Season 2019/19 Review ! The Full Backs
Monday, 3rd Jun 2019 10:49
Sometimes they were full backs and other times wing backs, here we take a look at those defensive wide men who served us over the last season.
Saints relied on four players, two on each side to cover the full back roles last season on the right in the first half of the season it was mainly Cedric Soares and then in the second half Yan Valery took over and made the spot his own on the right Ryan Bertrand did the lions share of the work, but he was ably abetted by Matt Targett who filled in when necessary and also played with Bertrand at times.
All did a fairly decent job in what at times in the first half of the season an utter shambles, so lets take a look at them individually.
Cedric Soares was starting to get the crowd on his back as the calendar year ended, however he still played a few games under Ralph Hasenhuttl and overall he is a class player, he suffered as many did in playing in a defence nay team that was utterly devoid of any leadership either on or off the pitch in the first half of the season, full backs need a good organising central defender behind them calling the shots and bluntly we didn't have that and therefore we paid a heavy price.
Cedric started 16 games plus another 2 as sub in the Premier League and so was pretty much a constant up to early January when it became clear that with a year left on his contract and his desire to return to mainland Europe, Saints with Yan Valery emerging looked to try and get a bigger fee sorted now rather than see his value drop in the summer.
Both Saints and Cedric thought this was done when they arranged a loan deal with the option for a permanent move to Inter Milan, however it seems that the Italians had no intention of seeing this deal though and were merely looking for cover for the short term, so it looks like Cedric won't be returning to Milan.
Whilst like all his team mates he had his poor moments he also had his good for Saints last season, who can forget his screamer against Manchester United in what proved to be Mark Hughes final game.
Over his four years at the club he has been steady rather than spectacular and he as much as anyone has suffered from a lack of a real target man to hit when he makes overlapping runs.
The rumour is that he will return to Sporting Lisbon and Saints will get a reasonable amount of profit on their investment in 2015, he should go with the best wishes of all Saints fans, he always gave 100%, sometimes that was not good enough, but for much of his time here he played in sides poorly managed and that did not help.
Good luck Cedric !
Yan Valery was one of the surprises of the season, he had not appeared for Saints in any first team competitive fixture until the trip to Leicester in the EFL on 27th November, he would play in every Premier League game after that with 20 starts and 3 off the bench.
Add to that a couple of goals, a screamer against Manchester United at Old Trafford and an equaliser against Spurs the following weekend a goal which it could be said changed not only the course of the season but the whole attitude of the fan base and Valery's contribution to the season cannot be underestimated.
Turning only 20 in February he is still raw but he is learning with each game and is a true find, it is hard to see him not continuing as the first choice right back, with the only question being a back up.
On the left Ryan Bertrand looked a sorry figure in the early part of the season and it was more than just the shambles that was going on around him, having just turned 29 he had suffered two major blows in the 12 months preceding this season, firstly despite countless rumours no Big Six club came calling and he was having to accept that they never approaching the milestone of his thirties.
But if that was not bad enough he also had been dropped from the England World Cup squad in a decision that was baffling and stank of big club bias as Gareth Southgate selected Danny Rose a player who had barely played all season ahead of Bertrand who had been in good form.
This saw him start 2018/19 as a player with little motivation and at a low ebb and he didn't seem to be getting any help from Mark Hughes.
When he suddenly was listed as having a back problem in early November many suspected that his heart wasn't in it any more and his performances had certainly been evidence of that, he was going through the motions.
When he returned to the side in February it was harsh on Matt Targett who was dropped, but in truth Bertrand looked to have some of his old spark back for the rest of the season, again it seems that Ralph Hasenhuttl had had a little hesrt to heart with him.
The issue now for Saints is that with Bertrand turning 30 they have Matt Targett chomping at the bit, also Bertand is entering the last two years of his contract, he will still have a reasonable sell on value, but at 32 in two years time it will be virtually nil.
The problem is that the player is on a good contract here that he would find hard to match at anywhere bar a big six club, add to that the fact that outside of the big six it is much of a muchness as was shown by Burnley's contrasting last two seasons and it is hard to see him feeling that the grass is any greener elsewhere.
I have the feeling that Saints would be happy to accept a decent bid, but the player might feel that if he has to take a pay drop he is no better off at the likes of Wolverhampton or Watford than he would be here.
This leads us nicely into Matt Targett, he will turn 24 in September and after a season at Fulham two years ago and having played 13(3) in the Premier League last term is now as ready as he will ever be to be the first choice on the left side.
When he played Targett never let us down and got a goal that till the final four minutes looked like it would be the winner against Bournemouth, that game showed that playing him in tandem with Ryan Bertrand is an option.
The problem is that at present Ryan Bertrand is still a better player, but will he be in a years time ? probably not in 2 years time and Targett has not got that much time to wait.
So it is a big dilemma for Saints, Targett himself is not short of admirers in the Premier League and wit him not being amongst the biggest earners at St Mary's those admirers will tempt him with decent offers.
The player will surely be speaking to Ralph Hasenhuttl in the summer and wanting to know where he stands, he might be willing to give it another season in Ryan Bertrand's shadow, but I doubt that he would now accept that, I don't blame him for that , this is not a player demanding a big money move, it is one that having proved himself at the top level he wants regular first team football.
So Saints have to decide whether to give him that, or to let him go now for a reasonable fee and stick with Ryan Bertrand hoping that in the next two years they can source a replacement that is as good as Matt Targett.
It's a difficult question and one that Yan Valery will be glad that he isn't left footed, if he was and Targett Right, then it would be the roles reversed and Valery would not have had his chance to the degree he has.
All in all Saints have been strong in the full back department, they have had the service of four Premier League proven players and don't need to spent money here.
But it will be a season where at least one of the four will leave and possibly two, it will be interesting to see who the second is.
Photo: Action Images
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