Friday, May 18, 2018

Do Look Back in Anger - Season Summary Part 2 - January - May

Do Look Back in Anger - Season Summary Part 2 - January - May 2018

A few paragraphs from the blogs on every game we played this season.

Spoiler: Most of it was shit.

If you got through Part 1 without feeling the need to lie down, .....  Part 2


Southampton 1 Crystal Palace 2
If Claude sacking was based on a feeling then I do wonder how he (Ralph) cannot have a feeling that Mauricio Pellegrino is totally out of his depth and/or a fucking idiot.

For the rest of the half we don’t do much.  Palace are fucking woeful but we seem content to just sit there and let the half play out.  You know because of this manager that this is exactly what he wants us to do.  Just sit back, be passive and try and win 1-0… against a very average side at home.

With us struggling to get anything going forward, and losing the midfield battle and losing in the physicality stakes, Pellegrino decides to match up Palace with 4-4-2, even though we don’t have the players to do this, especially when you take Hojbjerg off who a) has been our best midfielder by a mile and b) is one of the physical players

When it was 1-1, there was only one team that was going to go in front and they weren’t playing in red and white and once Palace went in front, there was no way on Gods green Earth that we were going to score. The managers part in this was to ensure that it happened, firstly by a lack of activity before the Palace equaliser and then some absolutely brainless shit once they scored.

Subsequently, we end up playing 4-4-2 with Redmond on to eventually put Tadic out of his misery and it’s the same four midfielders, Redmond, Romeu, Davis and Boufal that played when we went 4-4-2 against Burnley and Pellegrino said afterwards, that it doesn’t work with those four players because three of them are too small. Why not try it again then you fucking idiot.

Ralph can put as much Shiny Happy Motivational Bollockspeak as he likes around that and it won’t change a thing and nor will Virgil not being here any more.  Over to you Les – you have £75 million to spend and I suggest you do it quickly.  The only job to do before that is to get rid of the useless manager.

FA Cup 3rd Round - Fulham 0 Southampton 1
After several attempts, it appears the Pellegrino finally got what he wanted which was to score a goal in the first half and then defend and keep a clean sheet in the second half. It’s a shame we had to play against the Championship side in order to do it.

The negative from this game for me is that we decided to sit back again after an hour and spent the last half an hour just containing a very limited Fulham side and quite often, banging the ball forward to nobody

Watford 2 Southampton 2
We appear to be after a striker called Guido Carrillo who has played for Pellegrino before.  Carrillo might be a good player but the most worrying thing about this is that this implies Pellegrino is here to stay.

Shane puts on the burners and is gone, squaring to Tadic in the middle who superbly tees up the arriving JWP and our main goalscoring threat buries it under Gomes to put us 2-0 up.  What the fuck is happening here?

McCarthy has left the ball because Doucoure isn’t getting it and then the Watford man punches it into the net.  Well spotted Roger East and linesman. 2-2 and nail in the coffin and another Pellegrino master class.

I’m almost feeling completely numb about the whole thing.

I kind of just shrugged my shoulders because everyone could see it coming and you knew it was going to come. From the start of the second half, Saints just went further and further back with the manager not reacting to Watford’s change of shape and let’s be honest, it is not rocket science and once again, and opposition manager didn’t have to do anything particularly scientific to baffle our team and manager.

In no way should the VAR chat detract away from the fact that Pellegrino is fucking useless.  What other manager in the history of football makes two game changing substitutions in the 92nd minute. By game changing, I mean substitutes that are not designed to just waste time.

Southampton 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
There has been some acknowledgement that our position in the table may actually be putting off players from joining us. No shit Sherlock. It hasn’t been mentioned in the media but the fact that our manager is fucking useless may have something to do with it as well.

Overall, we played pretty well and made a very good Spurs side look pretty average. 

Kane simply outmuscled his marker, who was of course Jack Stephens and scored easily. For all his strength as a ball-playing defender, Jack Stephens is a fucking nightmare. You have to go back to the Hindenburg disaster to find something worse in the air than he is. 

We 100% percent need another centre half before the transfer window closes.

Today we had to bring on Michael Obafemi up front because we had no one else because Charlie Austin and Shane Long are injured and ill respectively and our next two strikers off the rank, Sam Gallagher and Ryan Seager are out on loan and Gallagher at least has no recall option.

We are now no wins in 11 and one win in 15 so it is still quite remarkable that Pellegrino still has a job.

FA Cup 4th Round - Southampton 1 Watford 0
Transfer window klaxon and Saints have actually signed someone with Guido Carrillo coming in from Monaco for £19.1 million.

When I say that we made it difficult for ourselves, I of course mean Pellegrino made it difficult for ourselves.

The substitution on the hour mark when you choose to take Boufal off and replace him with Yoshida was the most negative, pointless and nonsensical substitution from what is admittedly a pretty big catalogue of questionable substitutions that he has made since he’s been our manager. 

Nigel Adkins always used to say that it was best not to get too high when you win or to get to low when you lose. We have won today but because of Pellegrino, his substitutions and game management; there is absolutely no danger of getting too carried away with it.


Southampton 1 Brighton 1
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter why but it has not happened so our transfer window can be summed up like this. We have made about £50 million in profit on transfer fees, we have signed a striker that we needed four months ago, the wage bill has gone down and we didn’t replace the centre half who we probably knew we were going to sell from about the 1st of December.

(Against Brighton) you need a striker with a clever movement off the ball. If you want to have a fucking nightmare and achieve absolutely fucking nothing then you need Shane Long upfront and that’s what we got. Not only that, he picked an attacking midfield three of JWP, Steve Davis and Tadic. For fuck‘s sake.

The bench is like a Who’s Who of Southampton’s most expensive footballers. Mario Lemina, Guido Carrillo, Manolo Gabbiadini, Sofiane Boufal.

What a load of fucking shit. I really can’t be bothered to write much more. It has all been said before and it will all be set again unless Les does the one thing in his power that is not governed by a transfer window and sacks this useless pillock we have as a manager right now.

His team selections are crap, his substitutions are crap, his game management is crap, his ability to learn from his mistakes is crap and how many times do we have to hear that it’s a results business when we have only won 4 games out of 25 and this bloke who is completely out of his depth is still in charge.

Again, Pellegrino has gone 4-4-2 with Davo as one of the central midfielders.  It doesn’t work, it never has, it never will.

Pellegrino spends the whole game still in the technical area flapping his arms around. All we need is a branch of a tree in a mini to hit and he’d look like Basil Fawlty in a tracksuit. Fuck off Basil.

West Brom 2 Southampton 3
Get in there, we have finally won a fucking game and Pellegrino didn’t mess it up. It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination but it is all about the positives today. We have actually won a ‘must win’ game, we have won a six pointer away from home, scored three goals and moved four places at the league. You cannot moan about any of that

The only thing I will say is that one win against West Brom side that had a lots of injuries and have their manager making some really fucking strange decisions does not mean that everything is wonderful in our account. One game in isolation never means anything until it becomes the norm. In other words, we had little two game spells before where we have looked ‘not shit’, only to revert to being shit again.

Mario Lemina put in one of those performances where he looks like the best midfielder on the planet.

It is up to you Mr Pellegrino, stay on the front foot and you never know, good things might happen.

Southampton 0 Liverpool 2
I fucking hate Jurgen Klopp

With all the results going against this at the weekend and us being in the bottom three as we kicked off, I expected some fight today and a performance. We got none of that. Instead we got a team and manager that was happy to settle for 2-0 defeat from 45 minutes onwards.

Rule Number 1 for today should’ve been that the first player gets a chance fucking clatters Van Dijk. That would’ve got the fans fired up, the players fired up, shown we meant business and we may have got a performance. Unfortunately, no one could be bothered.

With two weeks to go before the next league game, it is of course another great opportunity to sack the useless fucker which of course, we won’t take though there has been a picture published of Chairman Gao, Katharina Liebherr and Ralph Krueger all out in China so you never know.

FA Cup 5th Round - West Brom 1 Southampton 2
Saints week has been pretty quiet with the only real talking point coming from Pellegrino Press conferences. He spoke of usual bollocks about learning opportunities, growth and acknowledged that winning was fundamental to staying up.

