Saints V Leicester City The Verdict
Monday, 27th Aug 2018 09:30
It was a case of deja vu for Saints supporters as they saw a lot of good work undone by poor defending and a late goal.
There was a lot of mixed reactions after the defeat against Leicester City verging from blind ranting to measured considered comments, but whatever your own thoughts the general agreement was that we had seen this all before, a game thrown away be a few moments of madness and a late goal.
It all started so well though, Saints were lively in the first half with Shane Long linking up well and Schmeichel having to make a couple of smart saves to ensure that the game was level at half time. Players like Long and Nathan Redmond often the brunt of fans ire looked good and with most Leicester attacks dealt with efficiently the hope was that Saints were looking good.
Shortly after the break Saints were ahead a well worked move seeing a fortuitous slip opening up space for Ryan Bertrand to slam home a powerful shot to give us the lead.
At this point we should have held strong and built on this, but within 4 minutes Leicester were level and it was a soft goal straight out of the annals of last season, Cedric looked set to deal with a fairly standard cross but seemed to get caught in two minds whether to head it out or head it beyond a Leicester player and run on to it, in the end he did neither and sort of headed it straight up in the air.
It could have been one of several players who picked up the loose ball, but it was Gray who fired home under McCarthy and it has to be said that he should have done better.
But Saints picked themselves up and dusted themselves down and although Leicester's tails were up, it was still a winnable game for the home side, then came the game changing moment.
Hojbjerg had been booked in the first half by Referee Jon Moss for a fairly innocuous challenge and he would pay the price with 13 minutes remaining, in fairness Saints should have had two free kicks in the build up to the goal with Moss ignoring protests, but then Hojbjerg found himself taking on the last man.
At the time from afar it was hard to tell but TV replays confirmed that this was an awful dive, no excuses for it, but how many times have we seen no yellow cards for this type of defence, indeed if refs applied the letter of the law as Mr Moss did, then games would finish 8 a side.
But in truth the red card seemed to rally Saints and they dug in and looked to have earned a point up until the 2nd minute of injury time and once again it was all about failing to defend properly, the goal was another soft one from a similar position as the first and it really should have been blocked by a defender.
Bt it wasn't and once again it was a cruel blow for Saints.
But it's still only the third game of the season and overall the result aside we are playing a lot better than we were this time last year, we are attacking and creating chances and look a little bit more like the side we were a few years ago.
Yes there is a long way to go before we reach those levels, but we just need to cut out the mistakes and although perhaps we won't be challenging for Europe we will be comfortable.
The trick as always is to keep calm and let the manager sort things out, there was not a lot wrong with his team selection on Saturday and they seemed to have a motivation lacking in the first half in both of the opening games, but you cannot legislate for personal error and that needs to be sorted.
Hojbjergs dive was awful, but listening to some you would think he was the only person in the history of the club to have ever tried to win a penalty by falling over, Mick Channon is one of the greatest players to have played for the club but he had a certain reputation long before the arrival of the Klinsmann era 25 years ago when suddenly what was seen as an art performed only by Johnny Foreigner became prevalent in England.
So we have to dust ourselves off and go again, this was an entertaining game, it just didn't go our way, hopefully a few more will start to as the season goes on.
Photo: Action Images
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|Hugh_Jarce added 10:00 - Aug 27|
Tend to agree but why do we persist with Hoedt when Yoshi and Bednarek are available? And Cedric seems way off his game - Reed or Targett to come in
|peastaines added 10:09 - Aug 27|
Yep,right on pal. In with Yoshi and or Bednarek and out with Hoedt and we may be a bit more tidy at the back. Cedric needs dropping for a game or two as well. Not sure where we could fit Targett in, but would be happy to try Reed in place of the now suspended PEH.
|BathSaint added 10:25 - Aug 27|
Yes indeed, deja vu from so many times last year. A clumsy hoedt challenge leading to an opposition chance, and a cross to a striker being marked by cedric, who yet again was beaten in the air and failed to close his man down on the ground after. I accept we have no real alternative to cedric but hoedt has been a liability for too long to keep his place ahead of yoshida, who still makes mistakes, just not as many as hoedt.
