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Saints Still Need One More Win
Tuesday, 10th Mar 2020 09:03

Five games ago we talked of ho Saints season was at a crossroads, which way would it turn, now we know and we need to secure one more win to push us towards safety and what better place to get it than Norwich City on Saturday.

Five games that have seen only one win and 3 points gained with four defeats, whilst not exactly plunging us back into the relegation dogfight, have exposed our weaknesses and meant we are now looking over our shoulders a little.

Back at the start of February I repeated what I have been saying all season that ultimately our defence is not good enough and that has proved the case yet again as all four defeats saw errors that cost us the game., don't tell me I have something against anyone in that defence, I am only stating the obvious, it is not rocket science.

But there is no need to panic, although the last month has also exposed ourselves to injury issues and even the sad death of Moussa Djenepo's mother has not helped our cause and now his suspension, the fact still remains that although in terms of position the League table does not look too good, after Aston Villa's drubbing at Leicester, there are 6 teams a fair way behind us and they have a lot of ground to make up.

But we have to make sure they don't make up that ground and on Saturday we saw Newcastle leapfrog us as we went down to defeat to them with yet another error just as we seemed to have earned a point.

These two games highlight just where we should be and how tight things can get, two late goals against Newcastle being defended properly would now see us on 36 points, but more importantly take four points off them and they would be on 31, this highlights just how we have been the architects of our own struggle when really we should be coasting.

So we go to Norwich City knowing that if we can win then we are all but safe, it will leave Norwich with a mountain to climb and keep the gap between us and the bottom three intact perhaps even stretch it.

But we need to get something at Carrow Road, if only for our own confidence, 9 goals conceded in those 5 games is poor, only Villa have conceded more this season, we have had our blips but recovered, but the 1.8 goals per game average conceded in these 5 games is all the evidence you need why we are still looking over our shoulder and not upwards

I'm sure Ralph Hasenhuttl is tearing his hair out at present, he sets up his side to keep it tight and play to a certain way and every game it seems someone lets him down in the back four.

But hopefully we can focus ourselves for the trip to Norwich, we seem to raise our game when it truly matters, all of our wins have come in this situation when we have the adrenalin running, when there is nothing in the game certain players cannot seem to focus and concentrate, hopefully that won't be the case at Norwich.

So being on the road suits us, the Canaries will push on, but they are the joint worst scorers in the Premier League, if we can shut them out, even with the likes of Djenepo and Redmond missing we can still go at them on the break.

The trick now is to stay calm and get the job done and then we can concentrate on making our defence a top 10 unit along with our attack and then next season could see us spring a few shocks.

Photo: Action Images



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wessexman added 10:23 - Mar 10
Again, we are depending on 3 worse teams. As the article states, Ralph must be getting close to a meltdown. My big concern is the summer and to what extent the board/ owner is going to back the manager. Ralph has managed to steer a bang average side, which at times cannot be motivated, to a relative safe position. In Ralph, we have a gem who will not be at Saints forever...but surely, the club would be mad not backing the manager this summer. If he were to walk...can we honestly blame him?
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A1079 added 10:52 - Mar 10
I would say that we need 2 wins or 40 points to be sure but on current form I am not confident we will get them, so we have to hope that those below us are worse than us - except, in recent games, bar Villa, we have been unable to beat those around us. To add to our defensive woes, we aren't scoring either and all season I think in most games we have relied on a single goal and no more or rarely more than 2. Ings continues to work hard but he is not hitting the target either.

The improvement I/we saw in December and January I thought (misguidedly) was a sign of turning a corner to some stability but that now looks like a brief period of good results surrounded by a season of disappointment. Lose at the weekend and others around us pick up points and I would say we are back in real trouble.
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SanMarco added 11:15 - Mar 10
The relegation mark is probably likely to be 36 or 37 so 4 more will do us. The way I look at it is we needed 4 points from the last 11 games. What is the worst 11 game run in our history? I doubt it is less than 4 points. Of course we get nervous until we are over the line. The bigger problem for me is the one touched on by wessexman - will we strengthen in the summer? I don't think Ralph will walk quite yet - his record is too patchy to have impressed the 'big' clubs and, with the possible exception of Spuds, none of the 'big' jobs are likely to be available. The cynical view is that by Christmas he will have either been sacked or he will be the hero looking for a 'bigger' club ala MoPo and Koeman...
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saintmark1976 added 12:18 - Mar 10
The only problem with your suggestion SanMarco is that by my reckoning there are only nine games left, not eleven.

Apart from Norwich all the teams below us are currently very close to the one point per game mark which in the past has usually been enough for a team to avoid relegation.My view, for what it is worth, is that we need to achieve a minimum of forty points this time around. The bookies don't think we have a problem. They are offering 80/1 against us being relegated but then again they don't have to endure our miserable home form game after game
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wibbersda added 12:28 - Mar 10
There's only 9 games left SanMarco.
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halftimeorange added 14:28 - Mar 10
Although I hate to say it, I don't think the Norwich game is a gimme. They came close at Sheff U, drew with Spurs and beat Leicester. Only their defeat at Wolves saw them outclassed. Our performance against Newcastle was awful and, at the weekend, the team which wants it most is likely to win. This season relegation will be a tight affair and anyone who thinks Saints are already safe is tempting fate.
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A1079 added 14:51 - Mar 10
halftimeorange - I agree. I far from think any result with Saints is a gimme, how can you, given our record - the only gimme is that we will concede at some point. Norwich play some good football and they have nothing to lose. Neither do I think it is a gimme that we will get the points to secure our position in the PL. Even if we do, as others have alluded to, will we merely face another season of the same sort of stuff? I suspect we will unless some unexpected benefactor suddenly comes out of the woodwork.