Carrillo to Redmond, back to Carillo and he hoiks a cross into the middle with the outside of his right boot and Tadic brings it down past the airshot of Krychowiak and then chips is superbly over Foster and into the net.

Stop press. Wigan 1 Manchester City 0. Ha ha ha, fucking hilarious. So, the FA went to all that trouble to warm some balls up and freeze some of the balls it was all for nothing as Manchester City got beat by Wigan.  Hilarious and well done Wigan.

Burnley 1 Southampton 1
I can probably sum up the first half in either one paragraph, one sentence or one word beginning with ‘S’ 

The formation has gone to shit and no one really knows what’s going on, including Pellegrino I suspect.

Westwood who turns and runs straight into what looks like a pitch invader but it’s in fact, Bobby Madley who is in the way. 

Carrillo headed it down and Gabbiadini smashed in the net. We actually had players in the box and we had probably our most natural goalscorer on the pitch and in a forward position, with support from a bigger stronger strike partner.

MARCH 2018

Southampton 0 Stoke 0
Once more, only one sentence is probably needed to sum up the first half of this must win game from a Southampton point of view – it was shit.  We simply didn’t do anything.

Redmond digs out a great cross which picks out Boufal about 6 yards out and he thumps his header down and fucking wide.  For fucking bollocks sake.

Pellegrino’s post match talk of ‘learning’ is the biggest pile of insulting shite that he could possibly come out with. There is no point in learning if you do not take whatever you have learnt into the next game and we never do.

This manager has no idea about how to send a team out to actually win a game. We don’t go out to win games. We go out not to lose them and that is why we have so many fucking draws - 13 of the fucking things.

He has the cluelessness and riddled communication of Poortvliet, the stubbornness of  Branfoot , the totally out of his depth air of Steve Wigley, the risk averse scared to death approach of Claude Puel and the bewildering team selection of George Burley.

Newcastle 3 Southampton 0
Does he feel like he can’t risk his best defensive midfielder in a must win league game and would rather have him available for a cup tie against a League 1 side. Doesn’t the fucking idiot realise that if we lose today, Wigan versus Southampton is likely to be a Championship fixture next season.

So, away we go on our latest fear and caution driven epic. 63 seconds, 1-0 down, game plan fucked.  Useless sacks of shit.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all this season. Just when you think you’ve seen every catastrophic low there can possibly be, then along comes Pellegrino and the team and gives us a new benchmark by which to judge low points. 

I don’t care if Marco Silva manages the team to safety and then fucks off to Everton next season. Saints are all about thinking about the long-term but the long-term can wait for the next few weeks because the long-term will collapse in a big fucking heap if we don’t sort out the short-term.

As I see it, the main advantage of being relegated to the Championship is that we will get rid of some of the useless fuckers who got us there.

FA Cup 6th Round – Wigan 0 Southampton 2
No sooner had Mauricio Pellegrino and his faceless, nameless coaching staff exited the building, then the rumours that Mark Hughes was taking over started. It took a  couple of days but then the man who had a brilliant career as a player and a decent but not spectacular career as a manager took over.

What the fuck is Cedric doing there?  He nods it past the least defender and goes straight for goal, drawing the keeper and then calm as fuck, slotting it into the far corner.  2-0, game over.

So well done Saints and well done Mark Hughes, Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki.  Brilliant start. In just one game and in a couple of days, you’ve given us a day out at Wembley to look forward to and more important than that, it’s given us hope for decent end of the season.

West Ham 3 Southampton 0
Lemina had visions of spanking one in the top corner but instead he pissed about with it, found himself under pressure and lost it.

Arnautovic is totally free as the cross sails over Stephens head who should be marking him.  Header, saved, toe poke, goal, 2-0, fuck off. Game over – embarrassing.

Fucking wanker. Still, his girlfriend looks nice on Instagram and his model photographs win him a legion of new fans every week.

They didn’t ponce around on the football pitch or pose around on social media in spray tight shirts looking like a member of a fucking boy band.

All of these squad shortcomings can be laid firmly at the door of Les Reed, The self-proclaimed King of Football at Southampton FC. The on pitch leaders that we had at the end of Ronald Koeman’s last season have all gone.

APRIL 2018

Arsenal 3 Southampton 2
There was certainly a few changes with those of decent character coming back into the fray. Yoshida, JWP, Romeu and Long were all chosen to start.

Long darts in front of then both and deflects it past the keeper and into the net for only his second goal since man landed on the moon.  Fucking hell, we’re winning…. 

Superb from Cedric and I hope he buys himself a really really tight shirt to celebrate his second assist and it's a deserved equaliser

Iwobi avoids Tadic’ pathetic efforts to stop the cross, chips it into the Stephens/Cedric Corridor of Uncertainty and Welbeck has an easy header into the net for 3-2.  Fuck off.

Wilshere even got involved in that, acting like the big peacemaker. All a big act to hide that a) he gave the ball away horribly and b) he’s an odious little twat.  The media love Jack Wilshere though. Fuck knows why as he has done next to nothing for the last three years.

Southampton 2 Chelsea 3
Brilliant goal, brilliant move and an outstanding run by the skipper and once more, we look like a proper team.

Marcos Alonso takes an opportunity to steam in and stamp down on his calf.  Mike Dean doesn’t give anything and despite the stricken player, Fabregas true to form, doesn’t put the ball out and Chelsea attack.

2-0 against Chelsea and a goal from Bednarek – it’s written in the stars.

Hazard, who I may have mentioned its one of the World’s best players is standing where Cedric should be and his cross is half cleared and lands at the feet of Giroud and the Suave Good Looking Bastard smashes it into the net. 8 minutes, 3 goals, fucked.

We were not helped of course, by the Mike Dean factor.  I kind of stop short of calling him a referee because he isn’t really.  A strutting peacock perhaps. This guy is fucking useless.

Basically, we need seven points as West Brom and Stoke will finish below us and Brighton, who are seven points ahead of us have a horrendous run of fixtures against the real top boys and are going to be fortunate to get another point. 

I have to say that I have been impressed with Hughes and I hope he is the Manager next season, regardless of what division we are in. The improvements he has made make it even more staggering that we persevered with the dreadful Pellegrino for as long as we did whilst the King of Football sat on his hands and twiddled his thumbs. Everyone could see it, apart from him.

Leicester 0 Southampton 0
He should hit it with his left foot but instead tries to square it to Tadic by using his right foot instead of his left and but he resembles a clown in size 20 shoes as he totally fucks it up and just knocks it to the keeper

I think Hughes is terrified of going 4 at the back and so he’s hoping to nick it rather than really going for it. 

To be honest I don’t really know what to make of that. Actually, come to think about it, yes I do - it was a load of boring bollocks. If Pellegrino had still been on charge and we played like that and drawn 0-0 then I would be spitting feathers. I am reluctant to criticise Mark Hughes too much because I feel he has been handed an impossible job with everything that has gone on but you have to question the fact that we appeared to play for a draw tonight.

FA Cup Semi Final - Chelsea 2 Southampton 0
Giroud twists past the flailing bodies of Cedric, Bednarek and McCarthy and pokes it into the net.  For fucks sake.  How the fuck did we allow him to do that?  Bastard!  Well, we did know that he was going to score at some point.

Shane just has Caballero to beat.  Guess what happens?  Instead of sidefooting it first time like 99% of strikers would have done, he tries to take a touch and go round the keeper and the touch goes straight out for a goal kick.  That was shit.  Real shit. 

It looks over the line and there’s barely been a challenge by Austin.  For a microsecond it looks like Atkinson has given the goal as he points to the centre but no – with his other hand he’s making exaggerated gestures that it’s a free kick to the keeper.

Mario Lemina was a fucking disgrace. It actually makes me angry that this useless fucker was selected to represent Southampton at Wembley.  I was born in the city, I live here, this is the team representing me and we’ve got this guy representing me.

We have to mention the referee Martin Atkinson and the mythical rub of the green which we never get against the big clubs.

