Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Premier League Match 38 - Manchester City 2 Southampton 0

This Time Next Year... as Long as Arsenal Win and we win an extra 47 games

Last game of the season time and we pitch up at The Etihad to play the deposed Champions.  Deposed or not, they’re still a very good side and they humped us at St Mary’s earlier in the season.  Also, there’s the small matter of them having won their last 5 games in a row.  This could well me Manuel Pellegrini’s last game as they failed to mount a title challenge and were shit in the Champions League again.  He doesn’t seem to have much idea tactically where it seems to be a case of picking 11 players and telling them to get on with it.  As long as one of those players in Mangala then the opposition have got a chance.  I don’t like Zabaleta either as he’s a nasty bastard but on the other side of the coin they have Aguero who is a fantastic player and Yaya’s not bad either as long as he’s running towards the opponents goal and not diving about.  David Silva – yeah, he’s not bad either… oh… and Joe Hart…. And Lampard… shit, shall we go home?

It’s been a week or so of nauseating Sky Sports led, jerking off over a player leaving the English game.  That of course was Steven Gerrard who was leaving mid-table Fucking Liverpool.  A more deserving case is Frank Lampard who has been competing at the very top end of the English game for just as long and with considerably more success.  He’ll score today – he always does against us.  The week for Saints has been relatively quiet with all the right noises being made about going for the win today to give us a chance of finishing 5th as opposed to the 7th we currently occupy.  There is also the small matter of finishing above the Spurs and Liverpool twats.

We’ve had our award night this week with José Fonte carrying off both the Players and Supporters Awards.  Other winners were Big Vic getting the Presidents Award, Matty Targett getting the Young Player Award and Shane Long getting goal of the season for his long ranger against Villa last week.  For me, Graziano against QPR should have walked it.  Not only was it a fantastic goal but it won us three points whereas Long’s, though a great strike, was the 5th goal in a 6-1 win.

Having won 6-1 last week I was expecting an unchanged team aside from Superkelv coming back in for Gazza to give him his 300th appearance.  A move like this could find you accused of sentimentality as Gazza played well last week but there really is not much between them so it's not really a problem.  It was a surprise however, to see Filip Djuricic starting the game and JWP relegated to the bench.  Even before the game has started we look lightweight in midfield with basically 4 strikers on the pitch.  I guess we cannot be accused to not going for it.  J-Rod has made the trip to the ground where he cocked his knee up but he’s not made the bench with the club deciding wisely not to risk anything and that a full pre-season before starting games is a better idea.

We start really well and after a minute or so, Pellé nicely plays in Djuricic on the left and he beats di Michelis who just trashes him.  Remarkably, considering that we’re away to a big team, the referee Chris Foy gets the book out straight away.  Foy is refereeing his last game today before retiring.  He’s 52 but looks about 72.  With no JWP in the side, it’s Davis on the free kicks and he swings it in way too high and Hart punches it out to the opposite wing.

We carve out a great chance soon after and again it’s Pellè who plays it to Shane Long who nicks it past Zabaleta and is clean through on Hart.  He opens his body out and tries to curl it past him but succeeds only in half hitting it straight at him.  It sums up Shane perfectly.  Can score from 40 yards but when you really need him to score from 10 yards… no.

We are of course not going to have things all our own way and we are going to have to ride our luck at some point.  This we do on a couple of occasions as Steve Davis gives the ball away to Yaya who gets tackled but the ball finds its way through to Aguero who slams it wide when he really should have scored.  Next up is a real let off as Yaya cuts along the top of the box fro the left and hammers a shot straight at Superkelv which he totally fails to deal with and flaps it straight to Aguero.  His shot is expertly clawed away by Davis who got up so quickly to get away from the smell where he shat in his shorts when he dropped the first shot.  The rebound is still live but Aguero swings at it and slams it wide.  He’s shit isn’t he?

Saints are looking decent through midfield and on the half hour we carve out an opening as Djuricic feeds Pellè who finds Big Vic about 20 yards out.  Instead of shooting which he should have done, the big man feeds Long on the right whose cross is easily punched clear by Hart and Yaya Toure is now galloping up the pitch as we desperately try and get back.  Pass, pass, pass, Silval out to Milner on their right, a low cross and slammed into the roof of the net first time by Lampard.  It really is a good clinical goal and a perfect example of playing on the break.  Wankers.

Having taken the lead, City look to bury us and Silval immediately puts Aguero through against Davis but once more, the pensioner spreads himself to block the shot as Aguero proves that he’s just a shit Shane Long.  Talking of Long – well he gets himself on the end of a Clyne cross after Big Vic has run over Silva to win the ball.  The momentary excitement as he met the cross was immediately killed by the offside flag.  Needless to say – it missed anyway.

Having let Yaya gallop up the pitch once, we decide to give it another go as Bertrand plays a weak ball inside which gets picked off and we are treated to Yaya vs Vic as they hare towards our goal.  The balll again finds its way to Aguero who this time gets tackled by Alderweireld before he can shoot and Davis takes off again to tip the resulting deflection round the post.