No matter how rose tinted glasses you may be as a Saints fan they would have to be exceptionally rose tinted at the moment to believe that we are a club who is looking forwards and upwards.
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saintmark1976 added 15:21 - Mar 10
Interesting that since Sunday Betfred have cut the odds on the Saints being relegated from 80/1 to 33/1. Particularly given that the only game played by a team in the relegation zone since the weekend was Villas defeat by Leicester yesterday. Suggests to me that perhaps somebody has had a rather large punt.
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Scrappy2020 added 15:51 - Mar 10
When we were winning matches over Christmas Armstrong and Redmond were fit and Cedric was playing,since then we have had a problem with RB playing Prowse out of position and one of both of the above injured ,I think this is why we have struggled,also just as Jenepo was starting and playing well as he did against villa he early has not had a chance to continue that form the best team has not been available,it's as simple as that!,plus an experienced player like Cedric should not have been allowed to leave,you need a settled defence,which we had in december.
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saintlee added 20:06 - Mar 10
I think its plain to see. The defence isn't poor. Bertrand and Bednarek apart the rest simply aren't good enough. Stephen's always has a mistake in him. Vestergaard, well ive seen super tankers turn quicker than him. Valery doesnt know know how to defend - period. Ralph doesnt fancy KWP st all which means we will probably sign him in the summer. But to be fair, the defence isn't helped by our captain consistently giving the ball away in midfield every game. Hopefully the board will dig deep in the summer and get the recruitment right. A top class centre back and right much needed me thinks with a top class quarterback of a midfielder for dessert. Why do we struggle against direct and physical teams so much ? Because we are not strong enough physically or mentally. This needs to be addressed in the summer or its mid table mediocrity again next season.
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davidargyll added 07:05 - Mar 11
I'll take mid-table mediocrity any time!
But surely the lesson here - and with Norwich coming up it's especially relevant - that ALL the teams in the lower half, and you could include a couple above that line too, have good days and bad days, good luck and bad luck, a misplaced pass here, a goalie howler there; that is just the nature of the PL these days. We have a team of players that is inconsistent - if it wasn't we'd be up with the big boys - let's just pray that things go our way at the weekend.
So stop carping everyone, I am sure that the whole team is trying as hard as they can - after all, I bet 99.9% of people on here, if they really look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they work really hard all the time at their place of work and never cock it up, they'd have to say no.
And that is what we have with our beloved club - we are not brilliant but my Christ we are not that bad - imagine what it's like being say a Villa fan...
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Boris1977 added 10:29 - Mar 11
There are only so many 'must win' games a team can play and lose before the inevitable happens. If we beat Norwich, and I would not put our fragile team down as favourites for that, we should be ok.

But what beyond then? The 80% owner is not interetsed in investing his money in the club as he's openly admitted - in fact it is looking like there were other motives on his part in buying into the club. The board do not seem to be focused on football issues as there is an ownership issue and a financial issue which is a much bigger distraction from footballing issues. If we stay up or go down it will be down to clubs being worse than us once again and inspite of the boards activites rather than because of them.

I do not know what the point of our club is at the moment. From the late seventies, which is when my memory of Saints starts, we often blooded the noses of richer teams and had a stong team ethic based on being better than the sum of our parts which is why we escaped relegation so often in the late 90s despite a small ground and income. (lets forget about the atrocious relegtion years in the 2000s).

We have got a brilliant infrastructure, including training facilities and youth set up but we have got an administration which cannot run it effectively, does not appreciate what we have and quite frankly is not fit for purpose.

Ralph is potenitally a great manager but he is not working in a functional organisation which is working together towards a shared and clearly defined goal.

The club needs to rebuild using the blueprint, but learning from the mistakes, of the Markus/Cortese 5 year plan. This means everyones role off the pitch is clearly defined working towards a clear strategy. Everyone involved should be dedicated to the mid term to provide stability. Everything needs to be joined up.

At the moment the disjointed performances, 'odd' player recruitment and retention policy, odd team selections etc are a reflection of the lack of focus, uncertainly, clarity of roles, joined up working and lack of communication off the pitch.

There isnt an easy fix but Goa needs to sell up, new owners need to restructure and get the right people into the important decision making roles and they need to communicate and work towards a realistic shared goal.

We should not need to put up with the mixed up mess we have become over the past 4 years and we can return to the achievements of the first few years of our return to the top flight. This does not mean spending stupid money on over paid mercenaries it means the right people in the right roles sharing the same ethic and mid term plan.

We need to get our identity back of being an entertaining, well run and united football club. Under the current administration this will not happen.
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