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Saints Stronger After Transfer Window But Again Did Not Address Key Area
Tuesday, 6th Oct 2020 09:27

It has been a case of 7 out and 4 in during the International transfer window, but Saints again did not address a key area, can they do so in the second part of the window which sees them able to trade with EFL clubs.

Saints have seen 7 players out of last seasons first team squad depart the club for the coming season, Guido Carrillo, Harrison Reed, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Sofiane Boufal have all gone on permanent transfers, Wesley Hoedt & Mario Lemina have gone on loan and Maya Yoshida was released at the end of his contract.

To replace them Saints have brought in Kyle Walker Peters, Mohamed Salisu, Ibrahima Diallo & the prodigal son returning Theo Walcott.

On the face of it this has the potential to be a good window for Saints, in truth only Hojbjerg was a true regular last term, Boufal made a couple of contributions early in the season but was largely annonymous after the first month.

Yoshida aside who played little, Reed, Lemina, Hoedt & Carrillo all spent the season away from the club.

On paper all of the four new guys have the potential to be first team regulars, Walker-Peters already is, so from this perspective we are already equal and now we have to wait to see if Salisu & Diallo can be success's, likewise Theo Walcott, he is the one proven player at Premier League level, can we squeeze out one final swan song from him, if we can then he will be a cheap acquisition for just £4 million in wages.

My initial thoughts are that we lost just one first team regular who contributed but brought in four who can succeed,

One big plus though was the fact that we have got two big earners off the wage bill permanently, Boufal & Carrillo were costing us money, even if we had got them out on loan we would have had to subsidise their wages and when they returned in May they would have been eligible not just for those wages in full for July, but also a nice bonus if still at the club on the 1st of that month, not to mention we would have had to pay them for the month after their contract if they had not moved to another club during it, this probably tells you why so few transfers are done until August. Even Harrison Reed was on far more money than he could get with a permanent move to the Championship.

So from a financial perspective this window has been a triumph and now the squad looks far stronger on paper than it did this time last year.

But we still did not address the main issue and that is we still lack an organiser at the back and this will continue to be a big problem and to a lesser extent a goalkeeper.

But the window is not completely shut, we can still trade with EFL clubs for two weeks and I think we could definitely see some movement in this time.

The arrival of Walcott will impact on Michael Obafemi and I think he will be allowed out on loan to a Championship club, perhaps a short term loan till January to give him some game time, Walcott fills a gap in that Obafemi has talent but still lacks finesse and experience, that can only come from regular game time.

I would expect some other squad members to also depart, Josh Sims career at the club looks to be over, there are too many in the way of him now and not having played for 18 months in our first team I think he will go.

There are several others who will also be moved on, Jake Hesketh, Sam MQueen when fit & perhaps a few more, we have already pruned the B side with the departure of Christoph Klarer , Tom O'Connor & Alfie Jones etc, some permanently others on loan and there may be more to follow.

A Goalkeeper will be shedded, perhaps two, Angus Gunn is likely to go out on loan and if the mooted deal with Stoke City to bring Jack Butland in return happens then it could see Fraser Forster go somewhere too, or maybe even Alex McCarthy.

But the main area is centre back, yes we have four but at time of writing only Jan Bednarek can be considered a regular, he is the one constant, Vestergaard & Stephens have historically had the odd good game but are both error prone and Mo Salisu could be a revelation, not yet ready or another Kevin Danso, ie looks good in a European league but when we get him on a daily basis we don't like what we see.

Danso was more a panic buy than Salisu, so we would hope he will fit Ralph's plans better, but the worrying thing is that as we stand we do not have a bolted on proven central defensive partnership.

Maybe that can be addressed in the window, there are plenty of clubs out there in the Championship with central defenders who fit the bill and a blend of experience and quality.

Spurs are after Joe Roden of Swansea playing their old trick of offering peanuts and trying to force the deal through as the player is unsettled, they have offered £7 million, Swansea want £18, perhaps we could nip in although in truth he has little experience and we need an older head.

But I am sure there are older heads around in the Championship, we need a Jimmy Case style figure in our squad, albeit in central defence not midfield, someone who might have seen better days but who can still put in a performance and who can bring our defenders on.

