Koeman Reflects on Fucking Chamakh Scoring Twice
FA Cup time again and a visit from Crystal Palace and their new manager, Alan Pardew. It’s a bit of shame that he’s there in the context of this game because a 4th Round tie against Neil Warnock’s Palace would have been a walk in the park. This may not be though as they’ve won every match since he’s been there. That will change somewhen however and today might as well be the day.
The week leading up to this game has seen Ronald Koeman explaining that we can’t rest players for the FA Cup even if we want to as we don’t have enough players to do so. Contract issues are being talked about as well. Jack Cork has yet to sign his new deal and the club want him to decide one way or another by the end of the week. It’s good to hear the manager talking like this as it shows that he’s planning for next season. Corky will obviously be weighing up how much game time he’s going to get next season and whether or not his Dad will be able to shut up on Twitter. The vultures are circling regarding J-Rod and Nathaniel Clyne as well but this is fuelled more by a slow transfer window in general, rather than any concrete bids. Both of those players have another year on their contracts so I’m sure that Ronald won’t be subjecting them to the same time pressures as Corky. Also, let’s face it, any rumour regarding J-Rod is bullshtt as he hasn’t played for nearly a year.
Ronald is true to his word regarding team selection and it’s the same XI who started the Newcastle league game with the one exception of Jack Cork starting instead of Harrison Reed. Palace seemed to have a lot of strikers in their side with Chamakh, Sanogo and Campbell all starting. Zaha was in the side as well so it looked like they weren’t coming here to defend. Jason Puncheon was on the bench, as was Dwight Gayle which was interesting as those two have been Palace’s best players since Pardew took over.
The first knockings of the match were quite open and entertaining with Chamakh firing over the bar. Remember last year when that joker went round the keeper and dived, rather than putting it into an empty net. From Saints first real attack we won a corner on the left which JWP swung in and Graziano came steaming in at the back post to prod the ball past Hennessey and into the net for 1-0.
To be honest I now expected Saints to settle down and invite Palace onto them and then pick them off. Standard kind of stuff but there was already a problem in that the midfield screen of Corky and Davis was not screening, so much as standing aside and letting Palace do what they liked. We lose the ball, Palace break and Sanogo got free behind Clyney and hit a low diagonal left footed shot which Fraser should have held but it popped out and there was fucking Chamakh to knock it into an empty net. Bollocks.
Having given the ball away and being over-committed, we then do the same again but this time it’s totally down to Tadic pissing about with the ball and getting caught out. McArthur nicks it off him and feeds Sanogo and luckily he doesn’t look confident and though clean through, his shot is within easy reach of Fraser who makes up for the first goal.
Back we go onto the attack almost straight away and JWP picks the ball up in midfield and plays a superbly weighted ball over the top of Skate Ward on the left to Bertrand. Bertrand crosses first time to the near post and with no Saints player anywhere near him, Dann slides in and knocks it past Hennessey and into his own net. What a shit goal. We’ll have it though and the Palace defence looks so bad that it’s looking good for the rest of the game.... as long as we can sort ourselves out...
...which we don’t as Palace brak again and this time it’s Campbell with a free shot from the edge of the box which Fraser again gets down to push away. We really are playing badly as Delaney hits it long, Zaha manages to win it when it should really be meat and drink to Gardos or Bertrand and he lays it across to Sanogo. Bertrand tries desperately to block and gets unlucky as Sanogo’s corner-flag bound shot flicks off Bertrand and flies into the net to make it 2-2.
It’s like a game of basketball as we pile forward again with Elia setting up JWP who again buys another ticket in the ‘when we he score his first fucking goal at SMS lottery’ and this time he drills a right footed shot just wide. Another decent move follows and JWP plays a ball in from the left to Pellè, whose clever flick finds Davis who does a JWP and drills a right footer just past the post.
With 5 minutes to go until half time, Palace break up play on our left and Ward brings it away, exchanges a couple of passes with Zaha and no Saints player gets anywhere near him as he plays the ball into an unmarked Chamakh who jinks past Fraser and whilst we were all hoping for another stupid dive, he just slots it into the net. What the fuck is going on?
The final action of the first half sees Gardos booked for nothing much on the edge of the box and luckily, Sanogo shats it over the bar and the half time whistle ends what has been a shambles from a defensive point of view. I expect it was exciting for the neutral but football is not about neutrals and their fucking half and half scarves.
