Saints V Chelsea The Verdict Monday, 8th Oct 2018 12:30
This was a game that threw up a few questions for Saints fans that need a few answers and fast.
The latest defeat for Saints against a Big Six club highlighted the gap that now exists between that elite group and the rest of the Premier league and beyond, five of that group are barely dropping a point this season unless they play each other, whilst the sixth, Manchester United although in complete disarray are still in 8th place only 5 points behind Spurs in 5th.
This tells us how much football has moved on even in the two years since we ourselves finished in the top six and Leicester won the League, things might look the same on the surface but under that veneer it has changed greatly and continues to change as that big six develop bigger income streams.
Chelsea spent £71 million on Kepa and he showed why with two great saves that meant his side were not going to face any mishaps in the final minutes, they also spent £57 million roughly Saints spent in the transfer window on Jorginho and that highlights the gulf and the need to spend money wisely, more of that later.
So Mark Hughes had to try and combat a Chelsea side who had won every game this season bar two both draws, he made changes that the crowd have been demanding, the return of Yoshida, a change of formation, yet the result remains the same.
There were those Saints fans screaming for Saints to get forward and press them, but that perhaps would have been suicide, Chelsea are an outstanding passing side with quick feet and the ability to hit you hard and fast on the break, to even get a point of them you have to be prepared to work hard, get behind the ball and take your chances when they come.
This is the sort of tactic employed by Bournemouth in every game, short bursts of effective attacking.
In truth Hughes system worked, yes we didn't see much of the ball and spent a lot of time chasing it in our own half, but it was us who should have taken the lead when Danny Ings volleyed over from close range, he really should have buried that shot.
But despite getting nothing from the ref we battles gamely, this was a much better performance than the previous two in terms of effort, but ultimately we paid the price by once again a lapse in concentration when Hojbjerg lost the ball in a dangerous position and we paid the price on the half hour mark.
Hughes made a change at half time when he took off Bednarek and brought on Romeu and Saints seemed to perk up a bit, again Bertrand should really have equalised when unmarked at the far post and again we paid the price soon after when poor marking cost us another goal.
But we didn't give up and had two long range efforts that Kepa had to excel to keep out and we really didn't deserve to concede a third in the last minute of injury time.
There were things to take from this game and things that are still very poor and that includes our marking at the back, I hoped that the inclusion of Yoshida would add some drive into the back four and although there was increased effort especially in the way we threw ourselves into the tackle, the fact was that we were no better in marking up and organising ourselves than in any other game this season.
This brings us to the root cause of the problem we have, those who rant about Krueger & Reed are way off the mark, the club is well run, we spent big in the transfer window, but we dont appear to have spent well.
Chelsea signed two players in the summer, they are playing a big part in Chelsea's fine start to the season, yet of the £55 million or so we spent in the summer, not of those four players had a singe minute of game time on the pitch yesterday, Ok Angus Gunn is a keeper and one for the future, but of the other three only Vestergaard made the bench and that is a concern.
Perhaps it is time to focus on the root cause of what is wrong at the club, it is not rotten to the core, Gao has done nothing wrong, Krueger has overseen a transformation that has made us self sufficient just as Markus Liebherr always intended us to be.
Our problem is easy to isolate, it is recruitment and that means Ross Wilson as head of recruitment and Less Reed as head of football who seems to have taken his foot off the gas.
The problem has been this last year, two years ago our major signings have largely come good, Hojbjerg, Redmond & McCarthy, but since then it has been patchy, Lemina & Hoedt have done a job but not excelled or found consistency, but they have potential, but then comes Bouffal & Carrillo a combined fee of around £36 million and both out on loan.
Then there is Manolo Gabbiadini, £15 million, some vital goals yes, but not enough and if Shane Long s criticised for his scoring record then it should be noted that in the last 12 months he has exactly the same as Gabiadini and that is two.
Our signings this summer have been no better than what we have Armstrong and Elyounoussi looked good against lightweight opposition pre season but have struggled in the Premier league and Jannik Vestergaard seems all at sea, against Chelsea Mark Hughes seemed to prefer a crocked Hoedt to a fit Vestergaard for the final minutes.
We still have a good squad, the issue is still central defence as it has been for two years now, we know the answer is not Yoshida and Stephens, to be blunt they might be "one of our own " etc etc, but they are not good enough, problem is we can't seem to sign anyone who is much better.
