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The Worst Defence In The Premier League !
Tuesday, 22nd Oct 2019 11:55

Technically it is still only the 3rd worst, but I would suggest that if we are not careful with a couple of tricky fixtures coming up that position might change.

Saints have conceded 16 goals in the opening 9 Premier League fixtures and only the two bottom clubs Watford and Norwich City have conceded more, both with 21 in the goals against column.

I would say a fair assessment of our situation is this, we are ok in the full back department, our issue is in the centre of defence.

It is a bold statement but I would say that not one of our current central defenders, or at least those that have played there so far, would not get a game at any other Premier League club, pretty damning, but I don't think I am far wrong.

I would also say that if we took two central defenders from any other Premier League side and put them in our team, then we would be comfortably in mid table.

That is the good news, I don't think we have a bad team, just a poor centre of defence, so there is some hope yet.

As I have said till I'm blue in the face this means that we will get away with things in some games, but in others we will defend like rank amateurs and pay the price.

Good teams build from the centre of the back four, our teams under both Pochettino and Ronald Koeman did, solid defenders who could keep things tight and were organised, Jose Fonte was not always the best defender it terms of his quality, but he could read a game and control and organise things at the back and we are sorely missing that at the moment.

Var is much maligned by fans of many clubs, but for us it is our best defender so far this season.

The light at the end of the tunnel though is that with the changes in the recruitment side of things perhaps we can rectify things in January, in the summer we seemed to be focusing on a certain type of player, one that had to be young and hungry etc, we seemed to ignore experience and as Lawrie Mcmenemy would always say, you need variety in any side, you need an experienced player who can call the shots.

Gary Cahill would have been an ideal signing, but we seemed to shy away from that type of signing, but sometimes you have to spend money on players that won't have a resale value to get a job done.

Last night Phil Jagielka sat on the bench for Sheffield United, as he has done for most of the season, but he would walk into our central defence and that tells you something, the Blades beat Arsenal because they have a tight back four who know there job and how to do it, they are everything we are not and that is organised.

They are not the best players, but they are disciplined and that is why the Blades sit in 9th place 4 points above us and no other side has conceded less than them.

The next two months will be tough, but we can do nothing about it other than try and encourage our team and stir them on to victory, then hopefully in January things will change, in fact they have to change.

So our task is simple starting with the Leicester game we have 11 Premier League fixtures where we will win some and lose some, the likes of Yoshida and Vestergaard are too old in the tooth to suddenly become class acts who can read and organise a game, but aisde from actually playing Kevin Danso in the position we signed him for, we have to stick with them.

We need to get more than 11 points in this period, if we can do that then we need to get a central defender identified, signed up and ready to play in the first week of January.

Forget the blueprint remember that the Southampton Way was never just about developing young players it was also about nurturing those youngsters by playing them alongside experienced pros, whether it was Ted Bates, Lawrie McMenemy or Chis Nicholl, there was always an old head or two in and amongst the fresh young faces.

At the moment we are the worst defence in the Premier League, I have never seen such a shambles, if you say i have something against the likes of Yoshida and Stephens etc as some used to accuse me of a couple of years ago, but not so much now, I make no apologies, we have failed to deal with the situation for the last three years, DO SO IN JANUARY !

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HythePeer added 12:12 - Oct 22
We can whine about wanting better players as much as we like but better players want to play with better teams. The problem is poor selection and poor tactics.
3

TimSaint added 12:21 - Oct 22
Panic buy on 31st Jan of some unknown - in a poor attempt to appease the fans ?

Hopefully the signing will be able to talk to and organise the defence, because nobody does it currently. Even FF used to bark out commands to help his defence.

I don't think Danso is the answer either. He tries too hard not to make mistakes and because of this, doesn't focus on positioning. Maybe it would be different if he played CB, but if he excelled in training in this position, then I'm sure RH would have included him in his tinkering.

We could try Bertrand as a left sided CB or in a 3 - but would miss his pace down the wing.

I guess the only other option we have is to recall Hoedt to freshen things up and perhaps even Lemina could do something similar to our stagnant midfield trio.
-2

SNAILOB added 12:54 - Oct 22
We play with two holding midfielders and I would question whether we are getting enough out of them as well. Same goes for the Goalkeeper.

