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West Brom Defeat Relieves Pressure On Southampton This Weekend
Friday, 23rd Apr 2021 09:02

With Saints not due to play again until hosting Leicester City next Friday, those that are in the pessimistic camp were predicting that we would be looking over our shoulders come Monday evening with West Bromwich Albion due to play twice before then, but that pressure has been released slightly.

If you read social media you would be excused for believing that Saints are in the middle of a relegation battle, of course the last few months haven't been great, but this season has been one of the highest highs since we had last topped the league in 1988 and the lowest lows with our record losing streak.

There are things that have gone wrong but there are mitigating circumstances and if we had got to this position by a consistent record of winning one, drawing one and losing one, then the knives would not be out too much.

So in the aftermath of the defeats at West Brom & Spurs in the league, there were those who were predicting doom & gloom this weekend, West Brom were building up a head of steam and with two games to play, firstly at Leicester on Thursday evening and then at Aston Villa on Sunday then they could be right up our rear end by the end of the weekend,

But that pressure is now off a little after the Baggies were roundly beaten at Leicester City 3-0.

That leaves them 12 points behind us with only 6 games left, meaning they would have to win 5 games to get above us out of those last half dozen and that would rely on us not picking up another point, OK I know technically they could win 4 and draw one of the other 2, but are they good enough to lose only 1 of the last 6.

Likewise Fulham, they too don't play this weekend, but they have only 5 games left and to overhaul us they need to get 10 points without us picking up another, when you look a their remaining fixture list that is a very difficult task.

What we don't want though in the fixtures over the next few days is the three clubs between us and the bottom three jumping above us and making the League table look a lot worse than it is.

Newcastle are the nearest team to us only a single point behind on 35 points, they travel to Liverpool for the lunchtime kick off on Saturday, they start the day with exactly the same goal difference as us -18, but we have scored more goals so a draw would put them level, but behind us still on goals scored.

Brighton are perhaps the most likely to be able to leapfrog us, they travel to Sheffield United for the late kick off on Saturday night and are 2 points adrift at the start of the day, do Sheffield United have the will to beat them now the Blades are relegated, form our perspective we can only hope so, but the Seagulls can see safety in sight and they know that a win would see them 10 clear of Fulham in the third relegation spot and effectively safe.

Burnley go to Wolves on Sunday and are 3 points behind us and are one goal worse than us in goal difference, a win for them by one goal would be enough to draw level but again they have a worse goal difference than us and in that scenario they would be behind on goals scored, but a win by a two goal margin would see us drop below them.

So we start this weekend with the worry that we could actually drop to 4th from bottom if results go against us.

That would start the social media sites into meltdown again, but it would actually change nothing, the fact is that both West Brom & Fulham have a tough task and our destiny is completely in our own hands, one more win and we would be safe and if that win was against Fulham at St Mary's, not taking into account any other games, that would just about be enough.

This season is now about only two things, getting a points total that means we cannot suffer a freak relegation and planning for next season.

The first half of the season showed that we can compete with the best, the second was affected by things beyond our control, but also had some worrying issues that need to be addressed.

As Ralph Hasenhuttl has said there is plenty to do in the transfer window in the summer, both in and out of St Mary's

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Centurion added 09:10 - Apr 23
So a season when we could be safe by relying on others to lose. Relieved in the end to finish 16th or 17th. Hmmm..a lot to do over the summer if we survive.

Boris1977 added 10:53 - Apr 23
I don't think many people on the website have gone into meltdown on this website I just think they are confused and frustrated by how bad the results and often the performances have been in 2021, particularly over the past few weeks with the full squad to pick from .

We don't have any money to spend so we'll have to cash in our chips and hope the players that come in are an improvement.

But we are going to need around 8 quality players if Ralph wishes to stick with the 70/20 split of his match plan to both cover injuries and to effectively close up shop when the team are shagged out on 70 mins.

Alternatively Ralph could manage games more effectively so that the team aren't burning out at 70 mins and risking injuries. However this would also rely on having suitable playing staff to do the job efficiently.

I agree with most posts over the last few weeks that if nothing changes over the summer, and if we stay up on 36 PTS, we will be back to square one in August and may not be as fortunate to have 3 club's weaker than us.

