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Why Has Martin Caceres Not Played For Saints ?
Friday, 21st Apr 2017 09:40

The biggest surprise in the January transfer window was that Saints failed to sign a new central defender, with the problems that then arose they brought in Martin Caceres, but why has he not been used ?

Even those Saints fans not that close to the club knew that Jose Fonte was determined to leave St Mary's and try to cash in on his new found reputation after Euro 2016 and that Saints would need to replace him.

That need was compounded with only 10 days of the transfer window left when Virgil Van Dijk limped off against Leicester City, yet the window slammed shut without Saints landing a quality addition to the central defensive department.

That meant that the task of keeping the opposition at bay fell to Yoshida who had started the season in perhaps is lowest ranking in the pecking order with Cuco Martina ahead of him and Jack Stephens a player who in almost six years at St Mary's had reached the age of 23 without getting his name anywhere near a Premier league squad up until a few weeks earlier.

Florin Gardos was returning from injury but clearly Claude Puel does not rate the Romanian as h has not featured since the debacle against Arsenal in the FA Cup, a game when it would have been unfair to judge anybody with the team we put out being so unbalanced.

Martin Caceres arrived to the relief of many on 12th February on a deal possible because he was out of contract, assuming that he had been training prior to his signing, certainly he had done a week at Crystal Palace and another at Staplewood with Saints before his official arrival, the only real question was match sharpness.

In the meantime Claude Puel stuck wit Stephens and Yoshida with mixed results whilst it cannot be argued that both gave their all and have played well, the stark truth is that neither are of the quality required to be first choice at Premier League level.

We know that about Yoshida in this his fifth season at St Mary's, time spent mainly as back up and although Jack Stephens was a completely unknown quantity to most Saints fans given that his only appearance prior to this season was 3 mins as sub in an FA Cup tie at Coventry in January 2012, you have to surmise that there was good reason for that.

In 9 full Premier League appearances as a duo since the injury to Van Dijk we have conceded 14 goals in total an average of 1.55 per game and to be blunt only poor finishing in the three games prior to the City game last weekend has kept this to this figure.

Compare that to the 1.18 average prior to Van Dijk's injury and you can see the difference in goals conceded, some have said I have something personal against Yoshida and Stephens, nothing could be further from the truth, I want them to play well and succeed because that would mean that Saints would be doing better.

I try to be objective about their performances and 32,000 saw Bournemouth tear us apart and only fail to score three due to abysmal finishing not great defending and that for me is the issue, Claude Puel appeared to be happy with the scoreline and did see beyond that and that the performance defensively had been poor and that for me was the worrying factor.

So why is Puel not picking Caceres ?

There is a school of thought that says that it is about money, that Caceres is mainly remunerated on a pay to play basis, that being the case Puel is under pressure to use him only if absolutely necessary.

I don't buy that, give the money paid out in the Premier League per place, just getting us one place higher in the league would more than pay any wages we have had to pay to Caceres even if he had played every game since his arrival.

So it must be a different reason, I can't believe it is completely because Puel is happy with his current pairing, the stats I have pointed out show that if those were repeated over a season we would concede around 60 goals, a look at the current table shows that only 5 sides are likely to concede that many this term.

So if Puel really belives that Caceres is no better than he already has and it is not money then what is it ?

I cannot come up with any real reason myself, my big surprise is that Caceres has not at least been tried, on Saturday at 3-0 down and the game gone that would have been the ideal time to get him on the pitch for 10-15 minutes, let him get the feel of the pace of the Premier league and just take a look at him, but instead we had the debacle of the Shane Long substitution.

But prior to that we had three league games in the space of a week, six months ago this would have been the cue for wholesale changes from Puel, yet this time he in the main injury and suspension aside kept faith with the same team.

I must admit I'm completely baffled by the situation with Caceres, but I am also completely baffled with Claude Puel, I was never a critic of Puel up till recently, I took into account some of the factors that were beyond his control, injuries to key players ranging from Charlie Austin and Virgil Van Dijk with long term problems to what seems endless shorter term knocks.

I took into account the fact that we had the Jose Fonte issue and how that had completely scuppered our plans for the season on the eve of the transfer windo shutting in August and this should not be underestimated when considering the merits of this season.

