Sunday, May 2, 2021

Premier League Match 32 - Southampton 1 Leicester 1


Jon Moss Strikes Again

Leicester at home on a Friday night, what could possibly go wrong? Moving the game to Friday night has given football media world at large yet another reason to bring up one of our 9-0 defeat. Not that they really need another reason. It may be a game to watch with the commentary turned off and have the dulcet tones of Alan Blackmore and Dave Merrington instead.


Since we played them a couple of weeks ago in the semi-final, Leicester have gone from strength to strength, winning their next two games. One of those wins we should be very grateful for as they stuffed West Brom 3-0. Other results in the Premier League have gone our way as well with Burnley being the only team below us who have managed to win a game, with the win being a very eyebrow-raising 4-0 win away at Wolves. Actually, that statement about no teams below us winning is not quite accurate because Sheffield United won a game but we would’ve wanted them to win that game against Brighton so all is good.

Having thought that Leicester weren’t very good in the semi-final, they were very good in the game against West Brom and really do look nailed on for one of the Champions League places next season, now that the threat of the Super League has gone away.

Talking of that, it’s been very good to see the six clubs attempted trashing of 150 years of football history and the English football pyramid, punished swiftly and harshly. Oh sorry, I made that last bit up. Fuck all has happened. Well, there’s been a few fan protests but the majority are complicit in their indifference to their clubs wrongdoing. Arsenal fans have irritated the fuck out of me this week, getting all excited about a potential new billionaire coming in. That’s not taking back control of the club is it?  It’s just hoping that this billionaire is going to be better than the one you’ve currently got and he’s going to throw a shed loads of money at it, in a bid to make you less shit. Fuck off.

In addition to beating West Brom, Leicester have also beaten Crystal Palace since the semi-final whereas the only game we had was the disappointing last minute defeat against The North London White Cocks. Kelechi Iheanacho, having scored the slightly fortunate winner in the semi-final, has subsequently scored in the two games they’ve had since so he is doubtlessly going to be the main threat today. This is a big game for Ralph and a big test for “we win or we learn“. As it has been less than two weeks since we lost to this team, it’ll be a good chance to see if we have actually learned anything. I really hope that we stick with the JWP/Stuart Armstrong central midfield pairing for starters.

I’m scratching my head a bit.  Just seen the team and there are 3 centre backs and no left back.  Jack Stephens is either going to be part of a back 3 or maybe at left back.  If the former, who is left wing back?  Tella?  KWP with JWP on the right?  So many questions…..Minamino is in for Walcott and Redmond has replaced the injured Ings. 

“Leicester have a full strength side and it’s Friday night, 9-0 night and it’s LIIIIIIVE”, says Martin Tyler… “and next to me on commentary, ex-Leicester striker and all round boring dull as shit pundit, Alan Smith.  Your referee today is a 12 year old by the name of Robert Jones but he’s backed up by the experience of Jon Moss in the VAR room, eating his dinner”.

We start well and it looks like we have a plan to get Tella on the left and Minamino / KWP into he space behind their wing backs.  An early ping over Thomas on our right, finds KWP and he controls and lifts over Schmeichel and there is the briefest of seconds when I think it’s a goal before the flag goes up.  It’s close but fair enough.

Minamino, who has looked totally unsuited to playing our version of the No10 position, then gets it right and pressures Soyunchu and wins the ball.  On It goes to Adams on the right and his pull back finds Tella who bobbles a shite effort straight to Schmeichel from about 12 yards out.  Has to do better there but on the replay, you can see the ball bobbles just before it reaches him.

Good start though and then…. We are casually playing it around at the back.  Vestergaard finds Armstrong who gives it back to him and there’s a disconnect as the signals from Jannik’s brain, fail to travel the 6 foot 7 to his feet and the ball rolls under it.  He lunges at the ball, pokes it back towards McCarthy and catches Vardy on the follow through.  The 12 year old with the whistle, blows and almost instantly waves a red card.  Fuck off!!!  Bednarek isn’t worried – he knows that Jannik played the ball and no Leicester players are in the ref’s face.  Of we go to Stockley Park.

“Hi Mossy it’s wee Bobby Jones, apologies for interrupting your dinner”
“Are you behaving yourself there Bobby boy – past your bedtime isn’t it?”
“I know Mossy, can you check the shiny red card I’ve just given”
“Who was it against, I wasn’t watching?”
“The Big Friendly Giant Guy, I’ve got a colouring book of that at home that my mummy reads me”
“He’s Southampton isn’t he?”
“Yes Mossy”
“Off then isn’t he.  They’ll collapse and get hammered.  It’s in the Sky script they gave you”
“They’re all saying he got the ball Mossy?”
“Just say it was denying a goalscoring chance – it’s subjective – works every time”
“OK, Mossy.  I’ll give it my best grin as he goes.”

Off he goes… for fucks sake.  Ralph reacts straight away and on comes Salisu for the unlucky Tella. Here we fucking go, watching Maddison put this in the net… oooof, just wide. Thank fuck.


Bednarek's Star Jump Clearly Puts Maddison Off

Redmond has dropped in on the left and Salisu has gone to left sided centre back with Stevo remaining at left back.  We actually look decent – very solid and composed no one over committing to pressing.  It’s decent and Leicester aren’t creating much.  There is one jchance just before half time when they quicken up their passing and Ndidi finds Tielemans in the penalty area but he drills his shot straight at McCarthy who blocks well.  Usually in theiis scenario, we’re 5-0 down by now but it’s half time and we’re still level.  Well done boys.

The second half starts ok with the only slight concern being a Castagne cross from the right which McCarthy gathers in slightly awkward fashion.  Leicester have taken Fofana off and brought Ayoze Perez on as Brendan realises that they don’t need three centre backs against one striker.  The good news is that Perez is shite but the bad news is that he’s never shite against us. We are making occasional efforts to press now and Castagne gets tagged by Adams and then attempts to make up for it by bringing Armstrong down, virtually on the goal line.  With no option to shoot, JWP shapes to cross and instead rolls it back to Armstrong, whose left footed effort is blocked by Iheanacho’s arm which is up in the air.  The 12 year old gives a penalty and I hope his pocket money goes up.  Not even fucking Jon Moss can overrule that one and say it was a definite mistake.

