Southampton At Tottenham Hotspur The Verdict
Thursday, 22nd Apr 2021 09:16
Very much a game of two halves at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as Saints dominated the first and then struggled in the second.
It is very easy these days to rant and rave about Saints, no one can deny that the last few months have been unacceptable, although they have also seen us reach and FA Cup semi final and lose narrowly to one of the top teams in the Premier League this season.
But last night's defeat at Spurs probably had everything that has been good or bad about this season in the space of 90 minutes.
Ralph Hasenhuttl rang the changes, five to be exact from the starting XI at Wembley on Sunday and for the first half they appeared to be working, we dominated the game and had several chances to take the lead including a superb double save from Lloris in the home goal.
When Danny Ings glanced home a header in the 30th minute things were looking good, but there were already some ominous signs on the horizon, and for all our possession we just didn't seem to have luck on our side, the ball wasn't bouncing for us.
The second half saw Spurs start to dominate, but for all their possession in the main we defended well and looked quite comfortable, but the game swung in the 57th minute when Danny Ings had a shot and pulled up immediately and went off.
Three minutes later and we were behind and it took an exceptional goal from ex Saint Gareth Bale to put things level.
Clearly we were now feeling the pace having played a tough game at Wembley only three days earlier where Spurs had had five days rest, but they didn't overrun us, they had plenty of the ball but they rarely threatened Alex McCarthy's goal, the defence was covering him well and Mohamed Salisu at left back was coping in the main with Bale.
There was a scare when Spurs appeared to have scored, but it was quite rightly ruled out with a home player clearly impeding the view of McCarthy.
But as we entered the last 4 minutes of the game we appeared to have weathered the storm, but then came a moment of madness when we failed to clear the ball properly and Moussa Djenepo made a rash challenge on the edge of the box which was originally given outside, VAR spent a lot of time debating and called the ref to make a decision and he rued inside, truthfully I couldn't tell having watched it maybe 10 times on a wide screen tv so not sure how the ref could give it.
That meant that an incident in the 86th minute saw a penalty converted just before the 90, it's gone now, but VAr should be there to sort out the obvious not spend 3 minutes or more drawing lines, VAR is a good thing, but it has to be accepted it is there to sort out 75% of controversial incidents quickly and not spent a lot of time looking at the other 25%.
The penalty was despatched and we lost the game and it would be easy to go on to social media and start the aftermath ranting.
But it should be noted that given the circumstances Saints put up a battle against a team chasing a Champions League spot and almost got there, if we had got to the fina whistle and drawn it would have been seen as a good result, perhaps a corner turned.
But a rash challenge on the edge of the area changed the game and suddenly we go from a decent point to ranting about the manager's ability to pick and motivate a team.
I don't blame Djenepo, he had to make the challenge it was just rash, but the game is littered with moments like this where a moment of madness costs points and costs managers their jobs.
If we take a good look at what went on I would say this, it was a game of two halves as previously stated, in the second we were on the back foot a lot, but we kept our shape and didn't let the overrun us , they had three shots on target during the entire game, we weren't hanging on, we were running on empty but we kept running and kept battling, James Ward Prowse covered 12 kilometres, that is over 7 miles.
Yes at times we gave the ball away too much and that didn't help but in the main we played as a team and when we lost the ball we got behind it and made sure we didn't pay the price.
Ralph Hasenhuttl must be tearing his hair out, what can he do, this team last night were playing for the manager and put in the effort, but we just don't seem to have luck on our side.
I still believe in Ralph, we have to get through to the end of the season and pick up a few more points that gets us over the line and safe from lingering relegation fears, we are quite capable of doing that.
It is what it is, we now have to start to look towards next season, we know the squad has some weak links, but in the main we have individual players out of form, not individual players who are out of their depth.
Unlike the West Brom defeat where there was little to praise, this was a game that showed that we still have what it takes, but we ran out of steam in the second half, we have to ask why, perhaps we have had to wrap players in cotton wool during the injury crisis when we were down to the bare bones, perhaps we have not been able to train with the same intensity and that has lead to a lack of stamina.
But we have to get up dust ourselves down and move on, if only for the fact that it is all we can do, we can moan about the things that we can't change, but we need to concentrate on those we can.
