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Forget Full Backs It's A Central Defender We Need !
Friday, 10th Jan 2020 11:16

Ralph Hasenhuttl has indicated his main priority is a full back in the January transfer window, but most Saints fans would not agree, is the Austrian putting up a smokescreen though ?

Ralph Hasenhuttl spoke on Thursday and suggested that his main priority in the January transfer window was a full back with Tottenham's Kyle Walker Peters being touted on social media as our main target.

Hasenhuttl said

"We are in the market and we are looking for, especially, full-backs because we know that we have not that many options at the moment.

There are a few guys available – it can also be a loan option in the summer. I don’t want to comment any names but you can be sure we have a full list of what is interesting to us."

Hasenhuttl is not quite correct in saying that we do not have many options, what he perhaps means though is that we do not have too many options that he trusts.

At right back Cedric is currently holding the spot and playing well, although it is well documented that he will leave at the end of the season, Jan Valery last season looked the perfect replacement, but this season has barely featured with unexplained illness's and injuries being given as a vague excuse, something that suggests that the problem is not a physical issue but something else.

At Left back Ryan Bertrand has started to find his form again after looking indifferent at the start of the season and Jake Vokins looked a reasonable replacement if a bit raw, but that didn't stop Valery last season.

There are also the options of playing other players there in an emergency, Kevin Danso although a central defender has played at both left & right back in the few occasions he has been picked and can do a job there even if he is not the ideal option.

Likewise others have filled in notable James Ward Prowse at right back and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg at Left back, again not ideal, but we are looking at 3rd choice options in an emergency for both or at least we should be.

But we can cope at full back and the situation is one we can address in the summer after Cedric has left, it is something that we would assess if the right player became available, but it is not our main priority.

So the burning issue is not full backs but central defenders as it has been all season and indeed for three years now.

In recent weeks Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens have played well, but long term they are not ideal and if we have no cover at full back, we definitely have no cover for these two at the moment should one or the other get injured or suspended.

Against Huddersfield Yoshida & Vestergaard showed they are not the answer and as we saw in that game the manager will not play Danso in that position unless he is down to pulling people out of the street to play.

So is Ralph Hasenhuttl serious or is he trying to put a smokescreen up to distract our rivals in the transfer market from our true intentions.

My money is (hopefully) on this, the Austrian is fond of smokescreen tactics, often saying a player is unfit when it is the opposite and a couple of days later he starts, so it would be normal for him to do the same when talking about transfers.

Football club's do not announce their potential transfer targets, well not unless they are Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid & Barcelona when they know they can outbid everyone else.

No most clubs keep their cards close to their chest so they can get in under the radar, firstly to steal a march on their rivals, secondly to make sure they don't get involved in a Dutch auction that pushes up the price and lastly to get deals done swiftly and without fuss.

So Hasenhuttl coming out and saying a full back is our priority seems to suggest that this is a stalking horse, we will now be linked with every full back in Europe whilst we concentrate on the players we want.

Deals are done by agents these days, Saints will be speaking to their preferred targets, our revival has brought us a bit of breathing space in the League and this increases our attraction to potential recruits and we can hopefully get a central defender in quietly.

At least I hope this is the case, to be blunt our central defence has been our problem for three years now due to poor recruitment, lack of recruitment and a reliance on players at the club who may be good club men but are not good enough at the level we aspire to .

So hopefully Ralph Hasenhuttl is saying one thing, but is focusing on another !

Photo: Action Images



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VeloSaint added 11:42 - Jan 10
"to be blunt our central defence has been our problem for three years now due to poor recruitment, lack of recruitment and a reliance on players at the club who may be good club men but are not good enough at the level we aspire to ."

Agree - but if we can't find an improvement on what we have in this window then no point bringing in a body for the sake of it. A decent right back would be welcome.
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SaintBen added 11:43 - Jan 10
I agree wit Ralph; as we currently only have 1 fit full-back for each side; and the clubs probably looking to offload Cedric in January in order to get some money for him (instead of losing him for nothing in the summer) - It would be good business to get £2m for Cedric and then bring in a quality replacement till the end of the season (and possibly longer).
Ralph said in the open-forum recently that the sale of Targett paid for Djenepo to be signed; so it's obvious that money is tight and we need to accumulate before we can speculate (so to speak!)
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underweststand added 11:55 - Jan 10
I'd have to say that BOTH... at RB and a new CB are clear priorities, Nick.

Cedric will go ..sooner of later, and although Valery may seem a likely replacement, there isn't any experienced cover in the U23's. Kayne Ramsey is a regular at that level but he still has a way to go before getting into the first team sqaud, and the same might be said of Jake Vokins at LB, despite his good showing in one game v. Huddersfield.

The CB spot has been a problem since we lost both Fonte and VvD in the same 12 month period. Despite your numerous comments Yoshida has DAJFU on a regular basis although he too has had up-and-down spells - as for the rest, we may have seen the last of Hoedt ..and maybe even Vestergaard...£30 million down the drain PLUS another £ 12 million or ss in salaries- if they see out their contracts. There is no back up at U23 level with Alfie Jones and Christoph Klarer both now out of loan. We are left with the best combo. (Bednarek and Stephens) who are beginning to look the part - at last.
This sounds OK - if they hold their good form, and avoid injuries and suspensions (!), but we must have proper cover in both areas and this means buying in some experience and not a couple of kids who, like Danso, are fresh to this level and will struggle from Day 1.

I'm not overly concerned about other positions - until after the goalie situation is finally resolved, and logic says that Adams will start to score (providing he stays and almost certainly if he goes back to Championship level), but at present we have the good fortune of having an almost totally fit squad (ex Valery) whilst many other clubs have half-a-dozen or more first teamers out with longer term injuries.