Southampton 2 Bournemouth 1

It’s a situation from which both Newcastle and West Ham have scored against us recently and I’m expecting us to fuck it up but Lemina draws the one defender and plays it right to Tadic at the perfect time, keeper to beat, easy, 1-0.  He never ever looked like he was going to miss

King at the back post for a simple finish and we’ve undone all the good work with ball watching.

All Cook does it present it to Tadic in midfield and with Austin and Redmond in support, Tadic advances and or once in his life, decides to shoot and with what almost looks like a left footed toe poke, fires it past Begovic and into the far corner.  Brilliant finish.  Scenes.  Who is this Tadic and where has he been?

Here they come again, long balls, headers, cleared.  Finally it’s over.  Everyone with a Southampton allegiance in the vicinity goes mental.  Get in.

I don’t know what the stats are but I’m willing to bet that the average bookings per game has gone through the roof since Pellegrino left and Hughes came in

It was good to see a majority of the players flat on their arses at the end of the game with absolutely nothing left to give. That is what it should be like every game and it certainly is what it should be like in the remaining games this season.

MAY 2018

Everton 1 Southampton 1
Cedric crosses brilliantly on the run and there’s Redmond of all people at the back stick to head it down and past Pickford and into the net for his first goal of the season.  Get in.  Redmond scoring was less surprising than Cedric keeping a cross on the pitch but well played both

Big boot forward, no one wins it cleanly and Niasse toes it past Yoshida who launches him into space.  Fuck.  Guess what Fat Jon is gonna do? Yellow, Red…fuck!

Redmond does brilliantly to knock it past Funes Mori and it in on goal.  Fat Cunt Moss decides that he’d fouled the Everton player and gives a free kick for fuck all and then allows them to pinch 10 yards and take it.

1-1.  We get to the middle, kick off and the Fat Cunt blows his whistle.

Just. Fuck. Off.

As every week goes by, you see the difference that Mark Hughes has made and yet again, I’m pondering that even with an extra month of Hughes, instead of that arseclown Pellegrino and we would being completely safe by now.

Alex McCarthy shouldn’t just be on the plane for England in the World Cup, he should be first choice.

Swansea 0 Southampton 1
If we win this game today away at Swansea then we are 99% certain to be safe

He jinks across past Bednarek and curls one for the top corner but no danger, McCarthy takes off and superbly tips it over the bar.

Austin volley, straight at the keeper yet again but it bounces out and there’s Gabbiadini who hits it goalwards from about 5 yards, deflecting off a defender and in. 1-0, mental.  You can see in the eyes of the Swansea players – they know they’re toast.  They know they can’t buy a goal.

6 minutes extra have gone and one last punt forwards towards Abraham but Hoedt wins it and Bertrand whacks it.  Full time.  Mental.

After the hotel fiasco, the lack of police escort through the rush hour and the coach parking issue, whoever was responsible deserves for their team to get relegated

With the modern day Premier league player, you need to be a bit tough, you need to have had a playing career they will respect.  He has earned the right to stay on and barring a total shocking calamity on Sunday, be a Premier League manager with Southampton next season.

Southampton 0 Manchester City 1
Surely we can’t fuck this up.

This superbly weighted pass was brilliantly controlled on the run first time by Gabriel Jesus and he simply lobs it over Alex McCarthy and into the net to win the game, give City 100 points and spark mental over the top celebrations from the champions. Meanwhile, Southampton supporters as a whole kind of shrugged.

Swansea actually lost at home to Stoke so in the end, we stayed up with a rather pathetic 36 points and we could have lost by ten after all.

Will next year be any different? It rather depends if lessons have been learned. Step number one has to be to give the hero of the hour, Mark Hughes, a three-year contract and give him time.

Season 2017/18 has been fucking dreadful

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Do Look Back in Anger - Season Summary Part 1 - August - December

Do Look Back in Anger

A few paragraphs from the blogs on every game we played this season - I've missed out the Wolves Carabao Cup game but there are plenty of dreadful games anyway.....

Strap yourselves in.....  Part 1

PS - Some of this hasn't aged well....


Southampton 0 Swansea 0
Any optimism for the first game of new season should be tempered with the reality that we have exactly the same players as we had when we went our last five home games without scoring a goal. I'm sure that Mauricio Pellegrino will in time get more out of this group of players and Claude would've done but it isn't going to happen overnight.

I just hope that if we get down the wings that there is more than one player in the box when the cross gets fired over. We need to play with more intent and have more desire to score a goal than we had last year.

The problem today was not the style of play but the fact that we only really made Fabianski make one save because we couldn't hit a fucking barn door. In fact, we couldn't even hit the fucking barn or any of the outbuildings next to the barn.

Southampton 3 West Ham 2
A statement arrived from Katherina Liebherr detailing that she had sold an 80% stake of the club to the Gao family for £210m.  Mr Jinsheng Gao and his daughter Nelly are the family members in question and the deal is not with Lander Sports but with the individuals.  The comforting thing is that it is business as usual with the existing board.  I take this news with cautious optimism and it sure as hell isn’t going to make us financially weaker.  I also on the other hand don’t see a sudden influx of money being punted around.

Swilling his beer and taking a last drag on his fag – it’s Charlie Austin and mercifully not Tadic.  After West Ham’s players have stopped being dicks around the referee and the penalty spot, he calmly sidefoots it past Hart to make it 3-2.  Charlie’s penalties always shit me up because if the keeper goes the right way then he saves it but in it rolls and we got out of jail there.

Well we certainly made heavy weather of that. You could argue that we were lucky as fuck or you could argue that the correct team won in the end. The fact is that with an hour to play against 10 men and a 2-0 lead, we should of won this game absolutely comfortably without all of the teeth gnashing and the gift of a last-minute penalty.
After the game, Pellegrino said exactly what I've been wanting a Saints manager to say for the last six months in that he highlighted that West Ham won too many headers in our penalty area. I've been banging on for six months about how Yoshida and Stephens are not strong enough in the air.


Huddersfield 0 Southampton 0
Of course, we are coming off the back of a diabolical performance in the League Cup. Even three days later it is quite hard to digest just how shit that was. It appears that Mauricio Pellegrino has decided to ignore it and pretend it didn't happen as he's reverted back to exactly the same team that started the West Ham home game. I can't say that I'm not a little disappointed with this.

The second half starts with a bit more intent from Saints with Lemina suddenly making runs ahead of the ball.  This gives Romeu an extra option to pass the ball to and the new boy lays off his pass to Gabbiadini who gets a shot on target but comfortable for the keeper.  We should try this ‘making forward runs’ thing more often. 

To the disappointment of many, Gabbiadini is next off for Long and to the disappointment of no-one, Tadic is off for McQueen which leaves both Boufal and Austin sat on the bench.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not his biggest fan but Austin is more likely to get a goal than those who have come on and Boufal is probably more likely to create one.

5 points out of 9 isn’t bad but it should have been 9.  Huddersfield blew themselves out after 70 minutes.  I can’t help but feel that with a bit more conviction and belief in the opening 70 minutes we could have won that game. 

One of the main problems with Saints is the three players behind the striker.  In my opinion, Gabbiadini is a superb striker and with the right supply, he’d be scoring 20 a season.  However, he’s neither getting the ball often enough, nor getting enough support from players.  

Southampton 0 Watford 2
Back to today and it’s a question of perception in that a win will mean 8 points out of 12 which from those for fixtures will be pretty good. A defeat and 5 out of 12 will not seem quite so decent. 

In the ground and there are loads of those fucking plastic clappers everywhere.

Half time – fucking dreadful shower of shit.  Wankers.  Embarrassing wankers.  Has Gabbi touched the ball?  Probably not because he’s relying on JWP to give it to him.  You may as well put Fraser at 10 instead of JWP as he won’t do any fucking worse or be less suitable for the position.  I of course feel sorry for Gabbi but also for Redmond and Boufal who only ever get the ball on the half way line because our midfield two are getting fucked over without a fight.  Let’s see what we do to change it – the only positive is that it’s only 1-0.

