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Saints Can Start To Sell In The Summer
at 12:36:23

There's much here that I must necessarily accept as true however much I don't like it; for instance I would rather prefer that some of these surplus to requirements players might yet find a role with us and resurrect their careers. After all some of them came here at a dreadful time, under some very poor managers and were given little opportunity to prove their worth.

However, realistically they should all go, I have to accept that!

But I do continue to think that the much feted 'Southampton Way' has become considerably less credible as a mode of operation.

It depends too heavily on the good judgement of senior management in a) identifying promising/good replacement players b) fitting round pegs into round holes ie. playing new recruits in their best positions and c) selecting and retaining good managers for longer than a season or so.

In some ways the latter is the most important issue of all. I hope we can retain RH for longer than his three immediate predecessors, but I doubt it. Why... because the Saints Way is predicated on an assumption that at best our success will be defined as "not getting relegated and perhaps having a cup run"

If you assume that our best two managers since we returned to the PL were Pochettino and Koeman we were unable to retain them because we patently had such limited ambition that they could not see much of a future for themselves and became disaffected and open to approaches from more affluent clubs.

Losing a manager who is good quality (like RH for instance) is far more damaging to the operation of a club like ourselves than losing a top player. The disruption is immense as managerial turnover rapidly effects style of play, selection, training methods, often wholesale change in backroom staff, departure of players who previously fitted our style and suddenly don't fit a changed set of tactics etc.

I have serious doubts that we are good at selecting replacement managers, possibly also at recruiting directors of football, coaching staff and scouts...on the basis of previous experience.

But attracting and retaining high quality management and staff requires not just competitive salaries, but also palpable ambition which is sorely missing from the Saints Way.

Perhaps Ralf will be an exception and be happy to continue in at best the upper middle reaches of the league, but if he has anything about him, I suspect he will be whisked away from us by other clubs who are able to offer him the prospect of more achievable ambition than we can seriously offer
Saints Looking To Snatch A New Director Of Football From Under Manchester United's Noses.
at 18:50:38

Don't make me laugh (the situation's too painful for that) to contemplate recruiting someone who only got a job managing the western part of Ottawa's negligible soccer assets, seems yet more of the existing nonsense we have witnessed in recent years!
Saints At Sheffield United The Verdict
at 15:19:53

Apologies, have just realised that Hoedt has regretably been junked off to Antwerp; doesn't seem to make any sense to me given the weaknesses we still know all too well about about
Saints At Sheffield United The Verdict
at 13:40:04

Yep, defence looked hollow in the middle, aside from Bednarek who gives his all pretty effectively. Vestergard turns slowly and doesn't seem to concentrate as much as even Yoshida; and we all know his fallibility on occasions. As things stand I would have to play Bednarek, Danso (on the basis of one and a bit games only) and Yoshida. But I am at a total loss to know why we don't recall Hoedt who I think has been very unreasonably treated and seems to me would be the better option on the left side of a three man backline (or in the middle of that line with Danso on the left)

But we need two defensive orientated full backs and away from home that should be RB and Cedric, with perhaps Valery at home, but I'm not convinced about his defending.

Djenepo must start in his proper position and not be wasted further back down the field trying to defend. Because Boufal seems to be making an increasingly better contribution than in the past I think we should persevere with him as a No 10 and play Redmond on the left

So I would go for the following only if we are going to have three centrebacks:

Redmond Boufal Djenepo
Hojberg Ward-Prowse
Hoedt Danso Bednarek

Anyone got a better starting eleven?
Saints Forgotten Man Wanted By Turkish Club
at 12:53:31

Much better to keep Boufal and lose Elyanoussi surely...?
Why Saints Should Cut Their Losses And Sell Sofiane Boufal
at 13:01:01

Boufal is the best player with the ball at his feet that we have had in many years.

