Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Premier League Match 4 - Southampton 1 Manchester United 1

Vestergaard is Not Messing About

Before the Man United stuff…

I heard the news today oh boy....

Carabao Cup third round draw, Number 20 Portsmouth will play number 17 Southampton. Fucking hell.... what a draw that is. There are several ways of looking at it. One is of course that we are a Premier League side and they are League 1 and we have a chance to go down there and put a few things right. There’s the two 4-1 defeats and there is a chance to make up for the last time we met which included David Norris’s last minute goal that he would never score again if he tried it 100 times. It will be a huge game and I bet there was a collective ‘fucks sake’ from the Hampshire police when that draw came out.

There’s also the fact that we have everything to lose of course. If we win then it is expected but if we lose then it’s fucking humiliating. All of the potential outcomes and the emotion around the fixture is what football is all about and the atmosphere at the game will be something else.  Win and the feel good factor goes through the roof, lose and everyone gets angry and it’s tough to turn that around.  Can’t fucking wait.  Having lived in that neck of the woods from age 8 to 23, I have a lot of Pompey mates so it’s a nightmare for me…. unless we win of course.. and if that happens then I will be a dick about it.

The last time we played them was in the Championship and we should have won both games, leading both late on in, ut I true Southampton fashion we managed to draw them both. Even though we got promoted at the end of the season and they got relegated, there are many of a blue persuasion who think they had the better of things that season simply because they scored a last-minute equaliser. Strange lot.

If we play well and all the players are up for it and not intimidated by the atmosphere, then we should win of course. It never works out as simply as that though so I can see it being a really tight game and one goal either way will win it. Anyone who thinks we’re going to go down there and win 3-0 or 4-0 is sadly mistaken.


Believe it or not, we actually have some games before the trip down the M27, starting with a small matter of Manchester United at home today. United fans are going through the same thing but Liverpool fans went through at the end of the 80s which is watching a decline and having to get used to not being the best team in the country anymore. One could argue that Liverpool fans have never really accepted that they were ever not the best team in the country.

The Manchester United story of the last few years has been interesting, not least because a couple of years back, José Mourinho, one of the most successful managers ever in terms of winning trophies, said that coming second with the Manchester United squad that he had, ranked alongside his biggest ever achievements. At the time I put this down to Jose just throwing out a soundbite but what he said has proved to be 100% true. To be fair to the current manager, Ole Gunnar Solkjaer, he has at least made steps to try and rectify this with binning off some of the players who were clearly not of the required standard for a club that expects to be winning honours at European level. Hence, Lukaku, Sanchez and Smalling have all gone and the new signings of Wan-Bissaka and Maguire look decent. Daniel James joined for a relatively paltry £15million from Swansea and looks extremely promising and considerably better and some of the shit they still have remaining in the squad like Jesse Lingard. Whether this is down to Solskjaer making tough decisions or the money men at the top, or indeed the Ghost of Sir Alex, is open to debate but regardless of whether things are slowly progressing in the right direction or not, it’s hard to believe that Solskjaer should be in charge of a club of this magnitude.

So because it’s Manchester United, of course it is on TV and we have been given the stupid kickoff time of 12:30. My dad was completely unaware of this until he got my 11 o’clock “where the fuck are you” phone call. So, we eventually arrived at the ground after I had dropped him off and I’d had to run across the Itchen Bridge, at 12:31. Having missed the Liverpool game due to being on holiday, it was my first home game of the season and it has some how reassuring that some things don’t change when about 30 seconds after sitting down, I first heard Manbaby that sits behind me whining “I could see that from here ref“ because of course, Manbaby has superman style vision where he can tell if something is offside or not when it is 80 yards away.  Other things that don't change - The Northam are singing about a team two leagues below us when we're playing Man United

Once again it was a all a bit George Burley with no recognised left back – Danso being shoved there again.  On the other side there was a recall for Tight-shirted Boyband Wannabe Cedric and Sofiane Boufal came in on the left to replace the injured Redmond.  Other that that the team was as it was against Brighton.  Talking of left backs, Luke Shaw’s body has creaked again under the weight so he’s out again and Ashley Young is in the side.  Carlton Pogba is in midfield along with McTominay and an injury to Martial means that Mata comes into the side to play behind Rashford.  The referee today is Mike ‘All About Me’ Dean.

Whilst I was hoping for JWP at right back and Cedric on the left – it was the 4-2-2-2 formation which we have never looked comfortable with but we start well with Adams linking well with Boufal and he got a shot away which skidded just wide.  United don’t look that great but then what do you know, they build down their right and the ball is switch out to James on the left.  With Mata running on his outside totally untracked, Cedric has a decision to make and gets it wrong as he follows Mata’s run and by the time anyone wakes up, James is in the panlty area with no one closing him down and he rips a rising drive into the net.  Garbage.  JWP was fucking nowhere and Cedric made a horrific defensive decision.  10 fucking minutes was all it took for him to at least be partly to blame for a goal.

