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Southampton 0 v 1 Newcastle United
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 7th March 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Saints V Newcastle United The Verdict
Sunday, 8th Mar 2020 10:24

Sadly I once again have to write the same review again as it was Groundhog Day again for Saints and no I don't blame the referee for the result.

Irate fans interviewed on TUI TV after the game were of one opinion that the referee was atrocious, however the fact remains that although he initially got the two big decisions wrong, VAR got them right as was shown on the TV later.

But it wasn't the ref who cost us the game, indeed 1-0 flattered us with the number of free chances we gave Newcastle in the first half we should have been out of the game at half time.

Time and time again we left their players unmarked in the box Dwight Gayle missed two glorious chances and Alex McCarthy made a superb triple save, but were where Stephens and Bednarek ? time and time again they left men unmarked.

When Djenepo was sent off I actually thought it might help us, it would force Newcastle on to us and that would create opportunities also the perceived injustices roused the crowd and as we battled in the second half we matched them in all departments and indeed looked more likely to get all three points than the visitors as the game went on.

But there was one last individual error to come and sadly it was Yan Valery who up to this point had had a solid game on his return who thought he had a little more time than he did and got caught out by Saint-Maximin who was right through on goal, should one of our central defenders have been reading the situation and covering ? certainly Jose Fonte would have !

That goal knocked the stuffing out of both the team and the crowd with 11 minutes left and you sensed there would be no comeback from this blow.

So it was once again as I have said before every game this season a case of we either get away with slack marking and errors or we don't, after getting away with it for most of the game it looked like this would be one of the good games, but ultimately what cost us the game was not VAR, not the ref, but the same thing that has cost us every other game we have lost, certain players are not good enough and individual errors.

Some will say I have something against certain players, that is far from the truth, what I have got something against is poor marking, individual errors, lapses in concentration and throwing away games, if some names get mentioned more than others for making these mistakes, that is not my fault.

The man of the match was Alex McCarthy without him we could have been four down at the break and it was good to see him bounce back after his error at West Ham.

Before the Burnley game I talked of how it would point the way forward as to whether we would look up wards or downwards for the rest of the season, that was four gaes ago and a return of only 3 points in that period means that we are now looking firmly over our shoulders.

The only good news of the day was that of all the clubs below us after this defeat, only Brighton picked up a point, meaning that we are still 7 points clear of the drop zone and with 7 games left that is a big ask for those below us, we should have been safe by now but we still need at least one more win possibly two, the game at Norwich is massive, they will be up for it, this is their last chance saloon, they fail to win this and they are virtually finished, we win it and we are virtually safe.

Photo: Action Images



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LordDZLucan added 10:37 - Mar 8
Such a predictable article. The game was lost because of the sending off and because Valery was given the rub around by Saint- Maximin. The centre backs had nothing to do with it.
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Consigliere added 10:48 - Mar 8
Not sure that I agree with you M'Lord. We actually played better after the sending off because the opposition came at us and there was more room at the back for us to get through on goal. Until then it was like trying to thread the eye of a needle. Newcastle were sitting deep and hoping to score on the break, which of course all changed after they gained a one man advantage. I actually thought that we might sneak a win, especially in the first part of the second half where we were terrific and Shane Long was unlucky not to score.

Then he was withdrawn and things started to go wrong. The defence was having to work extremely hard and were not getting any relief from a fast paced attacker to keep Newcastle on their toes. An individual mistake became almost an inevitability and Valery was indeed the man at fault. He had done pretty well until then but that goal was completely avoidable and represented a serious lack of concentration on his part.

