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Barren Transfer Window Doesn't Mean Disaster For Saints
Friday, 1st Feb 2019 09:51

Some comments on social media seem to suggest that Saints are in big trouble after failing to land anyone in the January transfer window, but I would disagree.

Like most Saints fans I am disappointed that the club has failed to make a signing in January and Im a little concerned that we have loaned out Cedric and Hoedt that leaves us short in key areas at the back, but I'm a little concerned and no more than that.

Obviously it would have been better to have plugged gaps but a panic buy didn't help us much last season and it won't help us now, the club have stuck to their guns and only signed players if the player and the price is right.

So why does this not spell disaster ? The simple answer is history !

A year ago we were in a worse position and falling fast and we still stayed up, that is the first piece of evidence and also the most flimsy.

However the rest has a lot more substance, the first is Ralph Hasenhuttl, in his two months at the club he has transformed the team from a disorganised, demotivated poorly lead group, into a spirited squad who can win games and grind out results, the Austrian's points per game record is far better than last season and if maintained will see us stay up easily.

Secondly there is no reason why it should not be maintained, the squad has not been improved in the transfer window, but with Cedric the only player who has left who has played any real game time since Hassenhuttl arrived it has not really got any worse either, indeed with the likes of Lemina, Bertrand & Obafemi all set to return from injury it could be said that Hasenhuttl will have a better squad to selet from than at any point since he arrived.

Thirdly we now have a game plan, the manager is focused and the players clear on what our objectives are that in turn leads to good team spirit as mentioned before, compare us to a year ago and it is chalk and cheese.

Fourthly man management, there are still some players who come under fire from the fans, Charlie Austin who appears good enough for at least three other Premier League clubs to want him is slagged off mercilessly by some as is Mo Elyounoussi.

Now both would probably not get in anyone's starting line up, but they could still both be the most vital players in the remainder of the season, Austin isn't fit enough for 90 minutes nor Hasenhuttl's pressing game, but he is fit enough for 25 minutes at the end of a game to come on and score goals and nobody can deny he has a knack for that, not letting Austin go unless we had a replacement was a wise move and the manager knows exactly where he can fit in.

Likewise Elyounoussi, he has failed to impress so far, but he has the ability and is perhaps the nearest we have in the side to a true playmaker who can turn games, again Hasenhuttl recognised that on Wednesday when he needed to change the pattern of play and bring someone on who could slow the game down and play a killer ball, OK i didn't have a direct impact on the goal, but the time will perhaps come for Elyounoussi and we should recognise that just because he hasn't been great at first that does not mean he will never improve, Redmond and more recently Stuart Armstrong are cases to prove that point.

Finally the fans ! Most Saints fans are a lot more positive about the club than a year ago and rightly so, if you want to know how important the fans are to the team ask Ralph Hasenhuttl, he has spoken on the subject recently.

WE now need just positivity both on and off the field, that will be worth a few points that we lost last season but will gain this, slagging off the board or the owners will achieve nothing between now and the end of the season, everyone has to be given a chance to prove their worth and that the club is on track, at the end of the season is the time to judge between now and then we need the support that we have seen in recent weeks.

The travelling fans at Leicester roared the team to what at the moment is a vital victory, against Everton the St Mary's crowd was superb, against Palace less so with a few moans creeping in, but we got going in the final 15 minutes and need to keep doing that.

The supporters are the lifeblood of this and any football club, lets have some pride in our club and what it has achieved and continued to achieve, we want to get back the missing 3,000 on Wednesday night, a year ago things looked bleak, but now we are on the up again, this is not the same club as a year ago, even three months ago, Im proud of Southampton Football Club, in the main i'm proud of most of our supporters, I want a full St Mary's every week roaring the team on nothing more nothing less, if it isn't then I respect why people don't want to go.

So the future is starting to become brighter, things are not quite right yet, but Rome wasn't built in a day, it is a long steady job back to where we were, we won't get there by short term fixes and this transfer window showed that the club recognise that.