They’re really not very good but we’re not either – working hard but not doing much creatively.  It strikes me that we work so hard at winning the ball back high and probably practice that all the time but when we’ve got the ball we look ponderous.  JWP is playing against Ashley Young but he’s never going to run at him and Boufal has a few darts at Wan-Bissaka but he’s really good defensively.  He’s not usually great going forward but he gets in the box to meet a McTominay cross but volleys well over.

Ladies and Gentlemen – Welcome to the Mike Dean Show.  Danso is doing his best to get forward but gets caught out of position a bit when an attack breaks down and pulls back Perreira and gets a yellow card.  No issue with Mike on that one.  Literally five minutes later, McTominay pulls back Cedric on the right, free-kick and no card.  You couldn’t make it up really but Mike Dean does, every fucking time. I bet Dean hates VAR with a passion as it’s taken away a lot of his licence to be a complete prick on goal incidents.  He’s now reduced to being a prick on yellow cards and other less significant areas.

The first half comes to a close with James letting fly again and Gunn parrying the ball away with a strong hand.  Half time and it hasn’t been great.  Still to be convinced by this formation.  Cedric and JWP have crap, Romeu and Hojbjerg have been outnumbered in the middle and Ings and Adams have not linked up at all.  Hmmm.  It’s frustrating because United are shite.  Rashford has done nothing and Pogba is being Pogba.

Boufal tries to light the fuse at the start of the second half, swapping passes with JWP before teeing up Adams but he looks like a man low on confidence as he lashes at the ball and skews it wide.  He really has to get that on target.

Just before the hour, Boufal’s next dart wins a corner on the left.  Over it comes from JWP and Ings meets well and flicks goalwards only for de Gea to push it away.  Danso picks it up on the far side and tosses it back in and there’s the massive fucker with the headband to get above Lindelof and plant a header into the net.  At last, Jannik Vestergaard has scored and he’s off to the corner, jumping higher than he ever manages during a game.  It’s amazing what adrenaline can do.  Well played big man.

We now look the better side – Long is on for Adams and he and Ings immediately link up and we’re looking good and United are still average… and then Kevin Danso takes my brief moment of optimism and kicks it in the bollocks.  Actually, he takes out McTominay somewhere near bollocks level and it’s the easiest red card Mike Dean will ever give.  Fuck it.

Pierre has gone to left back, Armstrong is on for Boufal and then Yoshida is on for Ings and he goes to left back as we settle on a 4-4-1 damage limitation formation. At the heart of this is Oriol Romeu who is playing like a man possessed crossed with a lunatic.  Pogba does not fancy it one bit.

There are hairy moments of course.  Shane  Long long does Shane Long things coming back to help the defence, controlling the ball and then passing it straight to Pogba, allowing Rashford to force a save out of Gunn.  United have sent on the much hyped Mason Greenwood (see Macheda, Januzaj) and he falls over in the box but even Mike Dean knows that VAR won’t give that one.  Greenwood does bring one save out of Gunn and then Ashley Young of all people, goes pretty close with a curling effort from outside the box.  He’s still shit though.

In the end it’s a point which feels like a win against Manchester United and Mike Dean. Mike Dean was not the reason that we ended up with 10 men as he had no choice with either booking but Mike Dean managed to go the whole game without giving us a single decision that wasn’t 100% obvious. By that, I mean that everything that was even 1% debatable was given in favour of United. All that and 10 men and the fact that we were horribly disjointed at times and we still got a point.

I’m not having this 4-2-2-2 thing with the players we had out the pitch today. Pre-ninja assault, Danso did his best to get forward from left back but that was only one of the problems. JWP and Cedric were chronically bad over the right hand side both from an attacking and defensive perspective. The United goal illustrated this perfectly as JWP provided no cover whatsoever for the overlapping player and Cedric followed the overlap instead of closing down James, who by the time he smashed into the net was only about 12 yards out. Terrible decision-making by Cedric and a lack of basic defensive nous and understanding of some of his position by JWP.   In an attacking sense he was consistently too far infield she meant we had no outlet ball to the right hand side and if he did get wide, lack of pace meant Ashley Young, who is about 40, was never really tested. Meanwhile, though shining in patches, Boufal was struggling to get much change out of Wan-Bissaka on the left who fair enough, is an excellent defender – why not switch for a bit and have a run at Young? The first half also showed the zero level of understanding between Ings and Adams. Ings and Long linked up more in Shane’s first five minutes on the pitch than Ings and Adams did in the first hour. It looks to me that Ings and Adams are trying to be too clever and rotate positions.  Maybe just play Adams as a 9 and Ings as a 10 and save the complicated stuff until Adams has settled in a bit more.

