|Southampton 1 v 3 AFC Bournemouth|
Barclays Premier League
Friday, 20th September 2019 Kick-off 20:00
Hasenhutl Hints At Rift With Ryan Bertrand
Friday, 20th Sep 2019 08:14
Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that all is not well in his relationship with Ryan Bertrand, something that his recent team selections have hinted at.
Rumours have been in the air about a rift between Ryan Bertrand and Ralph Hasenhuttl after a disagreement after the Liverpool game a month ago.
A week later it was announced that Bertrand had an ankle injury strangely Hasenhuttl took the step of saying that Bertrand would not have been in the team even if fit fuelling those rumours, although for most the underlying tension was missed.
A week later although Bertrand appeared to be back in full training he was not in the matchday 18 for the game against Manchester United and with an international break things quietened down.
But at Sheffield United things started to become a little more open and questions started to be asked.
With a three man centre of defence and Moussa Djenepo playing as a left wing back, eyebrows were raised as to why Bertrand was not back in the team.
A first half in which it was clear that we lacked the organisation to be able to get away with Djenepo in this position, did not see a change at half time, but a rejigging of the starting XI with Cedric moving across to left back and James Ward Prowse dropping into right wing back, it was not ideal but it worked against Sheffield United, but the feeling was a decent side might have tore a hole in us.
Whilst Saints fans truse Ralph Hasenhuttl implicity, it was strange we went with a patched up defence with no changes in the second half when we had the natural defenders in Bertrand and Yan Valery sat on the bench.
Ralph has now spoken of the situation after being asked at yesterday's press conference why Bertrand is being overlooked and had he spoken to the player about the situation.
“Not so far,” said Hasenhuttl. “As always after being injured when the team is successful it is not so easy to come back in the team. It is for every player the same.
“If somebody else is playing in the position and the team is successful they must wait for the moment to come in."
“I am happy that I have him and it gives me more quality when he’s fit and helps me.
“The most important thing for me is that we stay flexible and hard to read and hard to look at us and that is maybe one of our biggest strengths at the moment that nobody knows how we play or what positions the guys are coming and this can be a big advantage.”
I take the point Hasenhuttl that Hasenhuttl is making about it being difficult for a player to get back into the side, but at Sheffield the player who had replaced Bertrand in the previous two games Kevin Danso was injured and although the formation was changing for this game, the fact that three central defenders were being employed made it even more the type of game that would have suited Bertrand.
That being the case it was not difficult for Bertrand to return to the line up, after all Cedric himself was making only his second start of the League campaign and prior to the Manchester United game had been only an unused substitute in the previous league games.
He had come in for Jan Valery who was dropped for the visit of United and indeed when a change was needed Valery could equally have been employed but like Bertrand sat idle.
In one respect you can see why Ralph wanted to keep his side intact, he was trying to take the game to to the Blades and to be blunt, if they are one of the sides you would feel that you can attack a little more in an away game.
So from this perspective the Austrian's tactics were a gamble but made perfect sense.
But his comments hint at issues between him and Ryan Bertrand and it will be interesting to see what his formation will be when Bournemouth visit this evening when he needs the strength and pace of Danso to combat their bursts of attacking play on the break.
Will be slot him in a central trio and if so will it be Vestergaard or Yoshida who drop out ?
Or will Danso be used out of position as a wing back ?
The good thing is that Hasenhuttl likes to keep people guessing and can change not only from game to game, but within the matches themselves as the situation develops, his pro active approach is good to see as the Saints boss himself alluded to.
“This is maybe the most interesting part of being a manager,” he smiled. “It is sometimes compared with playing chess and you must maybe think about what the opponent does with the next move and then you have to have the answer.
“It’s not always necessary maybe but if you have a team that can do it then it helps massively.
“In modern football it is necessary to have a plan b or maybe even c or d. This is what we were working on in the whole season so far, the pre-season and since I am here maybe.
“To switch from a back four to a back five is not difficult for us.”
So whilst it is slightly worrying to think that Bertrand might be at odds with the manager, overall it shows that Ralph is not afraid to back his own judgement and sees the good of the team as a whole as more important than individual players.
Photo: Action Images
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