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Saints At Manchester City The Verdict
Thursday, 30th Nov 2017 09:39

There were some who were asking just what Mauricio Pellegrino was on when the team at the Etihad was announced, but the manager showed that he is learning and almost pulled off a shock result.

Something has changed in the Saints dressing room in the past week or so, after the debacle at Liverpool it looked like no way back for Mauricio Pellegrino and his team looked like they were leaderless and had stopped playing for him.

Two games latter and Saints look back to the side that they used to be and although it is still early days Pellegrino h's done enough to get the fans off his back and giving him a little more time.

Ok this was a defeat of the most crushing way in that it was over the allotted injury time and virtually the last kick off the game, but in the bigger picture, unlike Sunday up in Manchester it was about the manner of the defeat rather than the result, of course we would have all wanted us to hang on and get a point, but this was a signal that perhaps just perhaps the old Saints are back and maybe just maybe Mauricio Pellegrino might be the man to take us forward.

It was all change for Saints and as I said in my preview, so it should have been with both a rest for some and a tactical change for others in order, but it paid off.

We all knew it would be tough and the match stats proved that, but the brave move to play three at the back and use Soares and Bertrand as wing backs paid off, although it has to be said Fraser Forster was magnificent and pulled off half a dozen good saves that kept us in it.

But for all that we had our chances, ironically all three central defenders wasting good opportunities, Hoedt hitting the bar with a header when it looked easier to score, Yoshida blazing over from four yards and Van Dink putting a header over from close range.

But Pellegrino went for a win late on with his substitutions and almost pulled it off till that late Sterling winner that broke Southampton hearts.

This was a game when it was hard to pick out a man of the match, we chased shadows for much of the game, but we stuck manfully to our task and almost made it paid off, I will highlight the under fire players for their contribution though.

Forster for a great game and one if he keeps repeating will see the fans off his back, Yoshida for getting stuck in and giving 100% as usual, Nathan Redmond for his tireless work and not being afraid to do the right things despite his recent form and Shane Long for his high pressing game.

So no man of the match on the pitch, just a team of the match, however I will say that Mauricio Pellegrino should take the plaudits for being brave enough to make the changes he did and being brave enough to change the shape of the team, two games do not make a season, but if Pellegrino can turn things round like this in two games, then we should not fear for the rest of the season but look forward to it.

Sometimes you have to take steps back to move forward, hopefully now we can take a few forward, this was a defeat but a glorious one with the squad showing that they are ready to play for the manager, perhaps they weren't a few weeks ago but they are now, something has changed !

Photo: Action Images

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steve73 added 09:50 - Nov 30
Such a good performance and we really deserved a point. The manager did well although a few odd decisions late game may have cost us. That said, I'd rather lose while trying to win than be bored witless so no complaints from me. Just gutted by how it finished although the little swine did score a great goal.

Redmond a contender for MOTM?? Surely a jest, he was absolute shite once again. So much so I'm bored of talking about him but

smartjoe added 09:52 - Nov 30
Can anybody tell me why Austin was brought on as substitute after 83 minutes when
we were fighting to hang on to the point we deserved. As much as I like him he gives nothing in defense in time of need. Surely SD was the man who should have been brought on to support the defense. A crazy decision in my opinion but true to
Pellegrino's form in matters of substitutes.

steve73 added 09:56 - Nov 30
where was I....Oh yes....well his corners were good I'll give him that but if people didn't see the game and are reading this article as reference then it's inaccurate to say he did the right things. He didn't seem to know what he l was doing and I bet he had the fewest touches of any saints player.


MySaintedAunt added 10:00 - Nov 30
@steve73 - After Hoedt rattled the bar, who was first to get back and defend?

darthvader added 10:06 - Nov 30
Devastated to be done when the time was up . It's like I don't know the ref played on till they score kind of thing .
However we could have been two or three up before they scored so as usual chances not taken . My feeling at the time was if Austin was in there GE would have taken those chances.
Yet when he was brought on I thought "why now? " we needed Shane's pace to chase the ball when it was hoofed out .
I hope Redmond told pep to go FÚck yourself behind his "I'm a superstar cupped hand over mouth so nobody knows what I'm saying " thing at the end .

I'm not bitter honestly , well yes maybe a bit , we played much better which is great but come away with nothing yet again .