Now, I don't know if Long was injured or knackered but taking him off the field rather than bringing fresh legs on in defence was in my view a tactical mistake. In the end this is what led to the goal. A very disappointing afternoon therefore but not one that can be blamed on the referee (who it turns out was correct though I didn't think so at the time) or any one man.
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SaintNick added 10:52 - Mar 8
You werenta t the game then, how many times did they a totally unchallenged shot on goal, take a look at the replays, where was the marking ?? in the first half they had at least four clear chances with a man unmarked. If that didn't happen I would not be able to write these articles, time and time again match after match I have to write about individual errors and slack marking at the back.
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Consigliere added 11:02 - Mar 8
Not sure who you were responding to here Nick - I certainly was at the game!
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aceofthebase added 11:15 - Mar 8
McCarhthy had a terrible lapse against Wet Spam but was magnificent against Newcastle. I'm hoping that Valery redeems himself and is the Man of the Match against Norwich.
Terrible result, lots of individual errors and goalless but a spirited performance and we surely must get a point from somewhere.
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Saintaxidriver added 11:24 - Mar 8
I thought Valery looked OK a couple of times going forward but in defence was outmuscled and outpaced. Still think letting Soares go was a mistake. Marking in defence was poor and taking off Long when he still seemed to have some running in him another example of the strange choices this season. Still maybe we can get bought by a billionaire Saints fan and put some money in. Or we could all club together and buy it ourselves. I'll put in a fiver!
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St_Gats added 11:32 - Mar 8
Good article. We looked flat first half and before the sending off. Endless crossed into the box resulted in no major chances and Dubravka wasnt called into action once, with the exception of a specualitive left foot shot after Valery cut inside. Once again, our back line was sleeping and McCarthy pulled off a miracle combination of saves to keep us in it. From where I was sitting, it appeared that we were pushing the full backs on but Djenepo and Boufal just weren't providing cover following the overlap and I think we should have adjusted our tactics at that point. Newcastle got in behind our full backs time and time again.

The red card killed us off as an attacking force but I cant help but be disappointed with our limp counter attack. No one in our midfield could keep hold of the ball and aimless long balls up to Long just recycled possession and gave Newcastle possession to build the next attack. When you consider Newcastle hadn't scored in 8 hours of PL football before yesterday's game, we gave them far too much respect by just surrendering possession. Ings worked hard but was wasted on the left wing and no one outside of him actually looked like making something happen. Even before the sending off, Djenepo looked wayward and clumsy. On the other flank, Boufal shower rare flashes but ultimately didn't look up for the fight.

What is so frustrating for me is that it's yet another goal that has been needlessley gifted to the opposition. Every team that lines up against us know that we give them several chances to score in the match and that will only serve as a confidence boost.

I'm still at a loss as to why we offered so little on the break and why Ralph left it so late in the game to try and affect things. Oba and Adams get their statutary 5-10 minutes where they have little time to get involved and influence the game. Long looked out on his feet from the 70 minute mark but Ralph failed to react.

Credit to crowd yesterday who served up the best and most consistent atmosphere of the season. It's just a shame that wasn't rewarded with at least a point and its yet another game that we leave the ground with the away fans celebrating in our stadium.

At the end of the day, one win from Burnley H, Villa H, WH A and Newcastle is a very poor return and has left us on the brink of being sucked backed into the relegation battle. Clearly the squad is threadbare and new of a club soar this morning leaves me with the concern of a summer of confusion and unrest which will result in minimal investment, at a time it is so desperately needed.

Suddenly Norwich becomes a massive game. Win and we are safe. Lose and we are right back in the thick of the relegation battle.
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saintmark1976 added 11:40 - Mar 8
Yet another example of the owners and management master class in self inflicted wound application. Losing the services of two experienced international Premiership defenders and replacing them with a couple of novices has been a resounding success hasn't it? Played six, won one, lost five, knocked out of the cup and let in thirteen goals since Cedric and Yoshida went,with nine games still to play. Each higher finishing position worth a couple of million pounds and we're doing our very best to go in the oposite direction as quickly as possible.Never mind, I expect Nick will blame it all on the fans because our owners and management never get anything wrong.
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JoeEgg added 12:46 - Mar 8
Good to read saintmark repeating my grouse every week since the January window - appalling owners and management. But sad to see many fans blaming the referee yesterday - he got just about everything right. The same cant be said of the 'tackle' that reduced us to 10 men!
At home you need some creativity preferably from the midfield to break down these defences. There is not an ounce of creativity in this squad - only Redmond can provide that.