Would also say another problem with this team is that we do not have any leaders on the pitch, no-one to direct play etc.
7

I_would added 12:56 - Oct 22
WE haven't got a midfield. No outlet for CB's, they're stuck on the ball with no movement from MF or WB's and end up booting it up to Ings. Hojbjerg, Ward Prowse and Romeu need replacing.
3

codge added 13:04 - Oct 22
Nick first time l totally agreed with you,most times you get it right in my eyes about 80 percent of the time which is really well thought out.I do not believe for on,e reason or another it will be fixed in January as anyone that is available any good will not to come to a team that could be in danger of going down.As we have all said for 3yrs or so this should of been sorted long ago but don't hold your breaths.
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IWOZTHERE added 13:06 - Oct 22
I'm sure this is down to Ralph not recognising how poor Vester is.... His 'stock' was high enough in the Summer to have persuaded the board to find the money somehow if he was of that mind...or does he believe he can 'walk on water'? and conver tdross into gold? You know it, I know it, everybodycould see it coming.
I mentioned Cahill and Jagielka on here and on the DE site on multiple occasions as short term options without much capital outlay... We needed an organiser/ leader, not another novice!
5

JGH added 13:50 - Oct 22
WE GET IT MATE!

You're absolutely spot on, as you were the other 57 times you're written the same article...

If you don't have anything new or interesting to say, it's okay to not write an article for a day or two.
2

pintsizedsaint added 14:04 - Oct 22
A bit harsh, but fair assessment Nick.

Personally, I would try a 3-5-2 in which you have Yoshida and Bednarek (or Vestergaard at a push) in CB with Danso playing slightly in front of them as protection and to roam into supporting midfield and countering any counter-attacks. You then have Bertrand and Valery as wing backs, leaving you with three central midfielders to flex with.

You can mix up those three central midfielders according to specific tactics. Most times, employ a defensive midfielder to break up play but also with a bit of creative spark and ability to score = PEH. You DO NOT have PEH and Romeu in the same equation, use Danso and PEH or Romeu to create a solid link between defence and midfield.

That leaves you filling up the middle of the park with creativity. Ideally, I would see this as Redmond and Armstrong, but with JWP and Boufal being able deputies and adding a bit of tactical flex. You would build that on having Ings and Adams up front, although you could again flex up by having Redmond up top and bringing in JWP/Boufal etc.

Personally I would build my team around this with variances to keep teams guessing but placing emphasis on high field pressing and ability to attack without leaving us totally exposed to counter attacks. Get people playing in a certain formula first before flexing.

I would also like to see more of Armstrong – giving him a bit more licence to go collect the ball as well as high press etc.

But then what do I know?!
0

pintsizedsaint added 14:04 - Oct 22
A bit harsh, but fair assessment Nick.

Personally, I would try a 3-5-2 in which you have Yoshida and Bednarek (or Vestergaard at a push) in CB with Danso playing slightly in front of them as protection and to roam into supporting midfield and countering any counter-attacks. You then have Bertrand and Valery as wing backs, leaving you with three central midfielders to flex with.

You can mix up those three central midfielders according to specific tactics. Most times, employ a defensive midfielder to break up play but also with a bit of creative spark and ability to score = PEH. You DO NOT have PEH and Romeu in the same equation, use Danso and PEH or Romeu to create a solid link between defence and midfield.

That leaves you filling up the middle of the park with creativity. Ideally, I would see this as Redmond and Armstrong, but with JWP and Boufal being able deputies and adding a bit of tactical flex. You would build that on having Ings and Adams up front, although you could again flex up by having Redmond up top and bringing in JWP/Boufal etc.

Personally I would build my team around this with variances to keep teams guessing but placing emphasis on high field pressing and ability to attack without leaving us totally exposed to counter attacks. Get people playing in a certain formula first before flexing.

I would also like to see more of Armstrong – giving him a bit more licence to go collect the ball as well as high press etc.

But then what do I know?!
-1

underweststand added 14:47 - Oct 22
the real problem is that our opponents have been doing their homework, too. and we've been sussed out already. Thank goodness that VAR has become our 12th man.
Angus Gunn is not a bad keeper, but he is young and still has a lot to learn.
We've seen him pull of great saves, but I think he's conceded more than he has saved.
McCarthy is not a world-beater but I'd like to see him get a run of games instead.

