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Saints Two Players Short Of A Top 10 Team
Monday, 28th Sep 2020 10:01

The start of the season has revealed two things, that defensively a good side will rip us apart on the break, but that going forward we are a potent force, if Ralph hasenhuttl can make two signings this week we could seriously challenge the top 10 this season.

The win at Burnley showed that we can battle against the more physical sides, but we should not let Sean Dyche's lack of tactical awareness gloss over the fact that we still have our deficiencies, last season at one time looked like being a relegation battle, but ended with us rueing so many soft goals conceded and just missing out on a top 10 finish.

But we could get back into the top half of the table this season if we finally deal with our weakness at the back in this transfer window and if we add another player in the centre of midfield then we could surprise a few teams.

In goal we have three options, but in truth none have truly shone in the last two years, but it is not a position that we are desperate in, the two full back positionsare now well covered, Kyle Walker Peters and Ryan Bertrand class acts, with two good young covering options in Jake Vokins and Yan Valery.

Out wide in midfield we again have options, Stuart Armstrong, Moussa Djenepo & Nathan Redmond have experience whilst Will Smallbone & Nathan Tella offer youth.

Up front we have a blend of experience and youth that in Ings, Adams, Long & Obafemi give us options.

But a good team is built on it's spine and ours is deficient, in the centre of defence we lack a leader, I have been saying this for four years and the problem has not been dealt with, meaning that we can't find the consistency that would see us break into the top 10, we are too reliant on poor finishing from the opposition to win games and it really should not be like that.

So a good leader at the back would solve a lot of problems.

In the centre of midfield, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg is not a massive loss, but we are short of graft, Oriol Romeu and James Ward Prowse showed they can roll up their sleeves and battle it out at Burnley, but we still lack a good holding midfielder.

If we deal with the problem by two good signings, then a lot will fall into place, the goalkeepers will be more assured with an organiser in front of them and the defence will be protected and that in turn will enable us to put more pressure on teams going forward knowing that we can defend a counter attack.

Playing youngsters is fine, but every pupil needs a teacher and we have no one doing that on the pitch at the moment.

The future is bright, but we cannot rest on our laurels, we need to put the final pieces in the jigsaw, look to get things sorted and then build on the foundations, Ralph Hasenhuttl has done that very well in the last two years, but the hardest part if making the jump from the middle of the table to 7th-10th and that needs experience, the Big Six don't buy potential they buy the finished article, we cannot do that, we need to find the next big thing and turn them into good players, except that they will move on and invest wisely.

We are very close to being back to the position we were in 4 years ago, then some got a bit overexcited and disallusioned when we did not kick on, but we have steadied the ship under Ralph and are ready to go again.

Now it is a case of two good signings with experience, not 3 with potential but no experience.

The next few days will be crucial to the way this season pans out, I hope we make those signings.

Photo: Action Images



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dirk_doone added 10:29 - Sep 28
"We could seriously challenge the top 10 this season."

We finished 11th last season and have had 4 top 8 finishes in the last 7 years. So, basically, you're saying after our transfer dealings our squad is worse than it was but we might be able to recover if the owners invest some of the money.
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janecook added 10:35 - Sep 28
I would like Saints to sign Ruben Loftus-Cheek but he will probably end up at a lower team like Villa. Ntcham from Celtic also looks good, but a new centre half is a must.
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theralpholution added 10:50 - Sep 28
The games have shown us that tactically Ralph had it wrong and played too high a defensive line in early fixtures making us vulnerable to the break, something a faster centre half could have mitigated but not solved. Burnley showed us that we can defend and Ralph has organised the team before to defend well so organisation is not in itself the problem either. What we can see is that defending is a team responsibility, not just the domain of the back four and when we press high gaps begin to open at the back. The challenge is to get the balance right and I am sure Ralph is reshaping the team to address this. Salisu will add pace to our defence, something that is lacking but we need more strength in the middle. The tendency to give the ball away with high press football has to offset by players capable of retaining the ball and the ability to track back and win it back.
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d_ember added 10:51 - Sep 28
I do not agree that a good side will rip us apart on the break, our tactics against Spurs and Palace were deficient, we defended too high with no pressure on the ball and no pace to recover. We addressed that to some degree against Burnley, ensuring firstly they had less time in midfield to pick a pass, and secondly dropping quicker when we did not have the ball. The full backs were also more disciplined and did not over commit, although that affected our width on the counter attack at times.

