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Saints At Everton The Verdict
Sunday, 10th Nov 2019 11:05

A terrible performance from Saints that saw the same culprits making the same lapses as once again we gifted goals and in doing so the game.

It couldn't have started any worse for Saints, in the opening minutes they could not clear the ball and conceded a corner which saw schoolboy defending leaving Davies at the far post with a free header to give Everton the lead and the impetus before some hadn't even got in their seats.

Everything was awful, we had no direction, no leadership and the same culprits made the same mistakes.

About the only good thing you could say about the first half was that the crowd stuck with the team who battled hard to ensure that we only went in a single goal down at the break.

The second half saw a change with Sofiane Boufal came on for Cedric and this time it was Saints who got an early goal with Boufal making a great run and crossing for Ings to turn home.

It looked a different Saints team and for 20 minutes we looked like being in with a chance of winning, sadly though this would be Boufal's last meaningful contribution and although we huffed and puffed we barely got a shot on goal, James Ward Prowse's free kick producing a great save from Pickford being the exception.

Then on 75 minutes all the good work was undone as we were caught by a swift counter attack and again a man was left unmarked to fire home from close range with our three central defenders nowhere.

There was still time for a comeback, but there would be no rousing finish, the goal had finished us.

I have been banging on about the problem for almost three years now the stark truth is that our central defence is not good enough, Jack Stephens puts in the effort, but he cannot mark, cannot read a game cannot defend, his ability to carry the ball forward means he flatters to deceive and masks his poor passing ability, he is a Championship defender at best, not bias at all just the harsh reality.

Likewise Vestergaard, he loses his man too often struggles to clear or control the ball at times and as the most experienced man offers no organisation or leadership.

Bedanrek could be a decent defender, but he should be getting help and learning from an experienced man behind him he is getting nothing.

Yoshida was on the bench yes he is a good club man, this is his 8th season, there is a good reason for that and it is not because he is indispensable, like Stephens a tryer but not good enough in all areas.

None of these players can offer what we really need at the back and that is leadership and organisation, they run around like headless chickens, hence sides know that if they hoof the ball forward we will struggle to deal with it, they know we don't mark up tight at set pieces and they know that we don't know what we are doing.

The manager has to play some part in this, in one respect it is not totally his fault, he can only play what he has, but he has been here two transfer windows now, the entire fan base know what the problem is so why haven't we dealt with it !!!!

Until January we have to soldier on and that means doing something different why has Kevin Danso not been played in the two positions he can actually play, he cannot be any worse as a central defender that the other four, but we don't know that because he hasn't played there for some strange reason.

If Ralph doesn't rate him as a centre back then play him as a holding central midfielder, either way lets find out if he can play or not.

The reality is that we aren't actually a bad side, but we are awful defensively and every game sees goals gifted to the opposition, one good experienced central defender who can lead the side would make an incredible difference.

You can see the frustration in the rest of the team, Oriol Romeo had a real go at Jack Stephens and he was right to do so, the marking was awful and that is starting to creep into the side, our midfield and attack try to create and score and then have to watch as our central defenders leave players completely unmarked to score.

We are in a relegation dogfight, we have to do something different, we need to bring in an experienced coach, someone who knows about the modern game, we need to try Danso, we need to spend big on a centre half, in short we need to do something different, if we don't then we will continue to do the same things and that is gifting the opposition goals.

Leicester game apart, virtually every goal has been gifted, it has to stop.

Some called for the head of Gao, it isn't his fault, the legacy for today was in place long before he bought the club, we have spent the money we have just spent it badly.

There is still a long way to go this season, we have been in worse positions, we just have to knuckle down, all pull together and keep going if only because we can do nothing else.

Gao going solves nothing unless someone better comes in, there isn't a big queue, the answer lies in January, if we sign central defenders then, we can pull clear, if the transfer window slams shut and we haven't signed any, then we are in big trouble.