Whilst the review is happening, Tyler and Smith can’s resist looking at JWP’s penalty graphic showing 2 goals and 3 misses.  Theyre’ getting all excited as he steps up… and smashes it low into the usual corner of the net.  Schmeichel goes the right way but he isn’t saving that.  Fucking hell, we’re winning.


Long-Haired Loan Guy From Liverpool 

For a second , the excitement seems to get to us and we are all flying into the press and getting bypassed but then common sense prevails and we settle back into it.  Maddison is doing his best but all of his long range pot-shots are off target.  Perez tries one and McCarthy has to shovel it over the bar.  They’re not really creating much in the way of clear cut chances but then of course, they do.  Iheanacho receives the ball from Ndidi on our left and swings over a cross which is met by Evans and 1-1.  Shit goal – he was marked and then left as we ball watched.  Agh!

Time for a change and it’s Minamino off, Diallo on.  Like with the previous sub, Ralph has left things unchanged and Diallo takes up station in front of KWP on the right. 79,80 and then the chances start coming.  Maddison picks out Vardy on the left and he chops back inside KWP and goes for the near post and hits Macca’s boot.  Vardy then gets picked out by Tielemans and he finds Ndidi who fires wide as JWP and KWP throw themselves at the ball.  We are so committed, compared to what we’re usually like.

There is one fuck ing heart attack as Albrighton crosses, McCarthy comes for it, makes a bollocks of it and ends up heading it about a foot wide of the post.  3 mins extra to go and time for the last sub.  My son and I are giving Che Adams a standing ovation as he crawls off.  He’s been superb tonight – what a shift.  On comes N’Lundulu and he’s carries on the good work, haring about after everything.

Blow the fucking whistle you grinning 12 year old bastard… it’s bed time… fuck off…. Yassssss!

What a performance that was. Absolutely brilliant effort from all the players. There wasn’t one who let their head drop, not one who stopped running, not one who gave anything less than 100% all game. Absolutely fabulous.

You know when those fucking surveys come round from the club, when they are trying to get you to spend money on an Artisan burger before the game and stick around in the fan Gulag after the game? Every time I get one of those I write something along the lines of I wanna turn up, watch the guys in red-and-white give 100% for 90 minutes, clap the players off and then go home. That was it tonight, that was perfect. I don’t care that we didn’t win I wouldn’t have cared that much even if we had eventually lost. We gave 100%, in adversity, for 90 minutes.

Let’s start with the adversity. Fucking hell.

On what planet is that a red card?  Jannik has been sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.  Imagine this. A cross comes into the box and a centre back jumps up and heads it clear but as he lands on the ground (which he has to do due to gravity) he lands on a strikers foot.  He’s denied a goal scoring chance and made contact with a player after doing so. He can’t help the gravity thing in the same way that Vestergaard was always going to make contact with Vardy having won the ball with a one footed tackle. I know he made it difficult for himself with a horrific first touch but even so, that is not a foul. With the nanny state rules that we have these days I could understand if he gave a foul and gave a yellow card but even that would’ve been harsh. To give a red card is bullshit and to give it for denying a goalscoring chance is even more bullshit. He’s knocked the ball past before he makes contact with Vardy, so the ball is with McCarthy, so how is it a goalscoring opportunity?

The 12-year-old fucking grinning twat with a whistle could’ve been helped by the fucking fat twat eating a sandwich in the VAR room but Jon Moss again show that he is not fit for purpose. He’s also not fit to referee. He’s also just not fit. It was interesting that Ralph named the VAR ref in his post match interview. They have obviously been talking about the amount of shite decisions we have got off of Jon Moss.

Sky had tried to create this narrative that this was going to be another game very similar to the 9-0 game. First of all they move it to a Friday night and then Martin Tyler and Alan Smith had already established that they were going to be the most Leicester-centric commentary pairing in history. I’ll bet the Sky execs were rubbing their hands with glee when, like in the 9-0 game, we got a red card after 10 minutes. With Nathan Tella being the unlucky player sacrificed to be replaced by Mohammed Salisu and the immediate freekick from Maddison survived, we set to work and did the job superbly.

We were lead from the front by Che Adams who I think won more headers and challenges than he has in his entire Saints career to date. It was the perfect striker performance for Ralph’s system. He looked absolutely knackered at the end. The midfielders dug in really well I was really impressed with the discipline shown by Redmond, Armstrong and in particular Minamino. This is not his style of game at all but he really played with the defensive mindset and reined in any attacking instincts to make sure he was in the right place.

Jack Stephens is like a fish up a tree at left back as has no left foot. It was amusing watching him do a kind of inverse Roberto Carlos and clearing ball with the outside of his right foot up the line the whole time. He had a great game defensively and did what he had to do. Also, he took over from Ryan Bertrand as our time-wasting shithouse in chief, not winning or throw-in or free kick without kicking the ball away afterwards and managing to not get booked. Bednarek and Salisu were absolutely magnificent in the centre of defence and Salisu is going to be some player once he gets up to full speed. It’s rare to see a central defender that powerful and strong and also that quick. KWP probably had his best defensive game at right back. One back post defensive header to deny Vardy right at the end made me think of Cedric and laugh my head off. Then there was Alex McCarthy who earned the bit of luck that he got from the flying beck header that nearly ended up on his own net. The save from Vardy’s close-range blast was what won us the point in the end.

When I saw the 11 names on the team sheet of the start, I did wonder what on earth Ralph was doing and whether we were going to play 3 at the back. I still don’t really understand why Salisu wasn’t playing from the start unless it was because he wasn’t 100% fit. In hindsight it looks like we had a plan to get behind their full backs with Tella and Minamino. For the first 10 minutes it was actually working quite well. KWP had that goal disallowed and we were looking good until the red card changed everything. Early red cards as we know, usually mean we get fucking annihilated so it was good to see that we had learned and two lines of four and 100% commitment will take you a long way.