I agree we need to get a leader, preferably a CB who is capable of reading the game and calling the shots. We are light in central midfield and an upgrade on Romeu would certainly lift the side a notch and an old head alongside any of the CB's would also.
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Jesus_02 added 11:04 - Sep 28
So basically the players that we are missing are VVD and Big Vic in his prime
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Jesus_02 added 11:09 - Sep 28
There was nothing wrong with our Game plan against Spurs. I just think maybe we were naive to stick to it so doggedly. Playing that way is a massive risk , but sometimes it pays off, I was quite happy to see that we turned up with attitude that we could find a way to win. I think that if they don't score at the end of the first half its a different game. We will always have to take risks to beat teams with more quality than us
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IanSouthstander added 11:12 - Sep 28
I admire your optimism. but lets not get carried away by beating a burnley side with more than half their first team missing.
I agree with your assessment of defence and midfield, and as you say, 2 quality players would improve us no end. Up front you say we have options. True. But they are not very good options. An injury to Ings, God forbid, or Adams, and we're knackered.
The very best we can hope for with 2 decent signings this week would be to finish where we ended up last season.
Forget the top 6. We're a million miles behind leicester and wolves. Sheffield utd will struggle this year, and burnley, once they have their players available will start to climb again. So that leaves us maybe 9th at best.
You then look at the teams that finished below us. Everton have improved massively, as have Newcastle. Both i feel will finish above us. A lot of other teams have also improved. Brighton for one have impress.
So even with your 2 new signings(and theres no guarantee they will be forthcoming) i feel the very best position we can achieve is staying around 11th.
As you say, the next few days are crucial. But to challenge for a top 10 finish , we're maybe 4 players short.
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highfield49 added 11:58 - Sep 28
Well, I'm going to beg to differ on the goal keeper assessment. Against Burnley McCarthy made a good save from a decent shot down to his right and a more comfortable save from a cross goal headed effort to his left. Other than that he was rooted to his line on just about every high ball into the box or played through the channels. It was no different against Palace or Spurs. He is a shot stopper at best and a liability to defenders at worst because he doesn't call for the ball or move decisively from his line. Forster is potentially no better than McCarthy, because he's not very quick on his feet, and tbh I've pretty much forgotten what Gunn could might have brought to the team. I don't know if a deal for Jack Butland is necessarily the answer but he was a very good keeper whose decision making, shot stopping and physical presence got him into the England squad. Loads of experience, still young for a keeper and might give our defenders a confidence boost.
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underweststand added 12:14 - Sep 28
I agree with highfield 49. None of our keepers are totally reliable and we really miss the like of José Fonte who was a good partner to half a dozen CBs.
We need a holding MF who can tackle without getting yellows every other game.
But our real weakness is a striker. We cant go every game hoping that Danny Ings doesnt sneeze in the dressing room. Thats 3 players we need Nick.

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redandwhitedee added 14:27 - Sep 28
Against Burnley (and palace) it was not the Defensive midfield which was lacking. Actually Romeu alongside Vestergaard was MoTM in my view (although the numpty on sky gave it to Ings with 1 shot in 90 minutes..).
Midfield creation is badly lacking this year. There is simply no inspiration, and what there is, is way too predictable.
That Burnley performance going forward was truly dire.

@Highfield 49.. all those comments re Butland could equally be applied to our own Frazer Forster. I’m happy with McArthy but maybe it’s the Goalie coaching & psychologists we need to change, not the Playing personnel !
1