So overall a good window for Saints, we have made progress and a step forward, in truth it was never going to be spectacular, we still had two many millstones around our neck financially when the window opened, but we have got rid of a few of them and that will give us more leeway in January and this time next year when we will hopefully get the final couple of our books.

Some Saints fans will not be happy, but we have taken steps forward and that is the good thing, Ralph Hasenhuttl is not about short term fixes he is about building long term stability.

He has done a good job so far !

Photo: Action Images

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davidargyll added 10:04 - Oct 6
I think I agree with most of what you say but at the back of my mind that there’s a niggling doubt about the quality we’ve brought in vs the costs we’ve saved by shipping out a lot of dead wood. Maybe that’s always the case in that you hope newbies will meld with the existing setup and improve it but it does goes wrong as we know to our cost; fingers crossed it doesn’t this time.
Balancing the books is clearly important so regardless of the deals we’ve just completed, let’s hope we still have enough dosh left in the kitty to get us a stronger defence.
PS. Theo Walcott is interesting. On the one hand I always thought that he was overrated - ie runs like a gazelle but doesn’t or can’t stick it in the net very often - but then you could argue he’s like a Shane Long on speed who draws players allowing others to do the biz; the jury will be out for a while yet but he clearly is pleased to be back and his pace should suit RH’s style so on balance I’m optimistic...

highfield49 added 10:10 - Oct 6
I realise that you live in hope Nick but considering Everton have just paid £25m to £30m for Ben Godfrey from Norwich I can't see where the defender you wish for is hiding in the lower leagues. Godfrey is 22, so unlikely to be too much of a leader and organiser at present but I think he will become a very good player. Roma seem to have paid about £18m to sign Chris Smalling who is 30 or so and experienced but probably no better than the defenders we have at present. I hope you're right and we can find the elusive leader somewhere down the leagues but would that be at the expense of taking the captaincy from JWP who seems to be growing into the role? Unlike many older players JWP has incredible fitness and stamina which, for me, is more important to RH than a not very mobile player who can't lead by example.

wibbersda added 10:22 - Oct 6
Centre Backs, blah blah blah and yawn 🥱

ExiledSupporter added 10:53 - Oct 6
Here's a suggestion worth giving some serious consideration to, though it doesn't meet Nick's established demand, quite rightly, for a dominant experienced centreback.

Why not get Jack Wilshire in on a short term deal (he's a free agent at present and has received a six figure pay off from W Ham) pay him a relatively low base salary and a bonus supplement if he remains fit enough to qualify for the bench and a further supplement if he actually holds a first team place.

The guys had a rough time with injuries, but if he can prove his fitness he could be just the guy to give our attacking midfield the vision and width to create many chances and supply a few goals himself. I think he's c28yrs old, so by no means in the sunset years

Okay its a calculated gamble, but surely a worthwhile one that might pay off big time...he's certainly got talents that we sometimes obviously lack.

redandwhitedee added 11:06 - Oct 6
Jack Stephens would be great as a Defensive central midfielder. Brings the ball out of defence really well. Already had plenty experience as right back, and am sure he would enjoy that role. If we are ever short in that area I believe he could make that transition well.

Otherwise you still say that our CB’s are prone to a mistake.. name one which is not ? I would point you towards Maguire, Gomes and VVD recently...
I am happy with our CB And CDM options now.
Likewise going forward. Would have liked to see another creative Attacking midfielder (like Barkley) but can’t have everything.

underweststand added 11:23 - Oct 6
Nick ...Whilst you are lamenting the absence of " a commanding figure " in the team, you mentioned one of my favs. from yesteryear (Jimmy Case) whilst forgetting that Jim was already past 30 when he arrived at the club and had won more trophies with Liverpool than most of our players have even seen. (Alan Ball was a similar model).
Players of that generation didn't have an ego problem, but a great deal to offer to the younger players at the club,.and they didn't cost a fortune to get in either.
(Hopefully some of Theo's influence might rub off on some others).
I also agree with ..redandwhitedee... (above) on the comments about Jack Stephens.
I have long felt that his aggression and experience would be better utilised in midfield .

saintjf added 11:45 - Oct 6
I am really not sure that many clubs are happy with their centre back pairings - even much bigger clubs than saints. Look at some of the scorelines this past week. You mention Yoshida going. What a fine gentleman and great servant of the club. Quite rightly extremely popular as an individual as well as a player. The club needs characters and I think Walcott is a good 'character' signing and I really hope he thrives at Saints as have others who have spent their last few top flight playing days down this way.