Photo: Action Images

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wibbersda added 11:20 - Nov 10

Block8 added 11:42 - Nov 10
Not sure what game you were watching but I thought Stephens had a reasonable game?
So we start the game with by far our best RB playing LB & easily the best central attacking midfielder at RB? Whilst a proper RB sits on the bench & Redmond plays through the middle, which definitely does not suit his game. so we have weakened 3 positions to fill one. No one seems to know what the tactics are and confusion reigns! This is down to Ralph & only Ralph. Because we play with square pegs it breeds uncertainty & if you watched the game our three CB 's were pulled all over the place trying to cover our weaknesses. Romeu doesn't know whether to stick or twist & we have no out ball as Redmond isn't sure where to run & Danny Ings has dropped deep to help the beleaguered midfield.
It is currently a complete shambles with team selection and tactics being the only reason. We actually have on paper a reasonably good team in my opinion, nothing a couple of intelligent signings wouldn't help though BUT we are 100% relegation material. with our current befuddled & frankly mindless thinking in terms of selection & tactics.being wholly responsible. Just an afterthought most of the goals we concede are from balls that initially are dropped behind the full backs!

Saintaxidriver added 11:50 - Nov 10
I think the problem is a little deeper than just bad defenders. For some reason Ralph has consistently played people out of position. Danso at left back, right back, wing back, Valery at left back, Hoijberg at left back, Cedrick at left back, Armstrong at right wing back, Dnepro at left wing back, JWP at wing back
He has lost the confidence of his players because of this and caused consternation in the camp. You could see it yesterday with players getting angry with each other and a complete lack of cohesion and a sense that they knew what they were supposed to be doing. It's not just the centre of defence at fault, the second goal was down to Armstrong not covering his man. Ralph is obviously a very nice guy and at the end of last season looked like he was the right man for the job but his bizzare team choices and seeming lack of tactical nous have me feeling he has to go, sooner rather than later and get someone in who can get the defence better organised, pick a settled team and play people in the positions they are comfortable at playing!

Consigliere added 11:56 - Nov 10
In many ways the first half was more disappointing than the game against Leicester in that we had 11 men on the pitch for the whole match and were playing an inferior team, yet the performance was, in a word, dull. It was more boring than the most boring afternoons under Puel and yet we were losing, not drawing for most of the game.

I said in my last post that it was time for the manager to go but I now think that this is a necessary but not sufficient response. The problem is that it is hard to know what is wrong with this team as individually, we have some quite good players (Ings, Redmonds and Romeu for example) and it is interesting to see how many of our players who have been lent out or have moved on are now performing much better elsewhere.

What is needed is a root and branch shake up and I can describe this reference to one of my favourite films, "The Big Short" (you are going to have to stick with me on this one).

The film is about the beginning of the financial collapse and the role of "collaterized debt obligations" (CDO's) which are financial instruments in which many debt or mortgage contracts are bundled up into packages and sold on or used as security for further borrowing. The problem is that no-one really understood the value (or lack of it) of the underlying assets and whether the debtors could pay back what they owed. One of the characters in the film explains the problem thus: Imagine you run a meat pie factory and you find out that a very small percentage of your pies contain dog poo. Even if 99% of the remainder of your product is good to eat, you can't sell any of it because of the poo in a very small number of pies. Thus CDOs became valueless because some of them (actually quite a lot of them as it turned out) included loans that the debtors could never afford to repay although no-one actually knew which ones were completely useless and which were worth keeping.

So, returning to the Saints, we have a problem in that the manager does not know his best team, fiddles about endlessly in the hope of reducing the percentage of (what one might call politely) dodgy pies, and indeed he may himself be one of those dodgy pies. What is needed is to bring in someone who can identify what is needed to build our best team, one that will survive in this league (and that it clearly going to require bringing in some new players in the midfield and defence) and then stick with that team for the remainder of the season.

The alternative is inevitable relegation.

saintjf added 12:10 - Nov 10
Our poor centre backs have been the root of the problem for a couple of seasons. The trouble is now that none of the team are playing well so it is now not just the centre backs at fault.(We may have more dodgy pies than we first thought). Absolute disaster of a result. Everton have been awful and yet we lose to them at home. We need 4 points just to get out of the relegation zone because of our goal average is so poor. Either get Ralph some help or move him on.

saintmark1976 added 12:10 - Nov 10
I said last week that if we lost to Everton then the manager must go and be replaced during the upcoming two week Premiership break. Nothing yesterday has changed my opinion.