What I liked about the performance was that it showed that the players are still playing for the manager which I was beginning to question a little bit. If they weren’t, then we would’ve folded today and got beaten by three or four. Ralph showed that he had learned, not only from the United drubbing but also from last week at Spurs.  Then, he brought on Diallo and swapped a few players positions and it went tits skywards.  Today, when Salisu came on for Tella/Vestergaard and when Diallo came on for Minamino, there was a little change to the line-up as possible so the pre-match gameplan was disrupted as little as possible.  Salisu went to centre back instead of left back and Diallo went onto the right wing instead of in the middle.  It really was a great effort from everyone and we can now look forward a bit to the rest of the remaining games.

As I said at the start, it was definitely a game to skip the commentary from Sky and just listen to Radio Solent. I didn’t have chance to get this up in time, so I subjected myself to Martin Tyler and Alan Smith giving the most ridiculous biased commentary I have ever heard. Martin Tyler is just old and he has to go and Alan Smith should just not be allowed anywhere near Arsenal or Leicester games. There was not much sports media reaction to look at because of the three day social media boycott to try and highlight the racism problem that we have on social media but I’ll just say that if you see any pundit have the opinion that Vestergaard deserved to get sent off, then that pundit knows nothing about football.

Who have we got next? – oh shit – Liverpool away.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Premier League Match 31 - Tottenham 2 Southampton 1

 


"Does That mean We're Super League Now Prowsey?"

After the crap that happened on Sunday at Wembley, we march on to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It’s been a bit of a week at Tottenham. Usually Tottenham embarrass themselves on the pitch by being Spursy but now they’ve taken embarrassing themselves to a whole new level. Southampton embarrass themselves in a cup semi-final…. “hold my fucking beer” says Daniel Levy.

It all started with the Dulux dog. They signed a deal to have Dulux as their official fucking paint sponsor or whatever and then the Dulux Twitter account, which was possibly manned by an Arsenal fan, ripped into them about painting empty trophy cabinets and the like. All good harmless fun. Not harmless fun was when they released a statement which declared that they, as one of Europe’s leading clubs would be joining the European Super League. Spurs have not won the top domestic league that they play in since 1961. The only time I remember them ever actually challenging for the title was the year Leicester won it, where they eventually finished third in the two horse race. In my lifetime, they have only really been a Cup team who occasionally won a Cup when the year ended in 1 and then they stopped doing that. Doesn’t really make them a European superpower, does it?

Whilst the European Super League shit show was going on, Daniel Levy took advantage of the cover to fire José Mourinho, possibly because he had been falling out with all the players but more likely because he didn’t want Jose winning a trophy and they are in the Carabao Cup Final at the weekend. With Jose sacked, the European Super League and crumbled to dust and Dr Evil Daniel Levy, issued a statement somehow implying that he thought joining the super league was for the good of the game. He is a bit of an unrepentant charlatan. The bottom line is that Levy, like all the other greedy bastards, just wanted Champions League level income guaranteed.  Football doesn’t work like that though, you have to fucking earn it. Even if you have every advantage under the sun, which the big clubs do, your 11 players have got to beat the 11 players on the other team and you finish where are you finish on sporting merit. Maybe Dulux do a good line in whitewash. 


"Those Foreign Owners Don't Understand the English Game"

All of the clubs that joined in the attempted coup are as bad as each other but it was interesting to see it blamed on ‘foreign owners not understanding the English game and it’s history’.  That may be true for the other five but Daniel Levy was born in the foreign territory of Essex and has been Spurs Chairman for 20 years.  Shitbag.  I don’t wanna get into a big discussion of the European Super league. From now on I’m just gonna sit back with my popcorn and wait for the sanctions to be handed out. I may consume a lot of popcorn whilst I’m waiting.

So, Saints embarrassed themselves at Wembley on Sunday and Spurs embarrassed themselves all over the shop - should be a good game. Ralph has promised changes for Saints which will be interesting and Spurs have put 29-year-old Ryan Mason in charge for the rest of the season and his first job will be to try and win a game without Harry Kane who is apparently injured. Mason couldn’t have a better first opponent. Our record at Tottenham is diabolical so it’s a major leap of faith to imagine us doing anything here tonight.

In the event, Ralph makes 5 changes with Walcott, Tella, Salisu, McCarthy and Adams starting instead of Djenepo, Diallo, Redmond, Forster and Bertrand.  It’s a bit of a strange one to change the keeper but the other four have been dropped on merit.  All are on the bench with the exception of Bertrand who is missing, presumed looking for another club.  Mason’s first line up for Spurs includes Gareth Bale in place of Kane and our nemesis Son Heung Min is present.

We start really surprisingly brightly.  We win a free kick on the left and take it quickly and forward to Tella who chops back in on his right foot and slings over a great cross which is met by Salisu who can only head it straight at Lloris, who is on the ground as it bounces out to Adams who leathers the shite out of it… Goooooaoaoaaaaaaaahowthefuckhasthatnotgonein?  He’s hit it at the one place in the massive fucking goal where the keeper has a chance and it’s hit him and flown off.  Fuck.

As we get into the game we are by far the better side and Spurs seem stuck in walking pace but you know that we’ll probably concede from their first attack and here it comes.  A ball forwards towards Bale is missed by Salisu who can’t get his feet sorted.  Bale backheels it into lo Celso who curls it wide.  We have officially survived the first attack.

We are really playing some good stuff.  Sure, we go backwards a few times but we look bright and there is intent.  I wasn't terribly enthused about the JWP and Armstrong pairing in midfield but they’ve been excellent so far.  Bednarek attempts to find KWP with a low through ball and Reguilon makes a hash of it and KWP picks it up but before he can get the shot away, Lloris is out and smothering everything.  Good goalkeeping and just a shame KWP didn’t have the confidence to take it first time.

