more difficult to do so than you might have thought. Overall I wasn't unhappy about this performance and I think we will soon start to pick up some points and relax. A bit. This is the Saints after all.
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Saints V Liverpool The Preview
at 09:54:55

A bit early for "going down" predictions Jim!
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Saints V Huddersfield The Verdict
at 14:58:12

Apart from a pleasant afternoon in the sunshine the less said about that game the better!

Have a good summer everyone and thanks to Nick for providing a forum for sharing interesting opinions with other Saints fans.
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Who Should Stay And Who Should Go !
at 20:01:36

I agree with almost everything in this article with the exception of the reference to Boufal. As I've said before if we can get someone to take him off our hands then all well and good but otherwise render him down for spare parts and tallow. I've never seen the point of this lazy prima donna and I doubt even Ralph will get anything worthwhile out of him.
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Saints V Bournemouth The Verdict
at 09:51:24

Highfield 49's point deserves an answer so here it is:

1. Overall I think Yoshida is currently our best defender
2. Even if he is not having a good game, the team is better for him being in rather than out as he is a cohesive force and holds the team together
3. He is a threat to the opposition from set pieces and usually worth a couple of goals a season
4. He never gives up and will play to the final second of the game

Does he represent the future? No, I agree, but he is coming to the end of his career here and will slow down as Jose Fonte did and get clumsy but he ought to be kept as a utility defender and a stabilising force in the team.
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Saints V Bournemouth The Verdict
at 11:36:04

I agree with previous posters, this is a very well-written and balanced article and accurately sums up the game and our season.

The only thing I have to add is the unexpressed view that a draw rather than a win was Yoshi's fault.

(Yes, I know he wasn't playing, that's my point).
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Vote Rupert Lowe For The Euro Parliament
at 09:43:33

Spot on St Brock he will fit in well with Lord Snooty and his Eton educated lower sixth form debating society pals with their LLP hedge funds mysteriously now relocated to the Republic of Ireland. Rank snivelling hypocrites every one of them. They won’t be around to pay the price though, that’s for the little people like us.
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Lemina On Verge Of A Return
at 15:33:01

Luxury player in my view and an uncertain attitude - not one to die for the cause.

I wouldn't worry too much if he doesn't play.
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Saints V Wolverhampton Wanderers The Verdict
at 16:46:11

What a pleasure to watch a bold, strong attacking team with pace on the ball and individual skills to catch the eye - but that's enough about Wolves, who I thought were excellent throughout, especially their substitute Adama who took at least two and sometimes three of our players to stop him (can we sign him up please).

Saints were second best for long periods of the first half and kept making misplaced passes, but this has to be seen in the context of the opposition (see above). JWP in particular wasn't at the races, but the team spirit held them together and by the time Long came on to frighten the opposition with his pace and Romeu to hold the midfield tight, we looked likely to score on the break every time we had the ball.

That doesn't happen by accident and for me, the man of the match was the manager, for the organisation he has instilled into the team, the plan he devises for each game and the confidence he has put into our established players, especially Redmond, Sims and (yesterday) Shane Long.

We will do well to hold on to him because he is like getting several new players all at once.
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Liverpool Game Sells Out ! Ticket Exchange Open !
at 10:45:54

I think you may have intended "maligned" but given the number of our former players they now have, perhaps "aligned" was the correct word!
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Saints V Tottenham Hotspur The Verdict
at 17:09:54

Good article and some great comments as always but I have a slightly different take on some of this:

1. The referee was awful as everyone knows but I can't agree that he was biased, he was awful for both sides. There were several throw-in decisions and free kicks that obviously ought to have gone the other way and particularly in the first half, he stopped play several times when Spurs would have been better off with the advantage, thus allowing us to re-group and defend.

2. I was right in line with Kane when he scored his goal and if he was offside it could only have been by the minutest amount. Personally, I thought that he was onside, and I couldn't criticise the linesman for that decision. It was also a goal that had been coming for a long time and no-one could have been surprised by it.

3. It's true that we weren't playing well in the first half but we weren't playing badly either. Let's be realistic, the table doesn't lie, we were playing a much better team and we did well to hold them to only one nil. I note the usual Yoshida criticism in the article (and fair enough he nearly put the ball in the back of his own net though he had to intercept the cross) but we are a much better team with him playing than not and I thought the defence did pretty well considering the waves of attack coming their way. Our problem was in attack not defence, we were playing too far back and inevitably, the defence became tired after relentless Spurs attacking and began to make mistakes.

4. Sims, Long and Armstrong changed everything in the second half not because they are much better than those they replaced (though they are certainly quicker) but because they had been instructed (or were prepared) to take the fight to the opposition. I have been saying until I am blue in the face that attack is usually the most effective form of defence and so it proved yesterday. Valery's goal was scruffy and a bit fortunate but the reason he was able to take his chance was because of the build up work in getting the ball into that area in the first place. JWP's (brilliant) free kick depended on the same thing. I know you can't afford to over-commit yourself against teams like Spurs but it you show them too much respect you will never beat them. In football as in life the only error worse than under-estimating your opponent is over-estimating him.

5. We aren't out of the woods yet, as the manager said in his post-match interviews. It felt like a cup final but we must stay grounded in reality. Very nice touch to come onto the field with all the players afterwards though, this bloke is definitely a keeper!
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Saints V Cardiff City The Verdict
at 09:55:43

Nick you are right to have paused until this morning before writing the article, many of feel the same way, it is necessary to calm down and take stock. Lord Lucan is also right that the manager seemed demoralised after the game but he is going to have to pick himself and the team up and learn the lessons. He spoke true when he said that if you defend like that then you won't stay in this league but that isn't the whole truth. If you fail to score despite most of the possession you also won't stay in this league, and that is what we did. Sorting out the defence is in my view the easiest bit here - we have the players to do it, bringing back Yoshi to stabilise the back four and teaching Stephens to maintain his concentration should be enough.

The problem in my view is the lack of a decent striker. I've been wondering for a while why the midfield still persist in the annoying habit of tracking back as soon as they are two-thirds of the way up the pitch thus allowing the opponents to get back into shape and I am beginning to come to the conclusion that its because they are not seeing the strikers getting into a good position to make it worth their while to pass forwards. The number of goals we have scored from midfield or defence tells a story here. Ings, Austin and Long are all very fine but they either can't score and they can't last a whole game. That is the difficult problem to fix. It may be time to bring on some of the Academy or younger strikers, or perhaps even experimenting with young Valerie up front?
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Saints At Burnley The Verdict
at 18:00:34

I agree with Saint22 - bring back Yoshi.

Also love the idea of preserving Stephens (as in jam-making).

Your spellchecker obviously replaced "persevering" but a much better sentence resulted!
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Barren Transfer Window Doesn't Mean Disaster For Saints
at 12:54:10

I'm with Nick on most of this article save as to Hoedt - very happy to see him lent out to anyone who will pay his wages. I never rated him and pleased to see others taking his place.
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