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Ralph Focusing Saints On Next Season Could Be Bad News For Ryan Bertrand.
Monday, 26th Apr 2021 09:10

Ralph Hasenhuttl has hinted that with Saints season petering out to a disappointing end after promising so much that now he will be focusing on building up his squad for next season and that could be bad news for out of contract Ryan Bertrand.

Ralph Hasenhuttl seems to admire loyalty in his players and likes to have a squad that is committed to the cause, a year ago when football restarted after the first Covid 19 wave, Hasenhuttl took the decision to drop want away Pierre Emille Hojbjerg and replace him with out of favour Oriol Romeu.

Ralph had this to say about it.

“I think this gave us the chance to build something up and is maybe one of the reasons why he had a very good start this season,” continued Hasenhuttl.

“We had this team, we played with Ori and Prowsey in the final six games and we could immediately step up next season and we had the automatism built. This is my responsibility.

“When we don’t know how many players are coming for next season, then I need to face the players that are still here next season.

“This is a normal behaviour that you have to do.”

This proved a wise move as Saints seemed to kick up a gear and Romeu who had been tipped to leave the club in the summer , suddenly found a new lease of life and had he not been injured and ruled out of this season back in February would have pushed James Ward Prowse all the way to the line on the player of the year trophy.

Now Ralph has a similar dilemma with Ryan Bertrand, the long serving left back is out of contract in the summer and although negotiations have been ongoing since before Xmas, no deal has been reached and now it seems that Ralph Hasenhuttl is about to draw a line under the situation and focus on who will be at the club next season.

Bertrand has undoubtedly been a good servant to the club, but all good things must come to an end, he will turn 32 in August and although he is capable of some outstanding displays, age is catching up with him and will continue to do so.

No one can blame him for wanting to try and get the biggest pay day and deal in what will surely be his last contract, but Saints will firstly be relived to get the wages of one of the highest earners at the club off the pay roll and Bertrand has to accept that he will not get anything like the money with a new contract, not just from Saints but elsewhere.

Saints have to weigh up cutting their ties now and getting in someone younger or trying to get another season out of him.

Two years ago they had to make a similar decision between Bertrand & Matt Targett .

Target approaching 24 and with a solid loan spell at Fulham behind him was at an age where he needed to either be first choice or go somewhere that he would be.

Perhaps Aston Villa made up Saints mind with a £16 million bid and Saints decided to take that money and use it elsewhere rather than keep faith with Targett who had shown much promise in his early days when filling in for Bertrand.

So back in the summer of 2019 Saints went for the short term option, possibly because Bertrand's wages meant that there weren't any takers and he wasn't willing to take a pay cut.

In hindsight Targett has come of age at Villa and become the player he looked set to become when he first broke into the side, but at St Mary's he suffered a little from the home grown player syndrome and there were few Saints supporters who disagreed with the decision to sell him two years ago.

But now there is a decision to be made both short term and long, in the long term it is whether we actually want to offer him a new deal at all, it seems that Ralph Hasenhuttl is not impressed by the fact that pen hasn't been put to paper and perhaps feels that the player is more concerned about hanging on to see if a better offer comes in.

That is fine, it is Bertrand's right to do that, but as was shown with Hojbjerg, with Hasenhuttl you are either committed or not and if you are not then he will prefer a player that is. That may have made up the managers mind going forward for next season, but money will be a factor and the fact is that if Bertrand goes we need to find money to buy in his replacement, but if we keep him another year it will be far cheaper.

So the long term future is unclear for Bertrand, but now it seems the short tem could be just as clouded.

The left back was strangely missing for the trip to Tottenham Hotspur last week and although rumours of injury were mentioned, the club made no definitive statement after the game as to why he was missing, indeed before it Ralph seemed to go out of his way to confirm he had no injuries.

Mohamed Salisu came in at left back and did a decent job, but Hasenhuttl knows he is thin on the ground at full back prompting his manager to say:

Salisu will be a third alternative at left-back if you want,”

“Really, I would like to have two on the left and two on the right next season. We have seen this season that we have always problems. We need to double up in every position.

“It is always good if you can have a player who is more flexible and can play in multiple positions but on the left you should have a left-footed player who can run the line, go deep and deliver balls."

Salisu was signed a year ago to play in his natural position as a central defender, it was assumed that he would form a partenership with Jan Bednarek with Jack Stephens as back up and Jannik Vestergaard as 4th choice and on his way out of the club.

