|Derby County 2 v 2 Southampton|
Saturday, 5th January 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Saints At Derby County The Preview
Friday, 4th Jan 2019 09:14
Saints start their cup campaign at Pride Park, can they beat the Rams and go all the way this season ? Will Ralph's rotation programme work out ?
Ralph Hasenhuttl has already shown he is a man that likes to rotate his team and he has already confirmed that there will be more changes for the trip to the East Midlands for the 3rd round FA Cup game with Derby County.
I have always said perception is a big factor amongst football fans and it is a little ironic that when Claude Puel rotated his team he was vilified by the supporters, yet Ralph is in the main hailed for his constant changes, indeed far more than Puel used to make, the Frenchman saved his changes just for the cup competition whereas Hasenhuttl is not scared to also do it in the League.
I find t even more ironic that Puel was slagged of for playing Yoshida instead of Fonte in the Europa League and Hasenhuttl is slagged off if he doesn't play him, how things have changed in just two years and that perhaps tells you a different story.
But the difference between Puel's rotation and our new man's is that the Frenchman seemed to do it just because he could, he seemed to be trying to be two clever and making changes when they didn't need to be made, whereas the Austrian appears to have a clear gameplan, he makes the changes so that his team are able to perform to the level he wants.
Many were upset about the "weakened" team to play Man City, but truth is if we had put out our strongest side we probably would still have lost and been tired for the trip to Chelsea, of course Hasenhuttl took a risk, we might have got beaten in both, but our freshness for the trip to Stamford Bridge meant that we didn't fade at the end and blow all the hard work, something that we have done far too often in the last 18 months.
It will be hard to second guess how many of the side in West London on Wednesday will start at Pride Park, but my guess is not a lot, it will look more like the team that Played City than the one that drew at Chelsea.
But you have the feeling that Hasenhuttl knows what he is doing and that is something we haven't had since Koeman, yes it is that old word Perception again, but that counts a lot in football.
Ralph has sais he is well aware of the importance of the FA Cup, to teams like us it offers a rare chance of a shot at Europe and indeed any sort of domestic glory, the Premier League is starting to become a cliche, it is all about the Big Six and no one else, Leicester City's season three years ago was a freak, a once in a lifetime achievement and given that the Premier League has become even more of a them and us scenario even in three short years, it is hard to see where the competition goes from here for the rest of the cannon fodder.
The FA Cup however offers a chance of glory, we have a squad big enough to cope with the extra gamesand like last year then hopefully we can have another good run, a year on there is more hope and optimism surrounding St Mary's hopefully we can win at Derby and keep that going.
I have faith in Ralph Hasenhuttl, yes he needs a central defender in the January transfer window, but apart from that there is no reason why he should not lead us to mid table obscurity and maybe a good cup run or more.
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