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Yoshida An Appreciation
Tuesday, 4th Feb 2020 11:53

Two Saints stalwarts left the club at the end of last week without a real chance to say goodbye, let's take a look at their time with the club first up is Maya Yoshida.

Maya Yoshida was not my favourite player of all time I have to say that, I based that purely on his performances, but that does not mean I did not appreciate some of the things that he did here in his 8 seasons & 7 1/2 years at the club.

He arrived in 2012 as we were enduring a torrid start to our season back in the top flight and made his debut at Arsenal as a 28th minute sub for Jos Hooiveld who had opened the scoring for the home side with an own goal, things would get much worse with the Gunners 4-1 up at the break and eventually winning 6-1.

Yoshida would be a regular for the rest of that season and would play pretty much all of the games going forward as we pulled clear of the relegation zone.

But the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino would not be good for him and with Dejan Lovren in the team alongside Jose Fonte the Japanese central defender's opportunities would be limited, he would start only 7 games and another as sub in the Premier League in 2013/14.

Under Ronald Koeman it would be a little better with 18 starts in 2014/15 but he was now regarded very much as a back up with 10 starts and another 10 as sub in 2015/16 as we finished 6th.

But his luck would change in 2016/17 with Fonte in dispute with the club and Virgil Van Dijk injured, January saw both not to play again that season for the club, Fonte permanently.

So after over 3 years in the wilderness Yoshida was back as first choice and had the honour of being one of the few Saints players to have represented the club in a Wembley Cup Final, although in truth the game was not good for either Yoshida or Jack Stephens and the late winner saw Ibrahimvic completely unmarked to give Manchester United a win they did not deserve.

I recall this not to be uncharitable but to emphasise that if we had still have a fit Virgil Van Dijk, this would not have happened and we would have won the cup, Yoshida was a capable central defender on his day and good back up, but not truly a first choice player.

2017/18 was another of turmoil in our back four and with Van Dijk sulking and eventually leaving we struggled to find a decent partnership in the centre of defence, Yoshida would make 20 starts, Jack Stephens 22, with Wesley Hoedt on 28, we never truly found a solid partnership and slipped into a relegation battle that we eventually scraped out of by a whisker.

Last season saw more back four woes and Hoedt was gone in January, out on loan leaving Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bednarek and Stephens to form various partnerships as Ralph Hasenhuttl pulled us out of the mire, but we were a team that might get away with it sometimes, but were prone to letting in soft goals.

The writing was on the wall for Yoshida as it was clear that Ralph preferred the other three before the Japanese player.

This season saw him firmly behind in the pecking order and he paid the price for that defeat to Leicester more than anyone, although in fairness he was no better or worse that day, since that October night he has played only 5 minutes in the Premier League and an FA Cup game against Huddersfield.

So it was no surprise to see him leave in January, at 31 he is reaching the twilight of his career and he needed to be playing games, with his contract up and no sign of a new one the club allowed him to seek other pastures and try to earn a deal for next season in doing so.

I have no complaints about Yoshida the club man, he served us well, he always gave 100%, indeed back in the days when we had truly class players alongside him he could do a job, but he was never suited to being the man who had to organise and lead, not a criticism but a fact.

Some will say I am a little harsh on him here, but I have told it like it is rather than given some emotional diatribe, he deserves to be remembered for what he did for the club which is more than most who have played for it over the past decade or so

Over the years we have had many players of his ilk who gave their all for the club and should be applauded for their service, every club has had one or two over the years, Maya Yoshida is one of those, good luck to him on the next part of his journey.

Photo: Action Images

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Colburn added 12:28 - Feb 4
What a load of bollocks. Basically blamed him for us losing the cup and somehow you manage to mention that dickhead Hoedt twice, a guy who seems to enjoy running us down in the media. When will you admit that you are wrong about this clown. I personally think Yoshi has had a far better time here than you suggest and deserves better accolades. You say you have no complaints but basically slated him.. For christ sake Nick, get a grip on yourself. Best of luck to Yoshi at Sampdoria. Thanks for everything you have done and given to the club.

saintmark1976 added 12:37 - Feb 4
"but I have told it like it is rather than given some emotional diatribe". No Nick, you have told it how you see it,with your opinion being worth nothing more or less than any other poster to the Ugly.

I for one am sorry to see Yoshida depart given that we are now one centre back injury or suspension away from having to play Vestergard. But then again I accept that's just my opinion and its not a fact.


