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Will Ralph Hasenhuttl Change Saints Formation To Accommodate Diallo
Monday, 11th Jan 2021 13:24

After his great full home debut for Southampton in the win over Liverpool last week, Ralph Hasenhuttl now has a big dilemma, how does he utilise all of his three central midfielders in the same team.

James Ward Prowse is the man taking all the plaudits and is now considered one of the best English central midfielders in the Premier League, after his career seemed to be heading into a plateau, two years ago it was suddenly rejuvenated after the arrival of Ralph Hasenhuttl who has to get a lot of the credit in adding something to the players game that wasn't there under the last few managers.

Likewise Oriol Romeu, he looked to be on his way out of the club and although he had been player of the year in 2016/17, the next two seasons had seen him drop down the pecking order and with the resurgence of JWP as well as the form of Pierre Emile Hojbjerg he was struggling for game time and his days looked numbered as he headed towards the last year of his contract.

But with Hojbjerg leaving, Romeu took his chance after the restart and he like Ward Prowse is in the best form of his St Mary's career.

Now Ralph's problems are starting, back in the summer Saints lined up the signing of Ibrahima Diallo to replace the departing Hojbjerg and what looked like Romeu following him out the door.

But the form of the Spaniard has made him perhaps the most important player in the Saints team this season, Danny Ings may get the goals, Ward Prowse may create them and bang in the free kicks, but it is Romeu who has been the all action beating heart of the team.

But in our current formation three into Two in the centre of the midfield doesn't go and after his performances against Fulham and Liverpool, especially Liverpool Ibrahima Diallo looks to be a real find.

Although in essence he is of the same mould as Romeu a combative player who can win the ball and pass it, he is a little different, he seems to have fast feet that can win the ball and help him accelerate away, his job role might be the same as Romeu's but his style of play and the way he completes the tasks are different.

So Ralph Hasenhuttl now has options in the midfield, but how does he use them all.

When he arrived Ralph seemed to like to change formation, last season after "that" Leicester game where he saw what was essentially three at the back in a 3-2-4.1 formation pulled apart, the Austrian go back to basics and in the words of England manager Mike Bassett Saints would play "Four, four f*cking Two" for the rest of the season and indeed into this.

This has worked well, but it has not always worked, so far we have not had to play the Big Clubs away from home, but when we do we might want to change formation, likewise for some home games.

Hasenhuttl is a man who studies the game, he knows that you have to change formation from time to time, but he also knew when he needed to keep it simple, he has got his squad moulded to his way of playing and now he can start to use it to it's maximum potential.

I would say that a change in formation could be on the cards to accommodate Diallo and give us some variation in the play.

We could go for a 4-3-2-1 formation where we stick with a back four, have Romeu and Diallo sitting in front and JWP just in front of them. That gives us scope for two wide men and a lone striker up front.

Or we could go back to a variation on the formation employed in the early part of last season, three at the back, Bertrand and KWP as win backs, Romeu, Diallo & JWP in the centre with two strikers up front. Essentially a 3-2-3-2.

Either way when he has a fit squad to pick from again Ralph suddenly has the options to change formation both in the starting line up and again later on during the game.

Perhaps if we had done this in the game against Manchester United and brought Diallo on in the centre to strengthen the midfield and reverted to one up top, then the game might have gone a different way.

But this is all being wise in hindsight, back then Diallo had barely played and it was a big gamble, now he has shown he is up to the task, it s a realistic option.

So it could be exciting times ahead in the remainder of the season, yes we have to stick what we do best in the way we have done it, but you do have to have a plan B and at this level a plan C & perhaps even a D, Ralph now has those options at his disposal or at least will have when the injured return.

We are always going to be working with a small squad, the manager knows that and likes to work that way, but now he can start to truly put his play book into operation.

Photo: Action Images



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underweststand added 15:18 - Jan 11
I don't see Ralph changing his beloved 4-2-2-2 although, as against Liverpool, he may " tweak it " a little to accommodate special situations in certain games.
But your question is how will he play both Romeu and Diallo? Obviously he didn't have a choice v. Liverpool - as Romeu was suspended and Diallo started to look the part.

On the other hand -IF we were to get any unforeseen injuries in defence the question would resolve itself. We have no suitable cover at CB should Jack or Jan be injured.
Perhaps we might see Ori as emergency CB and then Diallo would retain his place.

After the monumental effort in beating L'pool I don't see Ralph changing them just for the sake of it .."don't change a winning team" , so at least for the Leicester game keep to the same start side. If we get a good lead and Diallo continues where he left off in last game, maybe Romeu will come n to keep things tight at the back...(?)
Otherwise....I don't have a Plan B.
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A1079 added 17:40 - Jan 11
As good as our result was against Liverpool we need not forget that our problems overall recently has been our inability to score goals. 3 goals in the last 5 games is not a great return and we need to both create and convert more, especially against the likes of Leicester and Leeds if we want to progress from the Liverpool game and not rest on that one result.
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WestSussexSaint added 20:14 - Jan 11
Now RH has the squad all bought into the 4-2-2-2 I don’t see him changing it to accommodate Diablo. He had a good game against Liverpool but he is still young so I see him benchwarming for at least this season unless injury, suspension or loss of form affects JWP or Romeu.
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stmichael added 17:20 - Jan 12
Highly unlikely he will change a system for one player. I would expect Diallo to replace Romeu eventually..
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