Time For Nigel To Make Plans
Wednesday, 20th Oct 2010 09:08
If Saints supporters want to be in ecstasy at the end of the season Nigel Adkins has to start making some big decisions.
Now Nigel Adkins has had a month or so in the Saints hot seat he will have had a long enough time to assess the overall situation within the squad, what he will see will be slightly worrying, at home Saints have dominated in the three home games played registering two wins and a draw in Adkins home debut against Colchester, but its on the road that the problems lie.
On their travels since the new manager took the reins, there have been two comprehensive defeats at MK Dons and Huddersfield, a good win at Sheff Weds and a poor draw at Yeovil, the pattern is at home Saints have plenty of players who can perform when the tide is in their flavour but away from home when the going gets tough, too many of the team are found wanting.
Whilst its obviously a home game this week so it could be said that the problem doesnt need to be addressed, now is the time to make changes to bed them in, in front of a couple of difficult away games in the coming weeks.
In goal Kelvin Davis is a cause for concern away from home in that he struggles to cope when teams launch an aerial bombardment, yes he will make some good saves, but its not the shots on target that are the problem, its the fact that teams know how to put pressure on us too easily, however he has earned the right to keep his place on last seasons form, but he will need to find that form, form that is badly lacking at present or be prepared to be dropped.
Its the back four where most of the problems have lain away from home, for 80% of the time it copes well, but in each game its had moments where the opposition have roasted us and did score or certainly as at Hillsborough, should of, I would suggest that its virtually a second choice defence at present and changes do need to be made and pretty much wholesale.
At right back Danny Butterfield has done well, but if he isnt the best right back at the club then Fraser Richardson needs to be picked, harsh on Butterfield who in truth hasnt done much wrong, but any team has to play its best players.
In the centre jose Fonte isnt looking his usual self, but we know with him that form is temporary whilst class is permanent, his problem is more to do with what he has around him than his own limitations.
Alongside him Dan Seabourne is a competent League 1 central defender, however at present I have seen nothing to suggest better than that, he is one who you can level the accusation that for 80-90% of the time he is OK, but its that last 10% that he is lacking and in every game there is uaulyy a moment when he doesnt do his job, one example would be at Yeovil where with Saints in the lead and starting to boss the game, he allowed his man to get goal side and put in a clumsy challenge that made it easy for the Yeovil man to go to ground and win a penalty that although dubious, should not have happened, Arron martin needs to be back in the side or even Jaidi.
Left back is a puzzle, many Saints fans like Dan Harding, that is because most of them only see him at St Mary's, there he is rarely under pressure, leaving him free to maraud up the wing and add another dimension to the attack, although it has to be said that even in home games he has been found wanting this term, a la Plymouth on the opening day when it was his hesitance in defence that cost us the goal and that has not been an isolated incident.
Away from home though its a different story, when we are on top he is OK, but when the opposition put pressure on us, he is a liability, I think the basics should be that he is in the left back position and the primary job there is to defend and anything is a bonus, sadly for Harding its almost the other way round, those that would defend him by saying that he is worth his place for the attacking option, would do well to remember that this is a team that has scored 11 goals in 12 games, 4 of them in one game at Bristol Rovers, and to go one step further and I will touch on this later, four of these eleven have come from penalties and a free kick, our attacking plays arent working.
Harding is a journeyman League 1 left back, its time to play Ryan Dickson who looks more solid defending and it could be that Lee Mills might be the man, being good enough to play for Doncaster in the Championship last night but not to even get on the benc for Saints, could he come back from that loan ready for his chance ?
Midfield is the area that should be making the team tick, but it isnt, Jason Puncheon just cant kick a ball or hold it up, the crowd is getting on his back and for good reason, he isnt producing, not that Im advocating any Saints player getting stick from the fans, just that Puncheon can have no real defence here for them doing it, in the middle as well Dean Hammond's form is patchy at best, we have to use other options.
Up front Im afraid its time for Rickie Lambert to take a rest, Lee Barnard has shown by his hard running that he is entitled to be first choice and Guly is starting to look good as well, put bluntly in their displays over the last few weeks both deserve to be in the team ahead of SRL, Adkins has to be harsh and show the squad that its form that matters not reputation and hope that Lambert's reply will be to work hard and show he is the man for the job, rather than to take his lead from Wayne Rooney, stamp his feet and sulk.
Overall its time for Nigel Adkins to stamp his authority on the team, we cannot afford too many more slip ups, January will be a key time for Saints with several players targets for clubs in a higher division, if we are in the promotion places they will probably stay, if we are still lurking in mid table then there could be a few leaving that we would miss, alongside a few that we probably wouldnt at the moment.
At the moment this is still Alan Pardew's team and that being the case it will get the same results that Pardew got and to be blunt they wouldnt have got us in the top two last season even after the ten point deduction being removed and there was no indication that they would have early doors this, Adkins has to make it his team, after seven games he has yet to quite do that.
11 points out of 7 games isnt bad some would say, but not me, on a points per game ratio that would give us around 77 points over a 46 game season and a look at last seasons table shows that that tally would have seen us finish in 7th place and out of the play offs, but dont forget that the opening 5 games were even worse with only 4 points picked up so we are already playing catch up.
This shows Nigel Adkins that he now has to start getting unbeaten runs and wins under his belt and if he is to do that he has to start getting the team doing something differently.
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