With the score level at 1-1, at that point I actually thought we were going to win until Big Kev’s brain fart. Like I said, I have no issue with the two yellow cards that Kev got except Mike Dean allowing McTominay to do exactly the same thing without a yellow card.  Whilst I did enjoy his over the top support for Tranmere in the playoffs, he’s a fucking nightmare of a referee.

The positives today were a superb performance by Angus Gunn who didn’t have to produce any absolutely breathtaking saves but he did what he had to do very well and is growing in stature by the game at the moment. The two central defenders were excellent in the face of the pace of Rashford. Jan Bednarek was absolutely everywhere, winning every header and tackle and I was delighted for Jannik Vestergaard to get his long overdue first goal from the club and to put in a really solid defensive performance. He also managed to drill the ball right up Mike Dean’s arse as well which was probably the highlight of the first half.  Oriol Romeu, not usually selected in most Saints Fan Twitter Experts Starting XI… was a monster throughout.  As a team, we showed a lot of tenacity today, as we did last week against Brighton and overall it was a deent today bearing in mind we had Redmond, Djenepo and Bertrand all missing and Valery only fit enough for the bench. Though they are not what they were and probably never will be with Ole at the wheel, we got a good point at home against a team who will probably finish in the top six at the end of the season, especially if Mike Dean referees them every week.

Not that I wish to take anything away from Saints getting a point today but if I followed United I’ll be very disappointed with that showing. They showed absolutely no urgency whatsoever until we went down to 10 men and after that I showed a bit of urgency without showing any cutting edge whatsoever. You might as well just let Ashley Young cross the ball because he is fucking hopeless and he’s never gonna pick out one of his own players. Rashford was kept very quiet by our central defenders and James did next to nothing after his goal. The enigma which is wrapped inside a conundrum which is Carlton Pogba again showed some great touches but again just seem to be out for a stroll a lot of the game, getting caught in possession frequently and looking like he’s almost rather be anywhere else. I’d expect more from my £90 million World Cup winning player. Gone are the days when United used to be able to bring on world-class players from the bench. Now, it’s overhyped youngsters like Greenwood and Instagrammers like Jesse Lingard who is arse. Still, who fucking cares about them?

We need an answer to the Ryan Bertrand question before our next game which is after a well timed International Break. Danso will be suspended and we don’t want to play Hojbjerg there and it appears that Vokins has been declared to be not ready for first-team action. Ralph also has to get to grips with our growing tendency of having dreadful first half’s of games.  After the break it’s Sheffield United away, which is another game where we should be looking to pick up some points as is Bournemouth at home just after. Four or six points from those two games and we set ourselves up quite nicely for that cup game which everyone seems quite keen on winning.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Carabao Cup 2nd Round - Fulham 0 Southampton 1

Obafemi Scores and Then His Leg Falls Off

Fulham in the ‘What the fuck is it called this year’ Cup. When the draw was made, there was a chance of getting any southern based teams in this round, including potential away trips to grounds that we’ve never been to before and even the chance of playing them from down the road ... and we got Fulham away, I think the overriding word was “boring”.

Ralph made the right noises at the Brighton game about wanting to take the cup seriously but you know that it’s going to be mix-and-match at best with several of our squad players likely to be given a run out. It will be interesting to see just how far he goes with this. Will he just pick the ones that are on the bench regularly or will he delve deep into the list of players that we don’t actually want any more like Elyounoussi and Mario Lemina whose appearances this year have been restricted solely to Instagram.  For what it’s worth, I feel we should absolutely take it seriously.

Slightly disturbingly, it was another one of those slightly George Burley-esque team selections where we couldn’t work from the list of names who was playing where. The three definite defenders were Cedric, Danso and Bednarek but after that it was a bit of a lottery. I assumed that Cedric would be on the left and JWP on the right but in the event, Hojbjerg of all people was deployed at left back. With both Boufal and Djenepo in the starting line-up on the wings and Redmond and Obafemi up front, there was going to be a big workload for Romeu and JWP in the middle. Alex McCarthy, our best goalkeeper in my opinion, was chosen to start following Fraser Forster‘s return to Celtic on-loan.

The first half was… exactly the same as the first half against Brighton in that it was completely shit, though it was lacking the ninja drop kick red card tackle. Fulham had fielded about 8 reserve players so they were equally as disjointed as we were. The only real chance was a free-kick from the left which McCarthy did well to tip onto the bar at the top corner and then recovered quickly enough to push a subsequent header over the bar. We did fuck all going forward. It’s hard to get excited about winning a couple of good throw-ins.. One positive was that both Boufal and Djenepo were working very hard when we didn’t have the ball, which was about 70% of the time.