Oh that’ll make a huge fucking difference – Tadic on for JWP.  How fucking tired is Lemina?  If he can’t play 45 minutes then what’s the point of him even being on the bench.  What’s gonna change with Davo and Romeu up against those two?  Away we go and guess what, we’re still getting fucked and they’re going in dry. 

I feel that the Claude Puel mindset is still ingrained in the players. They are risk averse and everything that they do. However, you can only go for so long blaming the previous manager. Mauricio Pellegrino has to sort it out and he has to sort it out quickly. That lot out there today didn’t look up for the fight which is never ever acceptable.

Crystal Palace 0 Southampton 1
With just seconds remaining on the clock, Palace attempt to break and the game ends in the same style as it’s had for the past 90 minutes with Lemina hunting down the ball and taking it off a Palace player like he was taking back his own personal property.  That’s my ball, this is my field, these are my rules, now fuck off.  Game over and Roy looks like he needs a blanket and warm milk back in the rest home.

So, a great result for Pellegrino in terms of the fact that he obviously thought about what went wrong the previous week and changed it and today was much better. Mind you, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to put Mario Lemina in the team. He was absolutely fucking outstanding today and it was the easiest decision for the man of the match that there can ever have been.

It was a good day for Mauricio - the charge upfront with Shane work very well as did the central defensive partnership. We just have to work out how to play home games now.

Straight after the game, due to it being an early kick-off, we had shot right at the table to fifth-place which is rather cool. I was looking around at Ronald Koeman and Everton but they were fucking nowhere.

Southampton 0 Manchester United 1
Chairman Gao is introduced to the fans before the game –  careful Jinsheng, you’ll get a reputation for only turning up for the big games.  Away we go and it annoys me that we’re not smashing into them at every opportunity.  We seem content to just hold them at arms length and defend in numbers.

And bollocks. We played well though and have not got what we deserved. The fact that Mourinho was throwing on defenders and defensive midfielders in place and attacking players as the second-half wore on, tells you all you need to know about who was on top and looking the better side. Our fans appreciated it too and even though we scored zero goals at home yet again there is an appreciative ovation for the players at the end of the game.

I thought that Pellegrino did all that he could today and his substitutions were spot-on. We had JWP on for the last 10 minutes playing at right back but on the pitch to deliver the set pieces and we chucked on the extra striker with Austin coming out


Stoke City 2 Southampton 1
So Hoedt has been dropped for a player who clearly doesn’t want to be here.

The penalty incident was very interesting because it looked to me like Virgil just couldn't be fucking bothered to defend the run properly so he just held him back.  In that instant it made me wonder whether he was rusty or whether he actually gives a fuck.

Now we get to Senor Pellegrino and the rest of his selections.  There is that oft quoted definition of madness - trying the same things and expecting a different result. If you pick as your four most advanced players, players who score approximately one goal every 10 or 15 games then what makes you think that they're going to score with any regularity

We lost in the end because the normally reliable Cedric fucked up big style.  What the fuck was he doing? – just fucking clear it.  You are not going to set up an attack when you’re facing your own goal line with a player up your arse so just clear it.

Virgil – bearing in mind he had not uttered one word about Saints since the summer – used his (Holland) interview to talk about hopefully being able to go in January, having no regrets about the way he acted and wanting to take a step up.  Now I’m sure a little has been added or lost in translation but his answer clearly wasn’t “I’m a Southampton player and that’s all I have to say for now”.  Words fucking fail me, aside from ‘drop him now and sell him in January to anyone except Liverpool’.

Southampton 2 Newcastle 2
I have a new ritual every time I go to St.Mary’s now in that I find my seat, pick up the plastic clapper thing and launch it about 5 rows down into some empty seats.  I’m old school and I don’t want that shit. 

Away we go and Gabbi and Shane are right up top and it looks like we’re 4-4-2.  Virgil pings a 70 yarder over the full back to Tadic which brings applause and then Tadic turns down the right footed cross, swaps it onto his left, then turn out and passes back to Cedric who turns and passes it back to Virgil.  For fuck sake.  What are we fucking scared of – at risk of going full Mike Bassett – get it in the fucking box.

60 seconds later and we’re 2-1 down. Fuck off.  Still, a good team goal from us with Shane, Berty, Virgil, Oriol and Fraser all at fault in some capacity.  It’s nice to share these things around.

We only trying to do something progressive when we are behind and we almost have nothing to lose

Also not covering himself in glory today was Fraser Forster.  He’s been better of late and I think that a lot of the criticism he gets is ridiculous but what the fuck was that today?  So laboured and clumsy on his feet for the first goal and rule one in the goalkeeper book is not to parry it back into dangerous areas so I’ve no idea what the hell was going on for the 2nd goal.

Southampton 1 West Brom 0
Boufal picks it up about 10 yards outside our penalty area and turns straight into Nyom before spinning the other way and setting off.  Chased by Nyom, Boufal goes past Livermore on half way who can’t be arsed to put a tackle in and then he swerves past Dawson who for good measure, is taken out by Nyom who just clatters into him.  Boufal is thirty yards out now and a drop of the shoulder and a step-over does for McAulay and he sidefoots it into the corner past Hegazi and Foster.  Pandemonium. It’s one of the great goals

30 seconds of brilliance in amongst 94 minutes of shite but who cares.

The reason we won however was of course, down to a bit of individual brilliance and hopefully the manager will now see that he needs the element of unpredictability that Boufal brings to the party.  Boufal’s best is better than Tadic’ best or Redmond’s best so it surely is the managers’ job to get the best out of Boufal.

Brighton 1 Southampton 1
Now is the time to keep playing the same way and put the foot on the throat with a second goal.  Get that and there is no way on earth they’ll score two against us. No, let’s sit back and allow Brighton to play their way into the game.  They don’t create anything much but we’re now playing 4-5-40 yards-Gabbi and the ghost of Puel is very much in the room.

Risk-averse, dull, slow, boring bollocks.

Duffy throws himself in the way to deflect Gabbi’s effort over the bar.  This bit of action is like finding a very very small diamond in a massive bucket of shit, only the diamond isn’t a diamond at all, it just gave you hope for a second before you go back to the rest of the bucket of shit.

It was like one of those rigged games at a World Cup where both teams were happy with a draw, especially the last 20 minutes. 

Pellegrino said during the week that we don't have an identity yet. He's wrong. Yes we do. For virtually the whole of 2017 we have been fucking risk-averse and fucking boring. That is our identity – fucking boring.  After 10 league games, the new manager is showing absolutely no signs of getting the team to play with any purpose.

We’re allegedly playing high pressing, high intensity football – my arse.

So, ten games in and what do we think of Pellegrino? I think that if you’d offered him 38 1-1 draws at the start of the season which meant we stayed up then he’d have taken it. I can’t imagine that was what was wanted at Board level at the start of the season. Does Mr Gao want to be entertained? At least a bit? Or maybe he doesn’t care as long as we’re in the Premier League.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


Southampton 0 Burnley 1

Away we go and as is typical with Saints home games against sides who come to sit deep – nothing happened.  I mean nothing.  Short of a tumbleweed blowing across the pitch, there couldn’t have been less going on.  Desolate

He crosses it in with his left foot to near the penalty spot and Vokes manshames the static Yoshida and flicks a header down which speeds up off the turf and finds the bottom corner.  Fuck sake.

One thing I do know though is that the manager got it completely wrong again. The non-selection of Wesley Hoedt against a team with three big physical strikers in their match day 18 is beyond a joke. 

Our allegedly tactically innovative manager decided to match up Dyche and go with a 4-4-2 formation for the last 20 minutes but only after Dyche had done it first and changed the whole game. 

Even the last minute desperation substitute was fucking retarded. I understand the want to get JWP on the pitch for a free-kick but why take Boufal off. Why not take Cedric off who had an absolutely diabolical game.  Is Pellegrino still worried about defending and keeping it tight when we are 1-0 down with a minute to go for fucks sake?

Take it from a bloke who remembers Saints in the 1990s - we could well be in for a relegation battle this season so get ready for a few things. Get ready for looking down the fixture list and wondering where our next win is coming from and looking at the league table and trying desperately to find three teams who are worse than us.

Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
Just before the game started, my 13-year-old son asked me what I thought would happen and I said that either Pellegrino would come to the fore and we’ll put on a defensive masterclass or infinitely more likely, we go out to defend the shit out of it, let in a goal and then do absolutely nothing to try and get back into the game and fuck me, that's exactly what happened.

Anyone can get beaten 3-0 at Liverpool and that's not the problem and itself, the problem was in the manner of the performance which was absolutely fucking useless.

Playing with Shane Long in his current form as a lone striker is like trying to open a tin of beans with a fucking spoon.

Whatever way you look at it, Pellegrino’s contribution to today was fucking shambolic. He gave a shocking interview during the week when he said we have been playing well and we need to carry on doing the same things and everything would be fine. That is obviously complete shit or the ramblings of a complete madman.

The bottom line is that in a run of incredibly favourable fixtures, Pellegrino has not shown any sign of even being competent, let alone of being a decent manager for this football club. He does seem to be completely out of his depth, is paralysed by fear and totally uninspiring

Southampton 4 Everton 1
David Unsworth doesn’t look like the ex-Everton player of the same name but he looks like he’s eaten him.

I haven't had many opportunities for a while to write about an enjoyable game but that was really an enjoyable game, even though I only saw 65 minutes of it. I saw more enterprising attacking football in those 65 minutes then I've seen in every game I've watched for the last year.

Now Charlie Austin isn’t everyone's cup of tea and I still have a few reservations about the guy but he is the most suitable forward for the way that we play. Its fucking obvious but if you are going to put crosses into the box that you need someone who at least has a decent chance of heading the ball and hitting the target.

The slight caveat to all of this praise is that Everton were fucking atrocious

So it was a good day for Mauricio Pellegrino. Though I was a little unsure when I saw the team, you have to say that he got it right.


Manchester City 2 Southampton 1
Can we hang on… fuck it.  Sterling and de Bruyne torment us with the ball on our right as the clock ticks 95 and Sterling jinks across the top of the box, finds a bit of space and curls it into the far top corner in just about the only place where Fraser couldn’t reach it.  Sterling goes mental, City go mental, Guardiola is on the pitch, fuck off.  We kick off, one pass, whistle goes, fuck off.  For Fuck Sake. 96 minutes into a 90-minute match and we concede the winning goal. 

The first thing to say is that Pellegrino got it absolutely spot on today managing to find a balance between resting players for the game against Bournemouth and picking a side that least had a chance of upsetting Manchester City and we almost did it.

Guardiola has absolutely no right to talk to anyone else’s players and also for that matter has no right to complain about teams playing defensively at Manchester City. What the hell does he expect? He has 20 players at his disposal that all in the £50 - £100 million bracket and he’s playing against a team that has Shane Long upfront who scores goals with about the same frequency as Halley‘s comet turning up.

Bournemouth 1 Southampton 1
Final whistle and I can’t help but be a little bit disappointed that we didn’t win it but over the 90 minutes you have to say it was probably a fair result. Personally, I really don’t think Bournemouth are very good and if we played the whole game on the front foot like we played the second half then this game was there for the taking. 

We had the Adam Smith penalty incident in the first half which got everybody talking and mostly talking bollocks.  I’m sorry, whatever you pundits say, that was a big horrible fucking dive and he totally deserved to get booked.

So, back to why we didn’t win. I thought the team selection was very suspect today. Leaving out a fully fit Mario Lemina is questionable at best and leaving out Pierre Hojbjerg after the couple of games he has had is a bit strange also.

Southampton 1 Arsenal 1
With Yoshida and Stephens in the team, we were always going to be susceptible once they sent Giroud and Welbeck and it was a great header by the suave good looking French bastard as he ghosted in between Maya and Virgil and perfectly flicked a header into the corner. The only thing at this current Arsenal side has in common with the good Arsenal sides of Wenger’s first eight years is the fact that they are called Arsenal. 

I have to begrudgingly admit that Pellegrino’s selection in the main worked. The three at the back worked well against Arsenal diminutive strike force but maybe it would’ve been good to have kept a substitute in hand and shoved Wesley on when Giroud came on.   Pierre Hojbjerg was man of the match without a doubt and you would think it would be really hard to Pellegrino to leave him out of the next game but don’t be surprised if he does.

The one thing that Pellegrino definitely got wrong was the selection of Nathan Redmond over Sofiane Boufal. Sure Redmond works hard defensively but whenever he got the ball he had absolutely no fucking idea what to do with it. If he had a choice of 20 options and only one of them was wrong, Redmond would pick that one.  He played well on the right against Bournemouth so just maybe playing the right footed winger on the right is the answer.  As I’ve said before, I know that this theory is a bit wild and out there.

Southampton 1 Leicester 4
I reckon there are about 10% of the Saints fans left in the ground when the final whistle goes.  What a load of shit. 

Apart from a couple of exceptions, that was as stinking a shithouse of a performance that you could ever hope to imagine from top to bottom from the manager down.

Needless to say, our manager Mauricio Pellegrino hasn’t got a fucking clue what sort of team we are, hasn’t got a clue about how to set the team up, is tactically inept and has no fucking idea what is best team is. Other than that, he is fantastic.

No ability on display, no guts and no effort.

Having conceded that goal, Pellegrino makes absolutely no tweaks tactically and five minutes later the game is dead.

I think we have a set of players crying out for a leadership and they know they are going to get absolutely none from Pellegrino and the bench and we have no one on the pitch to do that either

The fourth goal sums us up and sadly, it sums up certain individual players. Firstly, Cedric plays a horrific ball across the park which gets intercepted. Steve Davis is marking Okazaki but he just lets him run like he always does. The ball goes wide to Vardy and Virgil is the nearest defender but he just can’t be fucking bothered to get close to him or to put in a tackle so Vardy rolls it into the middle we’re Okazaki is now being picked up by Yoshida, only he isn’t because Yoshida is stationary and Okazaki darts in front of him and smashes it in the net.  Crap from all four.

I’ll start with Virgil van Dijk because he is the easiest one to deal with. He is playing at roughly 70% and he’s good enough to still stand out at 70% when compared to the rest of our team. However, his attitude is fucking disgusting and poisonous and if Pellegrino was to show any sign of being a leader he needs to drop the fucker from this point onwards.

How ironic that Claude’s team scored four goals at St Mary’s which would’ve taken him about 10 games to do when he was Saints manager

Chelsea 1 Southampton 0
Hazard spins and is away and Maya hauls him down.  Amateur hour defending and a yellow card.  The free kick is about 35 years out and left footed Alonso and right footed Willian are over it.  It looks like Willian is going to hit it but Alonso does and it zips round the wall and in at the near post as someone shouts ‘timberrrrrrrrrr’ and Fraser dives.  1-0 fuck.  We kick off, half time.

So, I’m sure that Pellegrino will be hatching a Plan B as we speak as keeping a clean sheet is off the menu.

Gabbiadini makes run after run after run after run but he never gets the ball, either because he's too isolated but mostly because the midfielders don't look up and look to play forward early enough.

Redmond is deployed as a defensive player. He's not the attacking genius that Guardiola goes on about but he's being restricted horribly by Pellegrino – Redmond needs to be told to do his work further up the pitch like wingers usually do.  Even Chelsea’s full backs play further forward than our wingers.

I’m at the point with Pellegrino where I would not care in the slightest if he was sacked but then we have a number of players who I would not miss in the slightest if they weren’t here any more.  We have some who are not good enough, some who are not effective enough and we have one in particular who doesn’t give a shit.

Southampton 1 Huddersfield 1
It doesn’t take much Huddersfield pressure to get a goal as substitute Smith takes a pass from Ince and puts over a cross and Depoitre has sensibly decided to attack the gaping fucking space between Yoshida and Stephens, knowing that neither will challenge him and he can’t miss and he doesn’t.  Pathetic beyond words.

So, having watched us take a shit in midfield for the past 20 minutes, Pellegrino decides to wait another 10 before changing anything and he hooks Davis and Tadic who have both been garbage and puts on Hojbjerg and Boufal.  The effect is instant.  Hojbjerg wrestles back the midfield and Boufal commits defenders.

