Will Obafemi Be Hughes Saviour ?
Tuesday, 6th Nov 2018 12:46
If there is one area that Saints have been truly lacking in this season it is the goalscoring department, but could a youngster be the man to save Mark Hughes from the sack.
If Mark Hughes finds himself on the dole in the coming weeks, he will be able to put most of the blame on his strikers.
Danny Ings has been a good signing for Saints, 4 goals in only 9 starts plus another as sub has been a good return and when you add to that a goal in his only other appearance in the League cup then he is doing the job.
However none of our other recognised strikers has scored, indeed only three players have scored in the Premier League, Ings is joined by Pierre Emile Hojbjerg who has two goals with Ryan Bertrand with a soilitary strike.
That is damning and although it has to be said that Saints attempts on goal ratio is high, many of these chances are long range efforts that fly well wide or tame efforts, although it has to be said that we have missed a few sitters as well, with at least one good chance missed in the games against Bournemouth and Newcastle.
The problem with Hughes is his team are nervous they are fearful and too many times the wrong decisions are being made, extra touches are taken instead of hitting the ball first time and the longer the problem persists the worse it gets.
On Sunday at Manchester City Hughes tried something different he brought on Michael Obafemi for only his 2nd Premier League appearance, his debut being in the home game against Spurs when he played the last 8 minutes at St Mary's last season, making him the second youngest player to play in the Premier League for Saints with only Luke Shaw younger.
Certainly Obafemi has something about him, but perhaps the thing that might just save Hughes is that with nothing to lose and everything to gain Obafemi will play without fear, he could be the one player on the pitch against Watford who won't feel the crowd on his back, indeed the opposite he will have the crowd behind him.
Having only just turned 18 in July Obafemi can go out there and run at players and this could be a key point, he could be the focal point for the Saints support and that in turn will take the pressure off his team mates.
The Saints support need a hero at the moment, they need some light at the end of the tunnel and they need to see something different and this could be Obafemi who although being brought up in London to Nigerian parents was born in Dublin and has this week been selected for their full squad.
Mark Hughes certainly likes what he has seen.
“It was something I wanted to have a look at. Clearly at the top end of the pitch we’ve been struggling for someone to give us a spark to set us off to score more goals and create more chances,”
“He’s got unbelievable pace. It was important that I had a look at him in the Premier League environment because he could very well be someone we can use. "
“Bringing on Michael late on in games as an impact sub could be something that will help us. I was pleased with what he did, he didn’t look phased by the stage he was on so that bodes well as something we can work on."
“We’ll see how he progresses. He’s been playing well in the Under-23s and getting goals so he’s deserved his chance.”
So Hughes dilemma is whether to use Obafemi from the off on Saturday against Watford or as he has inferred just use him as an impact player from the bench.
The latter is the most likely although Hughes mention of him in that role could well be to take the pressure off the youngster before the game and not raise the fans hopes too high and build him up as something he is not quite ready for yet.
Certainly Hughes has to do something different otherwise he might just be reading about Obafemi's progress this season rather than watching from close range.
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