So to scream about worst performances ever is just knee jerk reaction, Chelsea did to us what they have done to everyone else, if we had played against Wolves as we did against Chelsea we might well have got a point or more, we now need to go to Bournemouth and show our fight and determination, this season is not going to be determined by games against the Big Six it's the games against the rest that will count.
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Nick, I’m not sure if you can say that “the club is well run in one sense” and that “we’ve just bought badly” in another. Two my mind the two are linked. We’re not well run and that’s why we’ve bought badly. We set out yesterday to minimise defeat from the onset. My five year-old even asked why Chelsea had more players after they took control for a solid 20 minutes whilst we simply spectated. I had to tell him that it just feels like that every game! This isn’t is a Manchester United team of the noughties. West Ham got a result against Chelsea just a couple of games ago and they’re hardly world class! Our players were simply spectators. You say we’re “self-sufficient”, but look at what that has cost us. I remember a few years ago when Pelle scored the winner at Stamford Bridge and we had a proper go at Chelsea. The gulf has got bigger because we’ve helped it to. We’re almost a quarter of the way through the season and we have 5 points! The historic safety benchmark of 40 points is light years away. And already we’re trying to think of 3 teams that will score less than us. So that’s 3 teams to score less than 25 points. That’s simply not going to happen. The reason this club isn’t well run in my opinion is because it’s the third season in a row where we’re failed to deal with our shortcomings and instead have put our faith in a new manager pulling off a miracle. I agree totally on the recruitment failings, but they go well beyond what we see on the pitch.
Alan Shearer had it dead right on MOTD2 last night; we are going to be in another relegation dogfight for sure. The reason? simple we do not have a Premiership quality squad. Yes its true, we cannot compete against a big six club because they are out of our class. Yes we have to therefore depend on beating the other clubs but we so far apart from Palace have been unable to do that. Bournemouth are scoring goals for fun, why? and the way Pompey are playing at the moment, we will be playing them again in the championship next season. Lets not kid ourselves, currently we are a mid table championship side at best.
Agree bstokesaint - how can we say the club is well run when ensuring we have a squad of players capable of competing has to be paramount and is failing before our eyes. I commented after the Liverpool game that I hate all this "well, they are better than us.... X goals to nil could have been worse.... they've spent more than us" talk was just defeatist. From what I see on the pitch, I can only assume this is the mindset of the management and the players as well as fans. We are in deep trouble this season - unlike last season I don't think there will be 3 teams worse than us. I'm not after Kruegers' or Gaos' blood - but I never thought MH was the right man and Reed has to take responsibility for failed managerial and player recruitment. We haven't recruited players who can prevent goals, players who can score goals (Ings the exception) or Managers that can train or put out a competitive team. For the record - I'm not a social media whinger. I'm a fan of 45+ years who just doesn't want to be disappointed EVERY week.
there is no CONFIDENCE in the playing system , the management or the directors of SFC all of them keep telling THE FANS PORKY PIES . for me mark hughes has had 7mths /20 games with this squad & ive never seen in all my 63 years seeing the saints play put every player behind the ball & not even crossing the half way line for the 1st 20 minutes playing at home , even ian branfoot would not do that. only one person pays for everything & he has everything to loose , we as fans only have an opinion .
bstoke has a point. how can we be well run yet buy poorly. It's a oxymoron. I never thought we would do much against Chelsea, especially with the way Hazard is playing, but for me where Hughes got it wrong is Lemina. he needs to be benched for a few games. He couldn't defend to save his life. Everytime he was "on" the ball for defending he was 5 yds off the man with the ball. If you are going to play defense (which is fine against Chelsea) then you need to start Romeo from the start. Next, we find ourselves with the same problem of not scoring on our chances - enough said. For all those Shane Long fans, in a game like yesterday, we needed someone with some skill and Gabs was trying. I counted over 6 times he was back making a defensive play on the byline. Finally Helpinneed said it RIGHT. There is NO Confidence in the team and our captain does not inspire any at the moment. We have some winnable games after the break, but if we don't get any (no ties), then it is time for Hughes to go. December 1 is my timeline. We won before the last break and we upset to stop playing, but i think after yesterday, a break is needed. I think it will be a season of ups and downs and where we end will be anyone's guess.