For the second successive game it was the same players but a different team that emerged for the second half. It was almost like we stepped 10 yards up the pitch and got in their faces and the Fulham youngsters just couldn’t handle it.

Fulham started knocking the ball about at the back and got into trouble and an eventual shite clearance from the left back was intercepted by Romeu on the edge of the box but he is the one player who you would not want to get the ball in that situation… I mean there are a few of them but possibly the worst one to get the ball in that situation.  On goes Romeu .... drills it straight of the goalkeeper instead of putting it in the big wide open net thing.

No matter though as our best midfielder picks up the ball at left back and puts Redmond away down the left and he lines up the defender in much the same way that Boufal did against Brighton and drills it across to where Michael Obafemi knocks into the empty net from a yard out.  We’re going to fucking Wembley I can feel it

Once we have taken the lead then Bednarek was hauled off and Yoshida took his place. It would have been nice to have brought on Wesley Hoedt as Fulham is the ground where he fucked up so badly that Hughes got sacked and Hoedt himself got binned.  There was another like-for-like swap a few minutes later as Ings replaced Obafemi who had collapsed again in much the same way as he always collapses every time he reaches top speed. I mean this may just be a cramp but as I said the last time this happened, there is no point in being quick if every time you reach full speed your hamstrings turn to cheese.

By now is was looking like a case of how many goals we can score as Hojbjerg drove forward from left back, finding Redmond who shot was not fantastic and easily saved but more worryingly, he collapsed in a heap and had to be replaced with Shane Long.

Our new strike partnership combine straight away with Long flicking the ball on and Ings finding himself through on goal on the right hand side. He chopped back inside the last defender and with the whole goal to aim at, managed to hit the goalkeeper in much the same way that Romeu had done earlier. We are determined not to put this game to bed.

Fulham are still trying to play the ball out of defence without being remotely good enough to do so and le Marchard, who I can’t believe they haven’t got rid of, gives the ball straight to Ings on the edge of the box and Danny once again closes in on the goalkeeper and kicks it straight at him to win a corner. If this Cup has introduced a rule where four corners equals a goal then this would be great but as it stands, in the rules for the What the Fuck is it Called this Year Cup, it’s just a fucking corner.

Once again the high-press works as Fulham show great levels of cluelessness and Romeo this time nicks the ball, knocks it to Ings who shows great presence of mind after his shot his blocked to knock it to Shane Long and that’s all you need to know.  Luckily there were a few fans behind that goal so some poor ball-boy didn’t have to scramble among the empty seats like in other parts of the ground in order to get the ball back.

Luckily, none of this profligacy was costly as Fulham barely got in our half of the pitch in the second half so we progress to the third round, Job done and once again, the end justifies the means.

For this match - Garbage first half, better second-half, scored, wasted a few chances, . Redmond’s injury is a worry as when players collapse when there is no one near them then it is always a little bit worrying and hopefully he will only miss a couple of weeks at worst.  Ralph will have learned quite a lot from this game with a centre back partnership of Danso and Bednarek looking decent and Cedric having a fairly solid game right back.

JWP was incredibly light-weight in midfield despite trying Ralph clearly having a word with him after his non-tackling effort against Brighton.  Sure, he put some tackles in but looked like he was trying to get sent off in the first half. Both Boufal and Djenepo carried on their hard work on the wings and Boufal in particular was lucky to escape injury after a very cynical scythe down by Fulham player which was 100% deliberate and nowhere near the ball. From me, that has to be a red card but the ref bottled it.

Job done. Onto the next round and onto Manchester United at home on Saturday. The injury to Redmond is a bit of a bastard but in Djenepo and Boufal, we have players ready to step in and replace the direct running and unpredictability the Redmond brings so it’s not all bad news.  Personally I think it’ll be a 5-3-2 formation on Saturday so it’ll be two of Ings, Adams , Boufal and Djenepo up front.  Bring it on.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Premier League Match 3 - Brighton 0 Southampton 2

And a Terrace Chant is Recycled (sort of)

A trip to the Amex Stadium set in the South Downs near Falmer which is a place that has been very good to us nearly every time we have visited in the past. When we came here and won 1-0 last season it was a game that majorly set us on the way to surviving in the Premier League and it turned out that Brighton with much more under threat of getting relegated then we were but they survived despite not scoring any goals and made the correct decision to sack nice guy Chris Hughton.

The appointment of ex-Saint Graham Potter is an interesting one but a manager who has worked his way from the Swedish fourth division to the Championship and into the Premier League has to be respected. He isn’t going to be able to work miracles and suddenly turn Brighton into a comfortable mid-table side but I expect them at least to have a little more attacking threat that they had for the whole of last season.  Potter came to Saints as one of a long line of players who was going to take Francis Benali's place at left back and never managed it.  He was ok without ever being first-team regular material.

