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Russell Martin Has To Target Three Crucial Experienced Signings
Tuesday, 9th Jul 2024 09:44

The Southampton squad has had five signings so far in the transfer window and all of them have their merits, but none of the five have what is needed from the three key signings that need to be made.

In simple terms our five new signings so far fall into two categories, Adam Lallana & Charlie Taylor are experienced in the Premier League, but with the former already turned 36 and the latter two months off his 31st Birthday, neither are at the peak of their powers.

Taylor Harwood-Bellis was of course a roaring success in last season's promotion winning side, but in terms of experience he and our two brand new signings Nathan Wood from Swansea City & Ronnie Edwards from Peterborough United all have in common that they are in their early 20's and have good experience, but that is all in the Championship and not the Premier League.

Russell Martin is building a squad that is very British based and also focused on youth, but as was shown last year, a balance has to be struck, if the team is to keep it's shape, last season saw the team collapse due to a lack of leadership on too many occasions to be comfortable, if the likes of relegated Birmingham City and Rotherham could have us all at sixes and sevens then what are Manchester City & Liverpool going to do.

So the manager has to fill 3 key positions with those that can organise and lead and to be blunt have a couple of hundred Premier League games or more to their name.

Those key positions are Goalkeeper, Central midfield and Striker, I could also throw in a central defender, but with 3 new signings in that position and Jan Bednarek & Jack Stephens already at the club, I can't see us bringing in a fifth, although perhaps someone in the mode of Lallana could do a job, a cool head to bring on in the closing stages.

So in goal we know Alex McCarthy is a good back up, but not the answer either in his ability to put in a whole season or his ability to play with the ball at it's feet, Jason Steele of Brighton is now linked, but is he the man ? I would say not, he is about to turn 34, but has barely played in 6 seasons, just 33 Premier League games since joining the Seagulls in 2018 and aside from that he has not had a full season since 2016/17 when he played in the Championship for Blackburn Rovers, so his profile doesn't fit what we need in a keeper, apart from the fact he can play from the back.

What is crucial if we are to avoid the situation last season, is an experienced solid keeper in goal, around the age of 30 with significant Premier League experience, there are a few out there.

Likewise central midfield. after losing Stuart Armstrong, we have little Premier League experience in any of our other options and that is assuming that we do sign Flynn Downes.

Older fans will remember how Lawrie McMenemy brought first Alan Ball to run the midfield, not with his legs but with his head and then Jimmy Case, more recently Steven Davis was a player who just calmly got on with the job.

Up front as it stands we are woefully short, Adam Armstrong was prolific in the Championship last season and I think now the fans have seen what he can do they will cut him more slack than in his first two years at the club.

But I don't think he is going to get anywhere near 20 goals in the Premier League, he will bring work rate and he will bring an ability to create chances for others, but perhaps not the goals he did last season, he will be a good partner for an experienced central striker and this is the final key position we need to fill.

Danny Ings seems to be favourite to join the club and i have no problem in that, he has has not flourished since leaving St Mary's 3 years ago, but in his first season at Villa he scored 7 goals, the same number as his debut season on loan at St Mary's and in his second before leaving in the January he had 6 goals in 18 games, any striker outside of the big 7 who gets into double figures is doing well, he was on course to do that before joining West Ham where he netted another 2 to give him 8 goals from 35 games, not brilliant but a shade off double figures.

Last season he was the forgotten man, very few minutes and very few chances to give him a single goal.

He needs to stop trying to squeeze the last few quid out of the Hammers to leave and concentrate on resurrecting his career for a final swansong at St Mary's.

Make these 3 key signings and given the squad that remains from last season, our signings so far and indeed maybe another arrival or two on top and we have the foundations to battle into mid table and lets be realistic here that is our target for the season.

That doesn't show a lack of ambition, it shows a realistic approach, the Premier League is a lot different to the one we joined 12 years ago, even the one we finished 6th in back in 2016, it is one of polar opposites, the have and have nots and we are a have not whether we like it or not.

So we are now in the most important time of the season for Russell Martin and it hasn't even started yet, but the signings that the manager makes in the next 7 weeks will shape how the season pans out, it will indicate whether Martin has a grip on the reality of the situation or whether he is of the mind that we can take on the masters of possession football such as Liverpool or the masters of pressing football by tippy tappy football which quite frankly could be disastrous.