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schatfield added 12:39 - Jan 10
Disagree totally with this article, as is quite often the case, once a pair of CBs get enough playing time together and can gel, they are often very good and we have seen this with Bednarek and Stephens, so why say they are not good for the long term? i would say the absolute opposite. True, we need some better quality back up, but not a new first choice CB.
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saintmark1976 added 12:47 - Jan 10
So we finally get a centre back partnership which delivers some very encouraging recent results and the suggestion is that we break the partnership up. Why?

Stephens has come on leaps and bounds, not coincidentally since a certain player started to play for W B A perhaps. Bednarek always did have potential which he is starting to fulfil.

I'm minded of that old expression "if it ain't broke then don't mend it"
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wolf660 added 13:01 - Jan 10
Yes I also do not agree that centre back is the greater priority here with the encouraging development of the current partnership of Stephens and Bednarek. I have thought for a long time that we have looked poor in the full-back positions. LB when Bertand has been injured and RB even when Cedric has played. Too many times we've been too easily overloaded at the far post. The recent change in tactics with the wide midfielders providing greater protection to the full backs has played a big part in the improved performances, particularly in defence where the centre backs are less vulnerable with the easy crossing being limited. I think our centre backs have been made to look worse than they are with the vulnerability down the flanks previously. I'd like to see how this continues but do think a stronger right back would be welcomed.
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Peterx added 13:02 - Jan 10
I will go along with Ralph that we need backup at LB. We were dire when Bertrand was suspended with others playing in that position. If we cant extend Cedric and sort out the Valery situation we will need cover at RB as well.

To me now we have settled on 4-2-2-2 we look better at CB and I also think Danso or Vestegaard could slot in OK if we had an injury to Bednarek or Stephens.

So I don't agree with this article.

I would rather see another box to box midfielder coming in for cover for JWP / PEH given also I don't think PEH has signed a new contract yet (?) and Romeu does not seem to fit into the 4-2-2-2 that well.
2

Colburn added 13:54 - Jan 10
Wow, I'm stunned by your comment about our new CB partnership being no good for the long run. Based on what Nick? Our clean sheets against Chelsea and Spurs? Do me a favour... Are you so determined to knock these two off their confidence that it falls apart and you can say I told you so..? Are you bored today? Jack, Jan, ignore that silly comment in the article, it is ill founded and unnecessarily negative at a time the players, fans and the club have pulled together.. Shame on you Nick, that is appalling..

And I totally agree with the others on here who are more keen to see cover at full back and CDM. Sure we need a back up if the two current CB's get injured but to state they are no good for the long term is staggering after they have proved that a run together has enabled them to build a partnership. I suppose if we make some defensive errors tomorrow you will feel vindicated.. Well congrats to you if that happens Nick.. Very disappointing, all because of your love affair with a sub standard clown, Hoedt.. Starting to think you've lost the plot. Finally the comment above about nasty Austin, who slagged off players knocking their confidence consistently. Glad he is out of our club, we don't need people like this knocking us especially when were second to only Liverpool in the last 8 games. Dear oh dear...
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Colburn added 13:57 - Jan 10
And another thing, Stephens is a wonderful lad, wont find a bigger fan of the club, it means everything to him so to constantly knock him, even after the recent top performance is an utter disgrace. Go to Fratton tomorrow
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LordDZLucan added 17:30 - Jan 10
Well said, Colburn. Exactly how I feel. You set the tone, Nick, and therefore have a responsibility so stop being so negative about our CBs. They don't deserve your constant criticism.
4

saintpp added 19:07 - Jan 10
A bit obsesessed on here about cbs often highlighting mistakes that lead to goals but that the reality is nobody can play a perfect game and world class forwards make chances.In normal back 4 jack and yan looking very capable no need to spend in that area.
2

aceofthebase added 19:37 - Jan 10
'Ralph Hasenhuttl has indicated his main priority is a full back in the January transfer window, but most Saints fans would not agree'
I think you are ever so wrong with this article Nick. Not many fans would drop either of our central defenders at present. We lack back up at LB and if Valery a long term injury we lack any RB.
I also think the dart throwing at Stephens in the tradition of Yoshie and Fonte is disgraceful.
Let's hope this welded team can get our three points back this weekend, it would bea trifle optimistic by 9-0.
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Ali_Diarea added 19:59 - Jan 10
A ‘Dutch auction’ is one where the price starts high and is lowered until you find a buyer. What you are referring to, where the price goes up as more bids come in, is just an auction.
1

saint66 added 20:49 - Jan 10
Nick,
Why don't you go and apply for a managers job somewhere as you seem to think you have all the answers.
We can all be superb managers sat in our armchairs.
Jack Stephens has been on a constant journey this season of improvement and has shown he can mark,tackle and play a telling pas which creates goals.
Please get off his back let him improve and save this club who lets face it does not have a large transfer fund at least £25 million on some parasite who only wishes to pick up their salary.
3

Dave__C added 21:50 - Jan 10
I think we need to sign someone else other than Ings who can score, if he gets injured where will the goals come from? Adams has only managed two shots on target so far this season and seems a little out of his depth.
Bowen from Hull would be an interesting option, he can score plus add some pace on the right wing.
3

dirk_doone added 19:33 - Jan 11
Stephens and Bednarek are the best young pair of centre backs in the country, and Ralph knows it, which is why he is not looking for a central defender. But, it would be good if we could get rid of Vestergaard and bring in a replacement as cover in case either Stephens or Bednarek get injured.
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