Saints Aim To End Relegation Worries In Next Three Games Tuesday, 29th Jan 2019 09:18
Saints have three important & tough games coming up, but all are winnable and Saints aim to come through them having taken big steps towards Premier League safety and looking up the Premier League and not down it.
Saints position in The Premier League this time last year was not that far removed from what it is today, after 23 games we had 21 points compared to this years total of 22.
However the situation is a lot lot different, then we were slipping down the table and looking certain to go down as we had a squad poorly led and motivated and to be blunt things did not get a lot better under Mark Hughes, luckily they got worse for Swansea City.
With four games to go last term we only had 29 points on the board and relied on two wins and a draw in those final four games to keep our heads above water, we can achieve that total in our next three games, although on a word of caution a year ago we could have said the same thing.
But this year is different and Saints take on Crystal Palace at St Mary's followed by the trip to Burnley and then the visit of Cardiff City full of optimism.
But we should not get over confident, we know we still have problems in the defence and we seem to be gambling that we can stay up with what we have to hand, in fact we have sold two defenders despite injury issues at the back.
If we remain unbeaten in this trio of games then we will have taken small steps, if we can get 5 points then slightly bigger steps in fact I would suggest that one win and two draws would be a lot better for us than our rivals for the relegation spots.
Anything above five though and we will have taken massive strides forward, but we need to focus on each game as it comes and first up is Palace, we won their earlier in the season, but then again we did so last season and then followed that up by throwing away a 1-0 lead against the Eagles in the final 20 minutes and losing 2-1 despite dominating the game.
That was the story of last season and the story of this, if we don't buy another central defender then I have every confidence we will pull clear but it will not be easy we will continue to throw away leads and concede soft goals as recent weeks have shown.
So it is important to get points on the board now and pull well clear from the relegation zone, that is what we failed to do last season and the palace game was a syptom of what had gone on before and what was to follow.
But things are different under Ralph Hasenhuttl there is a spirit that wasn't there a year ago, there is a leadership that wasn't there a year ago and I would say the squad is stronger than a year ago even after the recent departures.
That all gives hope and we now need to turn that into results, Ralph has done a great job so far and if he keeps up his points ratio so far of 13 points from 8 games then we will be safe in plenty of time, but this is the critical time, the three games that will define the season, get those 8 points or at least a fair chunk of them on the board now and then we can plan for the future and not worry about it.
We still need to buy a defender and a striker in this transfer window or we will end up nearer to relegation than we would like. Other teams at the bottom of the table have been busy in the transfer market and all we have done is loan players out. We don't have enough cover for injuries without using kids. Crystal Palace are playing well now and will be a hard game to win. They have a fast attack and will catch our weak defence on the break.
Palace, Burnley, Cardiff and Fulham in the coming weeks and, at the moment, I just want to hide behind the sofa. If we've signed a couple of players before the end of the week I think I'll be less nervous but at present we seem short of experience and quality in defence and have fitness concerns with Bertrand, Lemina, Ings and Obafemi ongoing. Fingers crossed because I'm not convinced that Gallagher, Barnes, Elyounoussi, Slattery, Johnson and Ramsay have the mental toughness required to fight relegation battles. Thankfully RH has the ability to transform untried players into winners but I'm still a bit jittery.
Other relegation rivals have been busy? Nothing I see as transformational. Burnley, Newcastle, Saints = none Palace - Perri (loan) Cardiff - Niasse (loan) - and tragically Sala Fulham - Babel (loan) Huddersfield - Puncheon (loan), Brown (a 20yo, with no PL appearances)
p.s. we haven't sold any defenders, just loaned them ;-(
I hope we don't get complacent - I agree with highfield on things like the centre of defence and injury concerns. Add the inevitable suspensions (Hojberg to equal Wanyama's 3 reds in a season achievement?) and it might get difficult.
