Sunday, May 26, 2019

Season Review 2018/19 - The Good Part

DECEMBER 2018 Continued

Tottenham 3 Southampton 1
So – Ralph Hasenhüttl.   It’s a brave move by the club to go for a long term solution rather than to press the Allardyce button but I guess in a way, we did that last year.

Back to tonight and Kelvin Davis picked the team and I must admit, when I saw it, I kind of gave up on any vague notion of us getting a result. It seems like he’s picked his team based on loyalty to Southampton and being trustworthy.  Of course there’s a place for that but come on - there is no way on Earth that Steve Davis should be in the side.  The wide open spaces of Wembley against an impressive Spurs side…. Give me strength

To be honest, we didn’t play that badly but it was the same old story in that it took us a lot longer than it should have done to score a goal and the goals we gave away were so simple – not tracking a runner, slicing a ball across our own penalty area, turning your back on a shot – all straight out of the Under 9’s Playbook of Shite Defending.

Ralph Hasenhüttl was in front of the media the next day and was seriously impressive.  No bullshit and a clear message.  To paraphrase – we do things my way.  If the players can’t cope they will fall by the wayside.  We have too many players and some will go and I will be looking at the youngsters.  Bring it on Ralph.

Cardiff 1 Southampton 0
After some play on the left, Redmond gives it to Armstrong, who cuts past Camaraso who dangles a leg out and over goes Armstrong.  Looks a cast iron one on first watch and on the second viewing it’s one that’s given more often than not.  Moss doesn’t get a second look of course, he just waves it away like the fat twat that he is. Armstrong is raging and his next contribution is to lose the ball in midfield and see it lumped forward.  No worries as Vestergaard is in control and knocks it back…. Fuck, he’s virtually trod on it… rugby tackle now… nope, falls over and Paterson is through and he scuffs it past McCarthy and into the net.  Fucking hell.

The bottom line is that today, we lost to one of our main relegation rivals, like we did against Fulham, because we made a catastrophic error in defence.

If Ralph Hasenhüttl can get this lot playing and get us into mid-table then forget Klopp, forget Guardiola - he deserves the Manager of the Season award.

Southampton 3 Arsenal 2
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first home game and the splendid chap has bought me a beer.

We have lift off with a move from the back – Romeu finding Armstrong who gives it to Targett who shifts it away from Bellerin and fizzes over a cross and there’s Ings in between Lichtsteiner and Koscielny to bullet a header past Leno.  Brilliant cross, brilliant goal.  Get in.  It’s rocking – the ground is actually rocking.  Awesome.

Hojbjerg slides a lovely ball inside the full back to Long and everyone groans as he checks out rather than running at the goal but he floats a lovely ball over the top of the flapping Leno and there’s Austin to nod it into an empty net.  Lift off.  I’m sure there have been moments like it at St Mary’s but I can’t remember a recent one…. Mané’s winning goal in the 3-2 come back vs Liverpool probably.

What is this feeling? What is this feeling of happiness at the final whistle?  If it is your first game in charge and the winning goal is from a combination of Long and Austin, then you clearly have something about you.

Huddersfield 1 Southampton 3
Redmond is already on his bike in front of him and Hojbjerg slots him in as Kongolo comically falls on his arse trying to intercept and Redmond, without a goal all season, smashes it past Lossl and into the top corner.  Get in. If ever a player deserved a goal it’s Redders.

Obafemi passes it into the corner of the net for 3-1 and game over.  Get in.  On the bench, Ralph is giving it the full Monty but not as much as Charlie Austin who is off down the line giving it loads to the home fans.  If an opposition player did this to us then we’d think he was a dick but that’s quality shithousing.

And so to Ralph. I was a big fan of Glenn Hoddle as a Saints manager back in the day because he took Dave Jones’ shit squad and immediately made them better just with tactics and organisation. The difference the Ralph has made in the space of two weeks with a failing squad is absolutely ridiculous

Southampton 1 West Ham 2
Redmond hits it, saved, Romeu tries to chip the keeper, saved and then Redmond piles in with a Hammers defender and it goes in off his hand as he’s bundled to the ground.  Could be a penalty, could be handball and if VAR was in place it would take about an hour to sort it out but it’s given as a goal and we’re somehow 1-0 up.  Can we keep it? No.  

The main thing you have to say about this game is that the better team won. West Ham looked quicker and sharper and physically stronger than us and no one can have any complaints about the result. Having said that, we could easily have sneaked an undeserved win. How Craig Pawson can be looking straight at Declan Rice wrestling Jan Bednarek to the ground in the penalty area and not give a penalty is completely beyond me. Of course, West Ham broke from that incident and scored the winning goal.  Could have been 2-1 to us, ended up 2-1 to them.

As a team, I think we look knackered from about the 20th minute onwards. The lack of fitness which is been allowed to develop under the last two managers means that whilst there were initial benefits of Ralph’s methods, some players looked absolutely out on their feet today

Southampton 1 Manchester City 3
City’s resolve will also be strengthened by the fact that Liverpool have opened up a seven point lead on them at the top of the Premier League so I would say the chances of getting anything out of the day or somewhere between slim and none

It’s beautiful when all the over-confidence catches up with City and it does when Zinchenko, who is not on the same level as the other City players, turns inside in the left back position and gets caught by Hojbjerg.  On marches the captain and lashes it past Ederson who doesn’t move to unbelievably make it 1-1.

And so another advert for the European Super League comes to an end after a second half which was as boring as it could possibly be with the game already decided and neither team being that fussed about anything else happening.  Despite all this, Hojbjerg still managed to get himself sent off which was fucking ridiculous.

Match of the Day 2, went out of their way to do us no favours whatsoever in that the edit showed Austin being substituted for no reason other than to show that he flicked the V’s at the City fans as he left the pitch. That was deemed more highlight-worthy than Kompany’s drop kick.


Chelsea 0 Southampton 0
Austin is on for Armstrong as we try to run down the clock.  Charlie is ideal for this as it takes him so long to jog onto the pitch. 92, 93 and panto villain Marcos Alonso who hasn’t been a prick today, decides it high time he was and takes a horrible dive under the slightest brush from Long and Fat Jon mercifully doesn’t give it. 

There was a cohesion about our defending and a concentration level which lasted for the full 95 minutes. There were no fuck-ups and no people getting caught out of position. We stayed tight and compact and didn’t give Chelsea many opportunities at all. Also, we had a bit of luck for a change because the Morata offside was very very close.

Results elsewhere meant we dropped into the bottom three but it really is no cause for alarm. We are playing better and you can see we are getting better and we will climb the league as the season goes on

Leicester 1 Southampton 2
I know he is deadly with a fantastic goalscoring record and all that but the challenge from Mendy which was to basically jump on his back with his arms flapping about, was amazingly dumb. There are few complaints about the penalty being awarded and up steps JWP and smashes a proper penalty past Schmeichel who did well to get a touch.