I always said that Puel should be judged over the season and not in either a short term in the first half, or isolated periods, but just as i hoped that Puel would start to show he is the man to lead Saints forward, I am disappointed by what I see.

Manager's should have consistency, but Puel has shown none of late, whether it's Jordy Clasie's MOM performance at West Brom and winning goal earning him nothing more than a place on the bench the next week or the Caceres situation I am baffled by our manager.

I therefore can only conclude that the reason Martin Caceres has not been given even a minute of first team action since his arrival is completely down to the manager, he cannot seem to be proactive, he cannot look at areas of the team and make subtle changes, he has to either stick with what he has got and hope it works or as he did in the first half dress it up as a rotational system.

This is worrying, very worrying.

Earlier in the season Puel appeared confident in what he was doing, now he doesn't, he almost seems disinterested, is he just seeing his time out here now, is there something behind the scenes we don't know about, will we see another managerial change in the summer ?

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steve73 added 10:51 - Apr 21
Ah, this again. A massive subject in the microcosm of this site but not so much elsewhere. I think the reason for it is because Yoshida and Stephens get far, far more stick than they deserve in the articles posted and it provokes the readers into defending them, again sometimes more than they deserve. The truth, as with most things, probably lies somewhere between the two. Although the author seems to think otherwise, I do actually think most people who post here understand football and accept that Yoshida and Stephens aren't a long term solution and that the people responsible for recruitment have screwed up. However they certainly aren't bad players, Stephens seems to be gradually improving and Yoshida is a capable defender. Both deserve our support!

What's the actual point of playing Caceres now? Stephens is benefiting from game time and putting himself in the shop window so to speak, and Yoshida would keep his place anyway. What grounds does anybody have to think that a rusty, uncommitted loan player with a questionable attitude, signed in panic, only here to work on his fitness could benefit the team? I think it's right that he's not playing. What's wrong, as most knew straight away, was selling without replacing. While some were applauding every sale and thinking it was a great idea, some of us weren't. No point whingeing for getting what you wanted.

Sanguin added 10:52 - Apr 21
The only reason I can see that Puel would play Stephens over Caceres is that Stephens is on a longer term contract. Puel was brought in with a track record of developing young talent and with little left to play for this season he’s giving Stephens more experience as one of our assets rather than Caceres who is unlikely to be a Saints player next season. I’m disappointed that Caceres didn’t play in the Final or the Bournemouth game given how far Yoshida has to travel, but now there’s not much left to play for and I’m not sure I can see Puel selecting Caceres unless there is an injury to Stephens or Yoshida.

While I agree that Clasie should’ve been rewarded, I think Hojberg is slightly more defensive and better at filling Romeu’s shoes so I understand Puel’s logic. If we’d been missing Davis rather than Romeu then I think Clasie would’ve been picked since he’s better going forward.

I try to be as realistic as possible, with a view to the long term. At the start of the season I would definitely have taken a cup final and a top ten finish. I’m not prepared to agree that Puel has lost the plot!

perazi added 11:15 - Apr 21
Nick, you really need to stop beating this drum. You are rapidly shredding the credibilty of the "Ugly Inside" site. Your use of the "truth" as distinct from your blinkered opinions about Yoshida and Stephens have diminished your articles. Give it a rest!!

saintstuinoz added 11:31 - Apr 21
steve73, Sanguin, perazi - if I could upvote you more than once I would. You're all spot on.

The real question should be - why would we play Caceres? Yoshida and Stephens are long-term Saints players, whereas Caceres will be gone in June. He's here as back-up to those two, nothing more.

Puel is doing the right thing playing that pair, and developing them ahead of the probable loss of van Dijk.

SaintNick added 11:49 - Apr 21
Football is about opinions and I give mine, also try to back it up with facts, Perazi doesn't like the "Truth" but the goals conceded in the last 9 league games cannot be ignored.

If we had started the season with Yoshida and Stephens there would have been uproar and if these two are our first choice next season there will be further uproar, indeed if either is first choice then I would say we have a problem.

Perazi tell me why Im wrong about Yoshida and Stephens dont just tell me im beating the same drum, explain why you think Im wrong.