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Bowlercow added 10:50 - Jul 9
A lot of internet rumour around many players linked to Saints An interesting situation with the Brazilian full back who has had a medical here but may still go to Italy
Ings Brereton Diaz and young DeLap all linked and any 2 of those would make the squad look better
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highfield49 added 11:20 - Jul 9
We've still got the strange situation where Mateusz Lis is playing for Goztepe, I believe he has played 31 games, conceded 18 goals and kept 20 clean sheets.
Whilst it's difficult to make comparisons between different leagues those are the sort of goalkeeping stats our incumbents can only dream of, never mind signing Jason Steele from Brighton.
It was said some while ago that he had work permit problems, if that is unresolvable there seems no point in keeping him on the books.
I thought Downes signing was going to be quick and easy but seems to be anything but at present. Adams doesn't appear to be going anywhere too quickly but I guess he's no longer on the wage bill. Ross Stewart is either going to get fit to play regularly or be a complete write off. I'd like to be optimistic but sadly I can't see him coping with the pace of the game at top level, equally so Danny Ings who surely can't play a full game given his age and fitness issues.
We've also got Mara who has talent but shows no sign of getting to the next level required.
Early days but there's an awful lot of transfer activity required before the season kicks off.
3

felly1 added 11:41 - Jul 9
Surely the club will bring in a better keeper than Mccarthy.
Downes.. Fingers crossed, also one more CDM as Charles doesn't look ready for the Prem.
Ings.. Yes please, not everyone's cup of tea due to his mercenary nature, age and past injuries.
Just think he'd prosper for a season or two with us, as Martin would give lots of love and cuddles and big him up and I'd think it would bring out the best in Ings.
-4

WestSussexSaint added 13:11 - Jul 9
I agree with the 3 positions mentioned as being key to the squad looking “complete” going into the new season or not.

What we as fans shouldn’t do is panic that we haven’t yet see the marquee signings to fill those positions. Firstly pre season is only a week old and RM should be sure the answer doesn’t lie in the current squad. Charlie Alcaraz for example could be the answer to the creative midfield slot (assuming Downes does come in as CDM). There is also a chance to see if last seasons bit players and youngsters can make a step up. Next is to get those who aren’t going to feature off the books. We live in a world of FFP now so getting transfer fees in and wages off the books will contribute to how much we can spend in those key positions. It might make the difference between signing Ings or an upgrade. Finally identifying the right player for the right price.

The plus point from the signings made so far is that aside from the fee for THB which was agreed last season we haven’t spent big money on anyone so while they improve the squad we still should have money if the right player becomes available.
1

davenbennett added 14:39 - Jul 9
I don't think Ings lasting 90+ mins is an issue. With high pressi g Martinball, I would take off the striker and wingers around 70 mins anyway. We have 5 subs, the trick is to use them wisely.
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Monksway added 14:44 - Jul 9
Agree with the basic three positions needed but not a sure that it will be straightforward. Bazunu is the long term choice but I think McCarthy will start as number one this year with a good squad player brought in as third choice
Downes is far from nailed on and will have some sort of exchange with KWP so a right back is needed. I'm hoping that Alcaraz and Dibling will be given a chance at number 10 under the guidance of Lallana but unsure if they are ready. Another striker is a must but not convinced it's Ings given age and injury record. We base so much on his purple patch during the Covid season.
1

IanRC added 15:21 - Jul 9
Please not Ings
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Colburn added 17:12 - Jul 9
It seems that we have missed out on Delap and tbh I don’t know if that’s a loss or not. I don’t see Ings as being the man to score enough to keep us up. I’m a little more positive about Stewart than most but I still think we need a proper goal scorer, which Adams is not.. hence I’m not disappointed to see him go.
As last year showed, you have little chance of survival if you don’t show the intent and invest in a couple of top players. Sure it’s no guarantee but if you don’t bring in the quality, you don’t succeed. So I hope we search for a £30m striker and the same value playmaking midfielder. With the cheap purchases we’ve made and the two on free, the option is there to buy a couple of top players.
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