Photo: Action Images
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|halftimeorange added 09:29 - Apr 22|
Would someone explain Ralph's comment "We have eight substitutes and normally should be able to replace him [Danny Ings] but today we couldn't really push our game with the subs and the opponents were stronger." So, we lose a speedy attacker and replace him with a defensive midfielder. I really don't get that. The game turned on that incident. Surely it was worth a pair of fresh legs to run at them rather than shut up shop that early and hope for the best, which hasn't worked in the past. Having said that we do need a couple of experienced warhorses to shore up our flimsy defence at crucial times and that's what our scouts should be looking for.
|saintmark1976 added 09:30 - Apr 22|
“Ralph Hasenhuttl must be tearing his hair out,what can he do?”
Well Nick, as he doesn’t know what his best team is, can’t motivate those that he does pick, hasn’t a clue about tactics, substitutions or game management I suggest that the simple answer is resign or be sacked.
|LordDZLucan added 09:34 - Apr 22|
I would accept your analysis if I was looking at the game in isolation. But the game was a carbon copy of numerous other games we have lost this season. So there is a problem. It's not bad luck or lack of time to recuperate. I think the problem is simply that we don't have enough Premier League quality in the squad. Maybe 5/6 players are up to the required standard but the rest are Championship standard at best. Therefore, when we lose one or two players or when the likes of JWP have run themselves into the ground late in the 2nd half, we struggle big time. It's no coincidence that our substitutes never have a positive impact on a game. The last decent window of recruitment was during Sparkie's brief tenure - he signed Ings, Vestergaard and Armstrong. Since then the recruitment has been abysmal and Ralph must take his share of the blame for that. Big changes are needed in the summer if we want to remain a Premier League club (assuming we don't go down this season) and that may have to include the manager!
|obelisk added 09:47 - Apr 22|
Got to admire Nick's boundless optimism but the stats don't lie. The first team is easily bottom of the 2021 form table while the others (women apart) are in an even worse state. That points to a structural problem.
Last night saw another 2nd half capitulation. It seems we need a lead of 3 or 4 goals to feel comfortable going past the hour mark. Where's the next point coming from if every opponent knows they can step it up after the hour mark and canter to an easy win as Saints run out of steam?
I'd love to see Ralph turn it round but the evidence points to Saints being serious relegation candidates next season (assuming they manage to crawl across the line in the next few weeks) unless something changes.
Losing has become a nasty habit with Saints.
|SanMarco added 09:48 - Apr 22|
I fear this report ignores the fact that Spuds rarely got out of second gear and clearly had their minds on Wembley. When you think how WBA put us to the sword in similar circumstances you get a truer picture (a savvy team would have reminded Spuds players of the upcoming final with some good 'tackles' early on -Big Sam had WBA do it to us). Yes, we were useful enough in the first half but as soon as Spuds worked up a semi-sweat they looked like equalising.
We are lightweight and the stamina issues are killing us. Also carrying passengers doesn't help - I am afraid that is what Walcott has become, I barely noticed him. Also, it is no coincidence that the game turned after the Diallo rejig. He is too lightweight, he may turn out to be a decent player but he is no reserve for Romeu.
Ralph needs to assemble a stronger, less lightwight squad. If his tactics mean we always run out of puff then he needs to either change the tactics or the players. The present squad WILL be comfortably relegated next season. Sheff Utd came 9th last season after a great start but the signs were there for them later on in the season and they continued poor form into the new season and that was that. I see no reason why the same won't happen to us. I respect Nick's positive take on things but I believe these problems are real - a narrow, late defeat against a full strength really up for it Spuds would be one thing but last night was far from that.
PS What is it with late penalty defeats at Spuds - thats 4 that I can think of. At least we could have no complaints that it was one, unlike a couple of others I remember - yes Tim Flowers, you did get the ball!!
|HythePeer added 09:52 - Apr 22|
So what have we learnt this season? We now know that headless chickens can run around in circles for 50 minutes.
|underweststand added 10:05 - Apr 22|
If we were merely judging on the first half, there would be a few 9's in the ratings, but playing our second game in three days we simply ran out of steam in the second half.
Our real problem was that we didn't have a bench like Spurs, and the final result was really cruel, but sadly predictable. If Ryan Mason wants to take credit for that win then good luck to him, because I was distinctly unimpressed by Spurs overall performance.