For my sins I had driven to the game and parked at Brighton Racecourse and I was talking to a few Brighton fans on the park-and-ride bus on the way to the ground and they seemed very optimistic about the season ahead, almost overly optimistic it seems. Time will tell I guess. We had a quick wander around the outside of the ground before refusing to pay £7.50 for a bacon burger. Fucking delusions of grandeur London-by-the-Sea. Fuck off.

Whilst our performance against Liverpool was better than the one against Burnley, it still yielded zero points so there is pressure on this game to get a result first of foremost, especially with Manchester United at home being our next game. The team news filtered through and it was kind of odd. There was a debut for Kevin Danso but when you looked down the team sheet there was no left back with neither Bertrand or Vokins. Cedric, who has been known to play left back in the past was on the bench so we initially didn’t have a clue as to what formation we were going to play but then the news came through but it was the 4-2-2-2 formation (same as last year here) with Danso slotting in at left back. Hmmm... Can’t see him flying up the wing and putting over a cross with his left foot somehow.   Bertrand apparently had an ankle knock and Yoshida had been left out to accommodate Danny Ings who was back in the side to partner Che Adams upfront.

Potter is obviously trying to evolve Brighton as Glenn Murray, all 47 years of him was not in the starting line-up. Up front they had Andone and Maupay, the later being a new and relatively expensive signing. They appear to be playing with three central defenders as joining the usual arsehole combination of Dunk and Duffy was Dan Burn who is similar in size and speed to Jannick Vestergaard.

We start off relatively well and create the first opening but Ings fails to pull the trigger from the edge of the box and eventually gets crowded out. After about 10 minutes or so. the problems that we have with our line-up today first become apparent. Danso has started really solidly at left back as you would expect but he is totally right footed so that stifles any attacking play down the left hand side because all he does when he’s not clearing it is pass it inside to Vestergaard who then feeds into Romeu, back to bednarek and repeat and we don’t actually go anywhere with any pace. On the right hand side, JWP has started poorly and he’s not really attacking with any intensity nor helping Valery out with any defending.

Brighton eventually come into it and Montoya should do better with a header from the penalty spot after there’s been an overload on Valery down his side and the cross finds the Brighton full-back totally unmarked – the Southampton Way. Half an hour in and Brighton are now looking the better side but this is not because of anything specifically good that they are doing, it’s because we are dreadful and continually giving the ball away. A lot of the problem is caused by a lack of movement by the front players. I had to specifically look to make sure that Che Adams was actually on the pitch.

The game changed on the half an hour mark with the first real challenge of the game and it was a fucking ridiculous one. Andone just flew in on Valery and stamped down somewhere up near his knee. Kevin Friend who is not my favourite referee saw it clear as day and off you go pal. What a fucking idiot. It’s worth pointing out at this point that despite the assault, Andone was applauded off by many Brighton fans and received a handshake and I consoling pat from his manager as he fucked off down the tunnel.

Potter consoles his striker after he tried to break someone's leg

Mercifully, having been on the end of a potential career ending challenge, Valery is ok and carries on with the boos of Brighton fans ringing in his ears. What a bunch of clueless cunts.   However, far from tilting the game in our favour, the fact that we have a man advantage makes us go to shit and Brighton look the far more likely to score culminating in a corner being headed home by Lewis Dunk but a Brighton player on the goal line has clearly impeded Angus Gunn and/or is miles offside.  I find it unbelievable that the linesman cannot give this decision without referring it to VAR but upstairs we go. I’m looking at the big screen at the opposite end of the ground and for some reason, I am expecting to see pictures of the actual incident but of course they are reserved purely for the television audience and so those who have paid money to be in the ground get to see absolutely fuck all aside from a dark blue screen with the words ‘checking goal’ written on it. No one seems particularly stressed waiting for the outcome but as it goes on to about 30 seconds, you do begin to wonder that it isn’t as clear cut as you think it is. Eventually the foul on the goalkeeper or the offside is given but we have no fucking idea why the goal has been disallowed really as it is not communicated to anyone inside the stadium.  It happened right in front of us and we have no idea so Brighton fans up the other end will be totally in the dark

The first we knew about it. (Note: nice to see that Brighton already awarded the goal!)

Just before half-time, Redders picks up the ball on the left in midfield and set off with intent towards the Brighton penalty area, skipping past couple of challenges, getting to the edge of the box and firing in a decent effort that Ryan saves comfortably. More of that please and not this pedestrian tippy tappy bollocks that goes nowhere.