MySaintedAunt added 10:23 - Nov 30
@darthvader - Agreed it's harsh to lose the point so late, but the performance was a strong positive. And to only lose by a single goal is a bonus, goal difference can be worth a point come the end of the season, Liverpool and Arsenal both let in more.

SanMarco added 10:29 - Nov 30
It was one of those games where if we hung on we deserved the point but unfortunately we didn't. I think MP was right to be pragmatic and poor old Fraser came within 20 seconds of being man of the match.

I see that time-wasting is being debated in a lot of 'comments' sections. EVERY team has done it over the years but I do wonder whether it is worth it as a tactic. In games like this it gives the ref the excuse for letting things go on just that bit longer. It may be that we 'wasted' 3 mins and only 2 extra were added on for it so we 'gained' a minute. I don't know - I am probably just channeling my disappointment in a slightly different way than darthvader. 4 mins added time and we got a point is all I'm saying.

All in all though the last two games have been very encouraging - back to square one if we lose at Bournemouth though....

SonicBoom added 10:29 - Nov 30
Hmm well I did n't judge the manager as being poor after just two games, so I'm not going to say he has turned the corner after two either.
We played the worst team in the league and the best and got a win and a loss.
Encouraging signs but this weekend will tell us far more....

Fordy added 10:38 - Nov 30
We seem to be the only team that never uses its subs to waste time. If we bring on a sub at 83 minutes and 87 minutes, like we did it, gives the ref an excuse to add extra time on.

However, if we hold on an extra 3 minutes and wait until the board has been held up it makes it much more difficult. I know that if it was the other way round, Pep would wait until the 91st minute and Aguero was over the other side of the pitch until he subbed him off. Then Sergio would walk very, very slowly across the pitch, diverting to shake the ref's hand on the way. .....


skiptonsaint added 11:15 - Nov 30
Whatever was said in the clear the air meeting has clearly brought them together.

We now have a system and the players to go and play the top 6 away in a way they won't like. See Peps immature comments.

if we can keep playing with the spirit of the last 2 games clearly we will be ok this season

redandwhitedee added 11:54 - Nov 30
You highlighted "the players under fire"... You are the only one who has put Yoshida under fire.. everyone else completely sees his value.

By the way, we knew he would play 3x CB's, as i mentioned after the Everton game, after he put Yoshida on late in the Everton game. He likes to use his subs as a way of trialling formations for the next match.

SaintPaulVW added 12:13 - Nov 30
Great game and Saints performance. Disappointing result but really felt like a step forward. We need to turn it into points now to get our planned season back on track.

Agree, MP seems to have had either an internal or external kick up the arse to make some tactical changes. Wherever it's come from, thank you.

Nomaesaints added 12:16 - Nov 30
I didn't see all the game but what I did see was Forster not covering his near post when the ball came from the free. He should have been out commanding the ball not just looking at it. The second goal he was standing way off his line and reacted slowly to get to the ball.

On a positive note I was glad to see Boufal operating on the right hand side as any video I saw of him before he signed was on the right and he was carving defences open.
We need to get three points from Sundays game to show that theimprovement this week is not just a flash in the pan.

schatfield added 13:46 - Nov 30
Fantastic lead up and the goal itself by Saints

BoondockSaint added 13:56 - Nov 30
I feel better after this defeat than any of the others this year-because it looks like we want to play-that closed door meeting must have been something-the Saints team of a month ago would have lost this 6-0.

Unfortunately, no one should be surprised at "Fergie Time" give to help the "Big Six" any more. Another prime example was the Arsenal game last weekend...tons of extra time to give them a chance to score, and when they couldn't, awarded a soft penalty to seal it.

TeamCortese added 14:00 - Nov 30
Whilst it was a brave defensive display one could say the match wasn't too different to Man City vs. Huddersfield. I thought our tactics were incredibly negative and stifled our creativity as a team.

Yes Man City are playing very good football at the moment but that doesn't make them unbeatable. On paper we have better players than Hudderfield and whilst we were playing away I expected a lot more from us going forward. If only we had a Vardy or Mane that match. City were there for the taking.

What's even more frustrating is that everyone knew from the kick-off City would dominate posession. For crying out loud we play like that and opposition always figure out a way to catch us on the break. Also the lack of composure across the team was baffling. Even VVD was hoofing the ball away. That, for me, highlighted the lack of belief in our squad's ability to go toe-to-toe with City technically. It's a shame because some of our players are better than they think.