Vestergaard headed the corner out to our right and the ball pings around a bit and then Valery clearly pulls Albrighton back. With no second yellow being shown to Chilwell in the incident that I must’ve made up, I am expecting a final warning for Valery but oh no, of course fucking not, second yellow and off you go.

Shane is in. Usually, this is of course nothing to get excited about but from a tight angle on the left he hit it, Schmeichel got a piece of it again but like the penalty, it ended up on the net and fuck me, we were 2-0 up and Shane has scored and this is not a drill.

What a fucking win that is. An absolutely deserved win in the face of adversity.

He (Valery) did go down a bit theatrically but at least there was some contact. Jamie Vardy on the other hand is a fucking 100% cheat. A dreadful attempt to initiate contact with a defender and he even missed that with no Saints player even brushing against him.

Ralph is a fucking legend isn’t he? Already

Southampton 2 Everton 1
With no tackle in coming and Digne backing off, JWP takes aim and smashes the ball past the short one from 20 yards. Brilliant hit.

Half-time and as luck would have it, when I’m on my way out to the concourse, I see my Everton supporting mate who basically tells me that Everton are fucking shit and there is only one team going to win this. I hope he’s right.

A few minutes later, Everton managed to score the own goal they always seem to contribute when they come down here as Redmond runs at them again causing panic and Digne caps a great few minutes by winning the tackle and poking it past the angry dwarf from 25 yards, all the way along the ground. Maybe if he’d been taller, he might have reached it but who cares, 2-0.

Yaaaaaaaaassssssss! Thank fuck for that. How can there be four minutes extra signalled and then you play nine? That means that the initial four minutes was four minutes of time wasting so we had to play another five. Absolutely fucking ridiculous

Ralph has dispensed with some deadwood and by trusting the youth, has freshened up the squad without signing a single player. Players are now playing to a much higher level than before he arrived and we look more committed, more organised and we have academy players all over the match day 18


Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 1
The ball is still not finding its way out to JWP and Stephens goes left again to Targett and then, completely out of character for the rest of the game, football breaks out.  Targett to Redmond to Armstrong and back to Targett in behind Wan-Bissaka and his pull back is rammed into the net by JWP to make it 1-1.  Didn’t see that coming I have to say.

It’s a clear foul but nothing given.  Zaha just flips.  Then the shithousing starts - Firstly JWP fakes to throw the ball at him and then pats his neck and Zaha slaps him away.  Other players get involved to separate them and JWP is just grinning at him.  Yellow card for Zaha for the slap and then the pulls the sarcastic applause routine which never ends well and out comes a second card whilst JWP celebrates.  Zaha continues to clap the ref as he walks off and then has another go over by the dug out.  You have been played like a fiddle you twat.

Burnley 1 Southampton 1
Nathan Redmond 2019 turns and runs at the defence, beats Cork and then smashes it right-footed into the bottom corner of the net past Heaton from 20 yards. What a fucking goal.  Nathan Redmond 2018 would not have done that.

Now they’ve gone behind, Dyche reaches deep into his tactical bag of tricks and makes a tactical tweak which basically means launching the ball even more but getting more players over 6 foot 4 in the box.

92 minutes played and just one final launch into the box to survive and it comes towards Crouch and Jack Stephens, for reasons only known to him, jumps for the header with his arm straight up in the air above his head. With his eyes shut, a combination of Crouch and himself manage to head the ball against his own arm

Of course, it’s that prick Ashley Barnes to take it and he drills it to McCarthy’s left and he doesn’t even move and two points disappear down the shitter.

I’m in two minds over it. I can’t help but feel that if Stephens wasn’t so weak in the air, he would’ve just headed the ball away anyway but, it’s a clear foul by the centre forward so Stephens is a little bit unlucky.

Southampton 1 Cardiff 2
Cardiff then have an attack which doesn’t involve a long throw and win a corner.  Over it comes from Ralls, Paterson wins a header and fuck off for fuck sake. 1-0 down with Bamba, unmarked, knocking it in from two yards.  

Over it comes from JWP, a flick on off of Austin’s pint of Stella and there is Stephens at the back post to apply the finishing touches with an almost identical goal to Cardiff’s opener.  With 5 minutes going up on the board we still feel that we can win this.

A big punted clearance and it falls to Stephens on our right.  Under a bit of pressure he decides to try and play it forwards but just presents it to Cardiff.  Forward they come working it out to our left and panic stations set in.  We’re all over the shop with players frantically trying to get back.  A cross comes in and Bednarek half heads it away, in again, a scramble and Zohore scuffs at it with his studs and it rolls along the ground and into the corner of the net.  Two attacks, two goals.  Fuck – just fuck!  Full time. 

In my opinion, Ralph had a shocker today.

This is Southampton. No one ever said it was going to be easy.

Arsenal 2 Southampton 0
Gunn then has to save from Lacazette with his feet and it looks like we’re going to get absolutely annihilated. Half time and Some changes have to be made with Jack Stephens being put out of his misery.

Obafemi has darted about and started to look dangerous but then he went into full sprint mode and surprise surprise, pulled a fucking hamstring again.

The rest of the second-half is a predictable waste of time

I really don’t know what else to say about Jack Stephens. Basically, he does not have enough desire to keep the ball out of our fucking net.  So, with Cardiff’s winner last time out, Stephens has now coughed up three goals in 18 minutes..

MARCH 2019

Southampton 2 Fulham 0
Bertrand himself takes the corner and the keeper flaps it out to the edge of the box where Romeu meets on the volley. It’s not the cleanest strike but it goes through a crowd of players and ends up in the net so who fucking cares. 1-0

Up the fucking Saints. A comfortable win which is nice.  It could, with more ambition in the second half have been a more emphatic win but the bottom line is, until we can find a striker who can score 15 goals a season in this league, we are always going to struggle to even put away the worst of opponents and Fulham were quite possibly the worst of opponents. 

Defensively, there was the odd wobble but in the main, the return of Maya Yoshida added that element of calm that has been missing.

Manchester United 3 Southampton 2
Referee Stuart Attwell, well known for being fucking useless, waves it away without any thought whatsoever. I mean, this is instant. He is not giving a penalty even if the replay shows that Bertrand has a knife between the shoulder blades

Redmond passes the ball across to Austin and he’s sends it right to Valery who takes one touch and then bang.... fucking hell... he hits a fucking howitzer into the near top corner from about 30 yards.

Bertrand is in behind the full back and this time both shoulders are pulled by Ashley Young inside the area and Bertrand once again hits the deck. Once again Stuart Attwell is not having any of it

…. and more or less for the first time, Lukaku has kicked it in the right direction all game. Surprisingly, Stuart Attwell isn’t joining in with the United celebrations. I half expected him to be there, whirling his shirt above his head.