Another good move down the right on the half hour sees Ings over hit the cross but Armstrong retrieves it and wins a corner off Aurier.  Over it comes from JWP and Ings moves forward away from Aurier and flicks a superb header, bouncing into the net off of the far post.  Have that you Super League Wankers.

We get to half time in fairly comfortable fashion.  We are the better side and this is because we are getting to the Spurs players quickly and when there is tackle to be made, we are making it.  Armstrong is breaking forward from midfield to good effect and when we have the ball, we are passing it quickly and well, made easier by good movement from all but especially the front two. There’s a let off just before the break as we get all hesitant in defence and Moura leans back and launches one over the bar which he really should have scored.

There’s always a fear when we’ve had a good half that we are going to come out for the second half and be shite.  Initial signs are good though as we create a chance for Ings on the edge of the box and he tries a right footed effort which is straight at Lloris, play goes on and we win it back and then Armstrong just boots it out of play.  Danny has already hobbled off – shite! Looks like another hamstring tweak.  I’m rolling my eyes with the anticipation of Redmond coming on up front but instead of that, it’s Diallo.  Why?  He goes to his usual position and Armstrong goes up front for a bit, before someone gets the message on that Walcott should be up top with Armstrong dropping to the right.


"I'm Going Off, We're Winning, Try not to Fuck It Up"

It’s almost instant.  More space everywhere and less intensity.  In the first half you never saw Spurs players in loads of space but now, one ball into the box and both Son and Moura are unmarked and the biggest danger is that they’ll tackle each other.  Moura’s shot is blocked well by Salisu who has come across but the ball bounces to Bale on the right and he takes a touch before curling it into the far side of the goal.  Great finish it has to be said.  Shambles from us.

The tide has turned now and it’s all Spurs with us barely getting out of our half.  It’s ‘matter of time’ stuff.  We defend pretty well but there’s no threat up front at all.  Walcott is off to be replaced by Djenepo which means yet another reshuffle with Tella going up front.

Time goes on and you dare to start looking at the clock.  I’m surprised to see that we are past 80 minutes but there’s no danger of anyone thinking that we might actually get to the end.  There’s space everywhere now, especially between the midfield and the back line and Reguilon passes to Son on the edge of the box and he simply passes it into the corner of the net.  Fuck off!  Not even surprised.  Oh hang on, VAR.  Who’s on VAR?  Oh it’s our mate Fat Jon Moss.

“Hi there Coots, it’s Mossy”
“Have you checked everything?”
“Yes mate, don’t want to tell you but the Super Leaguers had a player offside”
“Really – which one?”
“Bald bloke, right in the keepers eye line”
“Ah shit Mossy… you know if the Super League does happen… they’ll want referees you know?”
“I know mate… I’m thinking Barca, Madrid, Milan… this is just too obvious though”
“OK, disallowed… this time!”
“Can I get back to my dinner now? – I got sent a food hamper by Daniel Levy”


Oh what a shame, Son has a goal disallowed.  Always dives, breaks legs, lovely bloke though.  VAR used correctly, on we go… Redmond is on for Tella so now, apart from Adams instead of the injured Ings, we’ve reverted to the team that was shite against Leicester on Sunday.

88, 89 and Spurs win a corner as Vestergaard tackles Lamela.  In it comes, flicked on, hits Vestergaard’s arm, half cleared by KWP, hits Alderweireld’s hand, bounces out to Reguilon on the edge of the box and he shoots wide as Djenepo piles in like a twat.   Fuck.  Free kick right on the edge.  Reguilon is clearly not going to get up as he’s mortally wounded and being read the last rites as he rolls around like a fish on the quayside.  The words “VAR Checking Possible Penalty” flash across the screen.  One still image later and I know we’re fucked.

“Got it Coots!”
“Tell me more Mossy”
“Clear foul”
“I know, I’ve given it”
“You’ll love this Coots, fucking love it”
“What, what….”
(Delboy Impression)“This time next year Coots, we’ll be millionaires”
“In the Super League… fuck, yeah”
“I can definitely possibly maybe see from one angle for certain that the contact on the foot that possibly wasn’t touched might have possibly been hovering somewhere maybe over the outer edge of the penalty area”
“Send me to the monitor and show me that angle and that angle only Mossy Boy and of course, blur it up!”
“We’re gonna be rich!!”
“Super fucking League Rich Mossy… get in!”


After the helicopter has landed and taken off to airlift Reguilon to hospital, it’s Son with the penalty but he’s got to get it past McCarthy, whose record at saving penalties is second to everyone.  Let’s face it, he puts it off target or it’s a goal.  2-1.  Fuck off!  There are a few minutes left – we do nothing.  The good news is that after his near death, Reguilon will be available for the Cup Final at the weekend.

Oh what a fucking surprise, we had a good first half and then caved in. Further surprises were that when we made the substitutions and reverted to the players that have been dropped for not being good enough, the team went to shit. Let’s start with that. Spurs started the second-half on top admittedly but one area of the team that worked brilliantly in the first half, to my surprise, was the central midfield pairing of JWP and Armstrong. One of our strikers get injured and Ralph reinstates the central midfield pairing of Diallo and JWP that doesn’t work. Why not just put on another attacker, even if it is bloody Redmond? Why change the team when things weren’t going too badly? We’ve lost an attacker and brought on a midfielder so we’ve basically got one less attacking player on the pitch, taken a step back and moved away from what worked so well in the first half.  Wea re only any good when we defend from the front – as soon as we drop off we are shite.  First Armstrong gets pushed upfront, then he has swapped with Walcott , then Walcott goes off, then Tella goes upfront, then Tella gets taken off. Che Adams must think he’s got a gross personal freshness problem or something because every player that was put with him ended up going off or getting moved after three minutes. Djenepo and Redmond come on, presumably to have an impact of the bench. Djenepo’s impact was to give away the last minute penalty which meant everything was for nothing and Redmond came on and didn’t touch the ball.