schatfield added 14:51 - Sep 28
yawn......it is not a new central defender we need, we bought Salisu, we have this and coverage. We are not going to buy an older player so unsure why you keep raising this.
What we need is someone to replace Romeu who makes too many mistakes and doesnt offer up enough protection in front of the back 2. I see most were raving about him in the Burnly game but am unsure why, the amount of misplaced passes I saw him make had me shudder. Fix that area and we are looking good.
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Block8 added 15:15 - Sep 28
Have to agree with ralpholution on this. We expose out CBs more than any side in the prem. The full backs are encouraged to push high & the side midfield given licence to roam. This requires the two CBs to spread wider to cover the full backs with the centre midfield covering the gaps. This is where it falls down frequently, if we lose the ball in centre midfield we don't have the pace to recover. If we push too high from CM teams, like Spurs did, play in the gap leaving the exposed CBs not knowing whether to twist of stick. We need to get it right tactically but we don't play with a holding midfielder, we play with two but neither has pace & they both push too far at times. We need a pacey defensive central midfield player as a matter of urgency.
We were excellent against Burnley completely controlled the game and didn't expose our CBs once but it isn't pretty to watch, just need to get the balance right!
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DellBoyWally added 16:14 - Sep 28
JanVest had a top game Saturday and JanBad had probably his best game for some time. Romeu ruled DM but JWP had another...not so good. Most Burnley attacks came from midfielders in space with JWP not pressing. He found lots of space himself but mainly when Burnley were in possession! Not the plan!
Adams again "unlucky". Will that be his epitaph?
2

WestSussexSaint added 18:26 - Sep 28
Is the answer to the headline Messi and Ronaldo?
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Peterx added 18:37 - Sep 28
Burnley had limited pace, we can cope with that.

When we play teams with pace om the break e.g.. Son and Sella we can contain for a while but when we run out of gas and then we have the cavalry charge situation on our goal every time we lose the ball.

Think of the Liverpool game last year and Tottenham this year, we looked like world beaters for most of the first half in those games but ultimately got badly overrun.

To me its an inability to change tactics as we tire and then also lack of pace in defensive midfield.

I would like us get someone with real pace in the Romeu position and see how they can operate. Given there is a limit to what we can afford we will have to accept that whoever this is will not be the finished article.
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mattthelegend added 19:00 - Sep 28
Will be pleasantly surprised if we get in one player let alone 2. Can’t see it happening myself.
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SanMarco added 23:00 - Sep 28
2 players for top 10 and I suppose 10 players for top 2 BUT what does 0 players signify? Let's face it, knowing us that is what it will be. Or a last minute Danso type affair where the guy plays twice out of position, gets sent off and then disappears for good...
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SaintPaulVW added 10:49 - Sep 29
Judging by the finish to last season we need no new players, now that we have purchased KWP. This is based on the facts of our points per game.

I'm now used to the usual story of being linked with every available player, who either stay in Europe or move to another EPL side that will pay their going rate. As mentioned above I expect a last minute loan move - which worked out great for KWP and Ings but not so great for Danso. Still at least we couldn't buy him and end up with him also out on loan.

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Ali_Diarea added 12:15 - Sep 29
If we don’t sign two ‘first team ready’ players before the window closes, then I think our thread- bare squad is only a couple of injuries away from being relegation candidates.

Our current bench is uninspiring, no real game changers on there, just replacements who are ok, nothing more.
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Boris1977 added 08:43 - Sep 30
The last few seasons have seemed to be a case of the board and/or the owner betting on other teams being worse than us and it worked out fine - in terms of avoiding relegation. Even last year before covid-19 intervened it looked like we were in the relegation mix.

We do seem to be in limbo in terms of big financial decisions being made which may well reflect our current owners status.

The two questions I'd ask are why did chairman Gao take over in the first place and what is the current strategy at the club in terms of what the club want to achieve on the pitch.

Answer those two questions and we'd gain an insight into how the team is operating and what our expectations should be.
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underweststand added 15:54 - Sep 30
Two players short of a top 10 place..Nick?
well..... if those two players are Danny Ings "clones" ..than I might agree with you, but already we're "locked in " to the idea that as long as Danny scores then we MIGHT be OK.

I won't fault Ché Adams for effort, he puts in a shift in every game, but he hasn't got the " Ings touch" yet, and any goal he scores will be down to luck... rather than judgement

Every team concedes goals, and we are no exception and as long as we can score one goal more than the opposition ...we will get the points, but it's painfully obvious to all that we are "over-reliant" on Danny ... otherwise the future doesn't bear thinking about.

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erick added 10:22 - Oct 2
We need two central midfielders and a winger who can be a 10.
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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -
Letters from Wiltshire #07 by wessex_exile

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