The rules (apparently state) that if the foul is on the line - it counts as a penalty, whereas if its the goal-line - then the whole of the ball must be over the line..... YEAH, YEAH.
One of the better performances v. Spurs in recent times, but sad nevertheless.
Good points ?. Am I alone in being impressed by Salisu?...Bale's goal wasn't his fault but he got the better of him a number of times during the match. JWP 's 12 km. run showed his involvement in both attack and defence and Ché Adams luck in front of goal must rate alongside Shane Long's misses of the season video.
Once again, losing Danny Ings showed just how valuable he is to the overall team effort. One wonders where our next goals are coming from?.
|janecook added 10:08 - Apr 22|
Well that was another shambles. Ralph just does not learn from his past mistakes with his tactics. It also seems now that the players are not fit enough. I have always backed Ralph but I now think it is time for him to go. Cant see us getting any more points this season with Ralph in charge. We need someone like Eddie Howe to take us forward.
|highfield49 added 10:18 - Apr 22|
I'm in complete agreement with the majority of posts above, we are relegation fodder next season unless there is a serious overhaul in the summer. Sheffield Utd have competed with most teams this season and capitulated to the odd goal, frequently late in the game if my ageing memory serves me correctly. We are very much on the same course and it's good to know that so many supporters can recognise the reality. Whether we survive or not this season will depend on other team's results it would seem and that is very concerning.
With little or no money for transfers I don't see how we can get quality players in and the expensive contract options filling the bench are very unlikely to be of any interest to other clubs. Whilst I'd love to be able to say that RH is the manager to take us into next season I just don't see him as being tactically savvy, or flexible enough, with the players we have available. And, presuming he isn't currently lined up elsewhere, my choice would be to get Rafa Benitez signed up as manager as soon as possible.
|DorsetIan added 10:28 - Apr 22|
There's merit in having a glass half full attitude but when discussing what's going on, this is a forum for discussion not a PR outlet, so there's nothing wrong with a few home truths either.
We played really well first half and I think that was because we were doing something different with different players - particularly Tella and Salisu - given a go.
The game turned on the Diallo sub. It was just stupid. Can't describe it any other way. It completely screwed up the midfield and it introduced back into the team someone who hasn't been playing well of late. There were much simpler like for like swaps available for Danny. It's no surprise that it only took them 3 mins to equalise from there.
The substitution error was compounded by bringing on Djenepo. He is not a good player, he offers very little in attack and defensively he is energetic but clumsy. Ultimately he cost us the game. Again, there were other options off the bench.
I really liked Ralph when he arrived. His enthusiasm and the way he connected with the crowd we great. And he seemed to get the most out of some of the players.
But his lack of tactical nowse is now undeniable. There were question marks about it when Danny Rohl left and they have returned in spades. I now see 2020 as the exception - the way we have played in 2021 reflects something fundamentally wrong. The squad is very thin because Gao cannot spend any money, and maybe Ralph is doing some things right with these players, but overall he is looking increasingly like he is missing some basic skills necessary to succeed as a manager long term.
|JoeEgg added 10:52 - Apr 22|
Okay Nick - once again we are "dusting ourselves down " after another defeat in what must surely be by now the worst run of Premier League results in the club's history. Must we continue to dust ourselves down until the final game of the season comes along and sees us needing a victory to stay up? Apparently the 'ball wasn't bouncing for us" last night!!! Well at least that's a new one. Then we lose Danny Ings - for the umpteenth time this season - and apparently that leaves with no chance of getting another goal so the tactics must be to just to try and hang on to the point we've got!
And this Nick you told us recently is Saints in their 'best ever season'!!!!
|LordDZLucan added 11:12 - Apr 22|
One plus point from last night. Danny Ings has now got injured for the 5th time this season. Surely that will put off the clubs that have supposedly been after him?
|Braveheart added 11:15 - Apr 22|
I am just running out of superlatives to describe this shameful season. My faith and belief in RH to do the job has now expired. With so many good Managers out of work like Derek McInnes ex Aberdeen, Neil Lennon ex Celtic and Eddie Howe looking for clubs the board should decide that a change is now necessary for next season. That elusive 3 points necessary will only potentially come from Fulham at home. Even then I'm not confident.