Hughes is now played 16, lost 9. Eight games into last season we had 6 points.
Our results haven't improved. We haven't solved the problems in central defence. Our permanent summer signings have, so far, not delivered at all.
Redmond is playing better than last year. Gabbiadini looked good in his right wide position yesterday. Hojbjerg and Lemina look OK together. We no longer have a dodgy keeper. Ings will score goals for us, but Austin won't. If we're lucky we might just about finish above 3 other clubs.
In truth no-one expected us to win that game and few Saints fans could be surprised at the result but that doesn't make it any easier to accept. For the first 15 minutes were weren't even in the game, hence the ironic cheers when we got a kick but there were a few moments when we might have got something out of it. For all their possession, Chelsea actually had fewer chances than we did, and made more of them but the real difference is that they didn't give the ball away cheaply whereas we did. The harsh fact is that we were playing a much better team in every department, but especially in the mid-field where I thought we were pretty poor. If we are to have any hope of avoiding relegation this is where we need to strengthen the squad.
We should have won more games this season at the start but instead we draw to a poor burnley, lost to everton and leicester and wolves these are teams we should either beat or get a point off there not the big six teams or anything also under mark Hughes last season he didnt do any hetter then pellegrino at all it was just the teams below us did worse. He hasnt change anything at all, the players are not playing well at all. We should jever have sacked claude puel at all they should have backed him and his style and also in the transfer market. I believe they should hire ralph hasenhuttl he is similar to liverpool manager but he also plays young players and develops young players. The only reason southampton stayed up was cause once pellegrino was sacked every player realised how in trouble they actually were
Good point above about recruitment being shocking. Yesterday was another embarrassment in a long line now. Someone pointed out Chelsea have won at St Mary's more than us in 2018. You couldn't make it up. Carry On Southampton
The stats speak for themselves. Each side had 6 shots on target but Chelsea scored with half of them. Only three teams in the Premiership have scored fewer goals than Saints and it shows. How many fans, even in the relegation threatened years can remember us not winning a home game at for eleven months. THE MORE GOALS SCORED, THE MORE GAMES WON. It's a simple formula. Improve our defence or midfield and the elephant is still in the room. Our forwards are incapable of scoring even the simplest of goals. In addition to our 6 shots on target, we missed three sitters. Given that Chelsea's second goal should have been disallowed, if we'd put our chances away, the result could have gone our way. The board have to put all their eggs in one transfer basket and buy a top class forward in January, even if means getting rid of lot dead wood. Shearer, Le Tiss, Beattie, Lambert, Davies, Pelle etc etc were legends whilst playing for Saints. We need another legend or we are going to be in real trouble.
When you replace Gabbiadini with a bloke with a big arse whose only skill is running fast only because his arse is so big then you know all hope is evaporating.
When Ward Prowse can't make the bench then there is just a slight glimmer of hope that something might improve.
Other than that the ref deserved the booing at the end of the match not because of his general handling of the game but because he victimised our players with endless yellow cards whilst ignoring similar misconduct amongst the Chelsea lot.
And no West Londoners, we weren't there just to see "The Chelsea" as you so charmingly put it, we came to see you get stuffed! Sadly it didn't happen.
You can say what you want and put a gloss on Chelsea and the big 6 spending vast amounts of cash but the crux of the matter is that we sat off Chelsea. We were terrified of them abd the fact that we didnt even make a tackle in the first 20 minutes of the game means questions need to be asked why. Have a go at least with some passion and some intensity. Least then the fans cant criticise them for lack of effort.
Firstly the result. OK a very good Top Six side against a struggling bottom 6 side - What did you expect?..... just be glad that you are not a Fulham fan. It took us 20 minutes to get out of our own half and make a meaningful attack, but it was a bad day at the office for Danny Ings...who for all his misfortunes did put in a shift both in attack and defence and had enough chances to win the game twice over.
For those who complain that our squad is not good enough - once again - What did you expect?. Despite the expenditure on players this summer (+/- £50 million) there are clubs around us in the Prem. who have spent bigger, with little more to show for it(pointswise). The " best signings" have all gone to the Top Six clubs who can afford their salaries..