Everyone gets enthusaiastic about wing backs, but by definition a full back is primarily a defender and many times ours are too slow to react and lose their opponent too easily..
Much the same arguement for the CB's. I can never understand Nick's criticism of Maya Yoshida when you consider most of the games he has played in preceding seasons were as emergency RB- a position he's not well suited to. He started with Saints at LB hence his no.3 shirt. He is the only experienced defender in the club. Jack Stephens blows hot and cold and Vestergaard's obvious disadvanatge is his inability to turn quickly-at 6'7" it's like trying to turn a super tanker and fast runners beat him every time. Bednarek is the most depebdable overall, but he too lacks pace although his last ditch tackles are often vital.

Hjobjerg just isn't the player he was last season ...Does he take the captaincy role too seriously? ..and Romeo has always given 100% - give or take a few yellow cards - but he will never be better than he is now. JWP is a disappointment this season when we recall his perfomances in the second half of last season. whe he netted 7 times after January.

All of these have defensive duties as part of theri role in the team but to see the likes of Danny Ings coming back into midfield to help out and trying to win the ball shows that something is wrong in Ralph's total plan of things. Either they are not doing what he wants, or they are but what he wants is not the right answer.

There is a lot of encouraging talk about the unity and determination in the squad but unless we turn the corner soon, we have to admit that there are more than a few who - just aren't good enough.
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CheshireSaint added 15:30 - Oct 22
I personally think our fans are overly negative about some of our players a good 8 out of our starting 11 are good players, i'd argue Yoshida would get into quite a few other prem sides starting 11, Vestergaard Bednarek i'm afraid are letting us down in defence... Bednarek needs to improve but hes got time cause he's young Vestergaard needs to toughen up and act like the 6ft6 beast he could be, outside of the CBs there is one player who constantly lets us down.. James Ward-Prowse yes stats say he runs around a lot.. but running around doing what.. cause it's not tackling nor running forward with the ball.. the only thing i see him doing is getting near a player but not tackling..then passing it backwards slowing down the whole move...waste of a space in the team that Armstrong or Boufal should have in my opinion.
8

halftimeorange added 17:21 - Oct 22
This article is preaching to the converted. Our centre backs are certainly not good enough to set alight the EPL but, they could be coached to be adequate which is the case with many of the clubs outside the top six - as has been said already, Sheff Utd showed exactly that last night against Arsenal. The only recent midfielder likely to provide flair was Lemina but, it seems he wanted out so didn't toe the party line. That leaves a midfield which isn't quite good enough - how we miss having a Steven Davis who made everyone around him look so much better - but, could be coached to be more cohesive as a unit. And then there's the forwards, yes they're often shot-shy however, a lot of our problems go back to the midfield. Ings and Gabbiadini before him make or made intelligent runs only to be totally ignored by the likes of JWP and PEH. Why are the coaches apparently not demanding more positive football when the groans have been echoing around St Marys for three seasons accompanying negative, stilted play? When has Adams been given a golden opportunity in front of goal? Whilst our defence and our midfield do not play respectively as tight and positive units our attackers spend much of the game coming back for the ball. The solutions lay largely at the feet of the coaches. They aren't doing their jobs. As an aside, watch Yoshida in comparison to JWP. More attacks from open play are started by Maya than James. How can that be so?
11

helpineedsomebody added 17:29 - Oct 22
i noticed on sunday watching the highlights of the wolves game & all of you watch carefully YOSHI when defending watches the ball
not the player he is sureposed to be marking allowing the attacking player to find more space & more importantly get behind him giving the attacking player more options.

you would think after 7years at the club YOSHI SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAUGHT NOT
TO BALL WATCH BUT MARK HIS PLAYER
THATS WHY HE IS A LIABILTY AT CENTRE HALF
GET THE DEFENCE TO MARK THERE PLAYERS

-1

landerwal added 18:01 - Oct 22
In the past I have felt that some criticism of our defenders was unjustified, but season after season the situation has just got worse. Too often our CB's are like rabbits caught in car headlights, frozen to the spot when any opposition forward makes a run straight for them. What confidence has just melted away. No wonder we are top of the Premiership table for giving away leading positions in a game. We must buy a decent CB in January or we could find ourselves scrapping for survival for the rest of the season. I would also suggest, in a week where Tyrone Mings was rightly lauded for his defensive and leadership qualities on his England debut, Saints management have closer look at who we let go at 16, especially central defenders because we have not had a decent one playing for us for many years.
6

bstokesaint added 06:38 - Oct 23
What on earth is wrong with this club?! Just three months into a new season and I can tell you now these comments mirror those at the same point last season and I imagine the one before that. We are in danger of throwing the season away again before Christmas or even worse this time! We can’t keep getting lucky.

