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Ralph Hails Defensive Improvement ! But Is He Right To ?
Monday, 16th Sep 2019 09:06

Ralph Hasenhuttl is pleased about his sides recent lack of goals against, but is he truly happy or deep down should he be concerned ?

Ralph hasenhuttl is a manager who believes in positives and not negatives, he works on building the confidence of his players rather than criticising them in public, this can sometimes puzzle fans though and that could be the case after the 1-0 win at Sheffield United.

Ralph had this to say about the defence needing to perform this season :

“It’s important. I think that was the biggest problem last season. This season it’s not the case that we don’t give them any chances, they still have chances because it’s very difficult in the Premier League to not give them a chance.

“Also the goalkeepers Angus and Alex (McCarthy) make a good development this season and the back five were very concentrated. It is good to see things develop that you have been working on. This can hopefully continue.

“Finally you need a bit of luck also, but luck you have to work for and I think in the moment it was a deserved win for us because we worked hard and we believe in what we’re doing.”

Whilst the Saints manager needs to boost his side, those at the game might disagree with him slightly about our concentration on Saturday, it was a strange back 5, in the centre it had Bednarek on the right, Yoshida in the middle and Vestergaard on the left supported by wing backs, Cedric on the right and Djenepo of the left.

In the first half this was not working and we were constantly being caught out of position due to an appalling lack of communication, the central player in these situations has to command his defence and keep them focused and concentrated, but he needs to keep them talking so they know where they should be.

Prior to the break the Blades poured down our left flank where Djenepo starting his first ever Premier League game needed talking through it and guidance, he seemed to be getting none, so he was caught out of position a lot in that first half.

But it was not just the left flank it was the centre as well, David McGoldrick was left completely unmarked and through on goal and really should have put the hosts 1-0 up, Gunn saving well.

This highlighted our problems, no one is talking to each other in the back four and that means our central defenders drift and lose their men.

A swift change just before the break to switch Djenepo and Cedric stemmed the tide and after the break JWP played as the wing back and that quelled that problem.

But there were plenty more, not least when VAR saved us when again a man was left unmarked at the back post.

Ralph talks about teams getting chances, Sheffield United created 17, to put that in perspective, all out attacking Liverpool only created 21 to beat Newcastle 3-1, Spurs had 13 and Chelsea 11.

17 is a high number of attempts on goal, luckily for us the Blades couldn't hit a barn door and only got 4 on target.

Everyone knows what the issue has been in the past 2 1/2 years since we lost Van Dijk and Fonte, we have no leadership in the defence, on Saturday we were lacking Kevin Danso and he will undoubtedly add something in the centre of defence, he will addd strength and pace, but at 21 he is not going to add experience and certainly not the leadership qualities that come with it.

Ralph is right you need a bit of luck and on Saturday we got it, but we were playing one of the poorer sides in the division, against at least 15 other sides we would not have been so lucky, they have strikers that can finish and on another day this could have been a rout.

But we can only work with what we have, we have to get wins like this that keep us safely in mid table and then we have to look to bring in a leader in defence in January, perhaps the type of player that we need does not fit the club's player profile, but teams need balance and we haven't got it at present, the solution to our problem is not at the club so we need to bring him in.

On a brighter note our attacking play was great to watch and going forward we have no issues, but all good sides are build on being solid at the back, if we had just one of the Van Dijk or Fonte of a few years ago we would be a formidable force again, we are that close to having a decent side.

So Ralph is right to praise his defenders, but deep down he knows that he is winging it, we have to get through the next few months and then we can hopefully do something about it.

Photo: Action Images

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SonicBoom added 09:36 - Sep 16
We have needed a CB from when Fonte left. To be fair we have bought several but none of them seems capable of organising the defence.

saint22 added 09:55 - Sep 16
I am perplexed as to why Bertrand and Valery aren't starting.......
I really think we should look at a back 4 until we sign this commanding leader CB

geezershoong1 added 11:05 - Sep 16
He got lucky Saturday. A better team would have destroyed us down the left side of the field.

IWOZTHERE added 11:17 - Sep 16
We're not flush with cash, but I'm sure they'd have stumped up funds for a CB/ leader if he'd have pushed for one. Why didn't he??? He seems obsessed with youngsters, is he worried about the challenges to his 'game plans' an experienced older guy like Cahill might bring?
Vester was back to being a liability on Saturday. He makes as many mistakes as Hoedt ever did, plus he can't jump.!

IWOZTHERE added 11:22 - Sep 16
Plus, there was little defensive improvement Saturday, even second half. We dominated in midfield and attack...

underweststand added 11:35 - Sep 16
3 clean sheets in 4 games is certainly an improvement, but we are some way away from looking at a "fixed" back 4 (or is it 3 plus wingbacks.?) Cedric may not have been MOM since his return but he's no worse than he was before. Clearly Djenepo is a better goalscorers than he is a defender, but the same can be sais of Gareth Bale when he wore played LB.
Danso looked good going forward wasn't overly-convincing either, but if we are expecting wing backs to look threatening going forward one minute and be top class defenders the next - it's a big ask.

We steadied up a bit on Saturday when Cedric switched to LB, but what happens now with Ryan Bertrand? I've praised Jake Vokins ever since he started as a 15 y.o in the U18 but Ralph has highlighted his shortcomings and he needs to be more convincing if he is to become the new LB.
So are we better in defence?...maybe another 5 games will give us a better idea, but IMHO ...every clean sheet is a sign of consistancy , and as last man .. Angus Gunn iseginning to look the part.

halftimeorange added 12:07 - Sep 16
I don't believe Ralph has settled on his best defensive options. Why Bertrand didn't come on second half on Saturday was baffling to me. Even if there's been a squabble between the two Ryan would hardly have used the opportunity to protest by deliberately playing poorly. At his worst he would have given us much needed extra cover on the left. As for Djenepo, if he's an out and out striker that's what he should be doing, not asked to waste his talent doing something he's not good at when we really need more goals at a time when Redmond is injured and both Ings and Adams can't get on the scoresheet. Ralph is certainly working in mysterious ways but, I guess we can't complain if he's getting results. One things for sure, the defence (whoever plays) will have to sharpen up against Messrs Fraser, Wilson and King on Friday night. They're not David McGoldricks.

BoondockSaint added 14:11 - Sep 16
As SonicBoom says, we have needed a proper CB/leader since Fonte left and for one reason or another we have not addressed that issue. Yes, it looked like it was sorted when we got Van Sulk, but when he left there never seemed to be any urgency to get a replacement.

If RH likes developing young players, why hasn't he brought in a seasoned defender to lead and mentor the youngsters?

LoisDeem added 16:02 - Sep 16
We won despite our unbalanced back four /five /six -which definitely contains THREE centre backs, which -sorry Ralph -does hold us back. Still I'm happy to live with this steady progress -as all the individuals are improving -and look forward to seeing the 'release of the hounds', as the perfect formation and formula is sought and eventually evolves.
With our personnel, I can't believe it will contain three centre backs.

bstokesaint added 23:01 - Sep 16
Good summary right there Nick. It sure feels like we’re riding our luck right now (VAR all good so far!).I hope we can doing so until we find that perfect starting XI. I’m allowing my excitement for the front men to drown out my concerns over fed defence/lack of leadership.

wibbersda added 15:53 - Sep 17
For SU disallowed goal I saw Yoshdi telling Hoberg to watch the back but he choose to ignore it leaving them open to finish. So there is some communication going on.

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