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Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Tuesday, 2nd Oct 2018 08:59

Whilst no one can disagree with the words of Saints defender Jannik Vestergaard after the defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Saints fans would rather see action than fine words !

Jannik Vestergaard hit the nail on the head after the defeat at Molineux.

“I think we were on top in the second half, dominating possession in their half, but in the key moments we are not defending well enough – as a team or as individuals, that hurt us a lot today."

“I think it was an even game so the first goal was always going to have a very good chance of winning it, especially closing in on the 90 minutes.

“The first goal would’ve been very important for us as well, but we weren’t as effective at both ends.

“We need to get better at winning games. We can’t just pat ourselves on the back and say we’re going in the right direction.

“We can take positives out of this game and say we were dominant in the second half, but it’s not going to give you points if you don’t win.

“We have to be better with the chances we create, but obviously it’s easier to win with a clean sheet and we haven’t been doing that in the last few weeks.”

There isn't a Saints fan present in the West Midlands on Saturday who will disagree with that, but most would say at present Vestergaard is part of the problem not the solution.

It had been hoped that the big Danish central defender would be the missing link and provide the steel in the centre of the defence that would help Saints shore things up at the back and give them something to build on, but although initially Vestergaard looked good, going forward he seems to have struggled to come to terms with the pace of the Premier League.

Wesley Hoedt has come in for some criticism from Saints fans, but the truth of the matter is that Hoedt is not the issue in the defence, an unlucky own goal at Anfield aside he has been generally strong and not at fault for any of the goal conceded.

But that cannot be said for Vestergaard, he has seemed a yard off the pace, that showed in the home game against Leicester when he should really have blocked their last minute winner, against Brighton he was not dominant in the air and although you could also criticise goalkeeper Alex McCarthy for not coming off his line for both the first goal and the build up to the corner that lead to the penalty, fingers were also pointed at Vestergaard for failing to dominate the box and mark up his man.

Likewise at Anfield, he should really have blocked the cross for the first goal and he was outjumped for the second.

At the moment he is quite simply not good enough although there is enough evidence to show that he could be, he doesn't seem to lack ability but at the moment he is just floundering.

I have said that we should judge the Hoedt and Vestergaard partnership when around a dozen games are gone and tat is still wise words, not every player is an instant success and Saints history is littered with examples of those who have gone on to be club legends but initially were not great in their first months at the club.

Therefore to write Vestergaard off would be folly, but he will know that the words have to stop and the actions need to do the talking so far he has only played six times in the Premier League, but time is running out and he needs to get up to speed fast.

At 26 and with many games in both the Bundesliga and the International stage to his name, he should now be approaching the peak of his career and he needs to step up to the plate at St Mary's.

The partnership between Vestergaard and Hoedt is in it's early days, those calling for the return of Yoshida and Jack Stephens should remember that a year ago we were just as bad if not worse, we have to look forwards not backwards, Vestrgaard and Hoedt might not be the answer, but we do not know that for sure yet, we have to find out, yes time is running out for them but it's not critical yet.

Tonight at Everton I would expect Yoshida and Bednarek to play, I would hope that they would play out of their skins to put pressure on the pairing that is first choice at the moment, there is something there to play for, even if it is only Mark Hughes reverting to a back three and an extra place becoming available.

So Jannik Vestergaard is right in all that he says, we all know that, but he is the one in the position to do something about it !

Photo: Action Images

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dwayne_dibley added 09:19 - Oct 2
when you are crap you are crap QED

underweststand added 09:34 - Oct 2
I'd go along with most that Nick, and if the message hasn't sunk in with MH by now, then the last 2 games must have brought that point home to him.
The omissions of Yoshida and Bednarek (who both had fairly good World Cup tournaments) also beggars the question as to why Steven Davis is deliberately omitted is hard to answer.

YES - he's soon coming to the end of his contract, but someone of his experience should be priceless at a time when the team is struggling to come to terms with even mid-table Prem sides. There has seldom been a game when he didn't have a positive influence, and even if he plays flat out for 60 minutes, he 'd be worth the playing time.

As I have (repeatedly noted) we have the second-youngest squad in the Prem. and clearly some of the "newcomers" haven't found their feet at this level yet. Although it was good to hear a player making such statements , Jannick is one player who needs to "lead by example" in this matter. He should clearly have a vast physical superiority over many opponents, but unless he can bring this to good advantage then I'm afraid it just sounds like empty words.


DPeps added 09:49 - Oct 2
It's tough for Vestergaard. He's had to hit the ground running, coming into a defence that has not performed well for a long time. I don't think Hoedt is terrible, but he's error prone and is very left-side dominant. Both full backs are decent enough going forward, but frequently need bailing out defensively.

In order to counteract these problems Vestergaard would need to be world class, and he isn't. Yes, he's played a lot in the Bundesliga, but that league isn't what it was 5 years ago.

To be fair to the defence, it doesn't help that our preseason was based around 5 at the back - a set up that we've largely abandoned

perazi added 10:21 - Oct 2
Hoedt is a particularly poor player. The fact you continue to talk up players like Hoedt, Long, JWP, Austin etc is starting to make your articles look ridiculous. The Club has a bloated, average squad of players with successive windows of sold players replaced by mediocre players - and it has caught up with us.