As half time approaches we create our best chance.  Djuricic plays a beautifull weighted ball through to Long who makes a mess of it and it bounces off his heel to Pellè about 15 yards out.  He takes a big swings and slams it wide. Fuck it.  Half time is here ans so is the news that Fucking Spurs are winning at Everton and get this; Stoke 5 Liverpool 0.  Enjoying yourself are you Rodgers – you smug twat.  All in all though, it means that we have to win this to have any chance of moving up a place.

We are certainly going for it as the second half starts as Mané is off down the left and crosses behind Pellè who tries a ridiculous diving back-heeled effort which flies over the bar.  In truth he’d have been better off leaving it as there were players in the box.  Graziano is a big beautiful bastard but he has a bad 10 minutes where he manages to get caught offside four times which is ridiculous.  None of them were even close either.  We’re having all the play and some delightful stuff between Mané, Djuricic and Davis ends with Long crossing and Pellè being 10 yards offside. It’s a bit like watching Under 10’s playing offside for the first time where there’s always one kid who just doesn’t get it.

It’s time for a change and predictably it’s JWP on for Djuricic with City sending on £28 million worth of Wilfried Bony on for Yaya Toure.  We have another great chance as Clyney plays a great ball to JWP who turns and runs before teeing up Long who rolls his shot straight at Hart is rolling-eyed shite fashion.  Shane did however cost a lot less than Bony who picks up the ball thirty yards out and just passes it straight off the pitch in a display of complete crapness.  Weird – there wasn’t a player within 30 yards.

One of my main criticisms of Saints this year is that we haven’t got enough good crosses in to Graziano who is a superb header of the ball.  Today’s variation happens when JWP has a shot blocked out to Long who feeds Bertrand who fires over a wonderful cross…. to Sadio Mané who can’t head a ball for shit.  He’s all on his own and 8 yards out but it comes off his nose and bounces apologetically to Hart who makes another save a few minutes later as Long speeds past the lumbering di Michelis before shitting a left footed effort along the ground for Hart to fall on easily.

It’s sub time as Lampard retires to be replaced with Navas, Kimpany comes on for Milner and Elia is on for Davis for us. Kompany must be playing really badly to be benched in favour of Mangala and di Michelis and he immediately fannies around in the box and hesitates to clear and if we’d been alert it might have got interesting.

We are playing with four right up front now so we’re going to give chances up but as long as they fall to Bony then we’ll be ok as he lashes one miles over the bar.  Though he’s been off target today as well, Aguero is a constant threat though and he runs at Alderweireld who eventually gets a foot in to give City a corner.  The corner results in another corner as Bertrand blocks Aguero’s shot and we’re now into the last minute.

Over comes the corner from the other side and it ends up with Navas on our left.  He hammers it at goal as he’s closed down and the ball loops up off of Pellè and lands right on Mangala’s head at the back post and he has the simple job of nodding it across to where Aguero has the even simpler job of nodding into the empty net.  Fuck off, lucky bastards.  We have one more attack which ends with a JWP cross, Long putting it over the bar and guess what – he was offside anyway.

As the final whistle goes, Fucking Spurs winning at Everton meant that we’d have had to have won here today to have moved up a place and qualify automatically for the Europa League so it was always unlikely.  You can always look back throughout a season and find results that should have gone your way but the away defeats recently as Stoke, Sunderland and Leicester have really made it very difficult for us.  We’ve finished 7th and to be honest, I’m delighted with that though it would have been sweeter to finish above one of Fucking Liverpool and Fucking Spurs.  I guess that you can also point to the fact that against these two Showers of Twats we’ve only managed one point.

I think we actually played quite well today for a game against one of the genuine big boys away from home but the difference in quality was there to see in the final third.  It’s not being harsh on Shane Long but if we swapped him for Aguero we’d have finished in the top 4 comfortably.  That’s the difference between us and them – that genuine World Class player.  You saw what having that player did for Liverpool last year and how they’ve fared without him.  Oh yeah – they ended the season getting mullered 6-1 at Stoke and the media finally seem to be getting on Rodgers case and bringing up all his old smug quotes.  Serves the twat right.  The old ‘lost the dressing room’ phrase comes to mind.

So – all eyes will be on Wembley on Saturday to see if Arsenal win the FA Cup.  The good news is that Villa lost again today without scoring and Arsenal broke their recent goal drought by smashing four past West Brom with ex-Saint Theo Walcott being played as a striker and scoring a hat-trick.  Surely they are going to have too much for a pretty average Villa side and it’s interesting that Wenger is obviously thinking of playing Walcott up front against Villa, a week after our more pacy forwards ripped Villa to shreds.  I wonder if Captain Bellend will play the high defensive line again.  Let’s hope so.

Even if Arsenal fail and we don’t qualify for Europe – it’s still been a brilliant season and another improvement on last year which I quite confidently predicted would not happen at the start of the year.  If Arsenal do the business though, then we’ll be in action with a Europa League qualifying round before the season starts.  Up until the Cup Final though, we have a week of rumour mill and Morgan Schneiderlin again shooting his mouth off in the French media.  I won’t miss that if he goes.  If he does go then I trust Ronald Koeman to find a suitable replacement.

Remember – whoever leaves – we march on!

PS – Remember – Come on You Gunners!