SanMarco added 11:55 - Oct 6
The problem with this is that yes we could really do with Nick's experienced organiser at the back but said person is very difficult to find. Interestingly in his occasional mentioning of this player Nick rarely (if ever?) gives a hard and fast name. Who is this person? We all want him but does he actually exist at the moment (I am totally ignorant of lower league football so will be happy to hear that there are people of good enough quality lurking there.)

A separate but related question: What is the situation with Danso??

RedandWight added 12:34 - Oct 6
Nick Looking for a leader in defence? Now I remember a fella, what was his name? ah thats it Jose Fonte! Now there was someone who truly new how to organise a defence. whatever happened to him? Oh, Yeah after proving himself on the international scene he asked for a pay rise and got shown the door....

kenis added 13:03 - Oct 6
I dont agree we need another CB, I'm happy with the four we have and emergency options of Bertrand or B-Team. Cant see us playing three at the back anymore, or needing to if we had two or three injuries.

However if we did then I guess the lower league leader option would be Craig Dawson now at Watford formerly of WBA, but Spurs are rumored, Fulham were desperate for a CB and didnt get/go for him and would command a fee as has three years left on his contract. Dont see us getting better than what we have already, its already 4 into 2.

If its true we were in for Loftus-Cheek as well as Walcott (and RH said he wanted three but only got two extra bodies in) then maybe Jack Wilshire could be a good shout but presumably he'll a) want a lot of cash even on pay as you play and b) after his time at West Ham want some guarantees over playing time, which we cant give.

SaintPaulVW added 13:24 - Oct 6
Don't really need 5 CBs. So once we got Salisu no more were coming.

Most PL teams are after this unicorn holy grail player. Strong, fast, experienced, organised, organiser, commanding and most importantly for us cheap. Unfortunately, there aren't many to go round. If we did find them we'd get at most 2 seasons out of them.

Probably more likely to find a good experienced midfielder, like Jimmy Case, to shout and cajole. Even them they are not going to tick all the boxes.

For Saints the skill needed is to stop the press stretching us out too much, leaving us vulnerable to a quick counter. This shouty role could easily be filled by a central midfielder.

I would look there.

Other than that it was a great window, filled key areas, chopped out some deadwood to free up some cash, gave some players a chance at other teams, got some experience and got some potential in.



halftimeorange added 13:29 - Oct 6
I did wonder if we were after Brandon Williams from Man Utd to allow Ryan Bertrand to move into the centre of defence and be that old wise head so many of us crave. Pity Solskjaer blocked the move.

schatfield added 14:12 - Oct 6
ah the good old CB topic yet again that Nick will just not let go. Funny enough you like to make the comment often that we have a premiership midfield/attack and a championship defense, yet you are now hoping we go shopping in the EFL for the final week? Care to explain who we could possibly get there that is better than Stephens and Vestergaard?

ronan006 added 16:31 - Oct 6
Too soon to judge, Jannick has improved a lot and Salisu is coming back from a long lay off hopefully see him in action this month. He's got all the attributes , speed, height so at least give him a game before deciding we need about one.

theralpholution added 17:42 - Oct 6
I think it's fine to express an opinion but when it becomes repeated so obsessively it begins to be disrespectful to the manager. The writer claims he's been talking repeatedly about the same problems for four years but doesn't seem to make the connection that our current manager has only been in post for only two of these. He also ignores the steps Ralph has taken to improve the team defensively. In that time he has revolutionised our playing style and our players, in both fitness and organisation. He has recently signed one central defender, a defensive midfielder and a right back. All of these players have pace, a characteristic he clearly wants in his team, slowly working to bring in the players he wants to play the football he wants. Meanwhile, this writer continues to bang on about buying a centre-half at the end of his career without knowing how it fits in with the manager's vision of play. I think we're all aware now that Ralph clearly doesn't agree that this is the way to improve so maybe it's time to give it a rest.

abingdonsaint added 18:02 - Oct 6
Nick. Please let it go. Walcott is a special case, but we ain’t buying any grizzled old CB’s! Ralph is building a team pattern of play, and he obviously feels the CB’s we already have are capable of doing the job.

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