We will get there by doing things the right way and sticking to our plan, a plan that has never changed in the last five years, just sometimes not worked as well as we have hoped and been subject to events beyond our control e we can't force players to stay as Van Dijk showed. But although we panicked a year ago and veered off the plan, we are back on course now.

This transfer window does not mean disaster for Saints as individual defeats will not either, it s one step at a time and we will take some forward ones and some back ones, stick with it.

Photo: Action Images

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SaintBrock added 10:15 - Feb 1
Nick, you are to be much admired for your resolute determination to see only good coming from every situation that Saints find themselves in.

I wish after all the many years supporting Saints that I too could find the same number of silver linings as you but when so many things turn out exactly the way you expect them to, surely even you cannot ignore some innate sense of cynicism and disappointment.

The other night we failed to beat Palace and our new manager now claims we did well to get a point even 'though you, me and virtually every other fan plus Ralph H knew full well that we had to beat the teams around us at HOME to stay safely away from the relegation one.

At the end of the day it is only football and only a game so you pays your money and takes your choice. Nobody died yesterday but the recovering spirit of many long suffering fans will have been sapped almost dry again. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

There has been no merit whatsoever in this dreadful transfer window, leaving us weaker as a squad. We fans will never get to the truth of what happened, maybe it was a cock-up on the part of the recruitment team and boy have we been used to those or maybe it was something much more sinister.

Whatever we now find ourselves facing a bleak future with truly awful footballers like Targett, Stephens & Ward Prowse as almost automatic first team choices. Even you Nick must be alarmed at that prospect?

saintmark1976 added 10:22 - Feb 1
In all honesty Nick I don't agree with the vast majority of what you say in this post.However I admire your spirt in stating what does appear to be a rallying call on behalf of the club.Perhaps you could have a word with the Chairman and educate him to the effect that he should be making your comments and not leaving it to a fanzine to do his job?

Cjay80 added 10:23 - Feb 1
My only concern from the window is that Fraser Forster is still without a club that will use him. Shame to see a players career change so dramatically but Alex McCarthy is rightly our number 1

underweststand added 10:27 - Feb 1
IF... there hadn't been a January transfer window (something seriously suggested by some in the footballing community) .we'd still have the same squad as before PLUS Davis, Gabbiadini and Hoedt (who had liltle/nil game time under Ralph) would still be here and NOT playing. This is already the biggest re-vamp of a Saints squad since Koeman came and the exodus of players to Liverpool began, and there maybe more to leave.
If the loan-outs ( Boufal and Carrillo can commit themselves to " the new regime" then maybe their fees won't turn out to be a wasted investment.

Just because others have gone out and bought / loaned more players doesn't mean that their new clubs will instantly become "super teams". Historically ...very few signings actually hit the ground running and many prove to be a total waste of time and money.

Would it have been more satisfying to have bought in new players (yes /no / maybe) but our present squad have bought into Ralph's methodology and he has promised fewer players more game time, and unless we actually got players in who had played under Ralph before, many would be in for a shock when they endured his "up-tempo" training .

YES Charlie is still here - mixed reactions to that - but he does have a habit of popping up and scoring important goals, as he may do during the rest of the season.


dirk_doone added 10:36 - Feb 1
We all know how the club's recruitment operates. Ralph has clearly told the board and owners that he needed a striker and a right back in this transfer window, which is why we were making well-publicized attempts to buy Adams and Maehle, who would have been players from the shortlist the recruitment department presented him with, and this has been the result.

I very much doubt that the board and owners were totally honest about just how limited his transfer budget would be when they were trying to recruit him but now he knows.

As long as Ralph stays, it isn't a disaster because he is such a good manager that he'll be able to keep us up, just, even with this limited squad. But, like Pochettino and Koeman before him, the owners' lack of ambition for anything other than making money will drive him away sooner rather than later.