PPS – Remember – Brendan Rodgers is a smug twat!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Premier League Match 37 - Southampton 6 Aston Villa 1

All Hail The Power of the Stripe

The renaissance of Aston Villa under Captain Bellend has been quite remarkable in that he took over from Paul Lambert when the Villa owner realised that he was one of the worst mangers ever which was something that had been obvious to everyone else for about two years.  Captain Tim Bellend Sherwood (to give him his full name) is not my idea of a decent manager but his affect on Villa can’t be denied as they are now in touching distance of safety and are scoring some goals, which is something Paul Lambert seemed hell bent on doing without, with his 9-0-Seventy yards-1 formations which he employed both home and away, regardless of the opposition.  The 1 up front was usually Christian Benteke who had scored about 2 goals all season until Bellend came in and now he’s scored 10 in the last 9 games or something like that.  They confirm survival if they win today so we’ll have to be up for it cos despite having an FA Cup Final to play in a couple of weeks, Villa certainly will be.

It’s been a good week at SFC since the Leicester shambles.  The most significant news is that Jay Rodriguez has signed a new contract meaning that all the ‘done deal to Man City / Liverpool / Spurs’ stories were shite all along.  This is great news because not only does it give us a new and very good striker next season, it shows that the club is a good place to be to anyone potential wantaways.  There has to come a point when every player must look at those who have left and how their careers have without exception, gone downhill and wonder if it is in fact better to stay put.  No doubt buoyed by the news of J-Rod signing up, Les Reed has gone to print saying that the Clyne contract negotiations are in a good place as well and we’ll know pretty soon.  I’d accepted that he was going but I’m beginning to think positively that there might be a chance that he’ll stay.

The media department released a very amusing video featuring a Dr Barry Gale and his #showyourstripes campaign.  With various first teamers and club staff joining in it was quite a cool thing to come out of the club and showed the club in a very good light as one that when the time is right, is prepared to show a different non-serious side.  The video was all part of the unveiling of next years home strip which is a decent looking shirt – however, we are back with adidas so it’s one of their template jobs.  It’s better than that all red monstrosity from 2013/14 but you’re left with the feeling that adidas really haven’t put too much thought into it.  Still, I’m not one to get too hot under the collar about kit.

Something had to give following the Leicester defeat and JWP and Shane Long were recalled in place of Elia and Reed with Morgan not fit to return and J-Rod still not fit enough for the bench.  Villa had more or less their first choice side aside from having Hutton at left back when he’s a right back.  They have Tom Cleverley in midfield who is shite but he’s had a couple of half decent game recently so there are rumours kicking round that he’ll be back in the England squad soon.  Nothing would surprise me with Roy Hodgson.  Didn’t he compare Cleverley with Fabregas?  Senile old goat.

Straight from the kick off we’re looking good and Villa are looking a bit ropey at the back.  A ball comes in from the right, behind the defence and Graziano is through and finishes it superbly first time before anyone realises that the flag has gone up.  On first viewing it looked like Long was the one in the offside position but he was miles away from the ball so not active.  Graziano has gone over to have a good old Mamma Mia at the linesman and later replays proved he was dead right as he was a good two yards onside.  Shite decision.
Villa’s high defensive line is so easy to breach because the defenders are slow, our forwards are quick and the Villa midfield is not closing down the ball carrier, in this case Bertrand whose long ball puts Graziano through.  He should square it to JWP but he shoots, forcing Given into a decent low save.

We were nearly made to pay for that miss (and the shit linesman) straight afterwards as Villa’s first attack saw Benteke played in.  Gazza came, stopped, then went again and Benteke got there first and poked it wide of the near post.  Not a great start by Gazza who would have got there first if he’d just gone for it.  Mind you, diving at Benteke’s feet is a bit like diving in front of a lorry.

It’s a fairly even game as we reach the 15 minute mark but what happened in the next few minutes was absolutely mad.  Some nice build up play ends with Graziano flicking the ball through the defence into the path of Mané who easily knocks Hutton out of the way before poking a shot at the onrushing Given.  It bounces off the keeper and off of Sadio and lands perfectly for him to just roll it into the net for 1-0.  Get in!

Villa’s defending was atrocious for the goal and straight from the kick off we win the ball back and attack down the right.  Vlaar decides it’s a good idea to play a blind back pass to Given and he’s taken by surprise by Long appearing from nowhere to challenge him.  It looks like a foul on Long but the ball bounces free to give Sadio another tap in to make it 2-0.  The rather large contingent of vociferous Villa fans in fancy dress have suddenly become a large contingent of mute fans wishing they looked inconspiculous.

If two goals in two minutes wasn’t enough for anyone, we win the ball back from the kick off on the left hand side and Shane Lang plays a superb 1-2 with Bertrand and he’s off down the wing with Bacuna and Cleverley, who are supposed to be on that side, completely absent.  Long races to the edge of the penalty area and squares it to Mané who has half the pitch to himself and he sidefoots it right footed, curling away from Given and into the net for 3-0 and a 3 minute hat-trick.  It’s fucking unbelievable.

There’s then a great chance for 4-0 as Fonte goes over the top and JWP is through but he delays his shot too long and clips is straight to Given at head height when a ball inside would have left Graziano with a tap in.