Ralph's record of two wins in seventeen Premiership matches and the biggest home defeat in top flight English football is evidence that basically he hasn't got a clue, nor is he ever likely to get one.Put simply, allowing him to continue is just prolonging the agony for the players, the fans and himself.

wibbersda added 12:14 - Nov 10
Sainttaxidriver has hit the nail on the head. It's almost as if Ralph wants the sack now. Once again we need a new Manger now, if it's not too late already. Taxi for Ralph!

Nomaesaints added 12:19 - Nov 10
I didn't see all the game but here is my thoughts on what I did see:

Playing 3 at the back doesn't work for the players at Saints, they don't know how to play it.
How may goal have we conceded from the right full position?

Ward-Prowse and Romeu are at best Championship players, yet they have played most games.
Playing players out of position in friendlies is ok but when it comes to the real thing you have to play them in the positions they were signed for.

I like Ralph and his attitude but he needs help as soon as possible from someone who has experience as he seems to have lost his way since Danny left. I'm not saying this lightly but Saints board need to act immediately or else.


ronniedavies added 12:36 - Nov 10
Major problem is that the team is totally unbalanced with no natural left sided players apart from Bertrand (always injured or suspended) and Vokins (untested). Look at all the successful other teams and they are not stupid enough to field teams as unbalanced as ours, Liverpool (Robertson,Salah), Man City (DeSilva, Silva, Sane, Mendoza) etc. We have not addressed this situation since losing Tadic and crazily selling Targett. Look at the great sides of old they all had left sided players that influenced the game, Holmes, Peach, Armstrong, Marsden, and even going back to the great John Sydenham. Get this sorted in the transfer market and preferably a centre back who is naturally left footed to help balance out and we might just improve a bit

davidargyll added 12:38 - Nov 10
Things that depressed me
1. Stephens having to argue with Bednarek (I think) after only about 15 minutes about getting the ball forward.
2. JWP. I’m not a fan at all. But Christ if you are appointed captain, through force of circumstance, he should effing well act like one, urging and cajoling and shouting and screaming. Not a trace of it.
3. Hassengotanyidea looks like a dead man walking.
4. Vestergaard must have been the worst player on the pitch by a country mile. I think he made one decent tackle in the entire game and certainly was at least partially responsible for the lead up to the second goal.
5. Whatever system we are playing -and Christ knows what it is, the players don’t seem to know it let alone the fans- it simply isn’t working.
6. We lost because the defenders simply weren’t doing the basics right. We need a manager who knows about man to man marking and defending crosses etc. RH seems to have no idea how to do it. Maybe it should be the coach’s job(!) but ultimately it’s down to RH.

As I be said before Hassenrubbish HAS TO GO. Now having lost 4 home games in a row, if he doesn’t get sacked, how many games will we need to lose before he does? 5? 6? 25? He is going to get the push at some stage. We must not wait, HE HAS TO GO NOW..

redwight added 12:41 - Nov 10
January is not going to come quickly enough as it now looks certain we will have been cut adrift by then. That being so, what CB of quality would be even remotely tempted to roll their sleeves up for a relegation battle that looks already lost? As to yesterday, Everton found space in a way we never did and, whether in attack or defence, always seemed to win the second ball. For the last two years there always seemed to be a reason to think we would survive. Not this time.

saintnik added 12:43 - Nov 10
Do you actually read what you write Nick. The reality is that we are not a bad side, do you really believe this? The fact is we have been relegated before with far better teams that this bunch of hopeless gutless players. Ralph is probably the worst manager in our entire history and we are breaking new records every week. And to say that the silent chinaman is not to blame either is unbelievable. The reason saints are where they are is that no one leading the club whoever they are wants to accept the situation. The road to recovery starts with an acceptance of the problem. The only way out is a slide down the pyramid and that is a forgone conclusion.