JWP takes it and it is perfect, over the wall and swinging away into the near top corner. 2-2 and fucking have that 

…and the big fucker turns and smashes it first time into the far corner past Gunn who hasn’t a prayer. For fucks sake

Rashford predictably collapses like a heap of shit. Needless to say there is no way Attwell is not going to give it. Up steps Pogba with his wanky stutter step and chips it down the middle and Gunn dives and boots it away.

Even though United have a very likeable manager now, which as said, is really fucking offputting, they still have some players who are just wankers.

Bring on VAR – it won’t be perfect but it will struggle to make things worse and it will highlight which referees are fucking dreadful – we know anyway but it will be highlighted.

Southampton 2 Tottenham 1
20 minutes gone and we could easily be 4-0 down. The rest of the first half was spent in a kind of drowsy acceptance of what is going on but we dig in and get to half-time just the one goal adrift which is a bit of a result I have to say.  Ralph is not fucking about. Romeo is off, probably because he’s been booked and Austin is off as well, probably because he’s been shit.

Kevin Friend – He’s One of Your Own

Hilariously, Danny Rose decides to step over it, not realising that Yan Valery was right behind him.

Up steps JWP and fuck me he’s done it again. Same technique, same corner, same result and another world-class keeper grasping at thin air as it flies past him. Bloody hell, we are winning and there are 10 minutes to go.

Southampton have won this game despite 1) Tottenham‘s goal being offside, 2) Sissoko not being sent off for a combination of deliberately raking Redmond’s achilles, followed by a push in the chest, followed by a head-butt, 3) Walker Peters not been sent off for a very deliberate last man professional foul and 4) no Penalty/free kick being given against Vertonghen for kicking Sims in the head.

Finally what can you say about Ralph Hasenhuttl. Under him, with exactly the same squad of players, we have beaten two of the big boys whereas under the previous three managers, we couldn’t beat any of them

APRIL 2019

Brighton 0 Southampton 1
We are six or seven minutes into the second half and Brighton are trying to play out of defence on the right hand side. Montoya and Bissouma manage the fuck it up between them and Hojbjerg nicks the ball. Armstrong finds Redmond who runs at the defence and weights a perfect pass into Hojbjerg who has continued his run and the skipper pokes it past Ryan with the outside of his right foot and it’s all gone a bit mental in the away end. A textbook Ralph Hasenhuttl goal – win the ball high, take advantage.

“We are Staying Up, I Say We Are Staying Up” – over come the players for the loudest “Oh When the Saints” of recent times.  As the players disperse – it’s Ralph time.  He fucking loves it doesn’t he?  What a boy.

What can you say about Ralph? The man, the myth, the legend. 1.5 points a game. That’s absolutely nuts considering he has taken the same squad that Hughes had. Again it proves what I have said all along which is that the manager is the most important person of the club. If he knows what he’s doing then it makes an absolutely huge difference

Southampton 1 Liverpool 3
Ryan Bertrand chips it across and Hojbjerg has run untracked from midfield. He flicks it on with his head and a Saints player takes it down with one touch and buries it. Fucking hell, SHAAAAAAAAANE. St Mary’s absolutely erupts with a mixture of jubilation and possibly laughter. Six minutes gone, 1-0 up and probably 89 minutes to hang on.

Liverpool haven't looks like scoring and they get a linesman assisted equaliser which seems to have happened a hell of a lot this season.

Henderson finds Salah.  Oh fuck.  He’s still got about 60 yards to go but we’ve over committed and only got one back.  Bertrand is backing off and you know that Salah is not going to pass it. If you try and tackle him he’s either going to skip past you or dive and get you sent off. On he goes – take him out for fucks sake!!! – bang, goal, fuck off! 

…we did not put a dent in their title challenge. They are fucking wankers and it would’ve been beautiful but never mind, it was always a long shot.

Now we’re back in 5 letter word territory - the amount of away fans in the home areas does my fucking head in.

Southampton 3 Wolves 1
I think that in the main Krueger is done a decent job bearing in mind what a chairman is supposed to do and in particular, what he was supposed to do, increase revenue and look after and implement the culture and philosophy of the football club. Some of the Motivational Hockey Guy shit we could’ve done without but at the end of the day he was a positive force and I would say his only real major failing was leaving Les Reed in place for too long at the start of the season.

Redmond, dancing in front of Saiss, gets a foot in and pokes it past Patricio into the roof of the net and fuck me, we are ahead after about a minute and a half.  It’s just like the Mark Hughes days isn’t it not.

Get in, another three points towards the target and to make things even more fabulous, Cardiff lost away at Burnley. Apparently they got given a penalty which was then over ruled so imagine Colin Wanker throwing another absolute shit fit 

Ridiculously, today was almost a run-of-the-mill victory. There was almost an expectancy to win and we turned up and did the job. Of course it is not as simple as that. I think that Ralph Hasenhuttl must have special trousers because he has balls the size of watermelons.

Talking of goal machines, Nathan Redmond was brilliant today

Newcastle 3 Southampton 1
Yoshida tries to pass the ball into Hojbjerg in midfield but it’s got flashing blue lights on top of it and a siren is wailing as Hayden steams in and wins the ball which drops to Pérez who is kind of half closed down by Bednarek and Yoshida and he fires it across the goalkeeper and in off the far post. Fucks sake. Totally preventable goal.

Pérez has stolen a march on Bertrand, bounces the ball towards a goal and Gunn has dived early and the ball bounces over the top of him and in. Absolute shite

Half time and no doubt Ralph is giving it the big one – at least I hope he is because we’ve been fucking awful.

Lemina, striding forward takes a touch before side footing superbly into the far corner of the net. Brilliant finish and despite being a bit of a shambles, maybe we can get something out of this after all.

No matter how patchily we played, we were beaten by the better side and Newcastle were decent

Watford 1 Southampton 1
Away we go and… Goal, one-nil to the mighty saints. What the actual fuck?

Another cross comes in, a lucky bounce and there is Andre Gray to swing a foot at it and it flies into the roof of the net at the near post. Fuck off.  It’s absolutely ridiculous how we’ve managed to do this.  There is only a little bit of time left but it’s enough time from Mike Dean to make a dick of himself again

Absolutely fucking infuriating. No doubt people will try out the stats about how many points we lost from winning positions and I don’t really care to be honest. What’s the opposite of clinical? Whatever it is then that is us.

Having started breathing again and calming down, a point at the end of the day is huge in the scheme of things. It puts us six points ahead of Cardiff plus a better goal difference and the last of their three games is Manchester United away and they are basically going to have to win all three of their remaining games to have any chance of overtaking us

Southampton 3 Bournemouth 3
the Feckin’ Goal Machine who drills it goalwards, watches it deflect off some half arsed attempt to block by Ake and nestle in the corner of the net. 1-0 and about time and the Shane has done it again.