This is the end of the line to me as far as Pellegrino is concerned. The team looked fucking dreadful on paper and it was predictably fucking dreadful out on the pitch as well. The substitutions that he made, which was far too fucking late made us instantly better once he got Davis and Tadic off the pitch and got Hojbjerg and Boufal on.   The improvement was absolutely instantaneous.  Up to that point, Hudderfield had bossed the midfield in the second half and Pellegrino just stood in the technical area and watched it happen whilst Romeu and Hojbjerg sat on the bench.  Fucking madness.

He is fucking useless as a manager and he has to go. I would rather put Radhi Jaidi in charge for the two games we’ve got coming up and have a new manager in as soon as possible. I just hope that the board have been proactive themselves and have someone lined up. Bye – don’t let the door hit your ass.

Tottenham 5 Southampton 2
Kane doesn’t even have to move.  He just bends stoops a bit and heads it two yards.  Why the fuck do we bother lads?

Gutless and pathetic in huge measure from ourselves but at least we go into the changing room knowing that there’s a thunderous Churchillian speech coming from our manager that will send the troops out for the second half in the right frame of mind.  Five minutes later we are 4-0 down

Utter, utter shit.  This is the guy (Long) that Pellegrino has picked to lead the line in place of Italy’s first choice centre forward at the moment.

To make a bad day even worse, our fans start booing Nathan Redmond when he touches the ball.  I would rather fans like this just stay away from matches as you’re a disgrace.

If you for one second think Spurs were only three goals better than us then you are living in cloud cuckoo land along with Mauricio Pellegrino.  At 4-0 on 50 minutes, they packed in and their goalkeeper very obligingly threw two goals in for us to make it look a lot closer than it was.

The midfield three of Romeu, Lemina and Hojbjerg looked good on paper but with Lemina being easily the most creative out of the three, he chose to play Hojbjerg at 10 where he is completely unsuited to playing.

What got me this game what’s the lack of fight in the first half.

Do I want Pellegrino to manage any new players we get in?  Not in the slightest.

Saints look like strangers out on the pitch.  It would help if the same midfield played two games in a row and then they might actually work out some understanding.

The question of whether Pellegrino should be sacked or not it’s not even a question any more. The guy is actually fucking clueless and things are not going to get better with him in charge and we are going to get relegated if he stays.

Manchester United 0 Southampton 0
Shithousery has won the day though because let us not forget that this all started with Liverpool’s illegal approach and illegal meetings in the summer. I’d hazard a guess that they’ve been in touch just telling Virgil to be a twat all this season and he’s been happy to go along with that. 

The fact that we are rushing through a sale, before the transfer window even opens tells us that they can’t wait to get rid

Boufal brings down the little shit Ashley Young and it’s a United free kick on the right.  In it comes and it all gets a bit untidy and Matic pokes it goalwards, McCarthy can’t get a touch and Pogba knocks it in from about a yard out.  Fuck it… haaaaaaaaaaa… offside! 

He went shitting on about the penalty they maybe should’ve had in the first half which is classic Mourinho to deflect away from the fact that they didn’t have a fucking shot in the second half with their team that cost just shy of £400 million against a team that’s been playing absolute bollocks since the start the season.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

League 1 Minus 10 Player Review 2017/18 Part 2

Master Attacking Coach Prepares to Unleash Attacking Force.

...and now on to the blunt instrument that was our attack....

Attacking Midfielders

Dusan Tadic will probably be remembered this season for the game against Bournemouth when he scored two goals and was brilliant. Up until that point, I would have gladly see the back of him but Hughes seems to like him and seems to get more out of him that the previous two managers have. He will be going to the World Cup so it will be interested to see how it gets on there and whether he fancies staying for another season. I think he would’ve been on his way if we got relegated and also if Pellegrino was still in charge but he seems to have had a new lease of life under the new manager so who knows?  Overall this season, he has been infuriatingly poor but has stayed in the team despite only doing something decent about every 15 games.

James Ward-Prowse has had another strange season in that when he’s got a run of games on the side he has done quite well but he quite often finds himself dropped and under Hughes, has hardly played at all. Often I think with him that as he is an Academy graduate and didn’t cost us any money, he is easier to drop than someone who the club paid millions for. Another issue is that I’m not sure what position is his best. Not physical enough to play as a defensive midfielder and probably not quick enough to play further forward. Right wing appears to be the best option for now though in his minutes on the pitch under Hughes, he’s definitely been getting stuck in more. It has all added up to being another in-and-out season though when we were struggling to score goals, it always mystified me why he was ever left out given his set piece delivery.  That was Pellegrino though I guess.

Sofiane Boufal has had two seasons now and in that time has contributed about three goals and zero assists. The goals are always spectacular but that’s not enough to persevere especially as he has now been identified as having a shit attitude and has been bombed out of the team as soon as we got a manager who wasn’t prepared to put up with any crap. Over the course of his two seasons he has never established himself under three managers and I can’t imagine he’s ever started more than three matches in a row.  He has contributed less than Gaston Ramirez so it’s over for him.  Clubs abroad seem to be interested so hopefully we’ll get a decent fee and he can go and be a waste of space somewhere else.  Boufal’s response as soon as the season ended, as the dedicated pro that he is, was to vow to get his head down, work hard and fight for his place… my arse.  It was to immediately talk up a move to Marseille.  See you later you twat.  Such a talented player who you always want to do well but time to accept that it just isn’t happening.

Nathan Redmond will be pleased to see the back of the season but despite his travails this season, I can’t help but want the guy to do well. There is a player in there but he gets too affected by things do go wrong and just seems to fall to bits. Anyone who booed him from the terraces this season should just fuck off and go and support someone else because if ever there was an illustration that it does absolutely no good then just look at the effect that had on Redmond this season. I’ll bet you wankers were jumping up and down and singing his name when he scored at Everton. If the guy is given the license to attack and encouraged to do so and not worry too much if he loses the ball then he can be a serious player and maybe proved that Pep Guardiola is not insane after all after the post match strangeness of that went on at the Etihad. Assuming Hughes stays, I’ll bet Nathan has a better season next season.

Josh Sims has played the odd game and looked at threat off of the bench but still doesn’t look like a starting player to me. Mind you, he has come back off a long injury absence so I will be hoping to get a full pre-season and push for starting place next season.

Tadic 6, Ward-Prowse 5, Redmond 5, Boufal 3


Charlie Austin has been our main goal threat and is once again our top scorer but once again he has spent half the season injured and when he plays, he always looks like he is one step away from another hamstring injury or another shoulder injury and another four months out, which he spends in the pub. He does have a sixth sense of being with the ball is going to drop but he is finishing is not as clinical as many would have you believe and his lack of pace and movement is an issue when he is upfront on his own. In short, it was a typical Charlie Austin season. All that said, his goals have been important and without them, we would have been relegated without question.  Unlike a couple of our strikers, he is at least a goal threat and this season, we have been a better team when he has been in it.  Cheats at Monopoly as well.

Shane Long has contributed two goals this year and generally been shit. A footballer with no technical footballing ability but a footballer with a massive heart and the desire to run until he drops.  That has been useful at times this season but it doesn’t make up for the painful inadequacies in front of goal and with his decision-making. If there are 19 choices that are good and one that is wrong, Shane will pick the wrong one. He will shoot from a ridiculous angle or he will pass it when he is right in front of goal with just the goalkeeper to beat. Spurs away when he was clean through and fell over, Leicester away when he was clean through and tried to pass it, succeeding only in knocking it to the keeper and too many others to mention.  Should only be used as a winger really and then only as an impact substitute. If we want to progress as a club, especially if we’re only playing one up front, we need better players than Shane.  I have no issue at all with his attitude but he is just not good enough.