I have said many times on here that we are a Premiership side, but not a Premiership team. We are a mid table championship team at best. Any team in the championship could wipe the floor with us. A clear out of the dross is needed. Ings, Adams, Redmond etc. are under achievers. Get rid.
|ElijahK added 11:16 - Apr 22|
Ok look yeah Ralph could certainly be doing better (there’s no doubt about that), bug other than our back 4, Romeu, Prowse, Arsmdtong, Ings and maybe Adams and Salisu, WHO DO WE HAVE!? As that’s only 8/10 PL players there and we need 11 start a game, and what happens when they get Injured/suspended or sold!? I mean we’re the only team to have a negative net spend over the last 5 teams along with the likes of Newcastle and yet they’re always going on about their owner getting the heel out, so why aren’t we!? He gives us the literal minimum cash to stay up and then in desperate times gives us even less and just sells out best players whilst keeping 99% of it for himself! And as the likes of Leicester have shown, that you can keep hold of your best players and that your never forced into selling them
Games like yesterday or Man U aren’t completely down to Ralph as which striker did we have on the bench to replace Ings with!? And it’s the same scenario for many different positions, so really unless Gao starts to invest any money whatsoever into this club, then we will be going down no matter who’s in charge as we’ve got a shit owner who needs to go if he doesn’t change his ways!
|DorsetIan added 11:31 - Apr 22|
ElijahK: He had Redmond, Minamino and N'Lundulu on the bench, all of whom could have replaced Danny.
They might not have been very good, but the point is it wouldn't have completely messed up the midfield too.
And it would have kept Diallo on the bench, which is where he needs to be for a while.
|davidargyll added 11:34 - Apr 22|
This is becoming SO predictable isn't it?
Play well for some of the time, run out of puff, don't get many if any shots on target, get taken apart as the game enters the last quarter, lose.
I don't think I am the only one on here to think that the excitement that watching Saints used to engender has all but disappeared. In fact I would go so far as to say that SFC has become a really boring team to watch unless you support the opposition. I now know what being a Sheffield United fan feels like, huff and puff and try hard but are permanently outclassed..
I know that is a terrible indictment to throw at any football team but there seems to be no end in sight in terms of changing the way our matches go and the consequential downward spiral we are on. Let's just hope and pray that the end of the season comes in time to save our skins.
Leicester, Liverpool, Fulham, Leeds, West Ham and Palace are the games we have left out of which I reckon at best we will get 6 points, at worst 1 or 2. Crawling over the line comes to mind...
So where do we go from here?
I don't think you can blame Ralph that much, because as LordDZLucan rightly says, "we don't have enough Premier League quality in the squad. Maybe 5/6 players are up to the required standard but the rest are Championship standard at best". And that includes Theo WillCockitup.
The best we can hope for is that the younger players start to develop in the new season, because I cannot see where we are going to find any goal scorers and defenders on whatever limited budget we have that will take us up a notch to be able to survive. What's that expression "I can take the despair but it's the hope that kills you..."
|Saint4Life247 added 11:35 - Apr 22|
We are so predictable it's infuriating... Does Ralph not rewatch games and make comparisons to other matches? Us as fans do and see the same patterns and errors occuring time after time. I don't doubt the team is light on Prem players and that injuries have impacted the results but most of the time it's the senior players that are the ones underperforming. A real man manager would be the motivational inspiration needed to get lesser players to perform but that seems far from happening at the moment. Crucially though Ralph really needs to implement a different type of play that allows our stamina to last for more than 60mins. Its just crazy how it happens every game (even the ones we win!). On top of that tactically he is all over the place. His use of subs and/or formation changes during games have cost us dearly this season. I always said that since Danny Rohl left we have been winging it tactically. Like many others I fear for next season. I have been very Pro ralph but my faith has worn thin. I just hope Gao sells to a more proactive owner and some investment is made in the squad and sadly I think Ralph should be replaced too - Eddie Howe would be a great acquisition
|mattlegod added 12:44 - Apr 22|
Some positives... Tella is proving to be a star now and a potential super star for the future. Salisu, with the exception of a few mistakes early on played well against a very tough opponent. That leads me on to.. what is REALLY wrong with Bertrand??
Sadly I don't see Theo with us next season on his current form, he has been far too quiet in recent games.