Fuck off. That is literally the first time they have got anywhere near our goal

Valery who take son Ake for pace and brilliantly gets the cross in and there is Matt Targett of all people, at the back stick to head the ball powerfully across Boruc and into the far side of the goal.

For fucks sake, we can give a goal away from absolutely anywhere.

Jack Stephens just got the ball. He walks into the centre circle and passes it straight to Bournemouth player. One pass later and Wilson is clean through on goal but luckily, he is not is deadly from further out than 5 yards and Gunn manages to block.

What a ridiculous game that was. Brilliant spells of play from us mixed in with utter garbage with horrific misses and appalling defending

It might feel strange to some to celebrate staying in the Premier League but this time, we got ourselves into such a hole that has become a remarkable achievement to be safe with two games to go.

MAY 2019

West Ham 3 Southampton 0
…you’d think that the Feckin’ Goal Machine with four goals in five would just hit it but for some reason he takes an extra touch, Fredericks comes in and Long attempts a pretty crappy dive to win a penalty

Well that was pretty shit and almost as pointless as the Tottenham away game when Ralph had just been appointed after Hughes had been sacked.

It was a tough day for Ralph. On the one hand he has a duty to the travelling supporters but on the other hand he has a duty to think about the long-term. 

Southampton 1 Huddersfield 1
The newly crowned double player of the season cuts inside one man, cuts inside another and with no third Huddersfield defender coming to close him down, he smashes it over Coleman and ripping into the top of the net. Fucking brilliant goal.

And then we added another chapter to the “Goals that we managed to throw the opposition when under no pressure whatsoever“ file.

We are then treated to the worlds slowest pitch invasion by one fat bastard

I'm not remotely surprised that the season tailed off a bit in the last few games and it was unrealistic to expect anything different.  We have finished 16th and that is where we deserved to finish of course.  It took a monumental effort to get safe and as with any monumental effort, you get to the finish line and then you collapse.  Imagine running a marathon and when you're on your back on the floor after finishing, someone tells you you have to run another 5 miles but it doesn't really matter.  You are not going to attempt the extra miles with the same energy levels. 

The last few games aren't important.  What is important is the high levels that Ralph Hasenhuttl is capable of getting out of a team and given some of his own players next season and a full pre-season, it promises to be a fun season for everyone.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Season Review 2018/2019 - The Shite Part

Give Me Time and I'll Be Just as Shite as You Were

Southampton 0 Burnley 0
I’ve had enough, Hughes has had enough, fuck this.

And so the game ended in a draw. If I had been offered a 0-0 draw at the start the game then I wouldn’t have been particularly impressed with it but as it happens, it was actually quite good and a quite enjoyable game – well an enjoyable 2nd half anyway.

Charlie Austin was fucking terrible and barely moved. I would say that Hughes got the selection of Austin wrong because with both Cedric and Austin in the starting 11, that is two of your substitutions predetermined as neither were going to last 90 minutes.

Everton 2 Southampton 1
So – it looks like 4-4-2 with Stephens and Hoedt as the centre backs.  Oh sweet fucking Lord.

… another ‘soft as fuck’ goal at the other end.  Build up down our left, Coleman reverses the ball to Walcott who has not been tracked and he’s got all the time in the world to cross it and returning from last season we have the Stephens/Cedric Corridor of Uncertainty.  The cross sails over Stephens and Richarlison gets above Cedric and heads in easily.

Stephens and Hoedt proved last season that they are not good enough as a pair and you need a third centre back or else you’re going to be shit

Eventually, my money is on Hoedt and Stephens being back ups to Yoshida and Vestergaard and on Austin being the striker that we bring in when we need a goal with 20 to go. I also see the more reliable Hojbjerg coming into the team ahead of Lemina who once again was as flaky as you like.

Southampton 1 Leicester 2
Well fuck it. Another kick in the bollocks. It seems that any event, good or bad in the game just sees us go to shit. We score a goal, we panic and go to shit. We concede a goal, we then panic some more and go to shit some more. Someone gets sent off, we completely go to shit

Having played reasonably well in the first half, we finally took the lead the great strike from Ryan Bertrand then pissed it away within three minutes thanks to a horrific bit of defending by Cedric

Following Pierre’s red card for being a fucking dick (no more really needs to be said on that), we of course let in the tunnelball 94th minute winner.

Nathan Redmond had another very good game on the wing and seems to have rediscovered his love of running at players.

Crystal Palace 0 Southampton 2
Shane who misses it but the ball is misjudged by Kelly and Ings is in, toe poke, goal.  Get in.

Cedric down the wing and a deflected cross which Austin scuffs goalwards and Wan-Bissaka strangely sticks a hand out to stop a shot that was barely going to reach the goal.  Penalty.  Austin of course grabs the ball and dribbles a horrific piece of shit down the middle of the goal and Hennessey, despite diving, easily kicks it away.  Fucks sake.

I’ve no fucking idea what Hennessey was doing out there and Pierre rolled it past him from the edge of the box.  Get the fuck in!  We’re actually going to win.

Southampton 2 Brighton 2
It’s headed out to Hojbjerg who takes a touch and smashes it.  Remarkably, it absolutely arrows into the bottom corner with a little bit of late swing on it.  Brilliant strike.  

We can certainly have grievance with the referee and the more I see of Duffy’s fall in the box, the worse it gets – he’s a fucking cheat basically and Montoya’s fall for the free kick for the first goal is soft as well.

Ref aside, Saints only have themselves to blame yet again for not closing out the lead against a very average team. Yet again we proved that we can’t handle game changing incidents. After Ings scored his penalty, All we need to do was 10 minutes of controlled football but what do we do? Leave a 6 foot 5 centre half with a free header from 5 yards about 30 seconds after the restart.

Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
Well that was shit.  Exactly the same as last season where the game was over after 5 minutes and the rest of the game was damage limitation and a waste of everyone’s time and money.  Most Saints fans are realistic and know that we’re not going to go toe to toe with Liverpool at Anfield but we did nothing, turned up, lost, fucked off home.

I think Hughes got more or less everything wrong today.  The initial formation was wrong, the Targett on the wing thing was wrong, leaving Lemina on was wrong.  Having chosen to play 4 at the back, one of Hoedt or Vestergaard should have been left out for Bednarek or Yoshida.

Liverpool?  They’re a really good side and as long as van Dijk and their first choice strikers stay fit, the will run City very close this season.  They certainly won’t have an easier three points then they had today.