Talking of not good enough - Guido Carrillo. I gave him a bit of time because playing up front on your own in a Pellegrino team is hard work for anybody but Mark Hughes gave him half a game upfront with a partner against a League one side, before deciding that he was in fact an Argentinean donkey that we have paid £19 million for. Yep, we paid £19 million for a turd of a striker who was no better than Sam Gallagher who we loaned out to a Championship club. Let that sink in with our alleged dedication to providing a pathway for youngsters. I guess the black box needs re-programming, only of course, this wasn’t a black box signing – if we’d fed Carrillo’s name into the black box, it would have told us to fuck off and if we’d typed in “£19 million”, it would have exploded.  Having paid 19 million quid for him, there is no way we want to write that off completely but unless we are prepared to take a £7 - £10 million loss, the best hope seems to be to get him out on loan somewhere, possibly back in France where we came from. I will never understand why we signed a player on Pellegrino's recommendation when everyone could see by January that Pellegrino’s judgment on anything should not have been trusted.

Partially forgotten until the Swansea away again was Manolo Gabbiadini. This guy is class and has been chronically mismanaged this season resulting in him hardly playing. He doesn’t help himself at times in that in most games he continued making run after run after run after run but not getting the ball so guilty of trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results.    This was until the Swansea game when he showed no inclination to come short and try and help build up the play. He would be an absolute natural in the number 10 role if he’s inclined to stick around. I hope he does but there has been a lot of agent noise following him around since the start of the season so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he departs. I swear that if this guy was in a decent side he’d score 20 goals.  He is by miles, the best all round striker that we have so in my view, it will be a crying shame if we don’t keep him for next season.

Austin 6, Long 4, Gabbiadini 5, Carrillo 2

The Management

Where do we start with Mauricio Pellegrino. The first thing out to deal with was van Dick being a shithouse and he seem to exude some sort of calm authority at that point but then the football started.  The first alarm bell was when we played a very poor Huddersfield side away from home and didn’t even try and win. A couple of slightly fortunate wins at home against West Ham and away at Palace gave us a slightly false high league position at the start of the season and then came Brighton away when we were again faced with a very poor team and we decided to defend the one goal lead we had from the fifth minute onwards and just invited Brighton to equalise which they duly did. One game later we had an abysmal defeat at home by Burnley when 4-4-2 and the long ball game left him totally paralysed with confusion.  He should’ve been sacked after the pathetic 4-1 home defeat by Leicester or after the home draw with Huddersfield and he should definitely been sacked after the 5-2 embarrassment at Wembley against Tottenham… then he survived the home defeat to Palace… and then the home draw with Brighton… and then the home draw with Stoke…. How much longer..? It was now March and he was showing no signs of learning everything despite saying he was learning every single week and it took an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Newcastle before he was actually fired.  His tactical cluelessness and inability to change the game or react to the opposition changes had finally done for him.  I think he has a very strong claim to be the worst manager we’ve ever had given the resources he had available.

Mark Hughes was then appointed and the fanbase was split between a bit of apathy, a lack of enthusiasm and some had a feeling that he couldn’t possibly be worse than what had gone before.  His first league game in my view was one of the most important games of the season as we embarrassingly capitulated 3-0 to West Ham. If he didn’t know the size of his task before the game, he certainly did now and from then on in he changed the formation to 5 at the back and got us more solid but he managed to do this and make us more of an attacking threat as well. Claude had recognised our central defenders as being weak and the way he dealt with it was to bring the whole midfield back 10 yards so we had no attacking threat.  Pellegrino hadn’t recognized anything and the master stroke of Mark Hughes was solving one problem without creating another.  He also brought with him a steel, a top reputation as a player and the respect that brings with it and the will to win and demeanour that showed everyone that he was not prepared to put up with any crap. Making the players sit through a recording of the West Ham game again and pointing out what was acceptable and what was not acceptable was a masterstroke. Using all the bollocks that went on around the Swansea away again to his advantage was a masterstroke. I just have a feeling that this guy is perfect for the kind of club that we are. The modern footballer is a curious beast and they need to be managed and told what they can and what they can’t get away with. Hughes is the man to do that. Pellegrino was like a shit supply teacher who you nodded in agreement with but then put laxatives in his coffee.  With Hughes, there will be some casualties along the way like Boufal but having had to deal with similar shit house players at Stoke, I’m sure he’s learnt lessons from that and is now better equipped as a manager to deal with a similar but slightly lesser problems that we have at Southampton.  He has kept us up and he thoroughly deserves to stay on into next season. If he doesn’t then it is because there is some sort of problem behind the scenes and the club is not going to back him financially or something like that.

Over to you Les Reed. There is a certain blurring of the lines which goes on so you can never be entirely sure who is responsible for what but Les is the self-styled King of Football Matters at Southampton so as far as I’m concerned, anything goes wrong with the football side has his fingerprints all over it. The transfer window in January 2018 was abysmal, the transfer window last Summer 2017 was average at best, the transfer window of January 2017 was abysmal, the transfer window in the summer of 2016 saw too many of our big players leave.  If Les stays, he has to have severely learnt some lessons from this seasons near miss. If he doesn’t then he’s not fit for purpose and he has to go.  Even if Les didn’t think so at the time, there were huge holes left after all of these windows and he has to see it now and he has to act upon it. If we try and take shortcuts again next season we will be down near the bottom next season.   It’s not just the transfer windows either – who made the decision to loan out Sam Gallagher and then buy no one to replace J-Rod in the summer and then sign Carrillo in January?  How could he persevere with Pellegrino for so long when it was painfully obvious he needed to go?  Les has escaped by the skin of his fucking teeth this year and you can’t keep sticking your head in the lions mouth without one day getting you head bitten off.

Les’ boss is of course Motivational Ice Hockey guy Ralph Krueger who has to his credit, only made one cringe inducing video this season. Hopefully he will know enough about football by now to be able to question Les on the absolute shit show that has gone on in his department.  Of course, the Gao family may have ideas of their own and throw everything up into the air having watched a learned this season.  Let’s just hope that whatever happens, happens quickly.  There is no room for faffing about as is the Southampton Way.  There is a World Cup and a short close season so every day is vital and we need next season’s structure in place within a few days of this season ending.

Pellegrino 1, Hughes 9, Reed 2, Kruger 3

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

League1 Minus 10 Player Review 2017/18 Part 1

This Wall Moves Faster Than Fraser

Let's get these out there and draw a line under the season as soon as possible....

Player Review 2017/18 Part 1


Fraser Forster started the season in goal and continued with his not great form from that tail end of last season. He wasn’t as bad as many will make out but he wasn’t good either. The massive flaw that he had in his game of not getting off his line didn’t seem to have been addressed in the summer and towards the middle of the season there started to be quite a few goals where you felt he could have done better. As well as not getting off his line, he then seem to get into a mode of not using his hands and just letting shots hit him. Of course it was completely in the lap of the gods where rebounds ended up and quite often they ended up with opposition players who just put it into the net. The argument against Alex McCarthy coming in was that he had hardly played for the best part of three years having been bombed out by Crystal Palace, joining Saints, getting injured and then not performing fantastically in Under 23 matches. It wasn’t until Fraser reached the point where virtually anyone would be better that Alex was given the chance and what a revelation. From his first game away at Manchester United when he kept a clean sheet to right to the end of the season, he has been absolutely fantastic. He does all the things the goalkeepers are supposed to do, coming for crosses, commanding the box, giving confidence to defenders. His handling and punching have been immaculate and his kicking is good as well. When a high ball goes into the box and you see him coming for it, you know he’s going to catch it and the defenders know he’s coming as well.  Another bonus is that he doesn’t seem afraid a physical contact from strikers. The decision to play him, which in fairness was made by Mauricio Pellegrino, is one of the biggest reasons for our improvement and escape from relegation. Alex has to be first choice next year and Fraser, who rumour has it is our highest paid player, will hopefully be in demand from the top six club looking to flesh out the home grown element for their European campaigns. 

Oh yeah, Stuart Taylor drank tea and clapped a bit.

Forster 5, McCarthy 9.

Full backs.

There are really only two to talk about and they are Cedric and Ryan Bertrand. Cedric has mainly been complete dump all season with some extremely questionable defending of the wet lettuce variety and crosses at the other end of the pitch that with great regularity go nowhere near any of our players in the box. He gets it right occasionally like he did at Arsenal and Everton but in the main, dump. All the tight shirted poser boy band bollocks that he does on Instagram doesn’t endear him to me either and I severely questioned his attitude in the middle part of the season but with no replacement, he had to keep playing. To be fair he has improved in the last few games and I dare say he’s been given a bit of the Mark Hughes treatment and been told what is acceptable and what is not. He will be off to the World Cup summer with Portugal and I don’t expect him to be a Southampton player next season. He has been okay overall but I think we could comfortably do better.  If he stays he stays but if he goes I’m not bothered.

