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Hasenhuttl Showed His Tactical Skills Against Wolves.
Wednesday, 23rd Oct 2019 09:33

Ralph Hasenhuttl took a leaf out of one of his predecessors books when he took his team up to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend, but some Saints fans barely noticed.

Claude Puel is a much maligned figure for some Saints fans despite the fact that by taking his team to 8th in the top flight plus the final of a major cup competition, the season he was in charge was about 5th in terms of best ever seasons for the club taking all things into account.

But the fans accused him on being boring and his teams of playing negative football and his days were going to be numbered.

But you can't judge a book by the cover as they say and Puel's season was very much one of two halves, in the first even though Fonte was sulking he formed a decent partnership with Virgil Van Dijk and the team played decent football in the first half of the season.

They were very capable of scoring goals as they showed at West Ham in the early part of the season, but in the New Year after losing Fonte and then Van Dijk to injury and finding himself having to play Yoshida and Jack Stephens at the back, Puel changed tactics.

After what should of been a great win at Watford which saw the home side almost claw back a point with two late goals, Puel knew he could not play attacking football for the rest of the season, he had to protect his back four.

That meant that in many games we did not commit people forward in numbers but had the midfield sit back and protect the centre of defence from being caught on the break, it wasn't pretty to watch and at times it was awful, but Puel did a job and not only made sure that relegation was never a possibility but got us up to 8th place for which his reward was the sack.

In recent weeks Saints haven't played that badly, but like three seasons ago they cannot defend on the break the Bournemouth game was real evidence of that, virtual total domination of the game, but the Cherries kept catching us on the break, similar situation against both Spurs and Chelsea and Hasenhuttl must have felt real frustration as al of his forward play was undone as we conceded 9 goals in 3 games all in similar circumstances and to be blunt most could have and should have been prevented.

The sight of our defenders floundering and completely unable to deal with counter attacking football was enough to tear any managers hair out.

That wasn't going to happen for a fourth game when we travelled to Molyneux and we saw a Saints side that in the main was disciplined, but was not prepared to get forward in numbers and play into Wolves hands by letting them run at us on the break.

In the first half we lost discipline twice and on both occasions are central defence was ripped a hole in it and the ball was in the back of the net, luckily VAR intervened and the score stayed level.

In the second half we continued in the same vein and kept our shape and didn't let the home side catch us on the back foot.

But it was not pretty to watch and when we attacked Danny Ings cut a lone figure, if we piled forward to support him as we did against in the previous three games then we would have lost without a doubt, we have the worst central defenders in the Premier League in terms of organisation and we would have been constantly caught out.

So Ralph was not negative and it was encouraging to see that our manager can see what problems he has and that he has to adapt to deal with them, under Puel people moaned that there was no entertainment and no goals, 1-0 wins or defeats were abundant, that is fine, but no one was smiling in those three games mentioned when we shipped 9 goals and scored 3 ourselves, no one was smiling and saying what great games they had seen, what attacking football and end to end stuff.

No they were seeing the frailties of our defence, some of them perhaps for the first time judging by the comments on social media over the past three years.

The job for Ralph is now to get this side through the next 11 games until the January transfer window opens, he will need to temper their attacking flair and concentrate as Puel did on not conceding. In fact make that 12 games as I doubt whether we would be able to have a new man in place when Spurs arrive on January 1st.

There is no other way, the last three years have shown that certain players are not good enough.

Hasenhuttl like Puel is not completely without blame, the Frenchman inexplicably only played out of contract signing Caceres once in three months and we never truly found out if he could have been at least part of a solution and likewise Ralph is yet to play central defender loan signing Kevin Danso in his true position and he could make a big difference.

Hasenhuttl's job is to keep our heads above water till then and then hopefully we can make a signing or two in January, but it is not going to be a pretty sight up to then, you cannot make a purse out of a sows ear, even Hasenhuttl cannot just click his fingers and suddenly turn some of our central defenders into Premier League quality with a brilliant reading of the game, pace and organisational qualities, however he can work with what he has got and as Puel did, pick up some points to give us a foundation to work with in the New Year.