Wolves 2 Southampton 0
Lemina has had a good game and then he goes ‘Full Waster’.  He gets tackled and his boot comes off.  His boot is pink which is an issue but not the main issue here – it takes about 10 minutes for him to put the fucker back on.  Even an 8 year old can change a boot quicker than that.

1-0.  Fucking hell.  That’d be the 6th preventable goal in a row that we’ve let in.

Our big finish to try and get a point involves standing off and letting Wolves pass the ball about.  It’s fucking criminal.

We actually won the midfield battle with Hojbjerg and Lemina (when he wasn’t doing up his fucking boots) having the better of Moutinho and Neves. How can you win the battle of the all-important midfield and still lose the fucking game 2-0?  

Charlie Austin wrote “fuck off” on his Facebook page

Southampton 0 Chelsea 3
At risk of sounding like Mike Bassett… fucking get into them.

Well the only surprise there is that Giroud didn’t score.

Comprehensively outplayed-check,
Goal from Hazard-check,
Gifted them at least 1 goal-check
Didn’t lay a glove on them in midfield-check,
Basically just turned up and lost-check,
Let in a goal in the last five minutes-check.

Totally predictable and so fucking boring.

I really want to know what the thinking was behind bringing on a striker who has two goals in 60 games when we need two goals with 20 minutes to go

Bournemouth 0 Southampton 0
Eddie Howe has settled for a draw and brings on Gosling in midfield and takes a striker off but then the key moment.  Redmond on the the right hand side pulls out one of the best crosses you could ever wish to see.  Over it comes, taking out the keeper who misses it and straight onto the head of Gabbiadini behind him.  All he has to do is cushion it into the empty net….  Onto the roof of the net.  Fuck.  

Southampton 0 Newcastle 0
Lemina wins the ball and feeds Gabbi who produces a superb turn and finds Cedric overlapping – a good pull back along the top of the box … Shane with a free shot from 15 yards, 25,000 people including other Saints players with head in hands.

It takes a turn for the farcical as Gabbiadini, with three options to pass to, tries a shot from Bitterne Park which flies into orbit.  Another 0-0.  Fuck sake.

A lot of Saints fans seem to have it in for JWP. If you can’t see that we looked much more likely to score in the 15 minutes that he was on that every other 75 then you really don’t know much about football and I question both your eyesight and your sanity. We have to find a place for him in the starting 11

There is no way that the board will be wanting to fire another manager and admitting that they have fucked up for the third time in a row - not yet anyway.  There is an apathy and disinterest in the fan base. Personally, I’m kind of in the ‘shrug your shoulders’ camp. I watch the games and they are in the main fucking boring with nothing to get you excited and I look at the clock sometimes and it says 35 minutes of gone and I can’t remember anything of note that happened in the previous 25 minutes. It’s like I’ve been asleep


Manchester City 6 Southampton 1
Aguero picks it up, feeds David Silva who slots Sane in and his cross is smashed into the net by Wesley Hoedt and all the people who had Hoedt as ‘First Own Goal Scorer’ at odds of 1-50, celebrated wildly.  A bit unfortunate for him as he had to do something with Sterling right behind him but smashing it into the roof of your own net isn’t a great option.

And so much for that bollocks from the last two games about our improved defence. Two clean sheet against two teams that didn’t muster a single attack between them is not quite the same as Manchester City going in dry. Jack Hindenburg-Stephens not even getting off the ground and getting beaten in the air by Sane which lead directly to David Silva’s goal. There was some classic schoolboy from Cedric getting tackled whilst trying to shield the ball out of play. Not that we would’ve got anything out of the game but we had just scored and 3-1 down going into half time when he fucked that up

Earth Calling Planet Gao
“Where do we go from here? We probably won’t go down this year because there are 5 other teams who are as terrible as we are but it'll be this year or the next if nothing changes from the top.  As it stands, everything is screwed and the Southampton Way is dead.  Les and Ross need to go – that much is obvious.  We no longer attract the best untapped talent from abroad. We no longer promote youth players and give them a chance to prove that they can be a genuine Premier league performer.  There is no pathway.  We no longer are ahead of the game in any area and we no longer have an owner who gives a toss.”

What!... that door over there?

No More No Les
He had to go, he really did. It doesn’t matter how well anyone does in their first 5 1/2 years in any particular job - if you are underperforming/very poor for 2 1/2 successive years then you are really up against it. You could argue that it’s the players or its the managers or it’s any number of circumstances that have conspired but the fact of the matter is that Les Reed was the senior board member responsible for the football side of the club which is the core business. It is failing so he is failing and we have reached the point where under his stewardship, it was clearly not going to turn around.”

Southampton 1 Watford 1
To make up for his incompetence, Hooper delivers an evening-up coup de grace as Redmond brilliantly bursts in between two Watford players on the right and picks out Austin with his low cross and the Fat Beered-Up Kebab Munching Pub Player somehow mis-hits it and sends it bobbling over Foster for 2-0… or so we thought.  Celebrations have happened, time has stood still, civilizations and empires have risen and fallen… and then it gets disallowed for an imagined offside.  Fuck off.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  Two wrongs make a shit referee

It breaks to left back Holebas who hits it and Cedric is being a wet-lettuce wanker, closing him down sort of, with his back turned and it flicks off him and past Macca for 1-1.

It was nice to see Charlie Austin and his interview on Match of the Day where he was basically having a bit of a rant about how we should have VAR to help the officials. I totally agree with everything he says and he has gone up a bit in my estimation but still not enough to make up for the fact that he still looks completely unfit. Whoever said the interview to the tune of Parklife deserves a medal as well.

Fulham 3 Southampton 2
They work it out left to the full back and Cedric is ballwatching from the middle and Le Marchon’s stands up a cross and there’s Mitrovic, stading in a circle of 5 Southampton defenders, like some sort of training drill.  He jabs his head at the ball and the Southampton 5, who are all 4 defenders and Lemina, admire it as the ball goes past McCarthy.  Fucking useless sacks of shite

Wesley will surely just smash this up the park… nope.  Wesley will surely smash it off Schurrle and win a throw… nope.  Wesley will surely not fuck about and give the ball away…. Yes he fucking will.  Fulham work it into a crossing position, over it comes, Dwarf Sessegnon beats Yoshida in the air and flicks it on to Mitrovic, unmarked, goal. F.U.C.K.!!!

Time for a substitution and time to play with 11 and off goes Charlie the Hologram

So, we’ve just lost to one of the worst teams in the Premier League so what the hell does that make us?  Today is the day where the tide turned for me. Hughes, like Puel and Pellegrino seem absolutely incapable of getting a tune of these players and that’s his job.


Southampton 2 Manchester United 2
Ok, we’ve tossed away a lead again but we’ve actually played quite well.  For once we have some proper positives to talk about. In the main the performance was very very good, just that five minutes spell where we appeared terrified to out a challenge in at the back. The formation worked, the midfield three were absolutely excellent, Redmond behind the striker but very very dangerous and much more effective than when he plays out wide.  He just need a goal and the boy will be flying.