Our " new boys " Armstrong, Vestergaard and Elyounoussi clearly haven't found their feet yet , and the best way to choose our "back line " must be to put all their names in a hat. Pray... and hjope for the best.
IMHO - It's more bad luck that we still have some of the squad on long term contracts, because after losing the last crop of "stars" we wanted to keep the remainder, only for them to fall out of favour with CP and MP...and probabaly losing their confidence, too.
Fortunately, Redmond has found some form, and the likes of McCarthy, Hojbjerg and Ings are showing some real progress. Too much has been written already about Austin, Long and Gabbiadini and it's clear that being either "a nice guy"or, a "fans favourite" doesn't get us any more goals or valuable points that go along with them.
Those who are out on loan will have to show some real improvements if they expect to get game time with Saints under MH's management. Whilst the best of our U23's may not be Prem. material (yet) they are making a name for themselves out on loan to lower league clubs, BUT retainIng Gallagher and Targett without giving them any significant game time is a mystery to me - maybe they'll have to wait for the next flu epidemic?
Whatever MH's magic formula is, it hasn't worked yet - so send for Harry Potter, (or Graham Potter) and let's see what happens before we reach meltdown at Christmas.
we are not a well run club Nick and you are completely deluded in thinking we are, to be called a small club in a public statement by the chairman is not the sign of a well run club, publicly stating he had no idea what went wrong last season and no-one was responsible, telling the world in another of his glorious outbursts that we pay the least wages than any other prem team is not the sign of a well run club, he also stated that our goal was to improve year on year, well who is responsible for that Nick? I'll tell you in true Ralphy fashion "we as a club are all responsible" which means we will keep buying and selling players in a way that is matched by no other team in the world we will also take lots of money for ourselves and the aim will be to try and sustain mediocrity which is something that cannot be done, our club is a joke even my gran could of told us the score yesterday before a ball was kicked and shes been dead 20 years, we are in the sh*t along with Cardiff and Huddersfield, try and shut your eyes for a second Nick and predict the outcomes of those matches saints v Huddersfield or Cardiff can you put your hand up and say we will win those games NO you cant, brighton ,Fulham ,Newcastle are a bit better than us as are burnley and palace with west ham and Leicester miles better,our squad is no where as good as you seem to think, only Mc carthy,Gunn, Bertrand,lemina,romeou,boufal, carrillo,gabbiadini and maybe Redmond are worth keeping the rest are poor and ings is not ours and is not likely to be as his wages are way out of our reach, even hojdberg who has played well lately is barely good enough to make the squad,so whats next Nick? Carry on clapping I suppose boo
I agree with so much that is written in the many good posts. I was thoroughly depressed after yesterdays game. Chelsea were all over us and they never really got out of 1st gear. They have lots of money and it showed. The gulf is huge and I am not sure how I am going to get motivated this season. Saints are more entertaining than last season but no more effective. I do not want to be resigned to our fate so early in the season but at the moment we are not looking good . The next two games will be a better indicator and we shall be in a better position to judge where we really are after those two games.
We have gone from one of the best run clubs in the premier league to the Worst in just over two years. This means that Les Reed, Ralph Krueger and Ross Wilson must be held responsible for this mess and should now Resign. What has happened to all our new signings Carrillo and Boufal not good enough and sent out on loan? Elyounoussi, Vestergaard and Armstrong not good enough to start against Chelsea. Who bought all these dud players and why? Heads should roll. Why were all the good players and managers that have left this club not been replaced with like for like replacements?
First post of the season as I wanted to wait for the first couple of months before commenting. It looks like we will be relying on three worse clubs if we are to stay in the top flight. Something has fundamentally changed in the club at every level over the past 4 seasons. On the playing side selling the spine of the squad after the world cup in 2014 and being forced to sell Van Dyke last January. Off the field Cortese (corporate side) and later Koeman (managerial side) leaving and not being adequately replaced. The final and possibly most lethal change was Gao buying 80% of the club with borrowed money with a promise to take us to the next level. The board have made clear that they are going to stick to the financial model of buying low and selling high which is fine for a championship club but not one with ambitions to stay in the premiership. At the moment I cannot see how the current personnel at the top of the club are going make an inspired intervention for the good of the club.