The second-half was a complete shambles. What the fuck do we do at half-time? Are they all sat in there smoking weed or something because they come out for the second half all mellow, maaaan!!!. Spurs were there for the taking today after the week they’d had and having a Cup Final in a dew days. Once Spurs equalised, I knew that we were going to lose and the players knew they were going to lose as well. We again showed our lack of ability to react to a setback. Danny Ings goes off injured and everyone, players and manager, just goes to shit.

Losing to Spurs always grates because they are such wankers. They were wankers before this week and they especially are now. Chief wanker on the pitch is Son Heung Min. It’s always a penalty away at Spurs isn’t it and it’s always Son who benefits. At least it was a foul this time but was that really definitely inside the box? Was it really “you’ve clearly got this wrong referee and overturn your decision“? When the shot comes in, he’s outside the box and Djenepo doesn’t appear to make any contact with the foot that perhaps marginally goes in the box and makes minimal contact with the foot that is planted clearly outside the box. Of course, he has thrown himself into the air and it seems to me that Fat Jon Moss can’t be fucked to look at all the angles. Once I saw the one grainy still photo, it was always going to be a penalty and it was a stupid fucking challenge from a player I’m getting very bored seeing defended with “he is young“.  Also on the penalty, the ball clearly hit Toby Alderweireld’s hand just before the shot comes in. It’s hit Vestergaard s arm just before that but that’s not relevant. Spurs gained an advantage through the ball coming off the hand of one of their players.... Or is that part of the rule changed mid-season and I’ve forgotten it. Fucked if I know any more.

Ralph didn’t mention him by name but was clearly annoyed with Moussa in his interview at the end. All I’ve got to say to that is, you know he’s a bit rash and a bit reckless and out of form Ralph… and you put him on the pitch when we were holding on for a point.

The first half was brilliant and the best 45 minutes that we’ve produced for a long long time. It’s a pretty low bar to be fair but we were very good. Armstrong and JWP ran the midfield, Tella was a threat from the wings and Ings and Adams proved that you have got to be off your nut to think they are not our best strike partnership. Adams will be wondering how on earth he didn’t score in the first minute though when that rebound came back to him and he smashed it and just about the only place where he wasn’t going to score. It was another brilliant goal by Danny Ings and it’s such a pisser that this condensed season is catching up with him and he keeps on picking up knocks. At the other end of the pitch, Salisu looks a little bit raw at times but he did okay at left back, Not offering a great deal going forward but he defended a lot better than Ryan Bertrand would’ve done.

In the second half it all went to shit. We stopped driving forward and just invited Spurs to press us near our goal.  We got negative.  It was yell at the TV time when having not been in their half for about 10 minutes, we then won a free kick 40 yards out and instead of trying to knock the ball forward to you know, maybe have a shot or something, we took a quick free-kick and went back 40 yards. Ridiculous negativity.

There were some interesting comments from a clearly rattled Ralph at the press conference afterwards, hinting strongly that a number of players are playing for their places next season. It’s all very well and good saying that but unless we can work some magic in the transfer market then we are really not gonna be able to turn around too many players. Who the fuck is going to want pay any money for some of our shit that we don’t want and where are we going to find the money to buy suitable replacements? We haven’t had what you would call a good transfer window for a long time. You are asking for a miracle if you think we are getting rid of all the shit we have out on loan as well as all the shit that we have in the first team squad and then getting in six or seven players who are going to perform consistently a Premier League level.... for £10-£12 million quid a pop.  I hope there’s a plan in place already because nothing can be learned about this lot in the last few games that you don’t know already.

It was very unsurprising that we lost today but the manner of how we lost was depressing. We have two ways of losing. Turn up and do fuck all or turn up play well for half the game and then cave in. The only real surprise today was that we chose the latter method instead of the former.

The season can’t end soon enough and I for one will be very very pleased when we finally get over the line and are not going to get relegated. It’s ridiculous that it has come to this but the games we should be concentrating on for the rest the season are the ones involving West Brom and Fulham and we should be supporting whoever they are playing against. It’s certainly not over yet.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

FA Cup Semi Final - Leicester City 1 Southampton 0

 


1976 and All That

Semi-final time at Wembley against Leicester.

There Is a remarkable thing that happens when a semi-final comes around. On Monday, I doubt I was alone in having all the wind and optimism sucked out of me by our dismal performance against West Brom. It wasn’t just that game, it’s been the way we have generally been playing for the last few months with a couple of exceptions. All of that seems to have melted away as the week has progressed as people have been talking about 1976 of course.

As I write, the other semi-final has just been played with Chelsea beating Manchester City by a goal to nil in what was a pretty dismal game. Not wishing to get too far ahead of ourselves but we are much more likely to beat Chelsea in the final then we were to beat Manchester City. Now for the small matter of trying to overcome Leicester in the semi-final.

Leicester of course are going along quite nicely and are currently third in the Premier League, where they have been roughly all season. On the face of it, given our current form, we should have as much chance as a balloon over an open fire but Leicester are showing signs of cracking recently as well, losing their last two league games. Those two league games have been against Manchester City and West Ham though where is our form has of course been rather sketchy as well and much worse than theirs. We do however have a better chance than we would’ve had a couple of months ago.

Leicester been having some fun and games recently with three of their players deciding to be dickheads and go to a Covid rules defying party. The three players – James Maddison, Ayoze Pérez and Hamza Choudhury are of varying importance to this Leicester side but they were all left out of their last league game against West Ham. Needless to say, they are all available for today. Maddison will doubtless make up one third of what I think is the best midfield three in the league outside of Manchester City, with Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans making up the other 2/3. Ayoze Pérez of course turns into a world beater against Southampton, against whom he has two hat-trick‘s despite never really doing much against anybody else. Upfront of course they have Jamie Rat Bastard Vardy who has been a thorn in our side in more than one way for the last five years or so and must have about 30 career goals against us. He has not been Leicester’s most in form striker though as that has been Kelechi Iheanacho who has forced Brendan Rodgers to abandon his usual formation and play with two up top which means that they are currently playing with three at the back. In Ricardo and Castagne, they have the fullbacks to play it though and a back three that usually contains Jonny Evans, Wesley Fofana and one out of Lord Farquaad and Daniel Amartey. In goal of course is Kasper Schmeichel, still a very good goalkeeper. In short, they are decent whatever team they put out.