Villa are shot to shit and it gives Jack Grealish a chance to show what he’s all about which is basically the full repertoire of diving, throwing his arms up in the air at the ref and team-mates and when he is actually fouled, waving imaginary cards about.  Utter wanker.  He’s had a bit of positive press recently but you’ve done fuck all in the game son so I hope someone has a word with him.  Captain Bellend perhaps.  Whilst Grealish is testing out my ability to not swear in the family centre, I’m amused by a bloke turning up and sitting behind me and wondering what he’s missed.  Very funny.

At least the latecomer didn’t have too long to wait for a goal and another duly arrives as Mané picks up the ball on the right and slots a lovely ball behind the defence to Graziano.  His shot is well saved by the foot of Given but the keeper gets unlucky as it rolls straight to Long who knocks it into the empty net for 4-0.

There’s then a period of about 10 minutes without a goal before unbelievably, it’s 5-0.  Villa are knocking the ball about and having a bit of possession but Long catches the useless Westwood with the ball about 40 yards out and looks up, spots Given off his land and just lashes it over his head and straight into the roof of the net for 5-0.  This raises the roof and a large swathe of Villa fans decide it’s time to go to the refreshment stalls.  We’ve run out of the nooses we used to sell – the Sunderland fans bought them all.  There is a glorious shot on the big screen of Captain Bellend with his face in his hands which gets one of the biggest cheers of the day.

Just before half time there is the most under celebrated goal that St Mary’s has ever seen as Bacuna gets down our left and swings over a cross.  Benteke is up early and his hands on José Fonte’s shoulders prevent him from jumping and the big Belgian buries the header with Gazza having no chance.  Soon after, one of the most incredibly halves of football I’ve ever seen came to an end.

The half time break was spent listening to a live interview with Barry Gale in which he predicted an 11-1 win due to the power of the stripe and getting conformation that Sadio’s hat-trick is the quickest one ever in the Premier League and it’s broken the Robbie Fowler record that everyone thought would last forever.

Captain Bellend’s tactical adjustments for the second half include not playing with a left back.  I think that Hutton is supposed to be playing there but he’s kind of tucked in like a 3rd centre back and Mané and Clyne are firing over crosses at will which we totally fail to get on the end of.  From one such cross we win a corner which is expertly delivered by JWP and flicked on by Fonte and Long sticks out a boot but can’t make contact.

Apart from the flurry of corners, Saints seem happy to sit back and let Villa have the ball and do nothing with it.  It’s odd how getting pegged back to 5-1 can make you cautious whereas a 5-0 lead would have possibly led to a rout of Sunderland proportions.  Yoshida is on for Davis with Toby pushed into midfield alongside Big Vic as Ronald attempts to control the midfield even more.  Toby’s presence allows Big Vic to go and enjoy himself and he’s charging forward now and retrieving a Clyne cross on the goal line and feeding it back to Pellè whose shot iis deflected over the bar.  JWP;s corner is perfect and straight onto the head of Yoshida whose marker, the hopeless Westwood has obligingly fallen on his arse.  He powers the header goalwards but Given defies his 57 years and spectacularly claws it away.

Little twat Grealish is off and Agbonlahor is on and amazingly, Bellend decides that Bacuna has been worse than Hutton and takes him off, bringing on Lowton at left back and giving Hutton the chance to prove that he’s shit on either side of the pitch.  Meanwhile, Agbonlahor is making that face like a bulldog chewing a wasp whilst simultaneously licking piss off a stinging nettle.

Filip Djuricic is on for JWP \nd his first involvement is to drive forward with the ball and feed Mané who gives it back to him and Djuricic backheels a lovely ball behind Lowton to where Mané fires in a right footed first time cross and Pellè meets it on the volley and crashes it into the roof of the net.  Is this the best goal of the game or was it the 5th… or the 3rd.  Who cares?  It’s a brilliant goal again.

Off goes Graziano to be replaced with Eljero Elia but we’re done with attacking now as Villa have possession.  They manage to carve out a decent chance for Agbonlahor that Gazza gets down well to save and the same player shanks an opportunity a coupe of minutes later but Gazza is again up to the task.  Finall whistle. Easy.

Captain Tim Bellend Sherwood has won a lot of plaudits this season for the rescue job he’s done with Villa and getting them to the FA Cup final and deservedly so.  I think today severely showed up him limitations as he persisted with the high defensive line that got consistently shredded by the pace of Long and Mané and the guile of Pellé.  It’s not hard to chip a ball into a fucking great space and let a quick guy run onto it.  OK, he couldn’t have done much in between Sadio’s 3 goals but to persist with that tactic was insane.  Villa have improved by closing the distance down between Benteke and the rest of the players but playing a high line against quick forwards is going to get you nowhere.  Somewhere, Arsene Wenger is smiling at the prospect of the FA Cup Final.

