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Saints V Manchester United The Verdict
Sunday, 24th Sep 2017 10:08

Saints might have been beaten bu they were not bowed and put in a fine second half performance that augurs well for the season.

A defeat is a defeat but sometimes it has to be put in context and this was a United side who cam into the game having scored 16 goals and conceded only 2, it could be said this was Saints first big test of the season.

So from this context yes it was a defeat but it was one that left those leaving the ground at the end knowing they had seen a decent performance from their side who not only matched United in all departments but dominated possession and pushed them back.

There are still things not quite right in the Saints team, but the manager is starting to impose his way of playing on the team and that should shine through in the coming weeks if this is anything to go by.

Saints dominated the stats in all departments, 69% possession, 14 shot against United's 9 even 8 corners against 4, but the one stat that mattered was the one goal scored and that sadly was United's

There was no Virgil Van Dijk in the starting line up althouh some fans still felt that a second striker is needed rather than considering that the issue is about firstly supply, Shane Long ran his legs off throughout the game and pushed United back Lemina and Romeu had to work hard in midfield and in the centre of defence Hoedt and Yoshida were only found wanting once and that sadly decided the game.

Mauricio Pellegrino showed that he was willing to change tactics to try and rescue the game, his first substitution saw Gabbiadini come on, but it was not to replace Long but Davis meaning that there were two strikers on the pitch for the final 17 minutes and that stayed the same when the shattered Long went off for Charlie Austin, but for all Saints domination it was the issue of creating truly decent chances.

But overall although it was a defeat there were plenty of plus points to be taken from this game, if a rampant United side struggle to beat us then there is nothing to fear from the rest of the league, Ok perhaps their near neighbours City who are looking good.

We have a good shape now and plenty of options and it is now just about getting the creative players creating again, in Tadic and Redmond we have two players who can change games, as of yet they are not in the best of form, but if they can find that form then we have nothing to worry about.

The key now is to be positive, we are a better squad than last year and a better manager we can beat last years performance.

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highfield49 added 10:45 - Sep 24
Agreed Nick but until the goal scoring problem is solved we will continue to lose games no matter how well everyone plays. I can't see any reason to persist with Redmond and Tadic, one of them has to make way for Gabbi next week.

A1079 added 10:47 - Sep 24
Ok, for the most part we played well. For the most part, certainly in the 2nd half, we were the better team. For the most part, we did everything but score. We were even entertaining to watch, but for the 9th game out of 12 home games we failed to score and we still lost. There are no points for playing well and for all our good work, games are going to be lost because we are so inept in and around the box where it really matters.

As I have stated in another thread, I don't want to undermine our players that are going through a bad patch, but rather they need help and coaching and supported, but Redmond is completely shot confidence wise and I am not sure keep playing him in the first team during a spell like this is helpful to him.

You say we have a better squad and manager than last year. I am not sure anyone can make a sweeping statement like that until we have proven it in our results and success and when we can start winning games more consistently and more convincingly. A good performance yesterday but you have to look at these things in the whole and also remember against Watford and Wolves we were awful, scrapped a win against West Ham, and we got a narrow win against a very poor Palace side.

the_saint added 11:06 - Sep 24
Great second half think long could play behind gabbi or visa Versa and drop either tadic or redmond, I think redmond did do better second half, my biggest concern is lamina how this man has settled into the premier is outstanding and he is only going to get better so my worry is the morons so called pundits and media are going to do there best to unsettle him in January.

LondonSaint added 11:08 - Sep 24
Thanks for the write-up. Happy to forget about yesterday but looking for good performances against Stoke, Newcastle and West Brom in the next three - fact is if we want to again be "the best of the rest" then we should be getting at least 6 points from 9. If we want to go to the next level then we have to be targeting three wins from three and that means scoring goals, not just keeping clean sheets.

saintmark1976 added 11:45 - Sep 24
It's your site Nick and I respect that as such you can write whatever you wish. That said it's only an opinion and carries no more weight than anybody else's view. Seriously though do you really think that saying " Hoedt and Yoshida were only found wanting once and that sadly decided the game" is fair and reasonable"? Do you write this sort of stuff just to cause controversy and increase the number of "clicks" on your site or do you honestly believe it to be the case?