This year I have accepted the fact the Brendan Rodgers is not the dickhead that I couldn’t stand when he was manager in Liverpool and is in fact a very good manager. This was very well illustrated in the last round when he comprehensively overcame the fraud Solskjaer.

Saints have no new injury concerns ahead of the game so I hope for Che Adams coming in upfront to partner Danny Ings and it being a three-way shootout between Redmond, Djenepo and Walcott for the left-wing slot. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Ralph named a completely unchanged team from the diabolical shitshow against West Brom. Redmond has been in front of the Saints media team this week and Walcott is being largely praised from all sides for his contribution on and off the pitch this season. Maybe I’m reading too much in to the fact these two players have been in the media this week.

Wembley is not actually empty today as there are apparently going to be 2000 spectators there. I use the word spectators instead of fans because it’s not like Saints and Leicester have 1000 each. Apparently it’s all local people, so that’s going to be 2000 people looking at their phones all the way through the game if they can be bothered to spend 80 quid on a ticket to watch two teams that they are not interested in. That decision tells you how little, the powers that be understand the game. They have no idea about the tribal element of supporting your club and especially in an FA Cup semi-final and especially for teams like Saints and Leicester. I was amazed to find that this is Leicester‘s first semi-final since 1982. Imagine how much of their fans want to be there. To the suits in charge, the people that watch the games are just punters or customers. If the Chelsea v Manchester City semi-final had been played at St Mary‘s, which is 4 miles from my house, I wouldn’t have even gone if the tickets were a tenner, let alone 80 fucking quid.

The question that most Saints fans have going round in their brain is which Southampton is going to turn up? If it’s the one that went into games at the start of the season looking like they could be absolutely anybody, then great and we have a real good chance of getting to the final. If it’s the version that’s been on the pitch since Christmas then we could be on the wrong end of an absolute fucking shoeing, especially if we get as strung out as we were against West Brom. A hell of a lot depends on how we manage the space on the pitch and the distance between the lines. Diallo and JWP need to get a grip early against the Leicester midfield because half an hour of getting outplayed in there and the game could be gone.

The defence need to get their line position right and absolutely must not get caught on the turn. Vardy is of course on a bit of a goal drought and as we know, Saints are always the ideal team to play when you haven’t scored for a while and keeping Rat Bastard and Iheanacho quiet will be key.

I feel that Saints have got a chance going forward and if Leicester have a weakness than it appears to me to be in the defence. Fofana is going to be brilliant in a few years and he is very good now but I feel that he can be got at and Daniel Amartey is certainly a bit random in some of his decision-making.

It’s a huge game for the managers. For Brendan Rodgers, it is a very real chance to get to a final to try and win a first trophy in English football. Winning them in Scotland when Rangers are in division four doesn’t really cut it at the top level. For Ralph, this is a chance to prove to the watching world that he is a top level manager. Getting to the final and maybe even winning it makes you a Southampton legend up there with Lawrie Mac and the 9-0 defeats (shit... I mentioned it) will merely be footnotes, similar to Lawrie’s relegation with Saints in 1974.

Anyhow, the team news I was looking for is in and I’m looking to see the changes from the West Brom shitshow.
  One, just one? Really?  Walcott out, Djenepo in?  Why?  Why is Che not playing?  To make matters worse, Amartey is not playing for Leicester and Soyunchu is fit so their defence looks better now.  Maddison is on the bench but his fellow Covid-denier Ayoze Perez is in from the start.  Iheanacho forms the strike partnership with Rat Bastard.

I can’t believe I’m this nervous before a game I’m watching on TV.  My real interest in Saints started just after the semi-final in 1976 so after Adrian Bastard Heath, Mark Wright’s broken leg, Brett Ormerod’s header and Mario Lemina’s Walking Football, this is the 5th FA Cup Semi-Final I’ve been involved in.  Five in 45 years… that’s a bit shit really, isn’t it?

Come on boys.  Away we go and Ian Skate Darke mentions 9-0 after 30 seconds and again after 90.  Two and a half years ago at a different ground in a different competition but still he does it. An incredibly cagey start as everyone tries to get a touch of the ball and play a safe pass.  Everyone seems to have read that particular memo except Redmond and Diallo.  Redmond comes short to pick up the ball and knocks is straight back to a Leicester player and when we recover that situation, Diallo dwells on the ball, Vardy nicks it and Leicester are away.  Perez lines up a curler from the left with his right foot and puts it well wide. Referee Chris Kavanagh has noticed though that Diallo has levelled Rat Bastard in the middle so our most inexperienced player has a booking after 3 minutes.

Diallo’s afternoon gets worse not long after as he again gives the ball away cheaply and this time it’s Rat Bastard away and he gets to Fraser, draws the big man out and luckily, lives up to his recent form and lifts the ball well wide.

I’m waiting for our first effort but we are content to try and soak it up and Leicester are content to let us pass it around until we cock it up and it’s Redmond again who gives it away and Vardy is away again and we concede a corner just before half time.  Over it comes and Ndidi heads it back and a combination of Ings and Bednarek stops Rat Bastard scoring and the ball goes over as Bednarek smacks into the post.

That’s more or less it for the first half – pretty uneventful all told.  As an attacking force, we’ve done nothing at all.  Ings has barely had a touch and Armstrong and Djenepo have not made any incisive runs at all.  Redmond is trying to come deep and pick up the ball but it just giving the ball away and every Leicester attack has been started by either him or Diallo giving the ball away.  Diallo to be fair, has improved after a shocking opening ten.

Saints start the second half with a bit more intent but not enough to fashion an effort on goal.  We are at least trying to impose ourselves on the game a bit and that spells danger in our current form.  A ball down the Leicester left sees Vardy against Bednarek and Jan really should trash the Rat Bastard but he allows him to just piss past him with ease.  On he goes and pulls it back to Iheanacho whose first time shot is bollocks and going five yards wide but it hits Vestergaard and bounces straight back to him and the lucky fucker isn’t going to miss from there.  Could have bounced anywhere off at an angle but no, straight back to him.



