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Chelsea 0 v 0 Southampton
Barclays Premier League
Wednesday, 2nd January 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Hasenhuttl Hails Gunn
Thursday, 3rd Jan 2019 09:13

Ralph Hasenhuttl has hailed the performance of Premier League debutant Angus Gunn after his clean sheet against Chelsea.

The Austrian manager surprised Saints fans when he handed a debut to Angus Gunn, but was it as much of a shock as some would have you believe, after all we paid somewhere around £12 million to Manchester City for the keeper and although chances at the Etihad were none existent, he did have a season at Norwich in the Championship under his belt, add to that three excellent games in the League cup and given his price tag it was only a matter of time before he was handed a debut, Saints didn't pay this amount of money for him to be back up for too long.

This is obviously a statement to Alex McCarthy, the euphoria of staying up last season led to some supporters hailing McCarthy as a hero and voting him player of the year, but in hindsight although he did have several outstanding games in the run in to the end of the season notably some vital saves in the wins again Bournemouth and Swansea as well as the draw at Everton, in the games prior to that Saints were appalling defensively and McCarthy was in truth not doing much better than Fraser Forster.

But it cannot be denied he was outstanding in those final few games and in fairness to Mark Hughes, even though the Gunn signing was lined up, he kept faith with McCarthy this season.

The result was that McCarthy has been Ok but not spectacular, the feeling has been that although he has not made many glaring errors that too many goals have been going in near to his body, that he was not producing enough saves out of the hat, Manchester United at home was evidence of that and when he got his positioning all wrong at Huddersfield you sensed that it would be sooner than later that Gunn would get his Premier League chance.

The defeat to Manchester City made me think that Gunn might be thrown in against Chelsea, the second two City goals on Sunday showed that McCarthy was not alert, the first was a cruel deflection and you can't really blame him,but this was the sort of reaction save that a top class keeper makes, not every time but some of the time and the second was just poor, it was again not an easy save, but the type that good keepers make.

Certainly McCarthy hasn't been the confident on his toes keeper that he was in those final games of last season, there will be several reasons for that, adrenalin is probably one and perhaps the weight of knowing that ultimately the club were not showing much faith by paying £12 million for Gunn was another, keepers thrive on confidence, McCarthy knew that it was perhaps only a matter of time before Gunn got his chance, some keepers respond to that challenge, others find it drains that confidence they need and I think for McCarthy it was the latter.

So throwing him in against Chelsea was not as big a shock as some would have you believe, after all Ralph Hasenhuttl has shown he is not afraid to throw in inexpeienced youngsters, so why should he be afraid to put in Gunn who has a fair bit more experience than some of those given a game in recent weeks.

Hasenhuttl has hailed Gunn after his performance against Chelsea.

“I think he did an amazing job.

“He is a very offensive defending goalkeeper and that is what I need against a team that is always playing the chipped balls behind the last line.

“I was aware of them and we knew that they have good deep runs and this ball is very hard to defend for centre backs so we need a keeper who is on the jump and defending forward, and there were a lot of situations where he saved the ball.

“He is a very talented goalkeeper and I want to give him two games. This was the first and the second is against Derby County in the FA Cup.

“I think he deserved to have a clean sheet.”

But the Austrian refused to confirm whether Gunn would be the permanent number one if he impresses again at Derby.

“I don’t think about this thing at the moment, we have other problems at the moment."

“We have fantastic goalkeepers and we have to look to get the points we really need.

Hasenhuttl has been very diplomatic here because on one hand because he knows that dropping McCarthy will have dented his confidence further and he never knows when he might need him again, although Gunn has now put in four decent performances for the club conceding only 1 goal that is only the start and about to turn 24 Gunn is still not the finished article.

Also Hasenhuttl has shown that no one is guaranteed a place in his team, he will pick teams to win against the opposition he is playing and reputation counts for nothing as was shown at half time at Stamford Bridge where Danny Ings was withdrawn, Hasenhuttl knew Ings had done little wrong, but he also knew that Shane Long would be better suited to the work rate needed to press and defend from the front, Ings might be far more likely to score than Long, but that would be of little use if we were 3-0 down.