VeloSaint added 10:44 - Feb 1
Given the mess of the last few windows and the players out on loan plus Forster not even making the squad its not surprising. Ralph was clear from the start that they want players for the long term so we were never going to panic buy. No doubt they'll go back for the lad from Genk in the summer, but the priority will again be trying to shift the expensive dead wood.

wessexman added 10:51 - Feb 1
The bottom line is the squad is still the same minus several high earners. This squad escaped relegation by the skin of it's teeth. The calculation by the board is that RH can get more out of a squad they think is better than their league position suggests. So far things are more positive but the transfer window fall back has now gone. Let us hope we can stay injury and suspension free...and the belief the youngsters are good enough is proved right.

vanmans added 10:51 - Feb 1
Big mistake not to bring any new players. I wanted to see a striker, central defender and a right back brought in. Stephens and Valery will probably get suspended. All the other teams near us in the table have got new players in this month!
Alexis Mac Allister, Jan Mlakar and Tudor-Cristian Baluta.
Miguel Almiron and Antonio Barecca.
Crystal Palace-3
Lucas Perri , Bakary Sako and Michy Batshuayi.
Peter Crouch.
Oumar Niasse and Leandro Bacuna.
Ryan Babel, Havard Nordtveit and Lazar Markovic.
Karlan Grant, Jaden Brown and Jason Puncheon.

sidsaint added 10:57 - Feb 1
One of Ralph's first comments when he arrived was that the squad was too big, so he could well have been told when he was recruited that he had to get rid of a number of players. He has done that but I can't believe he did not want to bring in players that he knew and probably had worked with. So I reckon he is probably a little disappointed but he has confidence in himself and his players some of whom, e.g Ward Prowse, he has transformed, he has also given youth a chance, but I wish he had held on to Hesketh who did well at Burton and is now playing in a lower league. He's backing himself and we should back him, then if we stay up he could well be given more support from the board in the summer.

straight_pass added 11:03 - Feb 1
It's realistic to say it's not a disaster, because at the moment it's not!
But history is not a good indicator of risk, none of us can predict injuries or sickness. I'm now hoping the existing squad can get us over the line, were used to relying on hope, but good risk management would have been better!
Are we fatally attracted to flaunting with disaster, our dodgy defense has been a major issue for a long time!
Keeping on the positive - I also believe we've just enough to avoid relegation, and I really hope Bertrand returns on good form soon!

dirk_doone added 11:11 - Feb 1
At the end of the Sky Sports News deadline day special, the pundits were asked which club had come off worst out of this transfer window and they all agreed, Southampton. They said, Huddersfield knew they were already down and were preparing for life in the Championship, Cardiff's big buy was Sala but Southampton had no such excuses for failing to strengthen their squad.

It was significant that Gao flew over from China for the last few days of the transfer window to keep a close eye on things and ensure his instructions to make a profit from it were clearly followed.

arthurfane added 11:48 - Feb 1
Vanmans - not sure what your point is in listing out all those players. Of all of them I'd take two, perhaps three. I, for one, am confident in our absolute gem of a manager. If the right player had become available, we would have signed him - we all know clubs criminally inflate asking prices in January. I have confidence in the manager to keep us up - he's got rid of much of the dead wood this transfer window, and can set about properly overturning the playing squad in the summer.

SaintPaulVW added 11:51 - Feb 1
I'm still none the wiser about the Gao era.

Getting rid of Les and MH was a sensible move, appointing Ralph looks a great move so far.

I agree that shipping a few of this season's frankly 'bit part' (regardless of their excellent previous contributions to the side) and not sucking in a few journeymen to patch a few gaps was sensible. my mind we really needed a few key players to put right some glaring faults in the side. You have to live in the real world though, if the calibre of player we wanted wasn't available or isn't available until the summer, what do Saints do?

I'm still inclined to see us surviving but I still believe it will be knife edge. £30 million spent might have put me more at ease today but would it have paid off by May. Dunno? Next!

mikesaint added 12:01 - Feb 1
What is the betting on Peter Crouch scoring for Burnley against us on Saturday? He has done it before and our defence is not good at dealing with high balls.