The highlight of Valery’s performance for me was when Paul Pogba, who, lest we forget, is a World Cup winner for Yan’s native country France, a £90 million superstar player that’s at one of the biggest clubs in the world, tried to intimidate him. Yan took no shit whatsoever when Pogba tried to hold him at a throw-in and Yan basically just threw him away. What’s “get out of my fucking face” in French? Brilliant stuff.

Spark Out
“So farewell to Mark Hughes. His managerial career was somewhat similar to his playing career at Saints. He joined late in his career and there was the odd moment where it looked like it was going to work out but ultimately it will be regarded as a bit of a failure with him leaving with the lowest win percentage of any manager we’ve ever had”

“So who’s next. As revealed by club pet national journalist Jeremy Wilson, the name in the frame is Ralph Hasenhüttl who was manager of RB Leipzig last season.   In his last two seasons he has taken them to 2nd and 6th in the Bundesliga.  He has the reputation in the media of being the “Austrian Klopp” (cringe) and whilst we all admire the Klopp style of football, if Hasenhüttl joins us, we can only hope that he is not a monumental bell-end like the Liverpool manager.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Premier League Match 38 - Southampton 1 Huddersfield 1


Take the Gunn, Shoot Yourself in the Foot

And so the season comes to an end with The visit of Huddersfield town to St Mary‘s. Congratulations to Huddersfield who have managed to avoid being the worst team in Premier League history but with just the three wins all season... only just. It should be a bit of a party today and it would be good to send the fans home feeling good about everything with a nice win to round off the season.

I don’t think this game has anything riding on it at all, not even position related prize-money. We are two points behind Burnley and they are at home to Arsenal who have just qualified for the Europa league final. I would be amazed if Burnley don’t win that game. Brighton are two points behind us and they are not getting three points at home to Manchester City as long as I have a hole in my arse. That’ll be the first result I look for after our game has finished to ensure that Manchester City and not the Red Scouse bastards have won the Premier League.

People have desperately been trying to make the Champions League semi-finals in some way connected with Southampton as a number of our former players were playing. They are fucking dead to me once they leave and I really don’t care about how well they do with their current clubs. That said, the only thing I have against Tottenham from a Saints perspective is that they sing “oh when the Spurs go marching in“. Other than that, the last shit house thing between us and them was the Toby Alderweireld transfer which was four years ago now. The list of things I don’t like about Liverpool is huge and I have been very vocal about that on a number of occasions so I will be a Spurs fan come Champions League final night.

There was some sad news on Saturday in that John Gittins has passed away at the age of 55. He was twice a Southampton player and was capable of very good performances at top league level. He was never really a first-team regular in either spell with the club but he had a good career and 55 is far too young. Rest in peace big man and thoughts with his family.

Ralph is not really giving much away regarding what sort of team we are going to put out but Charlie Austin has been somewhat cryptic on social media suggesting that out of adversity comes great opportunity. I’m sure that someone had to spell those long words out for him. Maybe he’s playing against Huddersfield who he has some sort of grudge against which I believe stems from his Burnley days or maybe he has found a new club to play for next season. Maybe both are true.

The team is pretty much the usual with the 4222 formation being present again. Long and Ings upfront with Redders and JWP wide. With the Under 23s having a play-off final on Monday, there is no room on the bench for any youngsters apart from Alfie Jones who I’m not sure is even eligible for the under 23’s anymore. After his performance last week, Elyounoussi hasn’t even made the bench which kind of tells you all you need to know I think.

Saints have the first kind of half chance as Ings lobs a ball forward and debutant keeper Coleman comes out of the edge of the box and makes a fuck-up of it. Shane has to turn and chip towards the empty goal but it’s never going in and drops a long way wide.

Saints have another chance to practice defending when we lose the ball on the edge of the opposition penalty area but even Huddersfield manage to play all the way through us up the left wing, back across to the right and Aaron Moot, their best player, cuts in and with his left foot, curls it narrowly over the bar. Gunn wasn’t getting anywhere near that if it been on target.

Ings is working hard to win the ball back in the Huddersfield half but when he gets sight of goal it all looks a little rushed and he drags one wide of the far post from 25 yards. His partner upfront has reverted to being the usual Shane Long instead of the impostor who has been playing the last few weeks and I can do nothing but laugh when he tries to control the ball on the left wing and it simply bounces off his shin and out of play.

Ralph is pacing about not looking remotely happy with what he sees on the pitch but he cheered up a minute later as Ings picked up the ball in midfield and drove forward before feeding it to Redmond out on the left. The newly crowned double player of the season cuts inside one man, cuts inside another and with no third Huddersfield defender coming to close him down, he smashes it over Coleman and ripping into the top of the net. Fucking brilliant goal. Not only is he our player of the season but he has been the best player today by an absolute mile.

Half time and Ralph has obviously had enough of the old Shane Long and he is replaced with Matty Targett who has been pushed up onto the left wing with Redmond going central. Targett is involved straightaway, finding Ings who tees up JWP and from 25 yards he pings in another superb effort which Coleman gets fingertips to and it rattles off the bar. Get another goal and this lot are toast.

And then we added another chapter to the “Goals that we managed to throw the opposition when under no pressure whatsoever“ file. Gunn takes a goal-kick to Bertrand who plays it back to him and Gunn seems to be totally unaware of Pritchard closing him down, takes a horrific touch, Pritchard nicks it off him and passes it into the net. For fuck‘s sake.

There is still half an hour to go but you know that the game is going to completely change now. There is a brief flicker as Targett megs a defender and puts over a dangerous cross which is cleared and there is another chance for Ings as Valery over hits a ball down the right wing, Redmond somehow gets over a superb cross on the volley and Ings header hits a defender and squirts wide. He is having no luck at all.

With Ings unable to buy a goal, it’s time for what will hopefully be Charlie Austin‘s farewell appearance. He has had his hair dyed blonde. Well we all know that Charlie does love a trip to the hairdressers. We have a go at letting in another goal from a corner as our half zonal half man marking shambles leaves Schindler with a free header at the back post which he bounces down and over the bar.

We are then treated to the worlds slowest pitch invasion by one fat bastard who looked a bit like an overweight extra from Shaun of the Dead, such was his waddling presence. None of the stewards were going to make a tit of themselves by trying to catch him so they kind of walked alongside him until he walked into the goal, at which point the fat fuck didn’t really know what to do. What the situation needed was some big meathead Steward to absolutely poleaxed the guy with a rugby tackle.

Sims comes on for Romeu as Ralph at least tries to win the game and the final chance to do so falls to Austin after more good work from Redmond but the blonde haired fat lazy lager boy kebab boy curls a shot narrowly wide of the far post.