Half time and to be honest, we have been fucking dreadful. Danso has been solid enough at left back but of course offers nothing going forward and the passing between the lines is painfully predictable and slow. JWP is having an absolute shocker over on the right wing and since the red card, Brighton have the 6 foot 6 inch immobile Burn playing as an orthodox left back so surely we need to get someone with a bit of pace down that wing to run at him. Has Che Adams actually been on the pitch? He has probably had about two touches of the ball in that half of the worrying thing for me is that him and Ings, who has been the better of the two, are making me think that it’s like having two Charlie Austin’s is out there.  One can only hope that the extra man will tell in the second half.

No subs at half-time so nothing changes for the first 10 minutes before Ralph decides he has had enough but when the substitution comes, it’s a bit of a strange one with Valery being hooked, JWP dropping back on the right and Moussa Djenepo taking up station on the left. It’s kind of hard to tell but it looks like we have gone to a kind of 4-3-3 with Djenepo in midfield with Hojbjerg and Romeu and Ings, Adams and Redmond up front. Whatever the formation is, it doesn’t matter as Ings picks up the ball on the right and switches it quickly (that’s the key word) out to Djenepo on the left. The new man only has one thing in mind and sets off directly towards goal before from 25 yards, curling a fantastic effort into the far top corner giving Ryan absolutely no chance at all. Mental in the away end. Absolutely fucking brilliant goal.

For the next five minutes, the Seven Nation Army refrain is belted out with ‘Whoa Moussa Djenepo’ for everyone apart from the annihilated bloke in front of me who has his own version for Moussa Gazeppo.  That’s gonna wear a bit thin by the end.  We nearly put the game to bed straight after that as a ball drops to Adams from a corner but his point blank is well blocked. The game passes by without too much more goalmouth action there are more substitutions with Locadia and fucking Glenn Murray coming on from Brighton and Boufal and Armstrong replacing Adams and Ings who have been better in the second half.  There is major ‘shit your pants’ moment as a corner is flicked on and Locadia, finds himself free just to the left of the goal.  Gunn flies out in a big star-shape and Locadia can only smack it against the outside of the post, showing exactly why Brighton shouldn’t have paid all that money for him.

Djenepo saw another shot blocked from the edge of the box and Redmond drilled an effort just wide and it’s all groans as Armstrong wastes a glorious chance to put the game to bed when he’s played through by Redmond but he managed to hit Ryan as he came out.  We do recycle the ball though and eventually it came down to the guy with more ability than anyone else as Boufal lined up Montoya on our left and a quick drop the shoulder gave him half a yard before firing a ball across the goal for Redmond to come in at the back post and knock it into an empty net. Another superbly crafted goal. Give me those 3 points - Get in.

We have a further chance to really rub it in and make it 3-0 right at the end when Boufal goes on a mazy towards the box and arch tosser Lewis Dunk just launches him over. In front of a celebratory away and, JWP completed his very poor match by curling the free-kick miles over the bar and taking out a celebrating fan. No one cared.

Oh what fun it is to see Southampton win away as the song goes. Talking of songs, Moussa Djenepo / Gazeppo is being serenaded and Ralph went through his full celebration repertoire and we left the ground to mingle with lots of Brighton fans who weren’t suddenly as optimistic as they had been on the way in.

First things first – we won so the end justifies the means. It has to be said though that we were absolute shit in the first half and showed a bit of an inability to think on our feet once the sending-off occurred.  Post-half time chat, the second half was much better but it took the introduction of the substitutes to give our attack a little bit more spark. Ings and Adams were pretty dreadful in the first half but both are better in the second and Ings in particular had a really good half hour or so before he was substituted, setting up the first goal superbly. We are going to have some fun this season and hopefully Ralph can find a way of getting Djenepo, Boufal and Redmond in the same team.  In a 4-2-2-2 it means that one of Adams and Ings can’t start and probably JWP as well.

Djenepo looks like a proper player as he has the pace and flair going forward but he’s also not shy of putting in a defensive shift and Boufal in his cameo showed just how good he can be when he picks the ball up in the right areas and it certainly leaves you wanting more.  As usual, the media appears to have gone into hyperbole mode and Moussa is now the new Sadio Mane because he's playing for Southampton, is African and has scored a goal.

Danso was very very solid in defence but obviously playing in the wrong position and I don’t know who Ralph is trying to kid when he says that Danso was going to play there anyway even if Bertrand wasn’t injured. I’m not having that for a second. It did limit our options going forward but maybe today, against what is still a very limited Brighton team, packing the team with tall strong players was the way to go.

As for Brighton, well they are better than they were last season and at least will show a little more attacking intent than they ever did with Hughton. They are still not very good though and they’re opening day win at Watford has been put into context by the fact that Watford have lost every game so far. Having 10 men certainly affected them but they still have very very little upfront and I would predict them certainly being in the bottom six at the end of the season.