Ryan Bertrand always plays with a smile on his face. You can always see the joy in his face which illustrates how much he loves it here.  I’m taking the piss of course but there was one moment this season that made me realise that this is just the way he is and it’s not any sort of slight about playing for Southampton. When he scored his first goal for England, he looked miserable after that as well. The guy has great quality both as a defender and going forward and even this season, which is not been his best, has provided some great moments like the overlapping run to set up a goal versus Chelsea. If there’s any justice in the world, he should be England’s first choice left back at the World Cup but again, like with Cedric, I don’t think he will be a Southampton player next season. I for one will be sorry to see him go but he has given us four years and has been an excellent performer in that time so good luck to him. He was happy to leave his comfort zone at Chelsea to join us and improve as a player and he’s done that so to my mind, he deserves a move to one of the big clubs at the age of 28 and I won’t begrudge him that.

Jeremy Pied will leave the club in the summer having played about four games over two years, part because of injury and part because he’s not very good. I don’t think he was even considered as a viable option when Cedric was playing terribly or injured and Jack Stephens got played at right back rather than give him a game on some occasions this season. We as a club have got to get away from signing pathway blockers, as in very cheap , 30+ journeyman players who just bloat out the squad and impede the progress of any youngsters we may have.

Matt Targett had a couple of games and then got loaned out to Fulham where he did really well. He may still help them get promoted if they come through the play-offs. He has never looked totally convincing when he played for us but assuming Bertrand leaves, he should get more opportunity next season. 

The same could be said for Sam McQueen who has always look good to me in any game he has played and in a season with some attitudes have been questioned, he always looks decent in that regard.  He is one that needs more games next season but if we have two other left backs then I would like to see him loaned out for the first half of the season to see how he gets on at a Championship club.

Cedric 4, Bertrand 6

Centre Backs

This is the weakest area of the team because if you don’t have one dominant leader of a centre half then you are always going to struggle and at present, none out of Maya Yoshida, Wesley Hoedt, Jack Stephens or Jan Bednarek are that leader. We had a leader of course but that was Virgil Van Dijk and the less said about that twat, the better. It has all been said before.

To me, if you’re going to play two central defenders then it has to be Maya and Wesley. You have a right sided player and left a player and you have the one with the most experience in the team. I don’t think Pellegrino ever tried this combination, persevering with Stephens and Hoedt which never looked secure at all in the same way that Yoshida and Stevens never look secure last season. Bednarek looked like an absolute car crash at the start of the season and there was a collective sharp intake of breath when Mark Hughes put him in the team after Jack Stephens had twatted Jack Wilshere.

One of the biggest surprises of the season is how well Bednarek has played because he has kept his place and deservedly so. By playing three central defenders, Hughes has managed to get a semi-solid defence that is greater than the sum of its parts. All four look okay at times but none are capable of playing consistently well in the Premier League at present and if we just sign one player this summer it has to be I dominant experienced leader central defender.

Jack Stephens should spend all summer heading footballs because he hasn’t done it all season.  The amount of times the ball floats over his head and he never ever looks like he’s in a position to win it is quite frankly embarrassing for Premier League centre half of 6 foot 2.  other teams have susses it because it’s so obvious.  Play a decent header of the ball coming on from the left and float the ball over Stephens head and see Cedric trying to cope with a big striker running in.  Everything else is pretty much there but he just has to get a little bit nastier and head the fucking ball. To me, he hasn’t improved much from last season and I don’t understand it as it is such an obvious weakness in the same way as Foster staying on his goal line is such an obvious weakness.  Nice lad, good attitude but has to improve.

Talking of not learning, Maya Yoshida still has some of the same issues as he had six years ago when he joined us. He still panics like hell when faced with a big physical striker. He still gets too close to strikers and allows them to roll round him and he still trashes through the back of people when his over eagerness gets the better of him. I saw an interview with him where he said basically that he was telling himself to get stuck in more and that’s all well and good but you have to make the right decision and launching that Everton player into space when already on a yellow card was not a great decision.  All that said, he is the closest we have to a leader back there and once we went to a back three, he has done a good job as the central one of the three at least he did until he had the brain fart Everton.

Wesley Hoedt I think was brought in to learn of a van Dick but van Dick of course wasn’t interested he was only interesting and getting the fuck out of Dodge. The expectation of Wesley was therefore to be the next van Dick and he’s too young and too inexperienced to be that. At the start of the season he had a mistake in him through overconfidence and towards the end of the season he seem to have lost a bit of confidence due to the mistakes that he had made earlier in the season. He does do the odd giraffe on ice impression but I feel that there is a player in there.  He’s pretty good on the ball and assuming he sticks around next season, I see him being a lot better than this season. I don’t have any doubts over his attitude or will to win so I don’t think he’s going to turn out to be another expensive flop.

Yoshida 6, Hoedt 6, Stephens 6, Bednarek 6


I think it’s fair to say that Oriol Romeu has struggled to live up to his past performances this season. I can’t really put a finger on why but there has at times there seems to have been an issue with concentration.  One of the strangest goals that we conceded this season was Harry Kane’s header from 6 inches at Wembley when Romeu basically just stood next to him and let him score. I have no fucking idea what was going on there. With the arrival of Mark Hughes, Romeu certainly rediscovered the grunt in his game and looked like he would die for the cause, picking up a booking in virtually every match. A tally of 14 over a season is really quite a strong effort.

Pierre Emile Hojbjerg was out of favour at the start of the season, sometimes not even making the match day 18 under Pellegrino. When he was given a chance, he gave an interview where we spoke about how much it meant to him and how much he was determined to do well.  Clearly an intelligent footballer, it marked a huge turning point and made him stand out in a sea of players who maybe didn’t have the best of attitudes. Still has a slight tendency to play a little bit safe when he doesn’t need to but this is been a very very good season for Pierre and I don’t think anyone would complain if he was made Captain for next season.  An outside bet for the Danish World Cup Squad and he deserves that if it comes his way as well.  Still very young and one of the best things about staying up is that he’s much more likely to still be here next season.

Mario Lemina, our Instagram Model Rock Star rapper has at various times this season look like the best player in the league (Palace away, WBA away), looked like the worst player in the league (Chelsea in Cup Semi, West Ham away), looked like he really didn’t give a shit about anything other than himself, look like he wanted to get away from the club at the earliest opportunity and at the last minute, looked like he actually cared.  A few weeks ago, after he strolled round Wembley in an FA Cup Semi Final, I would’ve happily driven him to any other club that he wanted to join but I assume there was another meeting with Hughes where he was told what was acceptable and what wasn’t and under a strong manager, I feel that he could be a real asset next season.  He has everything in his game when he’s ‘on it’ and I think we need to give it another season to come out. If we can get Lemina playing to high-level consistently then he would be a fantastic player.  The Social Media Brand bollocks drives me nuts though there has a been a bit of a slowing down in the rate of pictures of him and his girlfriend in their best Jay-Z and Beyonce power couple wannabe poses.

I’m reviewing Steve Davis here because this is where he has played for the majority of the season and not very well. In previous seasons, I’ve liked his consistency and good character but this season seems to have been season too far as far as his legs are concerned. There have been a few more niggling injuries this season as well and he doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere – not strong enough to play as a defensive midfielder and not creative or quick enough to play further forward.  When Pellegrino picked and attacking midfield three of Tadic, JWP and Davo, you knew the lack of pace would be horrible.  I feel that if we had been relegated then he may have stayed another year but as it is, I think that he will move on in the summer and if he does, I hope people remember what a good player he has been from us since we arrived in the Premier league under Nigel Adkins.  A return to Rangers has been mentioned but with Steven Gerrard as manager, who knows what’s going on there?

Romeu 6, Hojbjerg 7, Lemina 5, Davis 4.