Anybody at yesterday's game could see that there were a host of reasons as to why we did not get a result not least of which was yet another abject display by Redmond. You asked last week why is he always the whipping boy. He certainly provided the answer between three and five o'clock yesterday. He would struggle to get into a half decent championship side on the basis of his current form but he appears to be the first name on the team sheet week after week.


landerwal added 12:17 - Sep 24
Yeah, we played well, but should have won the game. One goal from from free play in the last 11 competitive home games shows we have two real problems which are a leftover from last season. First otheris our ponderous build up in attack. Any opposition manager needs to tell his team when defending is don't bust a gut getting back in defence , Southampton are so slow in their build up your be in position before they get out of their own half. The other is a lack of realising the Pelle and/or Lambert are not playing for us any more. It's a waste of time playing high crosses when every time

landerwal added 12:19 - Sep 24
Continued- the opposition cut them out. A change of attack options is desperately needed

saintsnutcase added 12:24 - Sep 24
Nick when the best we can score is nil, it seems to me that we have a problem! At least MoPe admits it.

dirk_doone added 12:49 - Sep 24
It was a very good performance from our defence and midfield. But when you say we "matched United in ALL departments" I can't agree as I really don't think Long matched Lukaku as a striker. A battling performance from the rest of the team masked the fact that we have a powder puff attack which never really looked like scoring.

So, like you, I applaud the effort of the team, and like many others I stayed behind after the final whistle to do just that but we still need a goal scorer and that doesn't appear to be either Long or Redmond.

Long is understandably popular with the fans. He's a cheeky chappy, he's brave, he runs around a lot and gives 100% effort. What's not to like? But Gabbiadini or Austin should be given the chance to start at Stoke as they are the only 2 players we've got left who've shown in the past that they can score goals fairly regularly. And the rest of the team must be told to pass to them at every opportunity. If that doesn't work, then we'll need to buy a goal scorer in January as our transfer policy of selling our 2 top goal scorers and replacing them with Redmond and Gabbiadini will clearly have failed.

At least we have finally replaced Wanyama and Schneiderlin with Lemina and Romeu, which is the main reason we more than matched United in midfield yesterday. Clasie was as much a failed experiment as our replacement for Wanyama as Redmond appears to be as our replacement for Mane.

But, I'm still hoping that Gabbiadini can once again show the goal scoring form we saw in the EFL Cup Final if the rest of the team pass to him.


SanMarco added 13:06 - Sep 24
Nick's admirable positivity is taken from a second half showing of great spirit but the goalscoring problem is not going to go away. The reason for this is not the loss of form of one or more players nor tactical errors from the manager - it is, rather, due to the fact that our attacking options are 'not fit for purpose' to use the modern phrase. It is incredible that in a side with our issues the manager didn't feel able to play either of the only two 'goal scorers' at his disposal. Instead, the three attacking players who started yesterday have how many goals amongst them since the start of last season? Long is a useful player who will knock a few in as the sidekick of a Lukaku or a Mane but he is not a born goal-scorer. Tadic gets a few but largely does his own thing and Redmond is a non-scoring winger. How has it come to this? We have a pretty formidable team up to these top three positions but we can't even play our centre-forward because there is no one to get the ball to him. It is not loss of form or lack of quality it is buying the wrong type of player (if our recruitment for the attacking line had been as good as for the rest we would be buzzing now and its not money it is player selection. Redmond and Boufal cost 30m between them, surely we could have got a pretty good attacking MF for that?) poor old MP's job rests on solving the problem...