And this was Newcastle who cant play away from home and cant score for love or money. However, but for some excellent goalkeeping, they would have put four or five past Saints. It is the same story against every team struggling against relegation when they come to St Marys. As little is likely to change, in my opinion it is going to be a desperately close thing if we survive or get relegated. I agree - Norwich becomes a massive game for us.
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Jesus_02 added 13:04 - Mar 8
1: Its a back 4.. or 5 if you include the Keeper and we have been week at right back since we lost Clyne TBH.

2: I though it was Red and VAR was used how it should be . But If Moussa goes their fella should have gone..or at least it should have been reviewed. . no VAR review ..not sure why. Maybe those at Stockly park where having a brew.

3: Maybe It doesn't matter because it was saved , but it wasn't a PEN. Watch the replay. Boufal was hauled back causing him to slow down and spin. Yes it hit his arm , but it would have hit his chest if he wasn't dragged back.
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wessexman added 13:11 - Mar 8
The club have played Russian roulette over the past couple of season by not sorting the defence out. A mixture of luck and Ralph have averted the financial disaster which is relegation. A succession of managers have been tearing their hair out. Our players are far from blameless. If our lot are not up for it and we lose, you really start fearing. Luck will run out.
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landerwal added 13:13 - Mar 8
The inclusion of Valery at full back was a strange decision. I take it that none of Saints backroom staff watched Newcastle mid week and noticed Saint-Maximin had a cracking game. Putting a young, lightweight player who had not played first team football since last year up against such a strong winger was asking for trouble. JWP should have been at full back with Valery in right mid field where it seems he always plays better . Late on we were lucky not to concede another goal with an almost the identical situation between the two players that had led to the goal. I also think it is a bit harsh to come down on the CBs (again). I thought they did a good job keeping Newcastle at bay in the second half and we could have nicked a win if our forwards could do a bit better in front of goal.
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saintmark1976 added 13:22 - Mar 8
My pleasure JoeEgg. If something is worth repeating it's worth repeating, repeatedly so to speak.

To me the club's actions during the last transfer window may well speak volumes as to their day to day financial situation. As quoted in the Sunday Times today I would suggest that their next set of results may possibly make very interesting viewing indeed.

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ItchenNorth added 15:14 - Mar 8
The question with regards to the awarding of a penalty is not, did it touch Boufal's arm (because it did look reviewable) but why did it touch his arm. The downward movement of his body toward making contact with the ball was because he was pulled back. I can't believe VAR got that so wrong.

I think it was wrong to play Valery when Walker-Peters was match fit. Valery clearly tired in the last 20mins and substitution could also have been made for WP before the tired mistake.

Got to say though that the atmosphere in the stands was really good in the second half. We need that every week.
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Boris1977 added 15:56 - Mar 8
What are we supposed to expect as saints fan's? I really am in the dark about our identity. We've sold our best players, replaced them with substandard footballing fodder seem to still cash in on any assets available (Yoshi and Suarez) and replace them with an unfit loanee. The saints up for sale story is very curious. Not sure what to expect.

We have in theory got a brilliant set up but there is no long term planning. Therefore we've got a very disjointed team of average to reasonably decent players on their day.

The club is sleepwalking into trouble and I cannot see the spark within the club who is to change this.

As for yesterday - business as usual. A very ordinary team turn up apply pressure and we're on the back foot. There is no spine to this team. We got lucky against villa, we were embarrassed against West ham are feckless against Burnley. Make no mistake Norwich are going to came at us from the first minute. That match will show what we're made off.

We may stay up this season but like other seasons it'll be down to the results of others not our own ability and guile. If we do stay up, at the moment there is no reason to believe anything will change next season. We'll struggle in the league, whimper out of the cups and the narcoleptic decision makers will pretend all is fine.