When you consider the technologies available preparing for matches surely Pellegrino should have realised that we needed a solid counter attack (one that doesn't include Redmond!). Why he left Boufal out of starting line-up squad is beyond me? He did more offensively and defensively in 10 minutes than Redmond did the entire match.

Anyway onto the next one. Hopefully we can express ourselves more against Bournemouth #COYR

Whiteknight added 15:39 - Nov 30
I've been impressed by the attitude over the last two games and I think that I am more confident now than I was a couple of weeks ago. I liked the idea of a back five with a solid three midfield for a game like this and I was glad to see it work well. I expect to go back to a more usual formation on Sunday but I am happy to see the beginning of some flexibility.

highfield49 added 18:25 - Nov 30
Redmond may not be every supporters favourite but he deserves massive credit for not physically reacting to the opposition manager being in his face at the end of the game. Personally I'd have punched the moron's lights out.

SaintBrock added 18:27 - Nov 30
In the sense that the means can often be justified by the ends, this mean performance by Saints did not achieve the ends that had been hoped for and therefore were not justified. I agree with Guardiola, we have a highly talented group of players so why didn't we have the confidence to express ourselves as he suggested?

Of course we might have lost had we been more daring but we lost anyway so what would have been the difference? I'm sad that we of all teams have resorted to anti-football and if this is the best Pellegrino can do for us when the going is tough than get rid if him and get somebody else in who has more confidence in out players, more guts and more fight.

I think the whole thing last night was a disgrace. It was a match that will have absolutely no bearing on our final league position so exactly what was the manager hoping to achieve?

SanMarco added 20:05 - Nov 30
"so exactly what was the manager hoping to achieve?" - he came within 20 seconds of a point away from home at (currently) one of the best teams in the world. Would you really be celebrating if we had 'gone for it' and lost 6-1??

StRipper added 21:54 - Nov 30
Spot on SanMarco. Get what you're saying SaintBrock, but to call our football last night anti-football shows you can't have watched the match. We were looking to press and play out or attack at every opportunity and only cleared them when no other productive option.
The fact was that Man City are very good and playing close to their peak, so that will inevitably involve a fair amount of defensive rear guard.
I think the team sat too deep and brought the pressure on to themselves towards the end, but that certainly wasn't the will of MoPe, who wanted the win, and rightly so.

TeamCortese added 08:24 - Dec 1
SanMarco it's easy for you to say that but until Boufal came on we didn't have a prayer of a chance of scoring from open play. Yes we had the set pieces but that didn't happen often enough. Just to be clear I don't mind us playing defensively but that doesn't mean we should stop playing football. Our players are professional footballers after all. Players like VVD, Romeu, Lemina, Boufal, and Hojberg are all technically gifted. Why were they so lacking in composure? This was the type of game where we needed to frustrate City defensively but also have spells of possession. Hoofing the ball back to City was only going to invite more pressure.

IMO Boufal was the only player in our team who seemed more relaxed on the ball. Everyone else was panicking because of the City hype. Furthermore, Pellegrino must have instructed our players to just hoof it away. I'm starting to think that Pellegrino is quickly becoming the Spanish version of Big Sam. He's destroyed Redmond's confidence going forward and hasn't added nothing significant to our squad. I might be wrong though. Perhaps Les Reed is influencing things behind the scenes. Since Pellegrino got a kick up the back-side things are beginning to change.

I'm just hoping he can keep us up and we actually get a decent manager in the mold Tuchel or Nagelsmann for next season. 24 points to safety!

underweststand added 13:45 - Dec 1
In one way... I felt more pride in that defeat , than I did the win over a poor Everton side.
I should have put money on the choice of our start eleven - exactly right for that game.
With everyone expecting us to get clobbered , we were equal to City for 95 minutes, and the final seconds, apart from the EXTRA-added time were a real injustice to Saints.
Expect to see a start side - similar to that v. Everton - for Sunday's game although Cedric maybe a doubt, and that will be a chance to see Pied at RB...before Puel buys him for his Leicester set-up.
If this is the beginning of a Saints revival?.. it comes at the right time when you consider the forthcoming games upto New Year.

SaintBrock added 13:25 - Dec 2
... within 20 secs maybe but he got nothing and so his whole plan was worthless, SanMarco. I very much doubt if we had attacked them we would have lost by 6!

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