It could be that the sale of Vestergaard this summer will help fund the rebuilding of the squad for next season, with the Danish defender not impressing in recent months.

But in the meantime with only 6 weeks left it could be that Ryan Bertrand is no longer in Ralph's plans and therefore like Hojbjerg will find himself on the bench.

Final word to Hasenhuttl that perhaps points to the direction he will take.

“We have to focus now on what happens next year,”

“This is always normal when you have the chance to stay in the league and then you can concentrate on the players that are here next season."

Photo: Action Images

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beynali73 added 09:56 - Apr 26
I would have thought it best to make plans for next season when we know what division we are going to be in as this is far from clear at the moment. If we win our cup final on 12 May against Fulham we'll hang on to top flight survivial. Based on the past 4 months I cannot seeing us getting much from Liverpool, Leicester, Leeds or West Ham. Newcastle and Burnley have picked up a bit of form of late (of course this is relative) so based on the form book it's between us and Brighton as to who hangs on just above relegation. But we need one more win to be sure.

The main issue in terms of building for the future regardless is getting in an owner who is looking to the long term rather than one that is looking to sell as a selling owner is not going to put money into an asset he no longer wants.

The sooner this season is over the better - whatever the outcome.

halftimeorange added 10:01 - Apr 26
I'll be sorry to see Ryan Bertrand leave. He might not be as good as he was but, he rarely gives a bad performance and I don't think he's helped when having Nathan Redmond moaning and groaning in front of him instead of doing his defensive duties. The only other issue I have is James Ward Prowse as a shoe-in for the player of the year trophy. To my mind Stuart Armstrong is the one player who has kept some semblance of form during our dreadful run and he will get my vote.

DorsetIan added 10:27 - Apr 26
Ralph does not have the luxury of looking towards next season.

Since we beat Liverpool on 4 Jan, we've lost 6 on the bounce in the PL, and then another 6 out of the next 9.

If Ralph cannot stop this run of defeats in the next 6 games, someone else will need to take over.

Yes, he's got his problems with no money, a weak squad and maybe a few players with their minds elsewhere, but we've seen enough evidence now to know that Ralph too has some major limitations when it comes to managing a game.

If he can't turn things around in the final 6 games, we should say thanks but cheerio.


SanMarco added 10:47 - Apr 26
So Ralph would 'ideally' like to have two good choices for RB and LB. I think the problem is that there will be no 'ideally' in the summer, as there wasn't in January when he let the two reserve full-backs go saying he had 'adequate cover' in those positions - he obviously didn't have that cover, as we have seen ever since.

If Ryan and Vesty go then we need two LBs and another CB before we evn think about other areas. 'Ideally' a couple of strong defensive MFs to help out Romeu and a forward who actually scores regularly, and probably a premier class keeper are all needed. In the non-ideal real world how much of that is going to happen?

My fear is we will 'tweak' a bit here and there and end up totally reliant on two or three lynchpins staying fit - not a great place to be given recent history. Continue as we are and we will be down by Christmas.

beynali73 added 11:08 - Apr 26
Just a thought, maybe Ralp was a relative success in Germany because they have a winter break. Last season before the Covid intervention we were falling down the table struggling as we are now but we had two months to recuperate and came flying out of the traps in May into June. One good thing to come out of the spoilt 6 wanting to get away is an insistance on a winter break in UK which may prove to make Ralph's methods more realistic?

Regardless we need an owner to come in and set the perameters of what is possible in terms of buying (not just selling) playing staff.


JoeEgg added 11:15 - Apr 26
So Ralph is focussing on next season. Is he focussing on being in the Premier League or Championship? I would have thought that the first thing to focus on was just how to WIN a League match. Every year we sell players to raise money for the new season and more often than not we end up getting nobody. When we did at last spend some real money we ended up with the extraordinary Salisu sagawith almost an entire season wasted on him.
Personally I would like to go back to just enjoying watching the Saints playing and winning a few league games this season - that should be the priority right now because we could still see ourselves fighting for survival on that final weekend of the 2021 season.
And If Ralph's wants another very urgent matter to focus on then just take a long and very sad and worrying look at the performances of ALL the Academy teams. We used to be so proud of our home grown talent -now its worse thazn embarrassing. Get some decent coaches and youngsters in before its too late.
And to think that Nick was wanting to call this 'our best ever season'!!!! Right now the Club is in a terrible mess whether you look at the players, the Manager, the Academy, the finances, the Owners, the summer transfer prospects and most important of all - the current form and results.

sandywelsh added 12:43 - Apr 26
I dont think we should sell Jannik Vestergaard he is one of our best defenders. We have to be looking at getting rid of the dead wood players like Jack Stephens, Wesley Hoedt, Josh Sims, Shane Long, Yan Valery, Jake Hesketh, Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond.
I would also let Theo Walcott and Takumi Minamino go back to their clubs.
Maybe give Mario Lemina and Mohamed Elyounoussi another go. A major change is needed.