That's the End of That Then.

So what have we got? 35 minutes and 1-0 down.  Ralph has clearly realised that whatever the tactical plan was for the forwards isn’t working so Redmond is off to be replaced by Adams.  We instantly look more lively with Ings making a nuisance of himself in the box and finding Adams but Evans knows he’s all right foot and blocks the shot well.  The ball bounces out to Diallo who smashes it well over.  It’s Diallo again as Saints try and build up some momentum as Armstrong and Ings try and eventually get a cross in.  It’s header out and Diallo tries a kind of scissor-volley from the edge of the box and there is a millisecond when I think it’s in but it’s hit the pole beside the goal that is anchoring the goal net.

Leicester look momentarily a bit rattled and Soyunchu, who has already been booked, then has a brain fart and blocks off Ings nowhere near the ball but needless to say, the ref misses it and no one looks at it.  You can't have VAR for a second booking anyway.

Djenepo has contributed next to nothing so on comes Theo Walcott and Leicester make a Covid sub with Maddison coming on for Perez.  Needless to say, it’s their sub that makes an impact - Maddison picking the ball up in between our midfield and defence and going forward before driving just wide from about 20 yards out.

Time goes on, nothing happens.  We are going to whimper out of this as we all kind of feared we would.  Ralph goes into random shit substitution tombola mode, with Tella and Salisu coming on for KWP and Bertrand.  We now have a back 3 with Tella and Walcott operating as wing-backs, probably a position neither have ever played.  Nothing happens.  With 3 to go, Vestergaard plonks himself up front.  We’ve created fuck all all game so now it goes all Wimbledon Crazy Gang 1988 as Salisu hurls a long throw from half way and Vestergaard gets fouled.  93 minutes gone and everyone up and JWP overhits the delivery straight to Schmeichel.  That says it all.  Final whistle – a bit of anger, a bit of disappointment and a lot of resignation.

So we turned up at Wembley, we did fuck all and we lost and then we went home. Absolute fucking shit and a complete waste of time. Four rounds we got through, one game from the final and we turn up and play like that.

I can understand the first half performance to keep the game tight but once we went behind in the second-half we had a five minute spell when we looked vaguely dangerous (I mean vaguely as in we didn’t have a shot on fucking target) but after that, for the last 25 minutes we just walked through it and did fuck all. No urgency, no intent, no heart, no guts, no bottle. Nothing. Leicester weren’t even much fucking good but then they didn’t have to be. A lucky goal at the end of the day but they deserved to win, and I hope they win the final. They will have to play considerably better than that though.

This performance was another example of how bad Saints have been since Oriol Romeu got injured but more on that later. More recently, a few days ago in fact, the seeds for this performance were sewn with that dismal performance at West Brom. That game affected us in that we were so bad that we played with complete caution today to avoid another shit show where we were out of the game by half-time. We could’ve learnt something useful from that game in the second half by maybe playing three at the back and/or maybe playing three in the centre of midfield to match Leicester up but we did nothing and that’s down to Ralph. “We lose or we learn” apparently… but we lost, and we learned fuck all.

Today’s team selection was bizarre. Walcott deserve to lose his place but there is no way the Djenepo deserved to be picked ahead of Che Adams. Adams after all, has scored 3 goals in his last 4 starts and in the other one, had a goal disallowed for a tight offside.  Picking Che would of course have meant Nathan Redmond playing on the left wing so one assumes that there was a tactical reason why Ralph wanted Redmond to play as a central striker. Whatever it was, he didn’t do it and Djenepo was a complete waste of space out on the wing. Didn’t beat a single player and I think managed one cross into the box which was at knee height.

Our attacking play as a rule was non-existent. Armstrong didn’t contribute any of his normal bursts forward from midfield and Ings, given admittedly shit service, did very little as well. JWP and Diallo played a lot better in a discipline sense, than they did against West Brom (not difficult) but they added very little in terms of progressive play through to the front players. Again, that area was a massive problem. It was going to be tough enough anyway and then with Diallo getting booked after three minutes, it got even more difficult.

Oriol Romeu became a better player today through not playing. Romeu gives everyone the confidence to go forward and it is just not happening at the moment, not just today. Everyone seem scared about leaving the back door open because we don’t have the insurance policy of Romeu always being there. KWP barely got forward today, Bertrand has not got forward for months, JWP is not making the runs ahead of the ball to be an extra player in the box like he was doing at the start of the season. This formation with the central midfield options that we have at the moment does not work and Ralph has made no visible effort to find a solution. I know we don’t have a like for like replacement for Romeu but just plugging Diallo into that space when he is not the same type of player, is not the answer and it has clearly not been the answer for quite a while.  It’s not Diallo’s fault.


Ralph Consoles Our Only Creative Player

The only person who hit any progressive passes to players in front of him was Jannik Vestergaard. Our 6 foot 7 centre back is now our most creative player. Where is the creativity in this team? Armstrong is usually half decent but Djenepo, Redmond and Walcott (slight caveat as he’s coming back from injury) are all shit with one good contribution every 10 games or thereabouts. Oh, and those contributions are much more likely to come against Championship level sides. We played like a Championship side today. We played like fucking Bournemouth played against us in the sixth round. Turn up, do fuck all, lose. I took the piss out of Bournemouth for not even trying on their big opportunity and yet here we are a few weeks later, doing exactly the same fucking thing.