Some of the most talented players are rarely the most industrious on the field, but they are well capable of turning a game with a moment of brilliance. I don't recall MLT pressing hard in midfield, are you saying that were LeTiss playing now when at his best that he would not have got into the first team squad under Ralf due to the demands of the modern game. I don't recall Messi, or for that matter Ronaldo, standing out for their work rate off the ball when Barca/Real/Juventus are not in possession

Okay Boufal is obviously not in their class, but in time with good coaching and management we might transform the lad from raw talent to much better focused skills and get a great deal more for him. From what I have seen of Elyanoussi who seems particularly lacklustre and even Sims who seems unconvincing for quite long periods I think having to keep Boufal for lack of any other interest might be quite a wild card that could well in the medium term be a great option. Of course, I know nothing about Djenepo to make any knowledgeable comparison with.

On the other hand, as a general statement, it seems to me that fast and tricky wingers who consistently provide a significant threat to opposition defences are few and far between. I remember as a kid the disappointment that Tommy Jenkins proved to be many years ago, partly because of his wayward on field contributions and partly I think because he didn't seem to fit the team structure that Bates subsequently evolved (tho I do remember him scoring a fantastic goal against West Ham, not unlike Boufal's vs WBA)

I think we should keep him and invest some concerted effort in augmenting his current skill set ...and provide the fans with the occasional, perhaps increasingly frequent, opportunity to see some sparkling goal/assists
Saints Will Be Wheeling And Dealing This Summer
at 11:45:59

So Nick, how large do you think the squad should be, how many of each position taking account of cover and how many below, say, 21 and how many over.?

...and who should they be given what we know today?
Saints Plans Held Up By Blues Managerial Change.
at 22:00:39

Still think that there is an excellent argument for keeping the most talented of the unwanted ie. Boufal, who RH has never seen in a first team shirt for Saints and a man who I suspect will react positively to RH's coaching. Much better to loan Elyanoussi out, if we can't sell him and keep Boufal surely
Saints Fans Need To Trust The Club's Transfer Strategy
at 14:17:00

I don't think that anyone other than the most negative supporter (and why should we pay any attention to them) would have anything other than a positive view about RH's ability to take the team sufficiently far up the table to be a comfortable middle of the table side. But, much depends upon improving the quality of the squad which essentially means a) getting rid of the deadwood, b) replacing the outgoing with better quality players in key positions and c) realising the talents of some of our existing younger players and bringing them into the first team squad.

Unfortunately achieving both a) and b) probably means spending more money by the end of the transfer window than we reap from sales of the surplus to requirement players. It also demands a much more focused ability to spot bright young global talent than we have generally brought to the process since Koeman left. In the latter's case it always seemed likely that he had a veto over Read's proposed purchases and was inclined to push his own candidates (viz. Pele and Mane)

The trouble with all this 'trust the club' narrative is that recent judgements in terms of managerial appointments and the purchase (and management) of good quality younger players - I'm thinking of Hoedt and Boufal here - have been distinctly underwhelming. Bringing in young talented but inexperienced players doesn't work all that well when you are mired in relegation struggles.

I want RH to succeed, but there are several things about him that trouble me:

Firstly, we have no evidence of his ability to spot, obtain and develop quality young we? It seems to me that any judgement about this cannot be made until we are about 1/3 through next season.

Secondly, he may well be greatly constrained in whom he can buy, because we are unable to sell those who we need to derive transfer funds from, and I don't expect that he plays a big role in sanctioning departures (though that doesn't mean that he hasn't already specified those he doesn't want to keep, I'm sure he has done that some weeks ago)

Third, if the above is true he may well have to make something out of Carrillo, Boufal (neither of whom have played for him ) and Hoedt. If he's the quality of manager that we certainly have seen some glimpses of then I would expect him to perhaps be more successful in 'straightening them out' than his predecessors ever managed.