I'm not being negative but want to have something to cheer and enjoy supporting my club rather than constant, but expected disappointment for the majority of games.

felly1 added 11:00 - Apr 23
Firstly if we won one drew one and lost one we be 44 points and everyone would've happy with that.
Secondly you keep saying a couple of bad months... No Nick it's 4.. Yes 4 bad months. We are officially the worst Prem team in 2021..even worse than Sheff Utd.
Nearly all the teams have had an injury crisis of some sorts so you can't keep saying that as well.
Don't get me wrong I don't think a managerial change will necessarily benefit us and I want Ralph to stay and succeed but you are living in cloud cuckoo land if you can't see the crisis we're in.
I don't know if you just have a contrary way about you and you love to create an argument with your fellow fans but it does strike me as really strange that whilst we were on that great run last season you were at pains to keep pointing out how fragile the defence was and how every goal we conceded was the defences fault etc etc and now other than a cursery mention of.. Yeah we've got a few issues to address, everything else in our garden is rosy???. Very strange indeed!!

ChristchurchSaint added 11:38 - Apr 23
Nick, you say that we need to beat Fulham- Yes, I agree, but will we beat Fulham? Based on our last 3 performances, that is not a foregone conclusion. You also say that Fulham have a tough task- agreed, but with 3 matches against Burnley, us and Newcastle, they could realistically get 3 wins. I think (and sincerely hope!) that we will survive, but this is something we should be able to do ourselves, not holding our breath and relying on others misfortunes.

Colburn added 12:31 - Apr 23
Can't see where the next win is coming from to be honest. The mitigating circumstances are no different to those of other clubs. I can't disagree with Welly1 when he points out the fact that this site was very critical of our defense when we were doing well and now defend a dire situation of free fall much like under Puel. At least Puel had a go at the big teams in the semi and final. It seems to me that we do have some promising youngsters, and I don't think we have developed them very smartly this season which leaves us looking light, so will we need to bring in more players which will block the pathways for the younger players again. I think our fortunes would have been better with Harry Reed in our squad, so I'm not sure we actually understand the real value or potential of our youngsters. Sorry Nick but the results throughout the club and our performances in 2021 beg for change in direction.

SanMarco added 13:06 - Apr 23
"If your read social media..." - unless TUI is 'social media' I would suggest that some/many (especially us older folks) wisely do not. I advise Nick to follow our lead. Half of it is written by Poopey intellectuals.

It is eloquent testimony to how things are going that this article not only mentions Fulham but WBA too!! Did anyone dream, even a few weeks ago, that we would even be mentioning WBA in the home straight?!

Realistically we probably already have enough but the damning fact is that how many of us would be confident if we needed to get to 40, let alone 41? Even Crisp kept moving as Red Rum raced up on him. Luckily Fulham's brief impression of Red Rum has faded - but if they were to resume it then our impression of Crisp better not stay totally stationary (with apologies to those who don't know their 70s Grand Nationals.)

I think the reason that Nick's exhortations to positivity are winding people up more than usual is the fact stadiums are empty. So in terms of impact on team performance our negativity doesn't matter. Also, and this is the KEY point: given just how badly we are doing Nick's articles do have a feeling of complacency. I wonder what Sheff Utd's version of TUI was saying last season in the home straight? And we have to be clear - they weren't as poor as we are now. The idea that we will stay up next season without radical change is, indeed, very complacent. Very complacent indeed. And anyone who says we shouldn't be thinking about next season is, well, WRONG...

SaintPaulVW added 13:42 - Apr 23
Ralph's biggest problem is that he overdelivered in the first third of the season. This raised all our hopes and showed what the squad could accomplish. However the overperformance then gave rise to the dramatic underperformance due to our thin squad. Over training and overplaying players backfired disastrously when the injuries mounted and there were no direct back ups

Equally the high press is now easily countered. This happens quickly in the PL with all the available data analysis. Going forwards this needs tweaking. It is a direct parallel with Sheffield Utd whose system was successful last season and then rendered ineffective this year.

However it seems a bit rich to be crying out for some stability in management and then looking to replace when there is a bad but not disastrous run.

Ralph strikes me as a coach who wants to learn. So I am hoping that a lot of the above has already been taken on board.

The season is over as far as I am concerned but I am not despondent for next year. A few well chosen recruits, some adjustment to tactics and we could make progress next year.


davidargyll added 14:03 - Apr 23
The simple fact is that clubs go down because they concede not because they don’t score. After all if you drew every single game 0-0 then you’d have 38 points and would be safe the vast majority of the time. But we have conceded far too many and that is the major problem more than anything else. And being without our key defender OR for a few games now I would say has affected us much more than anything else. With him we are a different animal.

janecook added 14:16 - Apr 23
Something is seriously wrong with our team tactics if on 29th December 2020 we had played 16 games and had 26 points. Now on 23rd April we have played 32 games and have 36 points that means out of the last 16 games all we got was 10 Points. That is total rubbish and just not good enough for a Southampton Football Team.
Big changes are needed and we all know that the defence has not been good enough for the last 3 seasons. At the beginning of the season we attacked at speed and this caused the opponent many problems. But now we spend more time in our own half passing sideways or backwards. Ralph just seems to get his substitution tactics wrong nearly every game.