The popular opinion seems to be that we are developing them for next season ! I dont buy this, neither are going to get much better than they already are, neither are spring chickens, I would like to be proved wrong, I dont think i will be.

We have a lot to play for, apart from needing to finish in the top ten to show that we are now an established club in the top half of the division and are challenging for honours which in turn will enable us to sign a better quality of player and apart from Puel's own need to show the fans he is the man for the job, there is the question of money.

As it stands i would say we could finish anywhere between 8th and 15th, to put that in perspective if we finished 15th we would get around £14 million less than if we finish 8th, we are playing to add that to our transfer budget, a good finish this season would see us able to afford a lot more than if we slip down the table.

In the summer we need another new central defender if we keep VVW, two if we dont.

So those that try to dress this up as an exercise in developing players need to consider the bigger picture, we cannot afford to do so at the expense of results.


saintpp added 11:56 - Apr 21
Give it a break Nick your becoming obsessed with this topic. hes obviously giving Stephens a run,we have nothing to lose and your now giving the anti Puel brigade more ammunition.CP should be judged next season all things considered he hasnt has a bad first year.

BaselSaint added 12:16 - Apr 21
There is an important point here and Nick is right to raise it. It has been frustrating seeing Caceres on the bench. If the was any ambition for us to rise above the mediocre Cacres should have been used, tried and tested as a potential partner for VVD. It could be an incredible combined force. The must be other stuff going on. I just don`t get it.
Again though for me, Claude is too inconsistent and way too conservative for Saints. I really think he should move on. Mid-table should not be our ambition.

perazi added 12:23 - Apr 21
Nick, surely the real issue, or "fact" here is that the Club made a gross error in not having a replacement for Fonte when it was apparent he was off. I think what's got up a lot of people's noses is your week-after-week criticism of Yoshida and Stephens, who have mostly played very well. Your criticism could more usefully have been directed at the Club for its dithering in covering Fonte and VVD. I grant you it has been strange that having been called in, Carceres hasn't yet featured for Saints- but who knows; maybe he's not up to speed; maybe he hasn't shown the right attitude on the training track, or maybe a decision has been made to stick with the players who will be at the Club next season - and Carceres probably won't be.

You have spoken at length about the increase in goals conceded since VVD's injury and Fonte's exit, and no one is doubting that the CB pairing of Stephens and Yoshida is not as effective as one with VVD involved, though one could argue about the quality of Fonte towards the end of his Saint's time.

I think a point missed here is the weakness of our midfield. Too much has been asked of Romeu to cover the work that Wanyama and Schneiderlin used to perform in tandem. Stephen Davis, a great servant for the Club has been asked to forego his AM role to play a more defensive midfield position. And this seems to have come about due to a determination to include JWP in the team in a wide right/wing position which has left the midfield exposed and placed extra pressure on Cedric in both attack and defence. It has also resulted in less protection for our CB's - thus in my opinion, more goals have been conceded due to the weakening of our midfield structure - and compounding this has been the poor season of Fraser Forster. We haven't heard much from you about our midfield and GK weaknesses, just Yoshida and Stephens.

I also believe that now we have established Prem safety for another season, we can afford to develop players like Stephens, Sims, Hojbjerg etc. What's the point of putting a journeyman like Carceres who won't be here next season or for that matter Jay Rod on to the pitch at this stage?

dirk_doone added 12:31 - Apr 21
Caceres was semi-retired, having last played more than a year before Saints signed him. When tried out for the Academy team, he did not impress.

Frankly, our transfer activity over the last year has been shambolic. We seem to specialize nowadays in signing players who have poor injury records and have not played regularly in the last year or two in the hope that miraculously they'll be fitter and less injury-prone when they join us. If Reed is allowed to continue after his retirement age this year, things will only get worse.

TimSaint added 13:04 - Apr 21
Let's create yet another article to have yet another pop at our makeshift defence and criticise the opposition for not scoring more against us !!

We create plenty of chances too you know, but poor finishing from JRod, Long and the midfield not only cost us in terms of points and getting into winning positions to give us a psychological advantage, but it puts added pressure on our already porous defence.