Fourth, am I the only supporter who feels that cutting the squad back by so many that any injury crisis requires heavy dependence on young reservists, can quickly lead to a struggling team and emergency purchases in the notorious Jan transfer window. I think RH needs to have a little more cover than he sometimes seems to consider necessary

Fifth, the "Southampton way" often difficult to recognise over the last three seasons, cannot be so rigid as to reject any possibility of one or two far more experienced players to bring insights and leadership and authority on the pitch to counter the relative naivety of some players that we might, by force of circumstances (injuries, bans, loss of form etc), be required to play for want of any other squad member availability.

So yes, I would like to trust them, but by the time we realise that out trust may have been misplaced (I sincerely hope not) we may be back in the type of relegation struggles recently experienced we least want to repeat
Saints V Cardiff City The Verdict
at 16:20:13

Here are the oddest things:

# the manager (dutifully) agrees to reducing the size of the squad relying on young unproven talent when there are (yet again) existential threats to our continued PL membership. I consider RH to be far better than the previous three; but didn't anyone say to him that kids will not likely get you out of our slough of despondent habits, we need skilful, experienced and committed players. Didn't anyone say to him that small squads don't work in the PL because of the inevitable injuries and loss of form and exhausting schedule, or is he just doing what he has been told because there is no spare money available

# what sense is there in depending on a strike force with at least two regular 'sick notes' in the injury prone Austin and Ings, the barren goal scoring habits of Long and the clearly untrusted Gallagher (must assume that he is not up to standard in RH's eyes)

# why have we replaced the outgoing players with such unreliable (physically) and hugely disappointing (performance) players; was that all Reed's fault or was there a systemic failure in the club to identify decent players. The lack of any consistent quality playmaker at No.10 for so many seasons (ok Tadic was occasionally good enough in that role and Armstrong looks better than most recent incomers, but that is a low bar to overcome), but Elyannousi looks bereft altogether (Boufal was frustrating but at least his talent was apparent)

# we have no spine - not one of the three (four with Yoshi) are commanding in the six yard area Bednarek looks quite capable, Vestergaard turns very slowly, Stephens is a ball watcher and weak in the air and his distribution is highly erratic (terrible showing vs Palace) and Yoshi does seem to lose concentration occasionally. But Romeu is a limited player, good covering midfielder but always exposed when in the opposition half where he should rarely appear. And no target man to challenge anyone in the air, but we don't play that way do we.

# Redmond, of course, has been outstanding amongst the dross, but he can't bear the whole weight of the attack...who is there to help him? Austin when available is fine in the 6yd box, but contributes little elsewhere and his speed frightens nobody in this league.

# and where has the high press game gone to, not very noticeable ie. consistently recently

RH is a good bloke with the right vision, but he has inherited dross, he must get the best out of Bertrand, Ings, Armstrong and Lemina when they get back otherwise we are toast (and it won't be the fault of the young lads...
Saints V Crystal Palace The Verdict
at 22:29:51

Don't usually agree with St Brock, but this time most of what he had to say was quite right
- we looked lethargic, unfocused and lacking creativity for the greater part of the game
- our passing was consistently lamentable
- our central defenders looked very wobbly, especially Stephens whose distribution was at times suicidal and his recovery tackles both dangerous and dismissable
-potentially good player that Valery is, putting him up against one of the most threatening wingers in the EPL was surely naive...and unfair on him so early in his career
- where has McCarthy's command of his 6yd box disappeared to?
- and no, despite getting it together much better in the last few weeks,yesterday JWP was anonymous for most of the first half
- we patently do not have a creative midfielder ( Elyanoussi continues to look irrelevant) bring back Boufal asap
-madness to let Soares, Austin and Gabbiadini go without replacements. I think this approach is naive in this division, at this time of the season in this position. I think a previous Liverpool manager once said that you cannot win titles with kids, for sure you can get relegated without enough experienced players

Hoedt Loan Confirmed
at 21:16:35

Unusually I very largely agree with Nick this time and I am one of the few on this site who thought Hoedt, for quite a young player, was a pretty decent CB with a good left foot and untapped potential, largely due to the misfortune of playing under two rather unimpressive managers (to say the least)

I would have held on to him and would have trusted in Ralf to get him fired up, but perhaps there was a not so obvious character problem, not so evident to the crowd, aside from those who had decided to get on his back for everything, just to bolster their own self appointed football expertise.