After this display it is hard to see a way back for McCarthy, recent press reports have suggested that Saints are bracing themselves for a bid for McCarthy, I think they are not adverse to that bid and would snap someone's hands off at the the right price.

If they could get £10 million for McCarthy it would be good business and they could invest the money in other key areas and use Fraser Forster as back up and despite becoming a whipping boy for some Forster has been a good keeper for Saints in the past and could be again.

But the issue might be finding someone who would buy McCarthy, it is hard to see a Premier League team who would need him, most have keepers of at least equal standing if not better.

Photo: Action Images

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TimSaint added 11:50 - Jan 3
I have felt that perhaps McCarthy could have saved a few of the recent goals we have conceded and as for the goal at Huddersfield, I think he switched off !!

Good to see Gunn get a game, as he has done well in the cup games so far.

Perhaps there was some interest in McCarthy and we have dropped him so that a deal can be pushed through, without him risking injury ? We have far too many keepers already, so need to out a couple. Oh and don"t forget the Fulham keeper we are supposed to be buying, if the gossip column is to be believed !!

bstokesaint added 12:22 - Jan 3
There’s no harm in a bit of heathy competition. I don’t think McCarthy has done a lot wrong, but the goals against Huddersfield and the deflection against City were both questionable. I appreciate the latter was a deflection but like you say Nick a good keeper on his toes would have saved that Mind you just because Gunn has had a few games I’m not sure it’d be wise to ship McCarthy out as a result.

SaintNick added 12:23 - Jan 3
I think the Fulham keeper rumour was a smokescreen to put it out there that we wwould sell McCarthy, having paid £12 million for Gunn and with Forster twiddling his thumbs as you say we have too many keepers we surely wouldnt want to add to them

underweststand added 15:17 - Jan 3
There are several issues here Nick.
Firstly- YES - Gunn had a good debut, added to which he had a relatively quiet game (compared to some) as we put out the best defensive game I've seen in a very long time.

Ralph obviously went with the intention of NOT losing , and our lack of goal chances reflected that but in the end we got a result. Even the most ardent Saints fan would have dreamt of getting any point(s) from the City game, and so the weakened side we put out was more an exercise to assess the bench players than an real attempt to win the game.

Alex McCarthy HDAJFU ever since he took over from Forster a year ago and no-one should belittle that, but the fact remains that we have concede a lot of goals in the first half of the season (not all his fault by a long way,) but having picked the ball out of the net 14 times in the previous 7 games, it must have been playing on his mind a bit.

Angus Gunn must have been longing for his first Prem. game and like the Academy lads who have been used recently, a tough game against top opposition is the best test.
Clearly Angus will get more games before decisions are made about his /other futures.

It will be easier to sell McCarthy (if it comes to that) as he has shown some good form and if Forster was going to go, he'd have moved before now. His salary level means that he's cost the club £3 million in the last year without ever needing to play a game, and that's not good on his CV. If he stays, we need to get our money's worth.

In defence of both Forster and McCarthy it has to be said that they have had some pretty awful defending in front of them and many of the goals would have been avoidable with more competent defenders. Replacing players like Fonte and /or VvD was (and probably still is) a near impossibility at the present time.

But well done Angus for a brave start.. and ...if he continues to play well, our "goalie situation" may resolve it self one way, or another.


LoisDeem added 17:30 - Jan 3
LIKE: It's refreshing that Ralph will change the team to accommodate new blood and improve the team.
DISLIKE: that there are players around (like the 'world's best central defender') with character flaws, who chose to withdraw their labour, when they're already grossly overpaid. This is sick, and should not be rewarded. Every fan of every club deserves wholehearted effort from these players, unfortunately this trickles down right through the skill levels, and players skulking in reserve squads are nearly as bad. Think our latest manager will play it straight and reward hard work and reward effort from good squad players.

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