We all know our central defence is a weakness, but it’s way too simplistic to say that any other defensive partnership in the PL would move us up a few positions. I personally don’t believe it. For starters Yoshida is a well-seasoned international defender. If he played alongside VVD, with Schneiderlin and Wanyama sat in front, with Lambert in front of them we wouldn’t even be discussing the defence. Our core is weak. The defence have naff all protection from the midfield and there is no creativity or hold up play up top. Just look at the formula that worked for us when we did well. Now we have a handful of decent players which lack leadership and probably have no clue what they are supposed to be doing. Personally I’d just stop all the stupid tinkering and overcoaching, get players used to roles they are comfortable with and strengthen the core. I’d love to think we’ll strengthen in the winter window, but we won’t because we don’t like to admit when we’re making mistakes. Or spend money. And I’m not sure come May there will be three teams worse than us..
1

underweststand added 09:18 - Oct 23
to landerval......whilst most of us would agree with your early comments the example of Tyrone Mings "release" has another side to it.
At the time he left the club aged 16 - it was part of the cost-cutting measures from the (then) new chairman Nicola Cortese who more or less scrapped the youth set-up as we know it. (This was confirmed by Mings in an interview several months ago). Around the same time "The Receiver " oversaw the sales of Surman and Dyer as they were our most saleable assets at the time, despite both having been fine graduates from Youth sides.

It's also true that we haven't produced a class CB from the Academy since its inception. The closest we come may have been Jack Stephens, who although putting in some fair performances from time to time really isn't anywhere near a good Prem. standard.

Most "successful " from the youth sides have been full backs; Bale, Shaw and Targett and amongst MF players; Oxlade Chamberlain, Lallana and Ward-Prowse (you can all argue amongst yourselves on the definition of "successful" ). The number of good strikers who have come through the Academy in recent times can be counted on your thumbs, as players like Obafemi had a lightning start but lost his ranking after long injury absences.

Some of the other sales we've made have been after developing young-ish players from other clubs who have improved during their time at SMS; Clyne, Cork and Wanyama are typical examples. This always goes in phases and at present Rahdi Jaidi is struggling with a U23 side that has too many inexperienced teenagers in it after the departure of Gallagher and Targett - and whilst the likes of; Hesketh, Reed, Jones, O'Connor, Johnson, Sims and Barnes are cutting their teeth on loan-outs to clubs at quite a different level.

Ralph has been very vocal on using Academy lads (whenever possible), but the truth is that there aren't too many "diamonds in the rough" just now. Some of them look good at U18/U23 level but that's a world away from the required "Prem. standard" we need.




1

underweststand added 09:44 - Oct 24
as a postscript to most of what has been said above. Many people seem to be saying that we've never replaced VvD. (which is true ), but I would maintain that we've never successfully replaced Jose Fonte.
Alan Pardfew persuaded him to step down to L1 level in 2009 and in time he went on to make successful partnerships with ; Jaidi, Hooiveld, Lovren, Alderweireld, Yoshida and Wanyama even before VvD appeared on the scene, and to some extent Jose made them look a little bit better than they may have been without him.
When you consider he didn't really come into his own until he started winning caps for Portugal when past 30 (and still gets game time there at 35). I ask myself what possessed Saints to let him go and leave us totally dependent on VvD (who was crocked by Jamie Vardy two weeks afterwards).
Many defenders come into their own late on in their careers and maybe our biggest mistake was not in selling VVD - but letting Fonte go when we did.
0

Arundel_Saint added 22:39 - Oct 25
I've been a supporter since 1962;
had my say, as we do, on many occasions, both good and bad, but tonight , I would expect every player who stepped onto the park tonight to donate his inflated salary to a decent charity of his choice, and the manager to tender his resignation without a massive payout for his incompetence..........
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