It was quite nice that aside from the aforementioned fat pillock, no one ran on the pitch at the end of the game including Charlie Austin who hadn’t ran on the pitch in the 20 minutes he was on. The lap of appreciation was done with baby McCarthy being the star of the show And the players and staff disappeared off down the tunnel to begin their well-deserved summer breaks.

Today’s game was mainly dreadful. It only really came to life whenever Nathan Redmond got the ball and he thoroughly deserved the brilliant goal that he scored. The second half started reasonably well and we looks like we were going to canter to a 1-0 or 2-0 win. Not long after JWP hit the bar and we looked in control, then Angus Gunn did that. It’s another example of this Southampton side being able to virtually throw a goal in our own net at any point from any position on the pitch. It brings back into focus our goalkeeping situation. Personally, I think Alex McCarthy is the most reliable of the three and didn’t do very much wrong before he got dropped. Gunn, putting today’s aberration aside for a second, doesn’t quite have the presence yet and Fraser Forster’s form has gone off a cliff of course in the past two years.

Letting in shit goals like that when you have been under no pressure at all, tends to kill momentum, A bit like all the air leaving your body in one go. The last half hour was just played out at walking pace which made it ideal for Charlie Austin to come on as a substitute but even that pace was too much for him.

Elsewhere, we had the return of the normal Shane Long it was dreadful for 45 minutes before being substituted and it really look like to me for the rest of the players were desperately trying to get a goal for Danny Ings and whilst I thought things had a good game today, he never looked confident in front of goal and always seem to take an extra touch and lose the ball when the chance presented itself.

I know that 4-2-2-2 is Ralph’s preferred formation but it doesn’t work with the players that we have got at the moment. It certainly doesn’t suit JWP and what seems to happen is that the midfield two get over run which in turn means there is very little protection for the two central defenders, one of whom is of course Jack Stephens at the moment.

Anyway. The good news is that I am sure the opening game of next season will see quite a few changes in personnel. Bring it on.

Elsewhere in the country, the good news is that Liverpool didn’t win the fucking league. They have been dubbed the greatest runners-up of all time and... get in the fucking sea. They are not the greatest anything as they have come second which the last time I checked, does not make you the greatest. Virgil, Sadio, Adam and Dejan have still won just as many trophies as they would have won if they had stayed at Southampton. All we need is a really good performance from Spurs in a couple of weeks and that can continue.

In the race for 15th, we came 16th which is slightly annoying because Burnley did in fact lose to Arsenal and we would have won the race for 15th if we had beaten Huddersfield today. Personally, I wasn’t remotely surprised by the lacklustre performance and we just have to be grateful that we are starting next season in the Premier League and not in the Championship with Huddersfield.

The fact that we are not in the championship is down to Ralph Hasenhuttl and the improved form of the players that he has brought about. I can’t wait to see the current and new players after a full pre-season with the big man in charge. We have every reason to be positive. If we get it right over the summer and it should be a good season next year and I for one can’t wait to see how Ralph develops this team. Until next season…

PS... on Monday night I went along to St Mary‘s to watch the Under 23s in their play-off final against Newcastle, which ended in a hard earned 2-1 win. Over the 95 minutes we did deserve it but you could see the influence of the first team in the last 20 minutes as we did our very best to give away the two-nil lead that we had established. To be honest, not many of the players looked ready for regular first-team action. Alfie Jones stood out in defence, Callum Slattery and Tom O’Connor in midfield and Dan N’Lundulu looked a handful upfront but he was blowing out of his arse after 45 minutes. It was all about winning now and win they did so they are now in division one of the under 23 section next year which is good for the club and good for the individual players who will now be tested against better players of course.

The future is bright....

Monday, May 6, 2019

Premier League Match 37 - West Ham 3 Southampton 0

You Can't Really Be 'On the Beach' in Southampton

Hasn’t it been nice with the pressure off this week? Today we are off to West Ham to play at their Virtually Free Gift by the Taxpayer and Boris Johnson Athletics Stadium. I’m glad we don’t need anything from this game as it is now a tough place to go. West Ham are a very good side on their day and they certainly were when they stuffed us at St Mary‘s earlier on in the season and more recently,  when they became the first team to win at Tottenham‘s new ground which Tottenham have paid for. Yes it still annoys me that such sporting advantage can be given to a team based purely on geography.

The protests from the West Ham fans about the loss of Upton Park don’t seem to be so loud this season. Maybe that’s because another year has passed or maybe it’s because they are starting to see the benefits of the move with some investment in some very good players. Felipe Anderson tore us a new one at St Mary‘s earlier on in the season. They have good manager in Manuel Pellegrini who is moulding the squad into one but should have a very good season next year when you assume, they will invest more. They have some twats in their squad like Robert Snodgrarse and Jack Wilshere and I think I still have Andy fucking Carroll even though he is out of contract at the end of the season so don’t be surprised next year when he turns up at another club (probably Burnley because he’s tall enough) and scores against Southampton every time he plays against us.

From Ralph’s press conference this week it became apparent that today we are going to see some fringe players with Fraser Forster expected to play. I’m expecting to see the likes of Mario Lemina and maybe even Charlie Austin will get a game against the team whose owners once lied about him having no ligaments in his knee is as excuse for not signing him.

The other focus this week has been on Francis Benali as he attempted a quite frankly mind blowing seven iron man’s in seven days for Cancer Research. As I write, he has just been pulled from the sixth day during the swimming section and been told to stop for health reasons. Whilst this is a shame, there is absolutely no shame from doing four ironmans in four days and I reckon he’ll do 5 in 7 by the end of the week.  Even if he never runs another step in the name of charity, he is still done a ridiculous amount and everybody, not just those with a Southampton affiliation, can be proud of what he has achieved and paraphrase Bob Geldof, if you haven’t done so already, put some money in the fucking tin on

To today and team news and that deflating feeling.  Forster in goal, same back 4 as last week which was a disaster, Elyounoussi in the team, Redmond and JWP rested.  This will be interesting.

We actually start quite well and fashion a decent opening on the break but Elyounoussi has a go at butchering it with a pass to Ings with not enough pace on it. Ings manages to recycle and play it out to Armstrong and Armstrong, in true ‘Southampton Final Ball Decision Making Standard’ kind of aimlessly lashes it over the bar instead of trying to pick someone out.

It’s all going ok and under control until Valery gets forced across the pitch and pisses around and gives the ball away Noble.  Noble just plays it to Arnautovic who isn’t marked and he scores really easily giving Forster no chance at all. It’s fucking garbage of the highest order and once again our scrambled defending is appalling with one centre back playing offside, one running like a headless chicken and no one marking the one player they need to mark.