As for these next three I would say beat Cardiff and avoid defeat in the other 2 and we are well on the way - but I am remembering going into the Wet Spam game on the back of 2 wins and look what happened then. Palace on their day are every bit as good as Wet Spam - ask Man City, Spuds and even Liverpool...
I still feel we’re being a bit complacent. We need more steel and experience at the back. And we can’t ship Gabbi and potentially Charlie without replacing. I don’t understand why we’re so seemingly content with the bare bones. It’s very risky.
I am worried by the tone lately that these next 3 games are for the taking. This is Saints, we don't do easy and we are just as capable of not winning any of them as we are of getting good results. None of these sides are going to be easy and I still think our team/squad is fragile, even though, there is obvious improvement.
I would have felt more confident had we bolstered that defence and forward position.
The most unsettling thing about January is the implication that Saints need to sell before they can buy. While I appreciate that the squad needs trimming is the pot so empty that there is a genuine requirement to sell or is this being used as an excuse to make/save a few quid for the owner or board ? This issue has been raised before on this website but with the large payments received over the last few years from transfers and the ever silly amounts paid by TV I find the current financial austerity at Saints worrying and confusing. Sure we want a sensible custodian of the purse strings but we do not want a Mike Ashley?
On the player front big Sam G has not improved at all on the directionless giraffe on ice he was when he first played in the top flight several years ago.
Fingers crossed. Of course those three teams are looking at us in the same way...
I too would have liked to have seen someone brought in, but even loaning players out doesn't get them off the books completely and then we have the contract settlements with the last 3 managers, so the board can cry poor.
Relegation worries Nick? History tells us that you are only free from such nightmares when you are 4 points ahead of the 18th club before the last game of the season....in our case - Huddersfield. A quick look at " our end of the table " shows us what you are getting at, but we shouldn't start "chicken-counting" until that mathematical equation is certain.
If we are fortunate enough to get (say) 5-7 points, we might call it a "breathing space" before we come to those tougher games against the top 6 sides that come afterwards.
Why all the fuss about us signing new players - we already have a top heavy squad which we are trimming down. Ralph has made it clear he will use the youngsters to good use too, which is great news and what they are there for, something our former manager didnt like. New defender? no thanks, we have Stephens, Bednarik, Vestergaard and Nicks fave asian to come back soon amongst others. Still, its easier to blame the board for not buying
There is a phrase which is popular at the moment from a particular politician. It is " nothing has changed, look nothing has changed". It's very apposite in regard to the owners and board of our club in that they are still following their well tried business plan of selling or loaning players to collect and save money.In the current window we have lost the services of four experienced players and replaced them with exactly no one. I'm at a loss as to how this is a sensible way of preparing for the current relegation battle we find ourselves in.To me it appears to be a very risky strategy but I suppose only time will tell? Let's hope we don't lose tomorrow or on Saturday because if we do the club's business plan could look extremely misguided.
Saintmark 76 I agree with the points you have made. I also agree with your comments Schatfield and nothing wrong in trimming a bloated squad but it is the timing I question - now, in January, when we have a relegation battle ahead of us. It is not as if loans release funds to strengthen the squad in key positions and are we really that desperate that we have to find savings in our salaries mid season? It suggests the clubs finances are in a parlous state! I agree the squad needs a clear out and I have faith in RH but it is playing with fire and this evening results elsewhere suggests that those teams around us have plenty of fight in them to dismiss them.
I think Ralph's great but worry that we are slightly deluding ourselves if we think relegation worries will be over in the next 3 games. There are some good sides down there, a few injuries, dodgy decisions and we'll be right back in the mix for that third spot. Look at our position tonight.
I'm expecting it to be a tense battle until the end of the season. I really hope to be proved wrong.
Well last nights results threw a spanner in the works. Who gave Newcastle any chance of beating Man City or Burnley getting a point at Man Utd the form team. Fulham who looked dead and buried suddenly found out how to score. Now tonights game is a must win game because lose and we are right back in the mire. Two days left to get a new Striker and Defender.