saintpp added 13:25 - Sep 24
Having seen one of the best 2nd half displays from saints for quite while and against true title contender i went to bed as happy as you could be with a one nil loss.
Then today i made the mistake visiting sites to read fans comments on the game.
You would think we didnt have even a chance of scoring yet several times it was just matter of few feet that made the difference,fine margins indeed.
Once again redmond is the whipping boy despite various match reports and pundits praising him the blinkered ones just see what they want to see.
Tadic also had one of his best games for a while but mostly escaped criticism this week tho no doubt he will be next weeks scapegoat if we dont win 3 nil and he makes all the goals.
The Utd fan i watched it with was sure saints were gonna score.
Its was a great team performance Lemina outstanding again Romue also tho if was forced to criticise one player it would be him as he missed the target with 3 good chances.If anyone was to blame for us not scoring it was him,not redmond or tadic or even shane long or Mps tactics.
On Mp well i think he should have started with Gabbi or brought him on earleir but we will never know if that would have made a positive difference.
Well done saints great to hear they got a standing ovation at the end shame the post match optimism is diluted by reading some of the stuff fans post on the internet.

Consigliere added 13:38 - Sep 24
As I've posted before, I don't mind (too much) losing to a top team so long as a battling performance is put in by Saints, and on that front I was well satisfied yesterday. Playing in that form, especially as we did in the second half, we should finish strongly in the league this year, but......

Yes, that sentence inevitably leads to the word "but".

The qualification to what I have said above is that Saints have a nasty habit of playing to the level of the team in front of them. If a similar performance to yesterday's second half is put in against lesser teams than Man United then we will do well, but what we cannot afford is lacklustre efforts against those teams. There are two mistakes in football as in life, the first being to give too much respect to the opponent and the second being to give too little. In the first half yesterday we were guilty of the first error but against Watford, the second. Get this right and we will do well this season for the current team is certainly capable of it.

brownk added 14:03 - Sep 24
Blimey no pleasing some people!!!

halftimeorange added 14:08 - Sep 24
To use Redmond's name in the same sentence as the words "game changer" is laughable unless, perhaps, the reference is to draughts or ludo.

SaintPaulVW added 14:54 - Sep 24
Not too sure why Yoshida is getting any blame. Hoedt made a slight error in positioning and that was all Lukaku needed.

Great entertaining performance in the second half but no goal. This is becoming a real problem.

As was the case last season central defence is not the supposed problem holding us back. It's scoring at the other end.

Seems that with Mo Pe's set up we are crying out for an orthodox centre forward to receive the ball and hold it up. Despite the excellent recruitment of Lemina and Hoedt, as I said at the time, it's a shame this key part of our attack wasn't addressed during the summer.

Hopefully one of our strikers will hit a run of form and our troubles will be over. Fingers crossed.

aceofthebase added 16:19 - Sep 24
Play VVD as centre forward. If he succeeds then Saints have the answer and VVDs price doubles. When he went forward last year he always looked likely to score

SonicBoom added 18:48 - Sep 24
If we don't solve this home goal drought we will be in big trouble. Good performances can distract from the stark fact 12 home games and 9 blanks.
Huge pressure on defence not to concede.

TeamCortese added 22:11 - Sep 24
For me, that was by far our best performance this season. However, as many have pointed out, we desperately need to address our woes up top.

I have said this on previous threads and I will say it again, we need to buy Benteke. He is perfect for us when you consider how we play.

He is the perfect replacement for Pelle and Lambert. In fact, when we had them both he was more or less outscoring them every season. Why we haven't done this transfer is beyond me?

I have no doubt we would have got something out of that match if he was playing us.

We are a bigger and better club than Palace and they are doomed for relegation anyway. I would also get Zaha in to replace Redmond. Whilst he flopped United he has matured a lot since then and is more than an upgrade on Redmond or any other wingers we have.

Surely we can afford both their wages? Especially if Palace can! We should also get Wilshere as Davis's long-term replacement.

I think in the interim we should play Boufal on the wing ahead of Redmond and Long to lead the line. If nothing changes then play Long with Gabbiadini.