davidhosey added 12:45 - Nov 10
Just a word about keeping positive and supporting the team even through hard times. Nothing makes me more proud of Saints than when I hear loud support even when we are struggling badly. We are struggling now and may well be relegated. Since 1970 I have seen us relegated three times (twice from the top league and once to the third tier) this looks like being number four in nearly 50 years. It is bad but not the end of the world. Some of my most happy times supporting Saints was during the 1973-1978 period when we won the FA Cup and I was at the game against Spurs when we got back into Div1. Maybe my favourite moment ever!! We are not down yet and may survive, but I can tell you that if the crowd turns against the team then two things will happen : First the team will play with nerves and make more mistakes (our away form proves this) ; second the players will feel less love for the club as a whole and will not want to stay and help get us back into the Premier league next season. Try to be philosophical about it and realise that your support should be given even through tough times. After all millions of fans support teams vocally even in the lower leagues and when they know their club will never win anything.

ronniedavies added 12:45 - Nov 10
Forgot Mr Southampton...Frannie!

LordDZLucan added 12:49 - Nov 10
Saints 4 shots in the game; Everton 24! That proves that we have problems all over the pitch and not just in defence. Our attack is so poor that teams feel that they can throw men forward and put us under pressure without running the risk of conceding. That is why the defence comes under so much pressure. Changing the centre backs won't make any difference at all. And as for you blaming Jack Stephens for our defensive frailties, what a joke. It was the combination of Bednarek and Armstrong on the right side that was found wanting at the vital moments. Bednarek in particular had a stinker. Jack Stephens is possibly the only player in the team that has time on the ball, usually the sign of a good player. There is an argument that he should be pushed forward into midfield to act as the playmaker. Maybe the new manager will do that as Hassenhuttl just has to go. Even under Puel, Pellegrino and Hughes you could see how the manager had set up the team to p,lay. You just can't see that with Hassenhuttl.

landsdownsaint added 13:37 - Nov 10
Watching Cedric having to cross with his right foot summed up the Saints atm , I don’t agree with fans that say JWP ain’t good enough, he was coming along fine as was Hojbjerg & Valery & even Vestergaard who looked scared stiff out there yesterday , could it really be down to us not making 1 CB signing ? We’ve got some very good players here & the holy grail a striker that scores goals , We could be a mid table side that goes down because of the manager imho

Boris1977 added 13:48 - Nov 10
On the train up one of the few things we agreed on was that if we lost this we'd be down. Because I expected to lose I'm resigned to relegation - other turning out to offer support to the team I cannot do anything else. However we have an owner who never turns up and yet he is one of the few who could directly influence the direction of the club.

There is no point in repeating the same comments from the past few years but the nervousness which the defence has always demonstrated is now evident throughout the majority of the team.

The club is directionless, the manager is making inexplicable selections, the owners are silent and the board are giving away free scarves.

The player selection yesterday was of Shakespearian tragi-comedic proportions and in part forced as the board inexplicably sold a decent home grown talent to villa with no plan b should an ageing left get injured or suspended.

It's fair to say that money has been put back into the playing side of the team but at a ratio of 1:3 e.g sell for £75 million buy for £17 million, cross fingers and bank the money. This was a risky strategy and it has backfired.

I do not have faith in the board to make significant changes to the playing staff so on the premise I believe we are down.

I'm a saints fan so I do not expect to buy success but I would like to see a proactive board at least demonstrating that they understand what the club means to us and investing strategically in the club rather than making untested gambles all the time.

I'm not particularly bothered about relegation but I do worry about is financially - not because of budgetary over spend but how the chairman is going to service his debt that he took on to buy the club. That is a massive concern.

