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Hasenhuttl Marks Jack Stephens Out As A Leader
Friday, 11th Jan 2019 11:43

Ralph Hasenhuttl is looking for Jack Stephens to step up to the plate as the man to lead the back four in the coming weeks.

Ralph Hasenhuttl is handing increased responsibility to Jack Stephens and asking him to play in the centre of a three man central defence and hold the line.

“What I like about Jack Stephens is that he’s a loud one, he can organise very good and that’s important for the central position of the centre backs because there you have to read the game and push out or take the guys to you so the space in front is not too big,” said Hasenhuttl.


“That’s one of the qualities Jack has and what I’m demanding from him and what he does.”

Bednarek’s return to the team under Hasenhuttl has been an interesting watch, and the Saints boss clearly rates him.

“He’s a very hard working guy,” reflected Hasenhuttl.

“He showed from the first moment on that he wants to fight for every centimetre, for every step for the team and that helps us to get more stabilised in the last row.

“He made a very good job against Arsenal and Chelsea with a few good saves in the last moment so it’s an important player for me.

“Not without mistake like everyone else. We all have mistakes in our game and must put them away but he’s a hard working guy and will earn more good games if he can keep working like he is until now.”

Of Vestergaard, Hasenhuttl added: "Against Cardiff it was not the best beginning for him but that shows I don’t look at just one mistake, I look at the whole package I get from him.

"He made a good development until now, he played fantastic against Chelsea and also against Arsenal at home."

It seems that Hasenhuttl is hoping that giving Stephens increased responsibility will improve his game, I am not so confident, the back four has been full of mistakes both before and since the Austrian arrived to take over from Mark Hughes and so far no one has really shown the qualities of leadership required.

At Derby we were poor defensively for both goals and indeed in the two home games after Xmas five goals went in due to shoddy defending.

A clean sheet at Chelsea papered over the cracks but on reflection the London club still had at least four golden chances unmarked where both Angus Gunn and the linesman's flag saved us.

But in the short term at least Ralph has to work with what he has got to hand, he has to try and instill confidence in his defenders and perhaps coach them in a way that none of his predecessors have done. He has acknowledged their failings and he must hope that he can eradicate those errors.

Hopefully that will see an improvement but I am not as optimistic as our manager that it will be to the level required.

But although I will criticise and give my opinion I am first and foremost a Saints supporter, I have nothing against Jack Stephens or indeed any of our other players, I want them to succeed, I want them to play well, I want them to prove me right when I praise them and I want them to prove me wrong when I criticise as I have done in the past.

If Ralph Hasenhuttl turns out to be the man who turns Jack Stephens into a true Premier League class defender then I will be the first to congratulate the player himself on here, I find it strange that so many are vitriolic to those who they do not see as playing well, most are giving 100% and most of the time it has been in situations that have been difficult to say the least.

Time to get behind all the players as Ralph Hasenhuttl has done now and encourage them to play out of their skin.

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SaintBrock added 11:55 - Jan 11
Ralph, you cannot be serious! Really man are you taking the piss? Hasenhüttl Out!
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saintjf added 12:06 - Jan 11
Ralph clearly knows what he is doing. I have never been that impressed with Stephens. I will be delighted if I have got it wrong and he comes good. I know he has some followers who clearly see something in him. Does this mean we are not getting a new centre back?
4

A1079 added 12:25 - Jan 11
I have seen nothing in any of our defenders that suggests that they are leaders or can change that much that they will make a big enough difference. We are not dealing with young kids here still learning their trade, they have been in the business at professional for some time and earning a good wage and yet week in and week out they make basic mistakes and take silly risks, when sometimes all they need to do is hoof it to safety or head the bl**dy ball away from goal.

I fear that RH may be trotting out a club message here that there is no money in the bank to get an experienced defender in - for how many transfer windows now. saintjf probably hit on the head with the last sentence.

I have to be honest, the noise coming out of the club, the injuries, the silly suspensions and even RH has made me feel less and less optimistic that we can do enough to turn this around. I have almost accepted in what feels increasingly like the inevitable, no matter how hard RH tries, that we will be relegated. It is not a disaster if we do and I still believe RH will be the right man to get us back up and make us an attractive team, but however, you try to dress it up, what a monumental balls up those in charge have made of the whole thing in the last 2-3 seasons - particularly since the loss of Fonte!
8

bstokesaint added 12:47 - Jan 11
Agree with A1079, these players should know better by now. We need to bring in fresh blood at the back.
5