WestSussexSaint added 16:20 - Apr 23
I want whatever Nick is on. Not so much glass half full as glass running over the top.

I wholeheartedly agree the we as supporters should do just that and support the team through thick and thin which has been difficult with no fans in stadiums for the last year. However saying that this season has been the one of the “highest of highs” is being selective in the extreme.

PaleRider added 17:36 - Apr 23
What a sad indictment of our season this article is!

Block8 added 19:07 - Apr 23
Only an observation, based on Colburns post! We have done very little to develop our young players this season, so don't really know what we have?
Tella on recent evidence looks a better prospect than players, either costing big money or older players on big earnings. The youngsters have gained lots of experience of sitting down and watching game drift by. Or getting 5 minutes at the end of another disappointing performance!
Not having a pop at Djenepo but we will quite likely pay up to 10 million for players who are getting game time in weak leagues that turn out to be not as good as kids we have, that get no chance to show their talent!
Forget the under 23's we must get our promising youngsters game time, at a competitive level, only that way can we judge their ability. It might just improve our team and allow us the finance to recruit one of two genuinely good players?

Saintaxidriver added 22:49 - Apr 23
I like Ralph and in the main I support him. But his decisions and tactics do worry me at times. He spent the first lockdown doing a playbook to be used by all the teams at all levels. Our first team had a bright start that has faded and we are statistically one of the worst teams in the league since Xmas. Our PL2 team and Under 18's have mostly been getting hammered all season. Most games we try and go at it hammer and tongs for 30/45 mins then run out of steam and in the second half we struggle. How about playing on the break for the first half and going for it in the last 30 mins. There appears to be no plan B. Positional choices and substitutions also seem to be strangely chosen with little success all season.
We need a fundamental rethink over the summer. Maybe we need to bring an old head like Sammy Lee to work with Ralph.
On the player front I would sell Forster and McCarthy as they are both good but not quite matchwinners or consistent enough so buy 1 top class keeper. We need a centre half with pace/physical presence/leadership qualities who will shout and get his fellow players moving. So many goals this last 3 years have come about by bad defending be it poor anticipation or ball watching. We need 2 new centre halfs and player who can perform right across the back (Calum Chambers), Bertrand if he stays is OK but we need a better left back and back up for KWP. In midfield JWP needs an enforcer like Romeu because Diallo could play the JWP roll but is not strong enough to be the tough tackler. Harrison Reed could have done it he has played well for Fulham this season. Give Jankewitz a go.
Out wide we need to pass on buying Walcott and Minamino and with the emergence of Tella and giving Ellyonoussi another chance I think we are ok.
Up front I don't think Ings will go and with Adams and Tella/Redmond also as options we might still need one more forward although OBafemi is coming back.
We should sell Forster/McCarthy/Vestergaard or Bednarek/Stephens/Hoedt/Lemina/Long/Some of the younger fringe players like Vokins and N'Llundulu who maybe aren't good enough at this level.
If Ralph goes I'll put my name in the hat for the job!

Ripleys_revenge added 07:17 - Apr 24
Nick why are you so intent on splitting up Saints fans into those that you approve of and those that you don't? What happened to nuanced opinions and letting people express their perspectives? It's weird

NewburySaint added 11:38 - Apr 24
& how sad that is that we are relying on the results of others.....again.

KriSaint added 01:15 - Apr 28
Here is what I think and fantasize about if I 'pulled the buy & sell strings' at the club: without WALCOTT we would probably have had 5-10 points less, and overall he has done well enough to (accept a pay cut and) stay with us for another 2 seasons. Our youngsters can learn from him and he is still pretty quick and dangerous and suited to Ralphs style.
In addition I'd personally like us to sign the 3 Sheff. U. players BALDOCK (right back), FLECK (def. midfield) and LUNDSTRAM (def. midfield), who - to my thinking - are all proven PL quality and should be within reach and would probably cost 20-25 mill. pounds in total = approximally the probable amount of money we could hopefully get from selling players like Lemina, Hoedt, Elyounussi and Sims, whom Ralph simply refuses to wanna keep anyway.

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