The first test is going to be Leicester on Friday night, possibly not the side we would want to face in that they are not only 3rd in the League, but they rely on Vardy on the break and I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of him and our defence.

However their placing is based on home form where they have won 4 drawn once and not lost scoring 12 goals and conceding only 3, away from home it is a different matter, they have got only 4 points and lost two of their four games, scoring 4 times and conceding 5.

This shows that away from home they are just the type of side we hate to play at St Mary's.

Ralph has to teach his side to play with the discipline needed to get a result, that means staying tight, taking our chances when they come and not giving away silly goals, it also means ensuring that there attackers don't get to run at our defence.

Back in January 2017 when Jamie Vardy slyly ran his foot down Virgil Van Dijk's ankle they could be said to have started the rot for Saints, if that had not happened the future might have been a lot different, we cannot change that now, but with this game we can start to change our future for the better and win ugly and move up the table.

Photo: Action Images

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perazi added 10:19 - Oct 23
Broken record. How's your mate Ward-Prowse going? Never a word from you of the obvious weakness to our line up in playing him week in, week out. No attacking or creative instincts, no CM or DM instincts - hence pressure on midfield and CB's. If you want to draw a long bow between Claude and Ralph's tactical similarities - you would notice that JWP spent a lot of time on the bench or not in the match day squad....Claude got that right.....Ralph is in danger of trashing his reputation, and Ward-Prowse is part of the problem. It goes without saying that our CB situation has been dire since VVD's departure. By the way, despite your urgings to play Danso at CB (and I agree with you) I very much doubt he is the answer at present (and maybe not ever). The fact that Yoshida is our best CB (and he is) is a horrible reflection on Reed, Wilson and Kreuger and their profligate recruitment of the past three years.

Dobbin60 added 10:23 - Oct 23
No matter if you or anyone say it or how many times you say it makes not a blind but of difference. We’ve known about the central defensive issues for years and it still remains. Many managers and transfer windows have come and gone without it being resolved. What makes you think January will be any different. What hope do we have when there is not an ounce football knowledge on the football board.

Sanguin added 10:57 - Oct 23
My worry is that the manager caves to these pleas for Danso to be played in central defence. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I'm confident that there's a reason the manager isn't playing Danso in that position.

I don't think Danso is the answer. I also don't think the club will sign an experienced central defender in January. The club is happy to consolidate, survive this season and then build on what we have in the summer. I imagine they hope that Bednarek, Danso and Klarer are our central defenders for the future, they should be better next year so we'll see slow sustained improvement in defence rather than a complete overhaul.

saintmark1976 added 11:00 - Oct 23
Nick, I have no doubt that you have the best interests of the Saints at heart. However I'm beginning to think that your obvious and commendable desires for improvement of our fortunes is beginning to adversely influence your judgement in regard to the manager.

In the last few days you've told us that Ralph is a "great manager" and now you appear to suggest he's some sort of tactical genius. Frankly, all current evidence is to the contrary on both counts.We have won two out of the last fourteen Premiership matches and since the Bournemouth home game the team selection and substitutions have, I would venture to suggest, been totally beyond the comprehension of the vast majority of our fans.

Further, to post that we totally dominated the Bournemouth game makes me wonder if you were actually at St Mary's.Statisticaly we may have had more possession of the ball but where it mattered Bournemouth were better in every department.Indeed if it weren't for our current best player in V A R we could easily have lost by five or six goals.


HythePeer added 11:14 - Oct 23
Is this the same tactical skills that has rocketed Saints to 18th?

FrankSaint added 12:04 - Oct 23
Silver lining to build on? We limited Wolves to zero shots on goal after VAR. And yet we were streets ahead with shots on their goal. Sometimes with Puel there were similar stats but they were often half chances and easy takes for the keeper so the reality was we had no cutting edge. A team without a cutting edge cannot defend no matter how good it is defensively. Time will tell...

vanmans added 12:36 - Oct 23
Hasenhuttl Showed His Tactical Skills Against Wolves are you sure. He started with the wrong line up and his substitutions were made to late. Also the wrong players were substituted. If we had a better tactical manager we would have got all 3 points against Wolves. To start with he needs drop Prowse play 4 at the back and put someone up front with Ings.