Colburn added 13:17 - Jan 11
Can’t agree with everyone here. I like Jack Stephens. For me, our main issue defensively has been poor coaching. If you can’t see promise then how about the clean sheet at Chelsea? Bednarek will be superb in the future, played well at World Cup considering all factors. Mistakes can be ironed out and usually due to confidence and organisation. Ralph will sort this. Be positive people, I know I’m not always that so it’s not a dig but we really have a gem in Ralph, that’s clear.. we have as much as an issue with full backs as ours seem better suited to back 5 or 3 rather than a back 4. If you look overall at the performances and consider defending happens from the front, we’ve seen enough quality from Bednarek Stephens and Vestergaard in periods to suggest they can develop well and quickly with the right coaching. The introduction of the youth has given us a refresh too, how well has Valery done..? We’re on the right track again guys and we’ll finish we’ll away from the drop zone. COYS!
2

benalisbroom added 13:44 - Jan 11
I agree with you Colborn: Stephens does have a tendency to ball watch, but in many other respects he's a gifted player. If RH can address this weakness he could yet develop into a good EPL player. One thing I do find a bit frustrating though is all EPL club's refusal(s) to look at players from the leagues below: In the summer I posted that this young CB should be perfect for our strategy of developing young players. At the time Everton pulled out at the last minute before signing him and he ended up at Brentford for £3m. 20 games later, Arsenal are offering £15m for him. If we'd forked out £3m in the summer we might not be having the endless discussion our CB's now and it's weird that nobody invests given that CB's are in such demand...

https://www.football.london/arsenal-fc/transfer-news/ezri-konsa-arsenal-transfer

It must be that bl**dy Black Box malfunctioning again...
0

SaintNick added 13:53 - Jan 11
Ralph knows he has to instill a bit of confidence in what he has, this doesnt mean that we wont sign anybody, it means he knows that we will have to play what we have tomorrow and on Wednesday at least so he has to try to do something to improve what we have
4

highfield49 added 15:21 - Jan 11
Let's face it none of us know what potential player movements might be in progress. Davis and Gabbi have now gone and others might follow, Hoedt for example is seemingly not required even to warm the bench. RH is a motivator and talking up Stephens' abilities will either lift his game or prove that he has reached his limit, there is nothing in my view that suggests that another central defender won't be signed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but writing the team off purely because we are a third of the way through the transfer window does seem premature.
2

A1079 added 16:51 - Jan 11
I think I must have written my bit in a bit of a lunchtime bad mood after a naff morning at work, so I feel I need to qualify some of my ramblings.

Though I feel less than convinced that we can pull a rabbit out of the hat this season, I am 100% convinced that RH is the right man for the job whatever the outcome. I didn't intend to imply otherwise. He is trying to turn a tanker on a sixpence (those of us old enough to remember a sixpence). I complete faith that he will get us going again, providing he is given the time and support - I just doubt whether he has the time to do it this season - but if anyone can prove me wrong, I am sure he can.

I feel pretty much the same about our current defenders. I don't think there is a natural leader and there has been enough time over the recent seasons for one to become established, though I concede the ever changing and ineptness of some of the managers/coaches may be partly to blame. It is still does not excuse the endless mistakes and basics of defending though, no matter who is in charge of the team.

Nick has said it before and others, the failure to react to the Fonte situation and then the Van Dijk one and to repeat that window after window is like leaving the vaults of the Bank of England open for the general public. I appreciate that that is water under the bridge now, but those in charge have made some monumental errors of judgement.

Anyway, RH seems the type of manager who can make the improbable possible and average players believe they can. Lets hope that is reflected in some positive results in the next few weeks.

Have a good weekend.
4

1970 added 16:51 - Jan 11
this is like asking Shane Long to lead the line in the next five games because we believe he has lots of goals in him,
I'm not sure why you say ralph has to play what he has Nick because most clubs identify and pursue their targets regardless of the transfer window and then strike as soon as its opened,
the transfer window is wide open and we must have identified the problems months ago and pursued the targets months ago so we should have this situation in our own hands but we haven't ,instead we are pretending Stephens is a defender and has the future attributes to be one, who agrees with the last part of that cos Its laughable.
I know lets sell all those worth anything asap and wait until the eleventh hour and get a couple of loans in that we are not going to buy,
fantastic, the money making model just doesn't change.
hands up all those that think RH will be here next season if we go down? of course he wont, we are in the stink again I hope they prove me wrong
0

underweststand added 19:46 - Jan 11
Ralph clearly sees potential in Stephens, who was thrown into the mix after Fonte's move and VvD's injury. Yoshida worked gainfully to guide Jack through the first few months whilst trying to hold up the back line.
Jack joined us at age 16 from Plymouth and played through his Academy days, and later had around 100 games in a couple of seasons with Swindon. Good experience but not the best training for Prem. games, but he came through it a better player.
He was never in the reckoning whilst we had the likes of Lovren, Alderweireld and VvD on the books and only got occasional cup games to his credit. He is younger than some of his colleagues, but he shows grit, determination and is not afraid to give a shout at the back. He didn't cost £15 million to sign (!). and YES he has faults, ball-watching for one, but I'd choose him ahead of Hoedt every time, and so too (it seems) does Ralph.

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straight_pass added 20:18 - Jan 11
Bit worrying to say that Vestergaard played fantastic, I appreciate the need to create player confidence, but we need to be honest! Think RH may have got confused translating average and it became fantastic!
Vestergaard has cost us dearly in many matches, hope he and Stephens raise their game and prove me wrong!
3

SaintBrock added 09:02 - Jan 12
Totally agree with A1079's first post, can't see how we can stay up without re-enforcements. People should not be complacent about relegation. Hasanhüttl is on record as saying he will go if he fails to keep us up.

His recent demeanour suggests he is already preparing for these two outcomes, the early good natured humour having given way to a more resigned weariness.
0

SaintBrock added 09:03 - Jan 12
wariness
-1


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