|skiptonsaint added 10:29 - Aug 27|
I am not sure I agree that we are playing much better than this stage last season when we had 5 points but that said I do see some signs for being optimistic
However Leicester were there for the taking and I do sense teams now come to st Mary’s expecting to pick up points and unless we start dispatching a few I fear another long season especially at home
Is there something going on behind the scenes I wonder ? Singing Ings on the last day gave no time for Austin or Gabbi to go for moves. Austin looks pissed off to me and it is very odd that Gabbi wasn’t on the bench. If he doesn’t start against Brighton then my gut says something is wrong. Especially as he looked so sharp in pre season.
We need to find a best first 11 and system quickly now. That’s 10 games including pre season tinkering so we need to be getting close.
|dirk_doone added 10:37 - Aug 27|
"But it's still only the third game of the season and overall the result aside we are playing a lot better than we were this time last year."
The problem is we aren't. We got 5 points from our first three games last year, and at the time you wrote how promising it all looked.
Your match report of our 3-2 victory v West Ham at the end of August last year finished with the words: "Sign Wesley Hoedt this week and there is a lot to look forward to this season."
Along with Burnley, Cardiff and Huddersfield, we are now one of the bookies 4 favourites for relegation. This time last year, they were expecting us to finish top 8.
The owners and directors you never criticise are overseeing a rapid decline of our club and you don't seem to care.
|dirk_doone added 10:46 - Aug 27|
Edit: Perhaps it was unfair of me you say you don't seem to care about our club's decline. It would be more accurate to say you don't seem to have noticed it.
|helpineedsomebody added 11:21 - Aug 27|
the echo/& yourself nick im afraid are looking through rose tinted glasses . most sfc fans have no confidence in the way the team are playing or how tacticaly the team are performing .
1st game 8 at the back then changed the system
2nd game 3 very important players missing but changed the system again but under pressure played 2 upfront.
3rd game cracked the whip players ran around like headless chickens 2nd half no energy left+we had 4 midfielders 1 forward 1 defender on the bench so it seems get one goal & sit on it the second half sound familar. mp would have subbed the prat that got himself sent off, plus thats 3 different playing systems in 3 games. still we all wait with baited breath with what team shows up on tuesday .
hope fully going with how many points we have after 3 games by xmas we should have amassed 6 points with mr average manager in charge but lose on tuesday& saturday nelly will have her hand on the trigger.
|saintmark1976 added 11:32 - Aug 27|
"Although perhaps we won't be challenging for Europe we will be comfortable" and " the trick is as always to keep calm". Really Nick? I would suggest that it's exactly this type of attitude throughout the whole club which has led to us winning only seven Premiership games out of the last forty three opportunities and as dirk points out,being one of four relegation favourites.
In my opinion it's now time for the owners (if indeed they care anymore) to lay the law down starting with the Chairman,Dirctor of football, Manager and coaching staff and finally the players.Put simply they all need to be told to up their game and get some results or be told in no uncertain terms that they have no future at the club.The alternative is to continue the downward spiral we are in at the present which has been and continues to be,fostered by an attitude of "it will be alright on the night".
I heard a comment over the weekend which was " Southampton, well they have just become Huddersfield by the sea".Despite our own Chairman telling us that we are only a small club the fans deserve better than that sort of Huddersfield remark. A drastic change of attitude is needed and now is it's time.
|DorsetIan added 11:34 - Aug 27|
Just a quick point of detail about their equaliser. Cedric wasn't in two minds about what to do, and neither was he beaten in the air to the ball (the striker was nowhere near him). What happened was that Elyounnousi, running back, got tangled with Cedric at precisely the moment Cedric was going to head the ball. It wasn't much, but it was enough to mess up the header.
For me, Elyounnousi was the big disappointment on the day. I was really looking forward to seeing him as an attacking threat but he did very very little. I would have swapped him for Armstrong much earlier in the second half. I'm hoping that, coming back from injury he was not quite up to speed yet because if he doesn't add an attacking threat to our midfield, and having lost Tadic, its difficult to see how we will be better than last year.