I also remain disappointed that we have banished, presumably for the rest of this season at least, Boufal (greatest potential of any of our players to moments of sublime skill, but hugely wayward at times) and Carillo dropped into a struggling team, poorly managed, and clearly (like Boufal) not someone MH had any time for yet a player who did appear to be a good player with his back to goal, able to lay a ball off very effectively and with no liittle skill with the ball at his feet.

I would dearly like to see how these two exiles would operate under Ralf's guidance and would ideally like them brought back but assume that is not part of the deal; but strongly think they should return to us for RH to assess further before they are sold off at a loss next summer. Boufal, in particular, I think would benefit from Ralf's close attention, with one arm around his shoulder and a constant flow of encouragement and constructive criticism when deserved.

If a player like Matt Le Tissier can justify his place in Saints supporters hearts because of his loyalty and immense talent, despite not being a hard graft player at all times on the pitch, I don't see why Boufal shouldn't be half the player that MLT was for us, given a little respect and guidance and Ralf's the man for that job...and that would make our squad so much stronger
The Slate Will Be Wiped Clean Under Hasenhuttl !
at 16:36:51

Yes, wipe the slate clean and bring back Boufal (our most talented but also most wayward forward) and Carillo (the player nearest to a target man) asap

Carillo and Gabiadini as two up front with Redmond on the right and Boufal on the left and two from three of Armstrong, Lemina and Hojberg would be an exciting team going forward, but still weak at defending!
Saints Could Still Make Another Signing
at 00:40:43

Well, I think Ben Arfa might be worth taking a punt on. In his prime (okay, some time ago) he looked a very accomplished player and since he will not cost us any fee and he is not in a strong position to negotiate the wages will not be all that high either (not if we negotiate from a position of relative strength)

Okay he may be as moody as Boufal (who I still feel could be outstanding for us if we could get him to pay attention andn be a little less egotistic), but the role that Ramires, Boufal and now perhaps Ben Arfa could play for us as a No. 10 still remains unfulfilled. Ings and Gabbiadini need someone able to play between the lines and to test the opposition's abilities down the channels...perhaps Ben Arfa might succeed at this; he had a creative talent and a eagerness to score (despite being part of Puel's previous formation) so I think that he is potentially worth a gamble
Saints V Burnley The Verdict
at 10:49:59

Well a dreadful first 20 mins and a just about holding on next 25 mins and only one shot on target (from Lemina's header) made me think like Highfield that it was blatantly obvious that we lacked numbers and organisation in midfield and Burnley ran most of the half.

But quite a few players looked off the pace eg Romeu, Bertrand, Redmond, Austin (isolated and lonely). Thank goodness for Lemina, Armstrong, Westergaard and McCarthy in the first 45mins.

It wasn't until 60th minute that we became competitive with and threatening to Burnley. As a result of adding Ings who seemed better able to 'join up' play than most and sharper too.

So MH has to sort out his formation and aim for more midfield control, but I still can't see many goals this season
Saints V Borussia Monchengladbach The Verdict
at 13:18:47

Nick, Not a crisis quite yet, but very ominous evidence that we have not all that much changed our bad habits nor our obvious limitations of last season. No fast thinking nor fast moving central defender, no midfield controller and no dominant style centre forward.

DPeps is exactly right...and you sound a little too complacent if I may say so!

Surely the transfer priorities appear to have been 'criminally' neglected again, this cannot be forgiven yet again. The first five games will now be very telling for all concerned...
Belgium International Linked With St Mary's Move
at 17:07:50

Can someone tell me what happened to Wesley Promes, so much in vogue last January and sounded just the 'all round' forward we needed then and still now.