Special mention for Kevin Friend who today - was not a twat.  He saw the red card tackle and sent him off and basically, wasn't a twat.  Yep, Kevin Friend had a day off from being a twat.  Well done Kevin.

The win for us means we can come out swinging against Manchester United next week. It’s not like playing Liverpool or Manchester City where you basically have no chance as United have huge weaknesses in their side and of course, lost at home to Palace today. United are still obviously a huge club and if there’s any favourable refereeing decisions to be made to then you know that they will get them but if our players can step up to the mark then there is absolutely no way that Solskjaer will out-manage Ralph, so we should going to that game with some optimism. Bring it on. The season has just started.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Premier League Match 2 - Southampton 1 Liverpool 2

One Who's Done Well Since Leaving and One Who Hasn't.

Having declared a personal war with words against Liverpool last season, I kind of thought the once they won the Champions League and I therefore lost the war, that I wouldn’t be that bothered any more.. Unfortunately, it has just made it worse because all the things that are fucking dreadful about them have just got worse. The great media hand job is carrying on at an increased pace as has their fans unbearable belief that they are the best team ever and are somehow more important than everyone else. Then we have the ‘Scouse not English’ booing of the national anthem bollocks, which they did in the Community Shield against Manchester City, which happily they lost.  The one thing that we all have left to cling to is that the Premier League champions are the best team in England and it is 30 years since Liverpool last won it.

Since we last played them they have won the aforementioned Champions League and a couple of nights ago they won the European Super Cup, beating Chelsea on penalties. Okay, fine. Then we get the little film from the dressing room and Virgil van Dijk throwing gangster poses around the trophy and looking like a fucking twat. They just can’t help themselves. Actually winning a trophy has not made Klopp any different as he is still a hypocritical twat, moaning about other teams spending money when his team has been assembled for the amount of money that could support a small country for a year. Does he not know that all his old interviews and his record in the transfer market is all part of public record? For fuck’s sake.

So, newsflash, Juergen Klopp is a wanker. A fucking huge hypocritical wanker. He is so fucking annoying. He’s one of those fuckers like Harry Redknapp and Terry Venables who I really want to hate I think that he is a massive bell end but at the end of the day, they’ve all got quite engaging personalities so sometimes you do find yourself actually liking them and then you have to pull yourself back and remember that they are wankers.

What can be said that hasn’t been said already? Quite a lot actually but with different insults but I’m a serious writer now and I’ve been on Podcasts and YouTube and everything so it would be very childish of me to resort to name-calling. Wankers.

So it’s basically the same Liverpool side as last year which includes all those players that didn’t cost any money. They do have a new player as they signed for my West Ham goalkeeper Adrian on a free transfer as cover for Allison who promptly got injured in the first game of the season so Adrian will be in goal today.  I hear that due to rotation and the European game on Wednesday that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may start a game of football which will be novel for him as he continues his quest to have a whole career without ever being a first team regular anywhere.

Post Burnley shitshow it appears that Ralph has worked the players incredibly hard this week, cancelling days off and generally leaving them in no doubt that it simply wasn’t fucking good enough. The big question today was would Kevin Danso be thrown straight in for what would be ridiculously tough baptism of fire.  The answer was no as Ralph went for a pragmatic approach meaning Ings got left out to accommodate Hojbjerg starting and the only other change saw Yoshida preferred to Stephens who went from starting to not in the 18.  Liverpool have a full side out in defence and attack but a 2nd choice midfield of Milner, Chamberlain and Wijnaldum.  That’s the area we have to target.

Away we goo and the press by the forwards is looking decent.   Adrian clearly doesn’t want the ball at his feet and you can see the panic on his face whever one of their defenders passes him the ball.  We win a corner as a result of one of his panicky clearances and really should take the lead as JWP’s delivery is met solidly, 5 yards out by Yoshida but he puts it too close to Adrian who flicks out an arm instinctively and pushes it away.

The next big chance is also ours as Romeu flings over a really good first time cross and Adams ghosts in between Matip and Trent but shows no conviction with his free header and it kind of floats harmlessly over the bar, not even making Adrian shite his pants a little bit.  Andre Marriner then stamps his authority on the game as Liverpool are struggling and Romeu goes in hard and wins the ball back on the edge of the Liverpool box. Free kick and a booking.  Fucking ridiculous.

The first half really is all Saints – we are winning the midfield battle against the three reserves and their defence is creaking.  Up front, Salah is doing his usual head down blind alley thing and despite some ropey moments, our defence is holding firm.  Then they win a throw out on the left and the ball is worked to Mane who hasn’t moved but has somehow found space on the corner of the box.  A touch away from Bednarek and before Hojbjerg can get to him, bang, curler with the right foot, just inside the far post, Gunn no chance.  It only takes a seconds lapse in concentration and there we have it, one chance, one goal. Fuck.