Re Hoedt. He is pretty solid when he has got time on the ball but he panics and dives in recklessly whenever he's under really pressure. His mad lunge led to the ball going forward and out to the wing for their equaliser. It's becoming a bit of a theme for him.
For me, Redmond was Saints' best player. That's something to be positive about at least.
|Number_58 added 11:52 - Aug 27|
Enjoyed the game but we still seem to lack any real creative spark. The defensive issues are well documented, but how many clear cut opportunities did we actually create? Ings looks lively but I'm not sure who's capable of getting the ball to him in dangerous areas. And we still desperately lack a dead ball specialist. We rarely looked like scoring from our numerous corners, and of the few left in the stadium at the very end, did anyone really believe that Redmond was capable of scoring with that free kick? Oh, and Mark Hughes' continual whinging about the referees is really starting to get on my nerves.
|halftimeorange added 11:56 - Aug 27|
It was obvious that we had nobody able to play that killer pass – even Hojbjerg’s to Bertrand for his goal was not obviously intentional, whereas Maddison for Leicester opened Saints up time and time again. This begs the question – where does Stuart Armstrong fit in? In the Celta Vigo friendly he was deployed centrally and, for some periods, he controlled the game in the manner that Maddison did but, when we’ve seen him in cameo roles since he’s been deployed largely on the left, despite being described in the media “as a major creative force in midfield during his three-and-a-half years with Celtic”. It doesn’t make sense.
Many blame Cedric’s lack of height (1.72m) as a contributing factor to our defensive woes. I’d like to point out that Danny Ings is barely much bigger (1.78m). I think the main reason for the lack of goals is not having a target man and 5ft 10ins is short in that position by any modern footballing standard.
In the first half yesterday Saints played some attractive football without any end result. That in itself is an improvement on last season. Talk of getting shot of Hughes is way premature and, although we’re all disappointed we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the EPL season is very much a marathon, not a sprint. It’s certainly a poor start but, a lost cause? Ask me in December. And Cedric – well, since Jose Bosingwa finished playing he’s been Portugal’s number one choice ahead of some decent alternatives. Our main problems lie elsewhere. Hughes needs to instill some determination and grit into the team.
|djtsaints123 added 13:48 - Aug 27|
Does our manager ever look at opposition, we were playing againts two giant centre backs and yet insist on crossing to our 5ft 10 strikers play Elyounnousi wide when as Redman proved with our goal neither CBs liked being run at. Last week ignore pace of wilcott and paid. Should have played Long wide as cant hit barn door but would work hard and let Ely run at defence as no. 10 role.How bad do you have to play before manager changes it cedric was in trouble all second half before goal cockup always bombing forward to no effect( poor crossing ) and was constantly exposed in defence.We are in relegation battle and am not confident we are better than other three candidates.
|BoondockSaint added 13:52 - Aug 27|
if it wasn't for the camera cutting to shots of Hughes on the sideline, I would have swore this was a re-broadcast of one of last years games!
When the Saints get hold of the ball, you never really think they are going to score.
Sad thing is, when you then watch other "small clubs" playing the big ones, they are actually putting in an effort. Playing with a bit of aggression.
Yes, it's only the first 3 games, but we said the same thing last year. Take a look at the Saints fixtures. The way the Saints are playing now, how many games can you really look at and say "They should win that one."?
|mattthelegend added 15:56 - Aug 27|
Skiptonsaint , according to Adam Blackmore both Gabbi and Yoshi didn’t pass late fitness tests.
|LordDZLucan added 16:48 - Aug 27|
Cedric's lack of aerial ability has led to far too many goals. He should only be picked as a wing back when we play 3 centre backs. He can't play if we are playing a back four. And Hoedt was an accident waiting to happen all game. He's now had long enough to cut out the lapses so I'm coming to the conclusion that he's just not good enough. However, my biggest criticism is reserved for the board. Why oh why didn't we sell van Dijk a year ago and sign Maguire as his replacement? Maguire even at that time was good enough and he was available. We could have easily outbid Leicester and still had plenty of money left over.