I_would added 12:53 - Oct 23
Any fan should be wanting Hasseintheheadlights to play the best starting 11 not whinge about the CB's and wish we had better ones. We will be relegated by wishing. 3 CB's WRONG. Ward Prowse/ Hojbjerg starting WRONG. Boufal on the bench WRONG. Danso on the bench WRONG. RH as a manager WRONG.

WoolstonSaint2 added 15:17 - Oct 23
Saints are clueless this season. Ralph can't work out his best 11, he can't even work out the best formation. Why is JWP still with us? He is a liability. Our CBs are garbage, worst in the PL. We are still letting in so many goals. 65 last season, same again this season FFS. Solid defending wins you games! We are dreadful on the edge of the box, Romeu and Hojberg cannot stop the rot. The whole squad is weak and thin. None of our youngsters are good enough to have an impact at PL level.

I'm thinking this website is now on the Gao payroll, there is so much drivel written. Absolute nonsense. We are a total mess as a team and a club. Wake up Saints before it is too late. This season is a shocker. 2 wins in our last 14 league games!! We are worse than under Puel, and no better than with Pellegrino and Hughes. Cut the BS, Ugly Inside, and start to tell the truth.

BoondockSaint added 16:16 - Oct 23
I think sometimes you are winding us up Nick. Just yesterday you posted an article about the Saints having the worst defense in the league. Surely the manager's tactics must have something to do with that?------or is it all Yoshi's fault?

As for "...Hasenhuttl's job is to keep our heads above water till then and then hopefully we can make a signing or two in January" Isn't that a cutandpaste? over the last few years? Just substitute the manager's name at the beginning and swap the words "January" and "Summer" at the end..

1970 added 16:45 - Oct 23
I see Claude Puel did wonders for Leicester as well, his teams are set up with defending and that's it,but even that tactic at saints now wont cut it RH has played 5 at the back and we still cant defend to save our lives
most of the above comments are spot on the club are clueless about football and only interested in money we wont be buying anyone until we off load the dross the dross also equals anyone that's worth money so we are left with just rubbish
we only bought Adams because the club think he has massive sell on potential I bet a deal was already agreed with Liverpool to buy him in a couple of seasons

Ripleys_revenge added 18:11 - Oct 23
I think you're spot on here Nick - I recall also Ralph mentioned pre match that his analysis of the previous defeat to Chelsea was that a big part of the reason for shipping so many goals was getting caught out without the ball, and transitioning from losing the ball to getting back into a solid shape. Clearly they worked on this a lot in the two weeks off, so fair play to Ralph for that.

Unfortunately I'm not confident that we'll sign a CB in the January window. With the five that we currently have at the club, the chances of us signing another one seem slim to zero - especially given how little we seem to want to spend anyway and how hamstrung we are by the ludicrous signings / wages of the Reed / Wilson era which is now thankfully at an end. I cannot also understand Danso's signing. Him not getting a game in his actual position means that he is currently worse than Vestergaard. Can this really be the case? If so, which class A f@ckwit sanctioned this signing!!?!?

aceofthebase added 20:54 - Oct 23
Reading your article is worse than watching our rubbish midfield.

LoisDeem added 11:14 - Oct 24
I Would be (only mildly) interested to see some contributors righting all the WRONGS by giving us the benefit of their wisdom, and would like to see one of these dream team line ups -we can all do with a laugh -right?

I_would added 11:35 - Oct 24
Easy. Basically play anybody except Hojbjerg and Ward Prowse, Tea lady would be an improvement.

vanmans added 15:29 - Oct 24
This is why Saints are shite. We have one player in the 101 best players in the Premier League right now and that is Redmond at no.94.


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