As a team today, we were superb with all areas of the team meshing well to complete the performance.  Starting at the back and I have to say that Gazzaniga had a good game.  He saved everything he should have saved and took a couple of crosses well.  I know this is all standard stuff for a keeper but this is Gazza we’re talking about.  I would still be horrified if we started next season with one of him or Superkelv in goal but today he was decent aside from that one slight hesitancy in the first couple of minutes.  The back 4 coped well with Benteke which was made easier by the lack of service into him as both N’Zogbia and Grealish were complete shit, made to look so by the defensive work of Clyney and Bertrand.  José will be a bit disappointed to get outjumped for the goal like that but in the main both he and Alderweireld were their usual excellent selves.  I really hope that this is not the last time we see Toby at St Mary’s.  the midfield showed that there may be life after Morgan with Big Vic anchoring strongly and Davis and JWP putting in the hard yards.  If JWP can add a little bit of steel to his game (like Morgan has as he’s got older) then we’ll have a serious player for the media to like with all the big clubs.  The front three were superb, aided and abetted by Villa’s ludicrous high defensive line and performances that were as bad as you’ll ever see from Okore, Vlaar and Hutton in particular.  Mané, Long and Pellè all had field days and all three showed their value today.  Ronald Koeman of course was delighted, if a little surprised at how the game had panned out.

As the lap of appreciation snaked round the pitch, it was good to see Fraser Forster, Morgan and J-Rod out there.  Let’s hope we see all of them on the pitch in Saints colours soon.  I didn’t spot anyone doing the Lallana badge kissing wanker bit so that has to be a good sign I guess.

In our mini-league, Swansea lost to Man City so they can no longer catch us. Also losing were Fucking Liverpool who blew Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield was getting humped 3-1 by Palace in a game where Dejan Lovren again looked like someone who had never played football before as Yannick Bolasie handed him a new arsehole time after time.  Fucking Spurs unfortunately beat Hull 2-0 so going into the last game, Fucking Liverpool are 5th, a point ahead of Fucking Spurs and we’re another point further back.  Basically, unless we get a point at City then we’re finishing 7th and will be hoping that the same Villa as today turn up to the FA Cup Final and get dicked by Arsenal.  Hull’s defeat today meant that Villa were guaranteed to stay up.  Well done lads.

I said last week that today’s game was important, not only for qualifying for Europe but also for the general feel of things going into the summer.  Whatever test, we were trying to pass, we did it with flying colours.  Stripes of course Dr.Gale. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Premier League Match 36 - Leicester 2 Southampton 0

Groundhog Day... all over the place

The threat of relegation can do strange things to a team.  In Leicester City’s case it’s made them win matches and insult journalists on a regular basis.  Both should be applauded really.  Ex-Saints manager Nigel Pearson has masterminded both the wins and the insults and he’ll be celebrating another win unless Saints can play a hell of a lot better than they have in the last few away games.  Are you as ostrich?

We didn’t appeal the red card given to JWP last weekend which seems odd to me as it was almost universally thought that it wasn’t even a foul, let alone a red card.  In a season where we’ve been involved in the West Ham goalkeeper Adrian getting a clear red card overturned and Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic getting a game knocked off for allowable retaliation, maybe we think the system so random that JWP could have had his ban increased to 6 months for a frivolous appeal on the grounds that we are not based in London.

“In goal, Paolo Gazzaniga” – what?.  My first reaction was one of complete horror as memories of all his previous appearances for the first team came back to haunt me.  Oddly enough though, last week I was thinking that it maybe was time to give Gazza another go.  Superkelv is obviously, being 54, coming to the end of his career and he’s not exactly adding much to the performances of late so why not.  Gazza has been playing regularly for the Under-21s so he’ll have a bit of confidence so why not?

Elsewhere, the team is more or less exactly how I wanted it to be.  Harrison Reed starts in midfield alongside Big Vic and Toby Alderweireld is back in defence where he belongs alongside José Fonte.  Shane Long is benched (his best position) and Eljero Elia is in to try and give a compelling argument for us taking him on in the summer.  Another with the same problem is Filip Djuricic who is on the bench.

A feature of Leicester in the past few weeks has been the blistering starts and we seemed to be coping ok, having most of the ball in the first five minutes.  From Leicester’s first attack however, Toby is forced to give away a corner and the ball into the box is met by Huth but it flies over.  Leicester only need one more sight of our goal to take the lead in depressing manner.  A throw in goes to Mahrez who seems to mis-control it and gives Steve Davis a 70-30 advantage in the tackle.  Instead of clearing everything out, Davis tries to dink the ball over Mahrez foot and loses it.  Harry Reed has lost him as well and he strolls between them and pings a shot between José Fonte’s legs and past Gazza and into the corner.  From a defensive point of view, this is a nightmare goal.

Ten minutes of nothing go by with Saints having a lot of possession and doing precisely nothing with it.  Leicester attack again by Fonte wins the ball and knocks it back to Gazza to clear. He shanks it about 10 yards and loops it up in the air and the ball breaks to Vardy.  We’re in panic mode and all over the place at the back.  Toby and José both close the ball down and Vardy’s cross finds Mahrez all alone and 6 yards out. 2-0, 19 minutes gone.  Utter, utter wank.  This one is 95% down to Gazzaniga and it’s taken all of 19 minutes to prove what we’ve known all along – he isn’t good enough.  I know anyone can shank a kick (Superkelv did it a week or so ago and José bailed him out) but it always seems somehow inevitable when the Argentine is between the sticks.  He does however have nice hair which sadly doesn’t make up for the fact that he isn’t very good.