AirFlorida added 12:06 - Feb 1
Was just going to mention the Crouch move! Guy has been sent to haunt us. Can't belive he could play on Sat.. Coming on after 75 mins with the game at 1-1..FFS.

vanmans added 12:15 - Feb 1
arthurfane I was showing that we are the only team in the bottom 7 that have not brought any new players this month. You say he's got rid of much of the dead wood this transfer window which is true but most of it is loaned out and will be back in the summer.

GeordieSaint added 12:19 - Feb 1
I for one feel very optimistic about the strategy that is being implemented. In reality the squad is not smaller, it is just that it is the young lads who are being considered rather than the established players who have been pretty abject over the past couple of seasons. The young lads need to be blooded if they are going to make it and they are clearly more suited to a high energy game. They are also going to fully buy into the coaching they get from Ralph.

Last year we broke our transfer record and look how that turned out. Also consider the players who have gone.
Cedric, good player, been a good buy but behind Valery now anyway.
Gabbiadini, class player but really what has he done since his one golden month, wasn't going to play.
Hoedt, has been pretty poor at times, was clearly not going to play
Davis, been a great saint but legs have gone a bit and was not going to play

Are any of them really going to be missed? I doubt it. Fair enough it would have been good to have beaten Palace but City thought the same thing. 8 points from the last 4 games has been a great return and I feel pretty confident about Burnley tomorrow. The manager knows what he is doing and if it all works out well we will have had a load of young players who have broken into the team. I can also see Bertrand playing left side of a back 3 when he is back so there is another defensive option.

Keep calm and carry on. The real changes will occur in the summer.

Consigliere added 12:54 - Feb 1
I'm with Nick on most of this article save as to Hoedt - very happy to see him lent out to anyone who will pay his wages. I never rated him and pleased to see others taking his place.

BoondockSaint added 14:13 - Feb 1
Yes many of those signings by other teams may not work out, but at least they are sending the message to their fans that they are making an effort.

It seems Saints have just been trying to save on wages.

Here's hoping RH can make a few silk purses..

SaintBlonde added 14:46 - Feb 1
All the club's around us have bright players in... 2 of Brighton transfers don't join till the summer, 38 year old Peter crouch? Palace are paying batshuayi £160 a week! Crazy money! Newcastle have made a couple of good signing, having barely spent any money at all in over 10 years. The rest of the signings are hardly game changers are they!? The fact is our squad is too big. RH stated that and said it needed to be cut. Gabbi out on a permanent, a couple of loans, David out of contract end of season. I think it's been a good window. As long as we don't get any injuries we will be fine and have offloaded some players and wages ready to build in the summer. No one was available for reasonable money that would actually IMPROVE us so what's the point in buying just for the sake of it?it would put us in a worse position with the less space, money, wages in the summer to sign players that WIPL improve us.

highfield49 added 15:01 - Feb 1
The single addition that I would really have liked during the transfer window would have been the acquisition of a genuine on field leader. I'm not sure that any of the players have filled the void left by Fonte in that respect.

underweststand added 15:44 - Feb 1
Reading everything above.....I could probably agree with a sentence or two from everyone, but the truth of the matter is that we have this squad till the end of the season, but Ralph put his head on the block by coming here in the first place, and now seems satisfied that he CDAJFU with those players he already has.
Those who remain... and the youngsters who've had their first taste of will be raraing to get on the pitch and make a good impression. Genuine motivation to play may outweigh the salary issue, if it means consolidating / improving their team place.


landerwal added 16:11 - Feb 1
Good article and to the point. However, we did make one signing this season and that was RH and he was the best one since Koeman left.

Cjay80 added 17:26 - Feb 1
Vanmans I agree that the other clubs are showing intent but I doubt any of those signings would make our current first 11.

SanMarco added 19:29 - Feb 1
I think in previous years Les would feel the fans anxiety and pick an overpriced player at random to sign. If we end up safe then I am pleased we didn't do that but I think leaving our flimsy defence unstrenghtened is a big risk. Those hard-fought 1-0 wins that make all the difference are very hard to come by with a defence as flakey as ours.

Still Ralph has earned the right to make the big decisions and I trust he knows what he is doing. If we want to keep him we will have to show some ambition though.

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