HythePeer added 13:05 - Feb 4
Did you know he has actually written a book! I have it somewhere?

bstokesaint added 13:14 - Feb 4
Nick, you failed to mention his award for club defender of the season when he had a consistent run in the team. VVD is a world class defender, but not perfect, we can't say what would have happened in the cup because as per the norm those days we were up against 12 players on the day. Also our other "better" defenders had much better defensive cover in front of them. Yoshi should be given more credit for being made a scapegoat for other failings within the club and for his versatility in times of need.

RedandWight added 13:49 - Feb 4
Yoshi, I for one and there are many like me, Have a great deal of respect for you and how you conducted yourself at this club. I will always remember you fondly and wish you the best of luck at your new club.

saintstowin added 14:17 - Feb 4
One of my favourite players not least for his attitude and adaptability. If Yoshida was a forward player he’d be of the quality that gives their all and gets half a dozen goals a year and would have been much more appreciated. By some. Mistakes are always highlighted at the back as they inevitably lead to chances and goals against. And he was a regular in troubled times, hardly his fault. Well played Yoshi!

schatfield added 15:23 - Feb 4
100% agree with saintstowin on his attitude - never complained (at least what we heard) and always gave his best when in the squad, even if very limited at times. He will be missed from the team and I hope he comes back in years to come in some other capacity.

SaintPaulVW added 15:55 - Feb 4
Good player with a great attitude. His world cup performances alone showed that.

Lasting 7 and a half years at a premiership club is quite an achievement. Central Defenders will always be remembered for their mistakes just like strikers get remembered for their goals.

Sorry to see him go but time was against him. Unfortunately football careers are short and he wasn't getting much game time under RH. Completely understand his move. I hope it all works out for him.

underweststand added 17:15 - Feb 4
Pleased that you wrote " an appreciation " of Maya , but you wrote little to praise either,
and there are very few on here who seem to agree with your viewpoint.

Yes it's easy to highlight everyone's mistakes and (like your favourite Hoedt) who made his share of game-changing mistakes, Yoshida also made mistakes that cost us points, but so too did his comrades in the back line. I think his best games were those where he partnered Jose Fonte, and later VvD whilst they were still at the club, after which Maya
was left with the task of "baby-sitting " the maverick Jack Stephens in a side that was already struggling. I'm sure Jack is grateful for the help Maya gave and it helped his game.

You have correctly listed his apps.(Nick) but not commented that few of those (like Hoedt) did any better than he when replacing him. Perhaps ..this is one that (you and I ) should agree -to disagree -on. Whilst perhaps not to be counted in the same category as the Svenssons and Van Dijk's he deserves (and I think) gets the respect and admiration of the majority of Saints fans for his service to the club - in both good and bad times.
I hope he remains fit enough to get a few more seasons of good football, and I'm sure he'd get a good reception from Saints fans if he were to return to Soton (in any capacity) .


CautiousOptimist added 17:29 - Feb 4
Sad to see Maya go. Much as the time is probably right for him to move on it’s a bit of a gamble for us, and I’ve got a horrible feeling we might miss him before the end of the season.

Agree with all the other posts - given the problems we’ve had with our (childish, sulky, prima donna ish) more “talented” defenders, Maya was always one who put the team first. Played where and when he was needed and always gave him 100%. Loved him for that and wish him well in Italy.

amsterdamsaint added 18:07 - Feb 4
Wesley Hoedt ? Twice ? Give me a break, Yoshi is twice the player. Good luck to him.

Consigliere added 19:29 - Feb 4
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I come not to bury Ceasar but to praise him!

But I'm afraid that's exactly what this article does as many others have commented. Yoshida was a worthy defender with a heart of oak and I wish him well. He did a great deal of good for the club and will always hold a place in our hearts.

Boris1977 added 08:08 - Feb 5
I hope Yoshi has as fond memories of his time at Saints to reflect how fond measured fans are/we're of him. Never moaned, never shirked, always gave 100%. A great club man. In line with the comments above I wish Yoshi luck and thank him for his part in getting saints back into the top flight after the dark years.

perazi added 09:38 - Feb 5
I'll keep this short. You, (NIck) have made a c*ck of yourself with your degrading comments about Yoshida over a long period of time. In my opinion, you have undone a lot which is good on this website with your broken record dismissal of a very competent, committed, loyal servant of the Club. Go well Maya Yoshida.

Saintaxidriver added 10:21 - Feb 5
Very sad to see Yoshi go and don't really agree overall with your assessment as I feel he was a better player and servant than you give him credit for. Suggest you go back and see cup final because as someone who was there, apart from the last minute goal my memory is that he had an outstanding game.

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