Okay he was expensive but its about time we had an outstanding player and he seemed the best qualified - has he lost form, been injured, sold to another club or retired from football altogether
Saints Wembley Date Set
at 13:06:50

I think you have forgotten to mention the date?
Saints At Newcastle United The Verdict
at 12:25:52

Nick most of the comments and observations that you make are sadly true, but I continue to doubt the underlying logic of your position when you say that it is not the issue of whether to play two up front that is the key reason for our demise but that it is our defensive weakness. Yes our defence has steadily got weaker over the last two years, but they are not as alarmingly inept as all those players (except Austin) in the attacking four or five positions have consistently been.
We have not (even now by the look of it) replaced Pelle or Mane with players capable of physically intimidating the opposition or taking them apart with speed and trickery. We have been obsessed with the one striker approach (with none of Rodrigues, Long, Gabbiadini, now Carrillo and even Austin) remotely equipped for this role
We do not have an attacking midfielder able to take control of the game and to score 5 to 10 goals in a season (though I think Lemina could if those around him played their part and even Boufal, who seems an extravagant but wasteful talent, might)
And we do not have any player in the midfield able to score more than 3 or 4 goals in any season, nor do they take it upon themselves to run into the penalty area because a) they have no confidence in their own abilities (justifiably) and because b) there is no player there to hold the ball up and lay the ball off to them. Note how Sims has looked our most dangerous attacker recently
Let’s be frank some of the players do put in their best efforts (Hojbjerg particularly, Redmond to some extent and Davis in the past) the rest blow hot and cold and are consistently inconsistent and all are hopeless shots. Our crosses into the box are consistently sub- standard (aside from both full backs) and several players are very prone to hiding on the pitch (Tadic and Ward Prowse, though in the case of the latter I just don’t think he has the fire burning in him)
Oh…yes, Romeu has been a shadow of himself, but does play a significant holding role and was in my opinion a very mistaken absentee from yesterday’s shambles, I don’t think we would have been so open to Newcastle’s attacks had he been patrolling his normal patch (and, yes, he is particularly hopeless when in front of the opposition’s goal, but we have come not to expect anymore.
Yes the defence has got weaker, yes we consistently fail to replace the high standards set by those departing, yes we have persevered with a goalkeeper who for much of the last two seasons has been a liability and yes we have been criminally complacent in our decision making or lack of it
And yes, yes, yes…we chose catastrophically the wrong manager last summer and Puel was clearly not the hopeless manager he appeared to be when we chose to sack him for what…only getting to eighth in the table or for losing a cup final…or for failing to make better use of the very poor squad that he inherited?
And now frozen in a mire of their own making we seem to have a board either ridiculously complacent or, even odder still, following a policy highly likely to severely disrupt their new employer’s income from his investment.
We clearly have no viable Plan B, we have been indolent in acting when the writing was on the wall around Xmas, we allow Reed to buy a record breaking forward patently obviously on MP’s recommendation and we are going to win our own race to the bottom.
Reed and the Board have done us all a huge disservice, including themselves, having squandered a strong position when we still had Koeman’s goodwill, before the then latest round of sell offs, and they must be held fully accountable.
We have one last major gamble to take belatedly, it just can’t get any worse anyway, give someone like Silva a £1m bonus to keep us up, on top of his salary, and let him do his best…what else can we do now before out next PL fixture?
Should A Change Be Made Now ! Vote Now !
at 18:02:21

Too late, at the moment, for analysis of how we got here, desperate action required:

1. go to Silva, offer him £1m if he keeps us up, cheap at that price given the costs of going down
2. if Silva accepts, sack MP immediately
3. no guarantees about who gets the role for next season, assuming that we stay up under Silva
4. reconsider the future of Reed and the rest the day after the season ends.
5. establish much higher standard of experience required in job description if we stay up or b) if we go down, go for a younger British manager,
6. have a new manager established one month after the end of the season and a viable plan to change our whole ethos
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