We all know the issues regarding the lightweight team, I will wait until early next season before making any further assumptions and give the club and Ralph that time to prove they are in control. The year before Leicester won the title they were relegation threatened.. who knows?!!
|Colburn added 13:06 - Apr 22|
Lost to a team wrapped up in football politics with a PE teacher taking charge of players thinking about a cup final on Sunday. Spurs played as we did at the Hawthorns but we didn't seize the moment and as usual ran out of steam after 50 mins meaning that any substitutes are going to have to be Messi-like to have an impact as the rest of the team are knackered and can't make the necessary runs for the fresh legs of the subs to have any impact..
As mentioned, in isolation this would have been a frustrating scenario, missing an opportunity for a successful night, however, we are bottom of the form league with groundhog day game after game.
Again last night, we carried one player in Walcott who was utterly woeful and had been for some time. The only positive was sering Tella back in the side who should be given as much game time as possible until the end of the season. I don't really understand Salisu playing out of position when he is trying to find his feet but seems there were few options as we have holes in our squad.
To be blunt, I can't see where the next win is coming from, we have a naive manager who has lacked the necessary support to completely restructure a premier league club and there is a lack of contingency plan if plan A fails. We have ten days until the next game, I love Ralph as a person but we're going one way under him as the club can't buy the players to garner success under his style. He needs to adapt but hasn't done so, repeating the same errors and hoping for a different outcome. A change of manager seems to be the only option and the sooner the better.
|felly1 added 13:07 - Apr 22|
Form wise we are the worst team in the Premier league 2021. 10 points gained in just under 4 months. Not the "few bad months" Nick keeps saying.
I agree with Nick about keeping faith with Ralph though as I think it's the players not the manager that need replacing. Pellegrinio, Hughes and now Ralph have all failed to turn these players into winners and I can't see... other than for the honeymoon period.. any other manager doing any better.
At least give Ralph and Saints the chance to recruit a few players pre season and see how things go for 15 games next season.
|teamster1 added 13:46 - Apr 22|
Sorry but the manager takes the blame for this one. Ings goes off and he brings Diallo on it upset rhythm of our game that was bad enough. Then he brings on Djnepo or should I say Bambi on ice!! Tell me what this guy contributes to the side. If you are Stuart Armstrong or JWP and you look to a sub to inspire you when you have been running your butt off Djnepo ain’t the man. Minamino should of been the replacement he has the knack of knowing where the net is and would of been ideal. Salisu I have been screaming for him to play for ages h3 is the only one in that back line who reads the game and should start every game from now till the end of the season in place of the tug boat that is Vestrtgard. Ralph repeatedly making changes why was Forster dropped although I have to say if you want to play out from the back you need a keeper who can do so and neither of ours can.
I will be watching Fulham games closely because for me it is up to them as to whether we stay up or not.
|PaleRider added 14:22 - Apr 22|
felly1 mention 3 managers - Pellegrinio, Hughes and Ralph - so maybe it's not just the manager. What else has been consistent during this time - our owner! Time for a change.
|I_would added 14:36 - Apr 22|
Hassenaclue please resign now so we can get 3 more points with a caretaker.
|Knibbosaint added 15:42 - Apr 22|
The more I read your match reviews, you seem to be more and more of an apologist for the club. Are you employed by their propaganda team?
No other Premier league club, other than maybe Sheff Utd would put up with the crap we have been fed since Christmas. If Ralph is such a great mamager, how come he still hasn't rectified our awful habit of surrendering leads, it's beyond a joke. All this crap about getting behind the club and supporting them, how can we? We just have to sit and watch helplessly as we throw away another game with an awful 2nd half performance. There is clearly something very wrong at our club. If you were to listen to any other media source the rumours surrounding our good players, Ings, Vestergard, that's it! Is that they're already off. Another fire sale looming this summer I believe. Wish I could he more positive, but if this season was 2 or 3 games longer we would be down.
|Sanguin added 16:30 - Apr 22|
A good and balanced article, thanks Nick.
I think we would've got something from this game if Ings hadn't been injured. The midfield due of Armstrong and JWP was working well and Diallo doesn't seem to have the same confidence he did when first playing for us. But the change made sense to allow Armtrong to get further forward.
On the positive side, this was a good performance against a good team. I was really impressed with what I saw of Salisu.
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Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
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