Sadoldgit added 13:29 - Apr 26
We all know that Ralph needs support in the transfer market. Whether the money will be found to bring in the required quality is questionable but it is difficult to see any other manager getting more out of this particular squad consistently.

WestSussexSaint added 13:30 - Apr 26
I have no doubt that the current uncertainty about our PL status next season will be contributing to whether or not Ryan Bertrand stays or goes. I expect the same is true of Ings contract situation and possibly also with Vestergaard (although I haven’t seen anywhere that the club haven’t offered a deal to Jannick).

Personally I think Bertrand has been going through the motions for large parts of the past two seasons and he certainly isn’t the attacking force he once was which RH’s tactics need. Compare Bertrand and KWP and it is noticeable how most of our effective attacks come down the right.

Bertrand has been a good servant to the club so if he leaves he deserves to go with our best wishes.

davepid added 13:58 - Apr 26
Hi Nic,

You say Targett suffered from the ‘ home grown player syndrome’. Haven’t heard you say that phrase before so what do you mean by it?

If we cut out the self congratulatory stuff the club claims for our Academy and look at outcomes then the ratio of students turning out as Prem pros is fairly meagre . Shaw , Chambers , Targett , Reed and JWP are the only regular ex Academy players in the premier currently ( ok Walcott ,I suppose) . But Walcott, Shaw and Chambers are a relatively long time ago and Reed has been years in the wilderness until finding form in Championship Fulham.

underweststand added 15:32 - Apr 26
Bertrand isn't the only player looking over his shoulder for what's left of his career.
Ralph must have to give him a free hand with summer signings. Too often new managers inherit a squad who don't fit the formation they like to play, and just now Bertrand and Long are the main names surviving from the Koeman era, and we have never properly replaced Pelle, or Mane. After which both Boufal and Gabbiadini came and went and the likes of Elyounoussi and Carrillo never got their feet under the table and so we are almost back to square one.

Ryan B. is a nice guy and well-liked by all accounts, but he's been behind the play on many occasions and just isn't the player he once was, (or the one we wish he still was) and to consider him as first choice for the next year or two is tantamount to madness.

Few can blame Ings or Vestergaard for wanting to play " big time " in their remaining years at Prem. level but it's for Ralph to call the shots and let go of the ones who don't want to stay and play. This is the "Last Chance saloon" for us to get any money for those who still have any reasonable value in the transfer market. We should let them go now, and say a heartfelt... thank you ...and goodbye.

There will be free transfers or budget-price bargains who can help reconstruct the squad, because quite clearly many of those currently in the regular set-up just aren't going to cut it for yet another season. Even the likes of Theo Walcott - (for all the sentimentality associated in his return), or even Minamino - don't look like the game-changers we need.

davepid (above) quoted the obvious Academy successes, but very few of those who "got away" were likely to break into our first team anyway, when one considers who they would have had to replace, and almost all of them had nightmare starts after their moves, and only achieved " success " through survival, rather than star performances.

Survival this season will be a welcome relief, but clearly we need a lot of new blood before next season if we are to avoid another disappointing season.


saintmark1976 added 16:31 - Apr 26
Here’s a radical idea. Offer all of the supposed “ want away “ players we may wish to retain a final non negotiable contract offer on the basis of what the club can afford. Give them fourteen days to either accept or refuse. We can then start to plan for next season a month before the current season ends. In other words the board does what it’s paid to do, manage proactively.

KriSaint added 00:34 - Apr 28
Personally, I hope we agree with Bertrand on a 2-year extension. Maybe Bertrand wants 3 years and that is the reason he hasn't signed a new contract yet? I think he likes the club and If he had wanted to leave I think he would have left in 2017. I like him.

KriSaint added 01:23 - Apr 28
In addition, 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 - besides being a good and well-respected lad in the group.
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 - in the current market - 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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