Coyr
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halftimeorange added 15:58 - Mar 8
This was a really poor performance with neither of our centre backs anywhere near where they should have been for Newcastle's numerous shots at goal. It's not just the central defence though. Shelvey completely dominated the midfield and all we did was huff and puff with no end result looking likely. Ings was starved of opportunities and Long had to work as hard as two others just to keep the opposition occupied. Redmond frustrates me but, at least he does add a threat of sorts going forward. Without Armstrong's creativity we look devoid of ideas and our distinct lack of height outside of Bednarek and Stephens sees us waste most of our corners and free kicks. To be honest, Saints now look like live relegation candidates. It shouldn't have happened but, with today's news it could drift along for a lot longer.
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AztecSaint added 16:02 - Mar 8
I was fortunate enough to be in the ML lounge for this one rather than my usual Kingsland seat. The best thing to come out of Saturday for me was Obafemi’s interview in the lounge afterwards. He wasn’t the expected player to speak however he said the atmosphere in the ground was the best all season. The way we got behind the team in the second half was the best I have seen for some considerable time and it was appreciated by the team. His disappointment was obvious and I heard that the player supposed to come up didn’t fancy it. So well done Michael you showed maturity beyond your age.
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AmericanSaint added 16:54 - Mar 8
So many things to say, but will keep it to a few. We have an issue at RB as Newcastle's MSM is beast - he is fast, strong and very physical - Valery is not, so one of our CBs should have always been edging to help Valery out. Credit to Newcastle for seeing a area to exploit. Next, Boris1977 - what game were you watching as NU had 3 opportunities only before the redcard - 2 created by MSM and one by JJS great pass into the box. All 3 had our CBs sixs/sevens. NU is a counter attacking team and they did very little of that before the RC. Like I said in the matchday report, was this the 1st time the ref used the on field monitor? Why didnt he do it when their player slid into Ryan with his studs up? The inconsistencies are apparent. Also, what I dont like about VAR is that now every player runs to the ref yelling for VAR no matter what (even our guys). I dont have an issue with Moussa's red except for one thing, the NU player was sliding to clear the ball, so naturally MJ foot would come over his ankle. If he was standing normally, MJ would have only stepped on his foot which is a YC. There was no malice in the tackle, but the law states a RC - so he is gone. So back to Berty's tackle and while no malice by the NU player, his spike are up and into the chest of RB. That should have been reviewed and he should have gone as it was a very dangerous play. Alright, last thing is that the fans were spectacular and the team spirit was great but this games shows us that we are indeed on the edge and need 3 points at Norwich to really clear us from the zone.
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Boris1977 added 18:15 - Mar 8
American Saint, my point was not that we were swamped more than another average team get the better of us without working hard for it. Most teams we play know we've got several defensive mistakes in us and know if they push forward they will, and more often than not, hit us.
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SaintPaulVW added 18:48 - Mar 8
In my opinion the ref called MD tackle correct. The red card was wrong. MD was not deliberately fouling the man on the ground but his motion caused him to step on his leg. The use of slow motion makes it look like a deliberate act and an absolutely awful offence. Exactly like Bertrand's red card in the Leicester game.

Before that at our end the linesman had missed a clear hand ball and allowed play to carry on.

The penalty is completely up for debate given the points already made. It is totally inconsistent as in a previous game a defender's arm clearly hit the ball in the box and he tucked it behind his back and no penalty was given.

The only purpose of VAR is to assist the ref in removing clear unambiguous factual errors when viewed in real time. Not correct errors of interpretation or judgement by using slow motion. If the ref has made a decision it should stick. VAR has shown that when it interferes in this it just adds more debate not less. The offside rule should also only apply to feet not arms, heads, blue lines etc

VAR is making the TV audience the prime audience now being catered for. The fan actually there is now just an extra.






5

IanRC added 19:11 - Mar 8
The thing that pi$$e$ me off about VAR is the way it is often not used when it should be. Long had a very good shout for a penalty early on but missed by the referee apparently and no VAR review. Of course had it been one of the big teams, or even Spurs, it would have been. Agree entirely with SPVW about Djenepo’s sending off, wouldn’t have happened to a Liverpool player.