The rest of the first half is absolute crap with Saints basically allowing West Ham to have the ball and not create anything. Elyounoussi does have a shot when he chips the ball over defender and tries a speculative volley but there is no conviction behind it and it flies wide comfortably.  Mark Noble is playing the game in a fucking deckchair as Hojbjerg looks knackered and Lemina is nowhere.

Second-half and Redmond on for Ings and the change is instant. We start well win a corner, Bertrand whips it in and Stephens shows that his mastery of heading covers both ends of the pitch and completely misses the header.  However, Redmond gets a shot in which is blocked wide for another corner. It’s as close as we’ve got. Redmond has another shot blocked for a corner and from it, the ball is flicked on and Redmond actually gets a shot on target which Fabianski tips over the bar.

There is a glorious chance to equalise as Long bus into the penalty area and you’d Think that the Feckin’ Goal Machine with four goals in five would just hit it but for some reason he takes an extra touch, Fredericks comes in and Long attempts a pretty crappy dive to win a penalty. I’m really not sure what to make of this. Either he played for a penalty which is fucking ridiculous considering he had the opportunity to shoot or the old Shane has returned, the one who has absolutely no footballing ability at all and he almost accidentally took an extra touch and the touch was incredibly heavy.

JWP is on for Armstrong but West Ham step it up. Masuako goes down the left wing and fizzes it across, Fraser can’t hold it and the ball bobbles up in the air off of Arnautovic and the Austrian nods it into an empty net.  It might of hit him on the arm but he didn’t know anything about it so fair enough.  Game over probably.

Two minutes later and Jack Stephens is doing his impression of an Ice-skating giraffe with his balance all in the wrong place trying to get a tackle in and he totally fails to get a touch on the ball and Ryan Fredericks shoots past Forster to make it 3-0. Embarrassing defending which unavoidably reminds me of Wesley Hoedt at his worst.  Hoedt must have been a complete dick for us get him out of the door, meaning Stephens gets a chance of being in the first team.

We are now looking like we’re going to get dicked about 5-0 now so Ralph decides to bring on another proper player to shore things up to make sure we don’t get fucking battered, with Romeu replacing Lemina who I haven’t mentioned so far and there’s a good reason for that.

Romeu immediately gets booked basically for being Romeu when he wins a tackle as clearly as you could possibly win it but we have Stuart Atwell refereeing, last seen given the most blatant biased one eyed performance in our game away at Old Trafford and he decides that this perfectly hard but fair tackle warrants a yellow card.

Arnautovic has a glorious chance for a hat-trick when he is totally unhindered by any defenders and he curls one just one of the far post.  All over and thank God for that.

Well that was pretty shit and almost as pointless as the Tottenham away game when Ralph had just been appointed after Hughes had been sacked. It was always going to be a difficult day and about and you can’t underestimate just how off the pace we were compared to what we have been recently. Part that was down to personnel but most of it was down to mindset. In the first half in particular, without the ball we were fucking dreadful, allowing West Ham stick to just stroll around and pick passes where they wanted. Mark Noble it’s getting on a bit now and he’s always been a good player but we made him look like peak Steven Gerrard with the amount of space that we gave him. The second half was better with the introduction of Nathan Redmond, until we coughed up the second goal and from that moment on it was all over.

Ralph billed this as a match where if you had something to prove, you would have an opportunity to do so and it was interesting from that point of you. I would’ve suspected before the game that Elyounoussi and Forster will be playing for some sort of future at Southampton, whereas Lemina will be playing in order to get away. Oddly enough, out of the three of them, I thought Fraser probably put up the best display. Bearing in mind that he hasn’t played for nearly a year and a half, he didn’t look too bad and on a couple of occasions, going well off his line to collect a high ball which was always a weakness. He did however make a bit of a bollocks of the second goal even though it was fizzed across, taking his eye off the low cross and pushing it out rather than holding it. Elyouboussi just proved what I suspected already, that we have purchased a £16 million turd. Mitigating factors are of course that he hasn’t played very much recently but he once again showed absolutely nothing whatsoever. I’ve unearthed a transcript of the meeting from when Les Reed went to Switzerland to buy him.

(Les enters the room)
Les: How much do you want for him?
Basel: We value the player at between six and eight million
Les: We’ll give you 16 million and not a penny more
Basel: Done. Pleasure doing business with you.
(Les leaves the room)
(Basel representatives piss themselves laughing and have a night on the town with copious amounts of drink, drugs and prostitutes)

My money is on him ending up back at Basel next season on loan and us continuing to pay a sizeable chunk of the ridiculous wages we are now paying him.

Mario Lemina. What can be said that has been said already about our Rock Star Instagram model. He did look very sharp in his suit before the game but when the game started, so did the problems. Let’s just say that Mark Noble ran the game and he was in direct competition with Mario. There was the odd flash of brilliance when he got into one-on-one situation with another player and it gave him the chance to show off his strength and close control but the overall contribution was negligible.  For me, it was really telling them when Ralph wanted to tighten things up and make sure that we didn’t get absolutely battered after it had gone to 3-0, he took Leminna off, rather than Hojbjerg who is in much more need of a rest. Because of the fact that we were safe, it was always going to be a game where attitude was very very important and therefore it was absolutely no surprise to me anyway so Mario just drifted through the game, looking like it couldn’t have mattered less if he tried. If he was as good as he thinks he is, he would have been running that game from the centre midfield but instead, he let Mark Noble do it.  List our players in order of ability and Mario would be in the top 3 – list them in order of effectiveness and he’d be near the bottom.

The back four was the calamity that it was against Bournemouth last week which was absolutely no surprise. Maybe it was the last chance saloon for Jack Stephens and there were absolutely no surprises there either. The first goal was a horrendous give away from Yan Valery, similar to Stuart Armstrong’s one last week and similarities didn’t in there. As the opposition broke our defence was shambolic with Bednarek trying to play Arnautovic offside but Stephens steaming past him making that ploy absolutely useless and not one marked the one player which made the goal really really easy to score. The second goal had an element of misfortune about it but at the end of the day Fraser should’ve held the cross and the third goal was more ridiculous marking of space without getting close to any of the players, Stephens again being the worst culprit.

It was a tough day for Ralph. On the one hand he has a duty to the travelling supporters but on the other hand he has a duty to think about the long-term. For what it’s worth, I agreed with his broad idea of playing a few of the fringe players today but it didn’t work out. As I said at the start, partly down to personal and partly down to the players selected. He made a point afterwards it was a huge effort to get us safe and there was a bit of a come down from finally being over the line. Personally, I don’t think it’s so surprising.

Next week however, we have Huddersfield at home and they are fucking shit so there is absolutely no excuse, no matter who is picked, for us not to go out and put on a bit of a show and send everybody off into the summer with a spring in the step before the incomings and outgoings start.