Ronald of course doesn’t have many options on the bench but we get a substitution with Matt Targett coming on for Gardos. This means Bertrand moving to centre back which makes me think that Florin was either a) injured, b) being saved from a red card or c) so bad that he had to come off. If the answer is c) then he’s not been on his own and Jack Cork (who in my opinion should have been taken off and Reed brought on) immediately pssses about on the ball and gets tackled.
The game settles into a pattern of Saints possession but going nowhere with it and eventually giving it away. No onle looks at all lively with the exception of Eljero Elia. JWP is trying his best and Graziano is fighting a lonlely battle up front with no one getting around him. For Tadic to get near Pellè he’d actually have to run which isn’t happening today.
On the hour mark, Shane Long is ready to come on and you could almost draw a name out of the hat to come off but it’s no surprise that it’s Corky who gets hooked. Jason Puncheon also makes an appearance soon after, replacing Chamakh who is miming having cramp in the corner and taking ages to get the fuck off the pitch. Long immediately begins to pull the Palace defence about and combines with Elia to hammer in a shot which deflects for a corner which JWP chips straight to the keeper. Just what you need when you’re not creating much. Shane Long is making a difference but he doesn’t have much of an afternoon as he chases a ball and he and Ward clatter into eachother and he has to go off again and it’s debut time for Ryan Seager.
The game is really going nowhere and we’re meandering to a cup exit. We’re passing it about in areas that are not threatening to the opposition and creating nothing at all and when we do get in range, everyone seems frightened to shoot.
With a minute to go we get a free kick out on the left and JWP surprises everyone and taps it infield to Elia who absolutely smashes it with his right foot and it’s screaming towards the near top corner until Hennessey takes off and tips it over the bar. Great effort, good save and finally we’ve made him do something.
If the roar that went up when the 4th official held up an electronic 6 was supposed to raise the players for one last big effort, it didn’t work as minute by minute ticked by with us doing nothing. The closest we got was a speculative JWP effort from miles out which sailed harmlessly into the crowd. It aint happening and sure enough it didn’t.
Well that was shite. The second half was marginally better than the first with regard to restricting pressure from Palace but what did we create? I made it one shot from Elia which was saved but other than that, nothing. Yes the injury to Shane Long didn’t help but there was nothing going on up front.
The team have obviously been doing superbly recently but I’m going to have a bit of a dig at some of them. Dusan Tadic, for the 3rd game in a row, didn’t look like he wanted to be out there. His movement off the ball was non-existent and when he had it, he had the air of someone who was only playing at about 50%. Not good enough. Jack Cork was so lackadaisical in midfield, he was almost running backwards. Awful performance as simple passes went astray and defensive duties were shirked with alarming regularity in the first half. I’ve never seen Steven Davis have a game as bad as that, constantly giving the ball away. Usually his shooting misses the goal by 10 yards or so, today it was 10 miles. With Cork and Davis having shockers, it was no wonder the defence was exposed. In hindsight, the one selection error made was picking Cork ahead of Harrison Reed who would have got stuck in and not let Palace just bypass our midfield. As for the defence, Florin Gardos is turning out to be decent against good teams who pass the ball on the floor but give him a big combative centre forward to mark and he’s useless. It’s like watching a 6 foot 5 12 year old. He’s all over the place, getting shoved around and brushed aside there is no excuse for that. Man up and get stuck in there.
So, out of the FA Cup again and to make it worse, a shedload of big teams went out as well. There’s no point in worrying though as you know we’d have lost to a Championship side if we’d got through... it’s the Southampton Way. Unlike last year I don’t blame the manager as he picked the strongest most experienced side that he could. Last year, that wnnker left out two of our best players and by not doing FA Cup press conferences, passed on a vibe to everyone that he couldn’t be bothered with it. Interestingly, Spurs were one of the Premier League sides to get knocked out today, having made 8 changes.
When you get knocked out of the Cup , there’s always that League versus Cup question, regarding priorities. Whilst I would take winning the FA Cup over finishing 4th in the League any day, I feel that this year it’s not an issue. We picked our best side available, didn’t play well and lost. End of. The frustrating this is that Palace weren’t much good and they closed out the game comfortably. Their defence was a shambles and we just didn’t test it in the second half.
Next up we have Swansea in the league who also had a cup shocker today, having been knocked out by Championship side Blackburn Rovers. They’ve lost their main striker with Wilfried Bony moving to Manchester City and as of yet, they haven't replaced him. That may change of course by next Sunday but it’s a good time to play them for us. Maya Yoshida will be back to bolster the squad (and almost certainly replace Gardos) and just maybe we’ll see a return of one of Vic, Toby or Morgan... and we could do with Senegal getting knocked out pronto and sending Sadio Mané back.
A day for keeping the faith.