|saintmark1976 added 17:53 - Aug 27|
Good point in regard to Maguire LordDZLucan. However, in you heart of hearts I suspect you already know the answer which is of course that we don't have that sort of ambition anymore. As I posted earlier in my opinion we've become a "make do and mend","it'll be alright on the night" type of club. All a bit Roy of the Roversish really.
|BoondockSaint added 18:20 - Aug 27|
But Maguire's "head would have been turned" at the World Cup and Les would have sold him to the Scouse.
|SanMarco added 08:43 - Aug 28|
DorsetIan: "For me, Redmond was Saints' best player. That's something to be positive about at least". Well that really is a 'depends how you look at it' one isn't it? Positive if little Nathan is suddenly a world-beater but...
I have pledged not to panic until ten games but I am concerned that the same old mistakes are producing the same old results. The Echo and other media are now saying we 'tweaked' or 'fine-tuned' rather than 'strengthened' over the summer. We very, very nearly went down last season so if we haven't strengthened we are in trouble. Obviously, the one bright thing being said my many is that we are better to watch. That will only be sustained, of course, if we start picking up some good results - confidence will plummet otherwise.
It is still very early and we could easily have had 4 or even 6 points now. So here's to a bit of luck at Palace...
|skiptotheloo added 09:24 - Aug 28|
I have deliberately waited until after the bank holiday before venting, in the hope it will make me comment more rationally. Not sure it has helped.
Hoedt - Constantly out of position and pressing too high when we are out of possession. This results him making last ditch lunge tackles to try and save the day. Sometimes this comes off, more often it doesn't and leaves us exposed. This was the case on Saturday and cost us. Either Yoshi or Bednarek are better choices and if playing three in the centre I would put the both in along with Vestergaard.
Vestergaard - Did make a mistake, but one can be forgiven, given the fact that he at least seems semi interested in playing with some grit. I think he will become a strong player and fan favourite.
Cedric - I have never been a fan of Cedric, even when we he was supposedly at the top of his game I wondered what all the fuss was about. Above all, his final product is awful! The guy cannot cross accurately with any sort consistency. Defensively he is OK, until he has to challenge aerially. Personally I would like to see us playing Targett at RB, he is a better player, a great crosser of the ball with both feet and more than capable of playing RB. I would actually say that Stephens is a better option at RB, although he has been disappointing in the centre, whenever he has been shifted to the right he has looked more effective.
McCarthy - His decision making worries me, some of his choices are very dubious and he has been lucky so far this season that one of his mistakes hasn't been punished. We spent £15mil on Gunn, an amount of cash that could have been well used on someone else (Marlon/Gibson), so lets get him involved.
Hojberg - Silly mistake, but I won't condemn him for it, say what you want but he is one of a few players that seems up for a scrap.
Elsewhere - Are we better putting Gabbi up front and playing Ings off him? I think so. Ely didn't look that fit, the jury is out. Redmond was strong, he just needs to find some consistency and not worry about goal tallies. Armstrong should be on from the start, he has the ability (along with Lemina, who was very good) to boss games, we need that.
All in all there are positive points, but as many of you have mentioned there are far too many recognisable problems for blind optimism. Hughes has to find his starting 11 soon, a win or two will help settle the players prior to what looks like a bit of a battle. We do not have one of the worst 5 squads in the division, but if we don't find a way to bond as a team then we could well end up in that group (again) come the season's end
|benalisbroom added 14:43 - Aug 28|
Just a thought - and I acknowledge that he didn't have a great game when used in this position a year or so ago - but is there any sense in giving Stephens a run at RB? I'm thinking that Cedric's game is so focused on getting forward that we end up with a bit too much duplication on the wing, combined with lack of height and general solidity in defence. Stephens stared his career at RB knows the position and having a naturally deeper fullback might better exploit Ely's pace further up on the right? As I say, just a thought but would be interested in seeing if anybody out there is thinking the same?
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