Saints Still A Work In Progress !
Monday, 19th Oct 2020 09:07
The draw at Chelsea means that after two defeats at the Start Of The Premier League season, we have now gone three unbeaten, but there are still things to be sorted out in the squad and it should be noted that last season it all went pot at this point.
The draw at Chelsea had the good and bad of Saints, on one hand we were scintillating going forward, but on the other we were carved apart three times on the break in the centre of our defence.
Ralph Hasenhuttl will take heart that three members of his squad who might well play a big part going forward were not available for this game, Moussa Djenepo & Stuart Armstrong missing through injury & Mohammed Salisu not quite ready, he will though be pleased to have blooded another new signing in Ibrahima Diallo who came on in the dying minutes.
The Austrian will hope that Salisu will turn out to be a talent, but although he could well be just that, at just 21 and barely 40 games to his name before arriving at St Mary's, he will be looking for guidance at the start of his Premier League career.
The centre of defence is the main part of the team that is the work in progress, it is worrying that Saints did not deal with it in the transfer window or indeed windows, perhaps it is because they don't think it needs sorting out or perhaps it is because with the current financial issues caused by the Covid 19 situation, that it is something that they just didn't have the money to do.
I find that hard to believe in that we found the money for Theo Walcott, whilst no one will argue that that is bad business, the truth is we would have been better finding a player with a similar experience to Walcott who plays in the centre of defence.
But it is what it is and elsewhere in the team now the transfer window is shut we have to work with what we have got.
In goal we are alright, not great or Ok, just alright, both McCarthy & Forster have at times shown they are good keepers, but neither have done it with conviction or over a period of time for Saints in the past 3 years or so, but we can live with that for the time being.
In the full back positions we have two good options currently first choice and two deputy's who have shown they could be Premier quality in the future, we are fine there.
In midfield we are strong, in the centre we have two good defensive players in the rejuvenated Romeu and James Ward Prowse, we also have the likes of the versatile Will Smallbone who has shown promise.
Out wide we have a plethora of options and the good thing is that they all have different skills, Nathan Redmond is a tricky winger who can cause trouble for any defence, Theo Walcott has a combination of pace and experience, Djenepo has a raw talent that means that although he can become isolated if he doesn't have the ball, give him it and he can beat defenders and score goals, Stuart Armstrong is a grafter, he can work hard when you are on the back foot and offers guile more than pace.
We also have the option to play others as wide men in midfield, whether it is JWP, Will Smallbone, Jan Valery or latest youngster Nathan Tella.
Up front we are strong, Danny Ings and Che Adams are fast becoming one of the best partnerships outside of the Big Six,, add the experience of Shane Long who will do a job and the pace of Michael Obafemi, plus the ability of others to play up front, Theo Walcott being the most obvious, things are looking good.
Overall the squad has depth when you look at those with experience who can't get in the starting line up and the youngsters on the fringes, but the final two pieces of the jigsaw are still to be slotted in, we can finish in the top 10 this season, but the difference between doing that and ending up just outside again, will be the goalkeeper and the centre of defence.
Both areas at times were strong against Chelsea, but we conceded three goals and we really should not have.
We are going to have another rollercoaster ride for the moment, but it will be entertaining and hopefully it will continue to improve, Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was Liverpool, parallels can be drawn between Jurgen Klopp and Ralph Hasenhuttl, both are similar in style and manner, Ralph was not called Klopp of the Alps in Germany for nothing.
Klopp was not an instant hit as Anfield, Klopp joined Liverpool in October 2015 success was not immediate, at the end of his first season Liverpool languished in 8th place, two behind Saints, the following two years saw 4th, but that was not what Klopp was there for, he was there to bring back the trophies and title and in his first three & a quarter seasons the trophy cabinet was still barren.
But for Liverpool they knew that it was a work in progress and Klopp was slowly building up his squad, ok we didn't like it as his rebuilding plans included Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane, but Klopp got patience from both his board and the fans and so we should have patience with Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Ralph cannot change things overnight but we are slowly but surely building foundations that will remain in place long after Hasenhuttl has left, that is why Saints kept faith with him a year ago after the Leicester debacle.
He is not perfect, our squad is not perfect and although he will continue in the same vein as Klopp, the reality is he won't have the same resources, but in relative terms he has the capability to truly rebuild the Southampton Way to the level it has not been since the late 1980's.
So we are a work in progress, there are still things that are not right, still areas that can be improved, but if we have patience then we might just have some nice surprises ahead of us, it is about keeping calm, staying loyal and realising that in Hasenhuttl we have a manager who is well suited to the club, let's support him !
Photo: Action Images
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