Anyway, on to Caceres. I think everyone thought he would be the defensive saviour for us and there was even talk of him appearing in the Cup Final. The reality is that he was way short of fitness and sharpness when he arrived and has done little to convince the manager since. The U23 game v Man Utd showed that he did OK, but the game last week v Liverpool showed him to be lazy and uninterested. Perhaps because he knows he isn't going to be picked for the first team, perhaps because he doesn't have it anymore, or perhaps he shows nothing to convince Puel he is better than what we have.

Also he is apparently on a basic wage, plus playing bonus, so maybe we are keeping costs down ?

Add to that the rumour concerning the sending of an inappropriate photo to a 17 year old girl and perhaps we have the real reason ? We are keeping him here as cover and he will be off in the summer.

Only Claude knows why he hasn't been picked and I doubt we will see him represent Saints unless there is an injury. Some signing that would be - even Ali Dia got his 15 minutes of fame !!

BoondockSaint added 13:47 - Apr 21
Oh now where we finish is important???

What happened to "We're only Southampton, lets be happy not to get relegated and turn a profit"? "We can't compete with bigger clubs."?

Where we finish and the amount of money it brings in is exactly why we needed two strikers and a CB since the beginning of last summer! Also, don't sell your best player to the team right under you!

If VVD is sold, it better be to a team in another league.

Caceres is "unwanted luggage" but that's what you get when Les will only buy on the cheap rather than "unsettle" a top player.


saintmark1976 added 13:48 - Apr 21
A well put point of view Nick. Like most of the others who have responded I disagree with your arguments but that's not a problem. Your entitled to your opinion.

What I can't help but think is that if it weren't for that malicious,penalty diving Albert Steptoe lookalike our season would have ended on a much higher note.

arthurfane added 14:31 - Apr 21
"Goals conceded in last 9 games" apparently prove Yoshida and Stephens aren't worth the time of day. Equally you could say that before Man City game (which was always going to be tough, and they weren't at fault for the City goals...) they had conceded 1 goal in 3 games which is excellent by anyone's standard. It's all about how you present the stats Nick - we all have agendas - but think that clearly shows that they're improving as a partnership with each game they play.

I echo the thoughts of others on here - we have little to play for now, and Caceres definitely won't be at the club next season. Meanwhile, Stephens is still young and has a lot of potential, and every club outside the Top-6 would kill for a defender the quality of Yoshida . . it's about time we give him the credit he deserves.

As a side note, I think Caceres' deal is most probably structured so he receives a massive wage hike if he actually played. He's here as emergency backup Nick, get used to it..

Come on Saints - would love us to shock Chelsea on Tuesday :)

Sanguin added 14:53 - Apr 21
I understand your point Nick and the risk of losing £15m by losing our final games of the season. But that should be offset by the value that is being created by developing Stephens. Either we end up with a competent deputy and don’t need to buy a further centre back in the next few years. Or we sell him to a Championship club and make a few million rather than letting his contract run out and losing him on a free. Stephens isn’t a 19 year old wonderkid but he has markedly improved as a player from this run of games.

I agree with you about next season, I wouldn’t be happy with Stephens and Yoshida as our first choice pairing. I agree with you that between them they make more small mistakes that lead to goals than Fonte and VVD did. But I don’t think that Caceres is the answer and I don’t think any of this will impact on decisions before the transfer window opens.

Consigliere added 15:28 - Apr 21
Its difficult to improve on Steve's initial comment - the reason Caceres isn't playing is because Yoshida and Stephens are doing well.

End of story.

SaintPaulVW added 16:40 - Apr 21
I don't think 23 is that old for a CB. These aren't our first choice so they've done pretty well as back ups. Agree that 2 new CBs are needed if VVD leaves but Stephens appears to be being groomed to challenge for one of the regular slots.

The main problem this season has been failure to convert at the other end. Aside from 2 short periods, Our % goals to chances have been shocking.