Boufal is a big liability defending, I do think he was fouled before the hand ball but using the arm/shoulder was unnecessary as he was breaking without NU players around him, he also gave away a daft free kick just before halftime. Hurry back Nathan.

Thought the team fought well after the sending off and the support was tremendous. It was a cruel blow to concede and not deserved.

See there are rumours about a change in ownership being sought.
1

Billeewithers added 22:55 - Mar 8
All true.
Shambolic defending part of which is players all over making poor decisions or maybe making no decisions whatsoever ..... I wonder who ties their laces up.
Rlif is a conundrum also. His decisions continue to drift. He says all players are leaders so does not see the need for big players who take charge. Hmmmmm. So why do we need Ralf then?
For instance. Two weeks in a row a goal is conceded after a substitution. This implies a lack of cohesive leadership on field which implies a lack of leadership off field.
Opposition players are not all stupid. They will know that our defensive setup is run by easily distracted individuals .... so will keep popping that nasty quick ball through the centre.
Another clear problem is the lack of physicality and raw aggression in the team. Players easily knock off the ball. Weakest Saints team I have see..... especially the captain. More hmmmmsss!
1

Billeewithers added 23:00 - Mar 8
By the way the idea that the team deserved more and should be complimented on their effort is utter rubbish. I can just see Bill Shankly saying that. The score is what you deserve and you lost.
Time the whole set up started to harden up and shoot at the goal any chance you get. Kick it so hard that fans behind the goal or at the corner flag duck
4

SanMarco added 11:06 - Mar 9
VAR is not improving the game. It is just substituting one man (with 2 assistants) for a committee. The more humans the more 'human error'. It works for 'line' decisions like the goal line (and eg faults in tennis) but anything else is human judgement (yes offside is 'line' at the top end but I believe that 'when the ball was played' is still a judgement call). Also all reviews should be at normal speed. Slow-motion makes EVERYTHING look intentional (remember all those penalties in the last world cup??)

There is no such thing as 'A RED' or 'NOT A RED' - it will always be a judgement call. The ref (and many in the stadium) thought it was 'A YELLOW' live and most then agreed the slow motion made it 'A RED'. We hear the comentatoriat say 'at least VAR got it RIGHT' after the usual long delay. What they mean is that the human made decision was altered/not altered using criteria that is oftern left vague/undefined - does that make it 'RIGHT'??? I would get rid and introduce piecemeal when the technology is good enough to indicate the 'CORRECT' decision. We trust the goal-line technology, it quickly leads to a decision we all accept as right. All the rest is causing delay, frustration and anger - and just as much, if not more, controversy.

AS for the game - I totally agree with Nick re the usual in defense. We need to sort it. Also, now that Ings has stopped scoring our lack of goals is an issue (never totally went away - only scored more than 2 twice this season and not at all at home.) I am not, yet, worried about relegation but I see another 17th or 16th finish. I don't expect to come 5th or 6th every season but we can do better than this...
4

warrens76 added 11:52 - Mar 9
I posted on the Echo to this effect, I have given up blaming individual players, whether woeful defending or dreadful finishing it all stems from an inability to do what qualiyt teams can do pass accurately, quickly, remain composed and don't keep making mistakes, Valery and Long's dreadful shot instead of cross can be blamed this week, who last, the week before and before that, the opening 15 games the last 5 from prior season...

Different cuprits same result, so who are the culprits, almost everyone, look aside from sterile possession how many times do we string superb forward passes together, by the 26 th minute I was tearing my hair out at the misplaced, mistimed passes on the edge of their box, there are many times in a game when with more quality we would be threatening the opposition, instead we lose the ball again and again and we end up under pressure, teams are given the ball as much nay more than actually winning it although they do that better...

The problems which are with us for 3 and a half seasons now are a collective issue, there is only one player consistantly (when not injured) who is a top half player, JWP and Redmond are over that term not consistent, then who??????

The dunbimg down of too many players is 'the' issue discussing the symptoms of the day obscures the real disease, namely a shocking ownership and board with zero football nous and no ambition.
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