The second half starts and we can’t get the ball.  Romeu has been sawn off by the booking and Liverpool are of course trying to put it to bed.  It all looks somewhat inevitable.  Mane puts Salah away on our left and he’s right in on goal but rather than get his head up or actually look for a team mate for a tap in, he gets too close to Gunn and allows him to block.

It look like a matter of time and Ralph rolls the dice and Ings is on for Romeu so now it’s basically 3-4-3 which looks like carnage when we lose the ball and the press doesn’t work initially.  Another Liverpool break and Mane superbly finds Firmino in the box but we get lucky as he produces a dreadful miss and passes it wide.

Another slight change as Armstong comes on for Adams which gives us a bit more in midfield and Ings curls a decent effort just over which stemmed from Milner giving the ball away on the edge of his own box.  Interestingly, Milner flew late into two tackles in trying to make up for it and not a word from Andre the Giant twat.

The little flicker of light from that chance on goal was then snuffed out and it’s nother trademarked Southampton fuck up.  It’s our own throw and Bednarek takes it to Yoshida and gets it back and proceeds to fuck about, get dispossessed by Mane and into Firmino it goes who calmly steps inside Vestergaard and scores with ease.  Fuck sake.

Now it suddenly looks like they’re going to go in dry as Mane tees up Robertson with a superb back-heel and Gunn has to be alert to push the near post shot wide.  Mane is the difference - I expect he didn't cost you anything Jurgen.  The last throw of the dice is Djenepo on for Bertrand as Ralph decides we may as well go for it and the new boy makes things happen.  Trent can’t handle him at all and actually manages to get booked.

Armstorng is doing well in midfield and he digs in to find Redmond.  He tries to return it to Armstrong but van Dijk reads it and knocks it back to Adrian.  What an absolute cock…. The keeper just passes it straight to Ings who knocks it straight into the net.  Surely not – 8 mins to go.

You always get that one chance.  If you’re a great team you score and if you’re a lucky team you score.  If you’re Southampton then you build up through half the team and the final ball in from Valery is excellent and then Danny Ings, who you signed from Liverpool for £20 million…. plays a fucking airshot from 6 yards out.

You don’t get two chances.

Bollocks. A disappointing result but we can relatively pleased with the performance. The first half in particular was excellent until Mane showed that quality of finishing that we, as a club from outside the top six just do not possess. Liverpool turned the screw in the second half but we held firm until yet another bit of calamitous defending, this time by Bednarek, handed them the second goal. Danny Ings got his goal from a decent bit of closing down and a goalkeeper being a dickhead and Ings could have got a point for us but showed that quality of finishing that we, as a club from outside the top six, do possess.

It’s unfair to single out Danny’s miss though, even though it was the worst of the bunch. Che Adams should have got his header on target in the first half and Yoshida really should have given Adrian no chance whatsoever with his header from the corner. That would’ve been beautiful as well because he got off the ground and King Dijkhead just stood and watched.

VAR didn’t have to do anything particularly controversial in this game this game did highlight one of the problems that we still have and will always have with referees. When we had the totally incompetent referee at Old Trafford last year, I pointed out how it’s all the little things that don’t get given in your favour but almost have as much effect as the big penalty calls for example. Saints were doing really well until Liverpool scored at the end of the first half until he booked Oriol Romeu for what was basically, the cleanest winning of the ball that you could ever see. I mean, we were on the attack and Liverpool were struggling to get out. They won the ball and Romeu won it back perfectly so we should be on the attack but the idiot gave a free kick which was never free kick, killed our momentum managed to compound the mistake by booking Romeu and therefore restricting him for the rest of the game. That’s quite a big deal and played no small part in the chance of dominance at the start of the second half.  In comparison, James Milner was allowed to foul at will and get away with it, possibly because he had a fucking bandage around his head but more likely because of who he was playing for. Inconsistency is still going to go on. If Sadio Mané had been wearing a red and white shirt today and I think he would’ve picked up the booking he got for hacking down Moussa Djenepo a lot earlier than he actually did.

Will anyone care? No.  Would they if we’d one and they’d had the injustices?  Of course.  The more things change the more they stay the same.

So – Saints were better and we had deent performances out of Gunn, Vestergaard & Romeu and an encouraging one from Djenepo.  Stating the obvious here but our season is not defined by games against the likes of Liverpool – they and City are on a level where you have virtually no chance of even getting a point and this is before you factor in the likes of Andre the Giant Twat.

Next up is Brighton and a decent performance in that one is not enough on its own.  Points are needed and we need to be picking up our first 1 or 3 on Saturday.