SanMarco added 10:23 - Oct 2
New signings do have to be given time - after all Mane, Wanyama and Pelle were not instant successes. It is clear that MH is staking his and the club's future on this centre-back pairing. I can see the logic in that but unless it really does work we will need to buy a very good centre back early in January. Yes Yoshi and the other reserves become attractive as the incumbents seem to get worse but Yoshi is no better than he ever was.

My equally big concern is that MH seems to have decided that Redmond and Long are the way forward. Nothing personal against these two, they try hard but , for me, they are not good enough and their goal scoring record over the last 18 months is testimony to that. The other day when I was whining on about our lack of goals I totally forgot Gabbi - what is his role at the club? Is he really worse than Long? If he is, given Austin's decline I would say we are VERY, VERY dependent on Ings.

straight_pass added 10:31 - Oct 2
Good post Dpeps - joining our defence squad is certainly tough, but he was selected and bought as a suitable leader! And now he appears to be the weakest link, recent, basic errors have taken the spotlight off Hoedt, but that’s only because he’s slightly better! When negotiations were made public his description was an imposing centre-back who has shown to be an aerial threat in attack, Jannik has developed into a reliable defender.
I guess that we all thought he would provide a reduced version of VVD at the heart of our weak defence, but his development into a reliable defender is clearly ongoing. He was not played by Denmark in the WC and it would be interesting to know the exact reason why. But there is some relevance to your defensive shape comment as Denmark usually play 4 at the back.
I also agree that the Bundesliga has become softer with only a few teams creating a real battle, unlike our PL where every match is full-on!

helpineedsomebody added 11:05 - Oct 2
by playing a back 4 plus 2 in front of them + the goalie thats 7 defensive players not crossing the half way line then 2 allways wide 2forwards V 5 oppositions back 5 thats why we never score goals . you look at bournemouth last nightevery time they attacked they had 3/4 players in the penalty box got the goal which meant palace had to go forward to score which meant there were alot more gaps at the back that bournemouth could expliot, even there centre half was in the box at times.


SaintBrock added 12:42 - Oct 2
Yes Nick, I agree with your comments about Vestergaard, he was hopeless on Saturday but so was Hoedt. Arguably Hoedt was slightly the better of the two but truth be told they were both appalling. Neither seems to have a grasp of even the fundamentals.

As we have been reminded many, many times success in the modern game is more often linked to partnerships rather than individual skills - the days of the Wizard of the Dribble are long past - and that is why it is important to test Yoshida with either of these two guys to see which duo works best, after all the CB partnership is the most important of all.

"In match conditions" that means Hughes not just on the bloody training field where most of the staff seem to be only half awake (unshaven weekday louts!) and probably have no idea what's going on.


codge added 13:01 - Oct 2
You can't turn a Cart Horse into a Racehorse period.

bstokesaint added 13:16 - Oct 2
I wish I was paid £100k a week to make excuses for how carp I’d been. Let’s be honest when we said we wanted “to bang on the glass ceiling that is the proverbial top 6” we weren’t talking about the likes of Burnley, Wolves or Brighton!

I still think the club is rotten from the top down. I’ve done the whole giving the board a chance thing, but repeating mistakes time after time is not excusable. Big money means big accountability.
I look at our central back two and I think Championship. I look at the first XI and who I would be gutted to lose? Honestly the answer would probably be no-one. I think McCarthy is decent enough, and I don’t see a pressing need to replace him, especially when the defence in front of him are so ropey. Our success in recent seasons has been based on a solid spine. At the moment that would mean replacing the two centre backs, the two centre midfielders and finding a decent no.9 and no.10. I look at the rest of the defence and Bertrand is clearly talented, but looks distinterested. Cedric is lightweight and more recently a bit of a liability. And then out wide I think it’s a bit early to write off the likes of Elyuonoussi and fair play to Redmond, he has improved, but is it enough? You just can’t help but think about the likes of Lambert, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Toby, Pelle, VVD and Mane and the leadership qualities and the goals that lot had between them. We can’t keep building this team up to be something that just need managing correctly.

Jesus_02 added 15:19 - Oct 2
Hoedt is at least our 3rd best defender arguably 4th.

Yoshida is less error prone and quicker than Hoedt. Vestigard is more imposing and physical (but slow).


1: Shane Long, 35.31
2: Maya Yoshida, 34.78

Jack Stephens is the same age as Hoedt but seems more comfortable on the ball and far better carrying the ball out of defense. Bednarek is only 22 but was impressive at the end of last season.

It feels to me like Hoedt is being developed to be moved on and that maybe Yoshida already has 1 foot out the door (Move to China/Japan).

I cant for the life of me think of any other reason that Yoshida hasn't been partnering Vestigard.

We have lost our "way". We used to be football 1st . We are now player turnover 1st.

aceofthebase added 16:26 - Oct 2
I would expect Yoshi to get a runout tonight against Everton but he hasn't played all season and will surely be off the pace. Sam G the same, but you cannot expect miracles from either.
Bednarek needs game time and I hope that Cedric is rested (permanently)
If Jack Stephens is still around he need a game but Hoedt and Vestigard need to go to the naughty corner.

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