There’s a long injury break as James knackers himself as Bertrand goes past him with the disappointing thing from out point of view being that Bertrand’s excellent run and pull back came to nothing.  Eventually, James is replaced with Drinkwater.  We are not taking advantage of any disruption there might have been for Leicester and we have long periods in front of Leicester and get precisely nowhere.  Mané heads over the bar after a Clyne cross is half cleared, and then headed back across by Steve Davis. The next decent chance again falls to Leicester as Mahrez puts Vardy clean through but he lived up to his billing of not being a particularly good finisher and Gazza came out and blocked as Vardy half hit the shot.

Right on half time we get a free kick 30 yards out when Big Vic is fouled and Toby Alderweireld smashes it on target but Schmeichel comfortably tips it over.  Half time and what a load of shit.  Leicester didn’t havw to work too hard for what will no doubt be a match winning lead and we’ve attacked with no purpose whatsoever.

After half time we come out with a bit more urgency but still don’t create much in the first 20 minutes.  Djuricic and Long are on for Davis and Elia and the on-loan Serbian sets up Mané with a decent bit of skill for Sadio to curl a nice effort goalwards but Schmeichel was again equal to it.  And that my friends was just about that.  The game was played out with Cambiasso nearly making it 3-0 but instead hitting the side netting.  Miraculously, David Tosser Nugent came on as a sub and didn’t score but there was a welcome Leicester sub as Dean Hammond came on for the last 15 minutes and took the time at the end to come over to the Saints fans.  That was probably the highlight of the day which kind of tells you something.

The opening line of this blog was about how the threat of relegation can do strange things to a team – so it seems does the prospect of playing in the Europa League.  Today is the first game where you could look at various players at various points and wonder if they really want it for the club or are they just looking out for themselves.  The Manager (unlike Pochettino at Spurs) obviously really wants it and I felt sorry for Ronald Koeman today.  Most fans were calling for Toby Alderweireld to move back to defence and for Harry Reed to be given a start and that’s what we got but it made no difference to the performance.

Most people were not calling for Gazzaniga in goal however and it has to be said that he threw in his usual performance including having a major hand in throwing away a goal.  He’s simply not good enough.  He’s League 1 standard and Superkelv in Championship standard and we’ve known this for three years.  With both him and Superkelv I always have 90 minutes of just hoping they get through the game without making a complete bollocks of something.  I’ve said this before but you have to wonder how bad Cody Cropper is if he can’t get ahead of Gazzaniga in the pecking order.  Ronald Koeman said afterwards that he needed to look at Gazzaniga as he weighs up what to do with the Fraser injury situation for next season.  I get that but I and most other Saints fans could have told him that Gazzaniga is not good enough yet and won’t be good enough by the time August rolls round.  You could argue that it sends out the wrong message in ‘trying out’ a player but would Superkelv in goal today have made any difference?  No it wouldn’t have.

Do the players not care or are they just knackered?  One theory is that they were all up for it whilst we were still in with a shout of the Champions League placings and once that went then they all realised how tired they were.  Personally I think they’re just knackered and the squad is too small for an entire season competing at the top end of the league.  When it became obvious that nothing was happening in this match I found myself thinking about how much we’re missing Jack Cork as a good player who came into the team when others were unavailable and did a great job.  Steve Davis for example has been right off for about a month now and Jack could have done a great job there.  I hope that for next season that we bring in more players than we lose – last year we replaced the players we lost but we needed to bring in about 4 more, numbers wise.  I understand why we didn’t because if you bring in 10 or 11 new players then it becomes impossible to integrate everyone and you become QPR under Harry Redknapp.

Speaking of QPR, they and Burnley got relegated this weekend.  One will be missed and will carry a lot of goodwill with them and most people will hope they do well next year – the other is QPR who will carry a massive squad of overpaid shite and the prospect of a massive fine for breaching the Financial Fair Play rules.  This may seem harsh but they cheated (that’s what it is) in their last season in the Championship and got promoted off of the back of it. Good riddance.  Chris Ramsay has done his best with the shower of shit left to him by Redknapp.  It’s Harry’s relegation and it’s worse than the one he couldn’t be arsed about when he took us down in 2005.  He said at the time that we were fucked when he took over and to an extent he was right but QPR were fucked when he left and he can’t have it both ways.  I’m sure he will though, the complete Ballbag.

At our end of the table, Fucking Liverpool got a decent draw at Chelsea who are on the beach and Fucking Spurs got gubbed 3-0 at Stoke as Pochettino plays the game of sticking two fingers up to the Europa Legue in the hope he gets given another season to try and get Spurs in the top 4.  The perfect scenario would be for us to finish 6th, them 7th and then Arsenal win the FA Cup so that Spurs’ big North London rivals screw them up next year as well as finishing above them.  Talking of Arsenal... well they went and lost to Swansea on Monday night so we are now in a 3 way fight for 6th, 7th and 8th.

With two games left of the season, the home one with Villa has now become the most important game of the season.  Lose that and we’re finishing 8th and not qualifying for Europe.  This game also has significance also as it will define the mood of the summer to some extent.  Whether we finish, 6th, 7th or even 8th – the season will be seen as a success bearing in mind the expectations before Koeman came in.  However, we’ve had a poor end to the season and losing to Villa before an incredibly tough last game at City would put a bit of a dampener on things.  Villa are one of the form teams as well but hopefully they’ll have one eye on the FA Cup Final in a few weeks.

