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Is It Time To Make Matt Targett 1st Choice ?
Wednesday, 19th Jun 2019 08:58

Matt Targett does not seem to be short of offers to move away from St Mary's with Liverpool & Arsenal two alleged suitors, but is it time to cash in or secure his future at Saints.

There is nothing wrong with Ryan Bertrand in the Saints team at present, it cannot be denied that at the start of last season he looked a pale imitation of the player he was in previous years, but he could be excused that given the body blows he had received in that not only had he been dropped from the England squad for the world Cup but as he tuned 29 has probably come to realise that last summer had seen the last chance of a move to a big club pass him by.

In the first half of the campaign he looked jaded and when he picked up an injury that would eventually keep him out of the side for three months you suspected that his heart wasn't in it anymore.

However he returned in February and looked a lot more like the player that he had been in his first four seasons at the club and pretty much kept Matt Targett out of the side for the rest of the term.

Targett though let no one down in his time deputising for Bertrand, he looked a solid player and it was hard on him to be dropped for Bertrand, Ralph Hasenhuttl showed that he can make hard decisions in doing that, other managers might well have kept playing Targett in that he was playing well and not doing anything to warrant dropping, but Ralph clearly felt that Bertrand was the better player or at least more suited to the system.

So now Saints have a dilemma, Bertrand will turn 30 in August and after 5 years great service is entering the twilight of his career, his game is very much about pace, but that pace will start to go and so will his transfer value.

So is it the time to cash in now whilst he has a reasonable value and also getting high wages off the books, not to mention that we have a replacement ready to step in.

Matt Targett though will turn 24 shortly after the season starts and he is at an age where he needs regular first team football and this is a big summer for him, so Saints dilemma is whether they back him now as the first choice left back or face selling him.

The truth is that Ryan Bertrand is still the better player, but the gap is closing between the two and could well start to close up at a faster pace this coming season.

Targett seems to have a lot of suitors including Arsenal, Liverpool & Aston Villa, although the likelihood is only Villa would be able to offer him the opportunity to play many more games than he will get at St Marys in the Premier League.

One likely factor is the playing style of Ralph Hasenhuttl, he has spoken of the way he wants to play and that is with pace and utilising that by playing three at the back, in that respect Bertrand is far more of a wing back and able to bomb forward and get back to defend, Targett is more a traditional left back comfortable in a back four.

He uses the ball more and his ability to play the ball into the channels and cross the ball is very good, but he isn't the up and down player that Ralph would like to see.

So which player is likely to be at St Mary's next season and which one is likely to go ?

I think that it is likely to be Matt Targett who will be leaving, he will command a bigger transfer fee than Bertrand due to his age and certainly seems to be in more demand, that being the case it would bring in much needed funds for the squad to be improved.

However it would mean that the search for a replacement for Ryan Bertrand would have to start almost immediately as with his recent injury issues if Targett left we would have no cover in that position.

It is a good problem to have, but it is a tricky one, ideally Matt Targett would stay, I feel that it could be a breakthrough season for him, but he hasn't got time on his side, he has tasted the Premier League and knows he is up to the standard of it, he needs regular first team football now.

So which one do you thin should stay and which one should go , vote in our poll below.!/polls/2313/whic-pla

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NewburySaint added 10:16 - Jun 19
Definitely keep Bertrand & sell Targett-i actually don't think Targett played that well in Bertrand's absence, other than against Arsenal at home, and may have passed up his opportunity then to become 1st choice.

Saints also potentially have Bertrand's long term replacement in Jake Vokins who, although may not be ready just yet, has been much vaunted and pushed through the ranks for a few years now.

codge added 12:46 - Jun 19
Keep Bertrand mainly so much better at getting back defensively than Targett who got caught out of position so many times.

Stafford_Saint added 13:43 - Jun 19
A good article that shows very well the complexity of squad management. Plenty of good points. However I would possibly question the remark of Hassenhuttl's playing style. Whilst it's very pertinent that will come into mind when making decisions about who to retain, there is a chance we could guess Herr H's style incorrectly. He's still new to us. I wonder if he is a '3 at the back with wing-backs aside' guy. Has he not used 'flat back four' elsewhere plenty of times and was it not the case that he went with 3 here for reasons of the moment?

underweststand added 15:47 - Jun 19
"Local boy makes good".......always has a nice ring to it, and many fans hace a real affinity for yet another Academy lad (especially one who grew up in the area), but let's remember that both Gareth Bale and Luke Shaw had a horrendous start to their respective careers after they moved.

The real question being - Is Targett ready to replace Bertrand? the moment I have to reluctantly say: NOT YET. This is not a slur on Matt's excellent progress, but on Bertrand's experience which - if he continues - may mean that Targett will have to wait another year ...or two to get a shot at the regular LB spot, and another year or two for the fast-improving Jake Vokins to have to stay put in the U23's ...

It's a difficult call, but Ralph will be the one to make it , and hopefully he will get it right.


LoisDeem added 10:34 - Jun 20
Like most things, this 'dilemma' revolves around the other defensive and team dynamics (even sales).
Depending whether Ralph wants to use two or three centrally, how many of said personnel are retained or bought in, and whether he'll look to a more fluid 'bombing on' wingback meets defensive midfielder. If we sort out the other more critical defensive quandaries, the two main protaganists for the left back berth could be more able used in the style of the very successful Bridge Marsden tandem, with Vokins learning his lines accordingly.

LoisDeem added 10:35 - Jun 20
"ably /flexibly"

SaintBrock added 13:44 - Jun 20
We should stop pissing around and offer Bertie a new contract, he's worth every penny and is one of the few proper footballers we have.

SaintBrock added 13:51 - Jun 20
I don't understand why Targett is still here as Fulham would obviously like him and if rumours are true they've offered decent money. He will always be a bridesmaid here.

underweststand added 08:39 - Jun 23
The Prime Minister who once quoted .." a week is a long time in politics" obviously wasn't in touch with the football world. Just hours after I published my post (above) came the story
that two clubs were interested to buy Ryan Bertrand, and so the headline question in this thread has almost answered itself.

Ralph's admitted preference to build a team around young talents may suggest that he feels the time is right to use Matt Targett - if Bertrand does go.

YES we would be losing a valuable, experienced player who - if he stayed fit - might well give us another good season - whilst waiting for his 30th birthday to arrive. On the other hand, Matt T. won't be thinking about the end of his career, but perhaps the start of it.

On the purely mercenary side - we'd be moving on an aging player - for a fairly good fee and see another high-salaried player off the books. I'd call that a win-win situation. Let's see what "next week " brings.

Alehouse added 14:10 - Jun 23
Bertrand would have to slow down an awful lot before Target could beat him in a sprint.

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