Ripleys_revenge added 13:54 - Nov 10
For those calling for the manager to get fired, he is apparently on massive wages and so to sever his contract will mean a huge payout. On top of all the other managers we are currently paying off, plus the absolute lack of funds available for anything other than a collection of free scarves, this makes the possibility of the board sacking him extremely unlikely. It probably also explains why they were so quick to give him their backing after the Leicester game - its not because they have integrity or faith in the manager, we just haven't got any money! We're f@cked

halftimeorange added 13:58 - Nov 10
There were a fair number of empty seats at St Marys and there are likely to be many more for the next crucial home game against Watford, which is due to be televised. Add to that the possibility of poor weather and an unfriendly kick-off time of 17.30 disrupting other Saturday night commitments and it might be a good idea for Saints to offer free entry or seriously consider lowering prices for unsold seats or risk the cameras highlighting the ghostliness of a somewhat vacant stadium. As for the game, although we all have our opinions of which players are worth retaining, and which ones should start, to give any of them a chance to shine you simply cannot continually play them out of position. I think we're almost unanimous over one player - JWP, who either isn't performing or really cannot perform at premier league level. Giving him the added burden of captaining a struggling side is pure madness. The defensive marking for Everton's opener was beyond belief. If we are going to continue like that we should immediately seek out of contract players - Keogh at Derby comes to mind. He couldn't be any worse than Stephens or Vestergaard ( who was responsible for scouting him - their services should be instantly dispensed with) and Keogh does know how to captain a team. I feel sorry for Ralph. He's clearly out of his depth and resignation can't be far from his mind. These are awful times for us supporters and I fear that many will soon desert St Marys never to return.

Consigliere added 13:58 - Nov 10
Boris's point reminds me, I wasn't very impressed with the "scarf" gesture either (genuine man-made fibre). If we assume a retail value of £1 a scarf and a manufacturing cost of 10p that would have cost the company somewhere between £25,000 down to £2,500 or roughly the equivalent of between one player's big toe and one player's big toenail!

PatfromPoole added 14:08 - Nov 10
Re halftimeorange’s point.

Keogh won’t play again this season due to the car crash injuries.

allsaint54 added 14:34 - Nov 10
It's not just our defence that's poor, but a lot of the blame must lie with our totally ineffective midfield which gives no protection at al. Any defence would struggle with our midfield. However, we did witness another world class performance from JWP who added another string to an impressive list of can't tackle, can't run, can't create chances, can't pass forwards, now we know he can't captain. Perhaps next week Ralph will pick him in goal to show that he's no good between the posts. Ralph's team selection must involve numbered balls in a hat to see who plays where. With this squad of players & coaching we won't even survive in the Championship.

petedoors1 added 14:38 - Nov 10
Go now Ralph and take the useless Prowse with you. Ralph has completely lost the plot Prowse should not even be in the team but today he makes him captain. Boufal should be starting every game instead of Prowse. We should be playing 2 up front and why play 3 central defenders when the 5 we have are all crap surely it would be better to play just 2. Attack is the best form of defence. Boufal was Saints man of the match yesterday and he only played half of the game. We need to get a new manager with Premier League experience as soon as possible if we want to have a chance of staying in this league.

landerwal added 14:47 - Nov 10
Interesting that the defence get most of the blame. There were 24 shots by Everton on goal, but only four on target,. Funnily enough, this was exactly the same stats as against Man City when Saints were lauded for their dogged defending. Our own attempts on goal were also the same in both matches, four, with three on target and that is a problem just as great as our poor old battered defenders. Only one other team has scored less in the Premiership than ourselves and so. you can have two defenders the quality of Fonte and Van Dijke but if you ain't scoring, you ain't winning. So what is to be done. If Stephens is not good enough put him in the team as attacking midfielder. He seems to be the only player in the team willing and capable of making a telling forward pass. RH might also give some thought to bringing Mo E back from Celtic where he has scored 7 goals in ten appearances and was responsible for the peach of a pass that lead to Celtic's last gasp winner in the Europa League last week. Those suggestions will never happen, but if we continue the way we are then Championship football beckons.

HythePeer added 15:17 - Nov 10
All I see is the wrong players picked, confused defenders given too many jobs to do, surrender monkey tactics, bizarre substitutions, players picking on each other cos no authority on the dugout. These are all management caused.
There's plenty of height in the team and they should be left to defend, the midfield with the right players has a mixture of strength and speed. The front with Boufal, Ings, Redmond Djenepo could terrorise most defences with the right supply.
Saints could easily survive but the manger has got to go and the stigma of 9 nil will be lifted from the team.

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