All in all, not a good weekend....

Monday, May 4, 2015

Premier League Match 35 - Sunderland 2 Southampton 1

Bollocks, revisited.

When we looked at the fixture list a while back, successive away games at West Brom, Everton, Stoke and Sunderland looked like a chance to get some serious points on the board when we were still playing like a side who might qualify for the Champions League.  The first three of those games have passed and we’ve got precisely zero points from them despite the opposition being decidedly average in all of them.  Sunderland have been a very amusing team to watch from afar this season as under our old mate Gus Poyet they fell to a number of complete hammerings where they basically went a goal behind and then gave up, never more so of course than at St Mary’s where we beat them 8-0.  I would settle for 1-0 today.

Gus of course got sacked which was amusing, as was he game that preceded it when he got the obligatory fan exodus at half time with one of them getting along the touchline far enough to throw a season ticket at him.  Whether said fan would have applied for a new copy when Dick Advocaaat took over is another thing.  He’s managed to mastermind a win over Newcastle which, let’s face it, a small child could do but they’re in the relegation zone and have three games left after this one to save themselves.

There appears to be a new deadline for Nathaniel Clyne to sign a new contract and it’s in 10 days time.  Personally I would be amazed if he’s here next season even though both Ronald Koeman and Les Reed have said that talks are going well and that the player is happy.  Reed also set us our new 5 year target which is to be in the Champions League…. Well, all you can say is that the last 5 year plan worked out fine and I would settle for getting there before Fucking Liverpool or Fucking Spurs.  Probably the best news of the week though was that Jay Rodriguez made it back out onto the training pitch which is just as well as his Dad has been tweeting newspaper stories about Man City wanting to buy him.  You will get a tirade on here of monumental proportions if he leaves in the summer.

To today and we have no Morgan as he’s done his knee.  It’s not too serious but he’ll be out for the rest of the season but never fear…. Big Vic is here, back from his two game suspension.  Steve Davis pays the price for not being able to shoot straight and is replaced by Shane Long with JWP keeping his place.  There is a return to the bench for Filip Djuricic who has got fit enough to return to complete his underwhelming loan spell.  Advocaat has changed this Sunderland side and Danny Graham is in it.  Graham scored a few goals for Swansea about 5 years ago and has not scored since.  He’s up front with Jermain Defoe.  I have no real evidence to back this opinion up but I’ve always thought he’s a right twat.  I’m trying to remember why I think that.  They have John O’Shea in defence who during a 4-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace, gave one of the worst displays of defending I’ve ever seen.  He will be climbing all over Graziano from minute 1 so we need a decent referee today and we’ve got Mike Jones who I’ve not really got an opinion about.  Sunderland have Noncin’ Johnson on the bench.  With the coaching staff having laptops and ipads now, I wonder if Johnson is allowed to go within 10 yards of one at the moment.

An decent start for us as we win a corner following good work by JWP and Clyney.  The kick is headed clear to Big Vic who hits row shit with his shot.  Sunderland get on the front foot.  Firstly, Larsoon stops chewing that wasp he’s always got in his mouth and swings over a free kick from the left which Jones heads down and straight at Superkelv.  Following us giving the ball away, Graham has a half chance but he lashes it over the bar and his 37 year wait for a goal goes on.

We are producing absolutely nothing and it’s already looking like one of ‘those’ away performances.  If we can sneak a goal from somewhere and get ahead then Sunderland might capitulate as normal.  However, taking the lead is not on the menu on 19 minutes as a ball gets bombed forwards, Yoshida manages to head it straight up in the air and José Fonte jumps to volley it clear but Graham has come from his blindside and José has kicked him in the head.  Mike Jones points to the spo as soon as you like and then has to ignore Larsson who is pleading for a red card like the horrible little fucker that he is.  Cattermole then decides to take up the ‘get him sent off’ challenge and has veins bulging out of his head as he harangues the referee.  By definition, if it’s Danny Graham then it’s not a goalscoring chance and there’s no way he was going to catch his own header.  Once the Sunderland players had stopped being cunts, Jordi Gomez stepped up and passed it into the corner.  As it hit the net, Superkelv managed a half arsed dive.  Shit, 1-0.

Straight from the kick off we work the ball to the player who Sunderland tried to get sent off and he launched it forwards towards Graziano but out came Pantillimon and was going to catch it easily until Billy Jones took him out in mid-air, forcing the giant keeper to drop it at Sadio Mané’s feet and he tucked it into the empty net.  Have that you fuckers! 1-1.  Pantillimon has taken out O’Shea as well so he’s off.  On the one hand it’s bad news because he can be a liability but on the toher hand, Vergini is on and we all remember his superb own goal at St Mary’s.