ChannonFodder added 07:47 - Sep 25
"Why we haven't [bought Benteke] is beyond me?" Because he cost Palace £27m (possibly rising to £32m)? And even given that outlay he has fewer goals this season than Steven Davis...

skiptonsaint added 08:20 - Sep 25
Lots of positives mentioned above and one of our best performances against a top 6 side this season. If we can play like that again against the bigger sides, we could win a couple .

But worth noting UTD travel to Moscow This week and a part of me thinks their game management in the second half had one eye on that hence why they sat back and preserved some energy and really we were trying to break down a very defensive side for the second half again like we do with lesser teams do when they come to St Mary's now.

Shout out to Yoshida btw. He was calm and controlled against a strong strike force and the 2 new signings value has prob gone up by 20m combined since the start of the season which takes the pressure off on the Boufal overspend

Would love to know who Saints do have in mind to buy next to score some goals. See Vietto is having a poor season so far. Strikers are going to be Rare and expensive in Jan for sure.

LordDZLucan added 09:11 - Sep 25
I'd just like to correct one piece of your article, Nick. You state that 'Hoedt and Yoshida were only found wanting once'. No, Hoedt was only found wanting once; Yoshi was imperious. If Yoshi had made that mistake you would have been saying that Yoshi lost us the game! But on to the rest of the game. I thought it was a terrific performance especially in the second half. With a little bit of luck we could have got something out of that game. And United weren't saving themselves for Moscow. Some of their players were out on their feet at the end!

bstokesaint added 12:52 - Sep 25
I think @A1079 sums it up best. That said I don't think it's a "sweeping statement" at all that this squad is better than last season. It's got to be a fact, that if you lose no-one and bring in two quality players like Hoedt and Lemina then it can only be improved. I think the more obvious question is was the squad improved in the right areas? It's great what the new guys have done for us defensively and in the middle of the pitch, but upfront I still don't see we have the right players to get us lots of goals. I looked at the stats afterwards and saw that we had 28 crosses. I know Shane Long can jump like a salmon, but he's not the kind of player that scores bags of headers. I am actually feeling quite proud of our efforts against the early day leaders and in theory it says we'll do alright, but the continued blanks need to be resolved ASAP.

BoondockSaint added 14:37 - Sep 25
Agree with all: great effort, but we need goals-hopefully the new owner saw that and is phoning his bank this morning!

TeamCortese added 23:53 - Sep 25
ChannonFodder: I think it's pretty myopic to point out Benteke's current form when you consider he's scored 76 goals in 189 appearances while playing in the EPL. Let's not forget strikers do have goal droughts. That Palace team all across is confidence draining and it's difficult to score goals given his lack of support up top.

You're also quick to forget that despite playing with the same relegation quality team he still managed to score 17 goals last season. When you compare his goal record to Long's 51 goals in 225 appearances it's clear to see he's in a different class to the rest of our forwards.

Moving on to the £32m, everyone knows the transfer market's gone mad due to Sky and BT. Even then surely we can afford a £30-40 million striker given that Mr. Gao has come in with new investment? If not then there's something seriously wrong the with the management of the clubs' finances--when you consider how many players we've sold the past few years.

How can you say Benteke wouldn't improve our forward line? That really is beyond me :S

ChannonFodder added 07:54 - Sep 26
Ok, so I was being flippant with the Davis comparison... I didn't say Benteke wouldn't improve our forward line, but I do think he's overrated, can be lazy and give up too easily. Of course "it's difficult to score goals given [a] lack of support up top", so given our current creative travails how do you think he'd fare? About as well as our other service-starved forwards?

My point was more to do with the £32m price tag (which was nothing to do with a crazy transfer market but Liverpool's refusal to take a loss on a player they'd overpaid for in the first place); while I agree that Saints' reluctance to loosen the purse strings is frustrating, there's no way under the Liebherr model they would have paid that. Neither, it seems, would 18 other PL teams; many can't afford it, of course, but those that can obviously didn't think he was worth it, especially as he'd already flopped at one of them.

Will things be different under Gao? Maybe, but by the time he came on board Benteke was already at Palace so it's a moot point. I guess we'll find out next summer if not in January.

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