Very convenient for Nick to now change his tune when things are so obviously wrong with our recruitment policy. This is what many on this forum (including myself) have been saying for years! The board have spent money in the wrong areas and it should have prioritised the attack. They haven't replaced Pelle and Mane! It's been 3-years now. Ross Wilson and Les Reed have to go. People keep saying the margins in the EPL are small and yesterday only epitomised that saying.
I can assure any decent striker would have put the Danny Ings and Bertrand chances away. If those go in it completely changes the dynamic of the match.
Just pay the f*cking money on a decent striker. It has to be £40-50 million striker now. That's the going rate and for me is a justified investment to save us from relegation possibly get us a top 10 finish. Mitrovic would have been an excellent option but he's gone to Fulham.
Also agree with Aussiejosh86 we need to replace Hughes with Hasenhüttl. Hughes is way past his prime and should really retire. Hasenhüttl is free in the market and would be an excellent (even if he uses us as springboard for a couple of years).
Defence wise they never handled the Fonte and VVD situations properly. Our defenders would have been fine if they had transitioned Fonte out properly using his experience and leadership to guide the likes of Stephens and Bednarek.
Look at how Liverpool managed Gerrard leaving. Jordan Henderson has more than made up for his departure captaining the side. Bertrand is not a captain! That urgently needs to be sorted!
Lastly, that buffoon, what's his name again? Boufal! He's not doing too badly in Spain from the looks of it.
Two goals and an assist from five appearances (from the bench). Weird that a player less talented than Redmond, JWP, Davis, Shane Long, Charlie Austin, Elyonoussi and Armstrong is doing pretty well on loan compared to those mentioned who funnily enough were getting more game time than him.
We've won eight Premiership games out of the last forty eight attempts.Players have come and gone during this period as have managers. The only thing that has stayed constant during this time of abject failure Is the management team. In particular a clueless waffler of a chairman and an equally hopeless director of football and his scouting team. Any business takes its direction from the top and until the current management team is replaced nothing will change.They have had their chance and failed. Put simply they are not fit for purpose any longer.
I think the comments so far say all that needs to be said on the 'well run club' concept. Suffice to add that well run businesses tend to be successful.
Our decline has very little to do with the 'growing gulf' between the 'big six' and the rest. How can it - over two thirds of our games are not against the big six and we are not winning many of them either. Player and manager recruitment have been woeful over the past couple of years - record signings galore not good enough to get into a struggling team and now out on loan to distinctly average foreign clubs. Yesterday was last year's players with Ings instead of Tadic. We can't be surprised we are in trouble if we haven't strengthened a team that very nearly went down. I think teamcortese is dead right on the need to go for quality and feck the price. The 'good squad' myth is a pretty dangerous one - it has been rolled out on here for a while and it isn't true.
I find it distinctly odd that 'loyalty' to a football club should be equated to loyalty to a particular regime. We are all loyal supporters on here. I support Saints not an idiot called Woopert, not an Italian banker nor a German construction billionaire, nor a possibly dodgy Chinaman. If you really are defending the current regime then tell us what they are doing well at the moment (probably best to ignore the league table).
Oh and sorry, finally, why when we get a free kick in the opposition half do we do that Barcelona thing of simply passing to the nearest bloke and getting on with it (and invariably losing the ball soon afterwards)? Given our inferiority yesterday surely a hoof into the box was worth it - it worked for Chelski.
Great performance and fantastic post match interview from Maya Yoshida. He cares a lot about our club and he is suffering with us. He is a realist at heart and concedes we are in a struggle. How I wish we had a few more like him who are not in denial and will fight to the bitter end. A born leader and Hughes, you'd do well to put him first on the team sheet every week.
Whilst I accept that things at the club have been deteriorating for some time I also think we're seeing that Mark Hughes hasn't got what it takes. I've said before that a Manager must have a system that he works to (like Gareth Southgate did in the summer) and regardless of the opposition plays to that system. Reasons for this, 1) it sends a message to the opposition that we're going to not to fazed into changing our approach because of them 2) players get use to playing the same system each week, 3) the system can be perfected in training and 4) you can in time recognise the best players for the system (Alf Ramsey 1966 didn't play best players). As soon as we change our system because of the opposition we send a message that we're scared of them. Hughes, please grow a pair and develop a more aggressive approach to games. Saints teams of the past always had a go, particularly at home!