The equaliser has temporarily masked the fact that we’ve been shit but we do create another chance soon after as a superb Alderweireld pass with the outsie of his bot, finds Bertrand whose fizzed cross is just behind Graziano and though he gets his head to it, he can’t direct it properly and it flies over the bar.  Sunderland are soon back on the attack with Van Aanholt feeding Wickham who shites a sidefot shot way over the bar.  We do have an attack which ends with the ball sitting up nicely for Clyney but his volley flies comfortably wide.  In the main though it’s Sunderland with Wickham, Defoe and Graham all being denied in the same incident by a combination of flailing defenders and goalkeeper and generally not being very good.  The final chance of the half is from a free kick by the wasp chewer which is straight at Superkelv and he looks every one of the 54 years as he gets down to push it away.  Half time and we’ve been utter bollocks.  The missing Morgan and Davis have been severely missed and the team is not knitting together at all.

With Shane Long having done nothing, it’s not surprise that he’s off at half time and I expected Davis to be jogging onto the field but instead it’s Djuricic.  Really?  It’s almost a masterstoke on 50 minutes though as a genius Vergini tries to pass out of defence before realising that he’s shit and gives to ball straight to Djuricic who takes a decent first touch to make space and then lashes a hopeless effort high and wide.

A pass from Bertrand to JWP catches him on his heels and Cattermole is in and driving upfield.  His pass puts Graham away on the right and he pisses past Yoshida.  Yoshida then gets half a tackle in but it’s a real namby effort and the ball is passed in to Defoe who should hit it first time but his touch is bad and in comes JWP, down goes Defoe, Yoshida hacks clear, penalty again given by the sprinting ref Mike Jones who manages to get the red card out whilst sprinting and JWP is off despite Yoshida covering.  Up steps Gomez, opposite corner, 2-1.

With 10 men we start playing. Clyney gets down the right and beats van Aanholt before corssing to Pellè whose shot  hits the sliding Coates on the arm which he’s waving about over his head but there’s no way that’s going to get given and predictably it isn’t.  Sunderland aren’t a threat at all for the rest of the game and it’s just a case of whether we can score or not.  Steve Davis is finally brought on for Big Vic and Elia is on for Mané who was kicked out of the game by Cattermole, all after he’d been booked for trashing Alderweireld.  Sunderland meanwhile have brought on Rodwell and Noncin’ Johnson who I cannot believe is in the squad, let alone on the pitch.  As we reach the 88th minute, a Davis cross from the left finds its way to Young Mr Bean but Djuricic’ shot is blocked and bounced up kindly for Pantillimon.

Sunderland are clearly bricking it as the game ticks down.  Vergini is trying to be calm and dribbles it into his own corner under pressure from Pellè before trying a stupid backheel which Pellè controls and passes to Clyne.  His low cross is met sweetly first time by Alderweireld but his shot is too close to Pantilliumon who blocks well.  Full time and fuck off.

Well … shit.  Again.  Another all too familiar away defeat.  This time we had a red card thrown into the mix as well but that kind of masks the piss poor performance we put in against a piss poor Sunderland side which will still be relegated despite today.  They got lucky today though.  It seems to be a season where no penalties are given but they got two today and they weren’t going to score any other way.  I have no complaints for the first penalty.  José has gone to volley it clear when the ball is six foot off the ground and Graham has got there first and he’s wellied him in the head.  The second penalty is debateable though as Defoe’s tough has taken the ball away from him and JWP has turned, got his body in between Defoe and the ball.  Defoe has then kicked the back of JWP’s leg and gone down.  The fucking ref couldn’t wait to get the red card out either and Maya was clearly covering as Defoe’s shite touch had taken the ball towards him.  Looks to me that Jones bought the pressure brought on him by Cattermole and Larsson to send Fonte off for the first penalty.  Utter helmets all three of them.  It’s not the red card that meant we lost though but the penalty is.  Do you reckon Sunderland would have scored from open play?  We definitely got he shitty end of the stick with the referee today as Sunderland were allowed to more or less do what they liked.

Unlike me, Koeman is a gentleman and preferred to focus on how we could be decent with ten men but poor with eleven.  I did question before the game how decent a midfield three of Vic, Toby and JWP was going to be and Shane Long for me just doesn’t warrant a starting place.  It’s slo noticeable that we’ve let in two goals in our last 3 matches.  Obviously, we have a geriatric keeper in goal but we’ve tried to fix a problem in midfield with either Vic or Morgan being unavailable, by disrupting the previously best defence in the country and playing Toby in midfield.  We do not look as solid with Maya at the back and if you want to be hyper critical, Maya has had a hand in the last 3 goals we’ve conceded.  Harrison Reed needs to start if one of Big Vic or Morgan is missing.  Failing that we should pay JWP as a holding midfielder, failing that Steve Davis as a holding midfielder.

The away for that was so goo up until recently has now gone to shit as we succumb to a succession of narrow defeats.  In the race for 5th, we didn’t lose as much ground as we could have done with Fucking Liverpool predictably beating QPR but needing an 87th minute winner after a red card for QPR to do so.  Fucking Spurs on the toher hand lost to Man City so like I say – it could have been worse.  Slightly worrying though is that Swansea moved within 4 points of us in 8th.

Next up is another banana skin away game at Leicester who have won 5 out of the last 6.  Play like we did today and we’re going to get beat so we’d better hope for a good week on the training ground and a decent response on Saturday.  We want to see Nigel Pearson completely losing the plot in his post match interview with maybe a warthog thrown in with the usual ostritch.