SanMarco added 16:51 - Apr 21
Although Nick does bring it up rather regularly I think most of us would agree that Stephens-Yoshi are not good enough as a first choice pair. I think Puel is simply having an extended look at them with an eye to them being (I hope) numbers 3 and 4 next season or (I hope not) 2 and 3. Cacares is simply emergency back-up. The big thing is that when VVD goes in the summer we need to bring in TWO CBs not just one.

redandwhitedee added 17:19 - Apr 21
Nick does have an agenda against Yoshida, and also generally does not like us playing young players (i refer to the lack of respect he gave to Targett, JWP, Redmond, Stephens).
All of whom have played at either England full or U21 level... so not exactly the worst young players this country has to offer i would suggest...

Yoshida for me has been absolutely SUPERB. He has taken on the responsibility of filling Fonte and VVD's shoes with no stress, no fuss and every match has been outstanding.

I would be very happy to have Yoshida alongside VVD next season. Not a problem atall. Would rather we spend the big money on another goalscorer than a centre back. Gardos has to be let go, and we will need to replace - but maybe McArthy from his loan spell at Walsall deserves his chance to challenge next year. He has had a few years now in the lower leagues and is doing very well.

Otherwise what is the point in having an Academy to develop these youngsters if we just panic and spend huge money when one ageing, and error prone, portuguese CB walks out.??

I also see Stephens maturing and gaining confidence with every game and like the way he now has the confidence to bring the ball forward out of defence himself. Perhaps next year he can be also the back up for Romeu in a def. midfield role.

SonicBoom added 18:05 - Apr 21
Some of you are deluded! Stephen and yoshi are good pros but not the required quality. Someone said other teams would kill for a player of yoshida's quality. Who? We've never had one bid for him! Stephens is ok but not class. Look at VvD and fonte, then look at yoshida's and Stephens. If u think that they will develop into first choices then you really need to give your head a wobble. Great servants, top characters etc but this is top level elite competition and they are too weak. Being nice won't get us anywhere.

SaintBrock added 18:56 - Apr 21
We've all asked this question so many times Nick, personally I have no opinion left on the subject. He looks like huge fun to have around, a real jack-the-lad if training pics are any guide. We know he's a great player but the sycophantic press guys don't have the balls to ask Puel the straight question. He can't be any worse than our current options surely so why not give hime a chance against Chelsea? We're going to get hammered anyway so what's a goal here or there.

Having watched him in the U23's, he has great technique and positional intelligence and is confident on the ball so what's not to like.

SaintBrock added 19:00 - Apr 21
By the way, "I agree with Nick" being as how we are stuck with another General Election!

Is Les standing again?

luffy22 added 11:59 - Apr 22
I agree with Nick, sorry people but most of you are being a bit harsh in your criticism. for me anywhere in the top 15 this season was a positive so i'm happy with that, beating some reserve tams to get to a cup final, we also got a helping hand from last season as Europe meant we missed the first round was admirable and I had a fantastic day out that I will remember for a long time.

But the way we limped out of the Europa league and the FA Cup is unforgivable, all the hard work the team put in last season to get us into europe was thrown away by an inept manager, and the embarrassment of a 5-0 thrashing at home in the FA cup, well he should have been sacked on the spot.

All this plays into the situation were are in now with centre backs that are championship standard and now a mid table team with nothing to play for means no player who wants to win anything will join us. so expect same s hit next season with not even a cup to aim for as the playing staff will demish in standard.

We need a Keoman standard manager who can attract a few big names to get us going again. Not an unknown as we have now, who has proven to have little tactical experience


highfield49 added 13:39 - Apr 22
There can obviously be nothing but speculation surrounding Caceres not being played because none of us are privy to the contract that he has signed. However, as he appears to be fit and regularly warming the bench is it possible that the intention is to sign him for next season and they are not playing him, unless forced to do so by injury or suspension to Yoshi or Stephens, to keep him under the radar of other clubs? The counter argument to that would be why not give him a contract now but for all we can ever know there may be current contract clauses preventing that happening till a specific date. Yup, that's more complete and utter speculation but the guy looks so settled and content within the group it does seem as though he has something lined up for the future, whether with Saints or not.

Jesus_02 added 22:22 - Apr 23
Personally think Jack Stephens is y exiting young player. Also that Yoshida is about the best player we can expect to have as back up. He seems to be happy with that role, how happy he would be if he was dropped for a player on a short term contract just when he get a chance of regular football im not sure. Peul drives me mad for a number of reasons. Playing those two isnt one of them

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