It’s all very well for Ralph to say that we don’t have the quality on the transitions at the moment and we undoubtedly do have a lack of quality but he picks the team, he trains them, he chooses the formation, he wrote the playbook. This is his team and they do not think on their feet and they do not find answers for themselves. The one exception being Vestergaard who took himself to go up front for the last couple of minutes to try and make something happen. Were our players motivated? If they were they’ve got a funny fucking way of showing it and performances like this just raise more and more questions about the manager. We have one way of playing after two and a half years of his tenure and if that doesn’t work, we have nothing. We didn’t leave everything on the pitch did we Ralph? All that we left on the pitch was the lingering smell from a team that played in an FA Cup semi-final and did nothing.  I appreciate that he may not want to throw players under the bus publicly but then you leave them out next week, in exactly the way he didn’t after the West Brom shambles.

We will survive this season and we will be in the Premier League next year but we will be one of the favourites to go down because at the moment, we are a fucking shit football team.  We are too open and get pumped or we are tight defensively and don’t attack.

It’s not acceptable to play like that in a showpiece game. We managed to do even less than we did in the game against Chelsea three years ago. We had a goal disallowed in that game and the keeper made a couple of really good saves. Today, we didn’t even get a shot on target and the Chelsea team from three years ago was a lot better than the Leicester team of today.

The only small mercy from that shower of shit was that of course, I wasn’t there.

The rest of the season starts on Wednesday against Spurs. I’m not expecting any massive improvement. It’s quite amusing in a black humour kind of way that we were fucking dreadful today but there is no spotlight on it because it became a very good day to bury bad news with the announcement of the European Super league. I needed a good laugh after our performance and when I saw the Spurs consider themselves part of the European elite, that was comedy gold.  Jose Mourinho obviously thought it was funny too and Mr Levy sacked him on Monday.  Spurs could get kicked out of the league and not turn up on Wednesday and we would still struggle to beat them at the moment.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Premier League Match 30 - West Brom 3 Southampton 0

 

"Over to our Guest Summariser; Jeff Goldblum"

Here we are in the graveyard slot on Monday night at 6 pm for an away game at West Brom. It’s Live on Sky but absolutely no one will be watching apart from fans of West Brom and Southampton. It’s even a bit early to start drinking on a Monday night but “Big” Sam Allardyce is involved so drinking maybe essential, even if it’s gravy direct from the gravy boat.

Every time Big Sam gets sacked / found out, I kind of think that that’s the last we’ll see of him in terms of playing against one of his teams but here we are again, as West Brom pressed the Allardyce button, not long after they had lost to us at St Mary’s.  Under Slaven Bilic, West Brom were only going one way and that was down and Sam was brought in to do his usual rescue act. So far, he has had moderate success. Initially, they picked up the odd result against good sides by parking the bus but as soon as they tried to be remotely expansive in home games, they got absolutely battered. Since about Christmas they have tightened up and are no longer heading for a world record goals conceded total (checks Saints goals conceded column) but as I speak, they are still 10 points adrift of the safety line, so Big Sam’s record of never being relegated is under serious threat.

West Brom showed signs of life in the last game when they achieved a quite ridiculous 5-2 away win Chelsea. They were helped by Thiago Silva getting sent off after about 20 minutes but you still have to do the job and they did, tearing Chelsea a new one. The player who caused the vast majority of the damage was Mateus Pareira, who has much more ability than warrants being in the Championship next season. Other notable players are Sam Johnstone in goal, who has just been called up to the England squad and the big lad upfront, Diagne who is, as you would expect, pivotal to the way that Big Sam likes to play.

Saints only appear to have one issue going into this game and that’s the fitness of Kyle Walker-Peters. If there’s any doubt with KWP then personally, I wouldn’t play him. The reason for that of course is that with last weeks’ win against Burnley, we are virtually safe, especially with Fulham losing again on Saturday in a game which saw Mario Lemina crying as they conceded in the last minute. Mario’s sole aim will be for everyone to think that he is some sort of hero in that he really cares about Fulham, which of course fucking doesn’t. It worked though because three hours later, The Athletic had an article praising his commitment when we all know that Mario’s commitment is to himself and his brand. So, 10 points from the drop zone and with an FA Cup semi-final against Leicester next week, I’d leave KWP out if he’s not 100% fit. Just play the reserve right back… Oh yeah, we don’t have one.

Away we go and quite frankly, we look absolute gash.  KWP might be fit to start but he’s all over the place and with no help coming in from Walcott in front of him, The Baggies are all over us.  We conceded an early freekick as Bednarek steams into the back of Diagne.  We do our usual static high line which Big Sam has obviously seen and West Brom play it down the side for Phillips who cuts in unopposed and drills it at Fraser who pushes it out.  Back it comes from Parreira and Diagne is completely unmarked and heads in.  Great start boys for fuck sake – oh hang on – offside flag up.  Off we go to the Twats at Stockley Park and it looks onside.  Vestergaard’s back leg is playing him on though Diagne’s arm is the furthest point forward so who fucking knows?  There is only one view shown on TV and somehow we get away with it, probably because there’s another West Brom player in the mix.  Offside.  Bullshit in my book.

When we start competing for the ball and actually start trying to play, we don’t look too bad.  KWP picks up a Vestergaard ping in the far corner, mugs off the full back and cuts in before panicking and drilling it near post for Johnstone to block.  A minute later, Redmond hits the deck and appeals for a penalty as Ings dances himself some room and curls a shot wide.  There’s another half chance as Redmond breaks on the right and finds Armstrong who skews a shot wide but Ings keeps it in and plays it across goal to no one.

After that flurry, we revert back to being shite.  Every time West Brom advance they do the old hot knife through butter thing.  Our right side is a disaster and the centre is wide open with JWP and Diallo merely being vaguely present.  West Brom piss through the middle with Parreira easily being allowed to find Diagne and it’s a sitter, which he puts miles high and wide.  A dreadful miss which will have had Big Sam choking on his burger with gravy - lots of gravy.

A decent effort follows from Armstrong as Walcott takes a break from contributing nothing to break forward and find him infield but Johnstone reads the shot and claws it away with one for the cameras.  They look so ropey when we attack with any purpose but not as ropey as we do when they attack and guess what happened next?

Fraser clears a ball off the deck to half way and O’Shea wins a free header.  Forward it goes to Diagne who wins a free header and knocks it to Maitland-Niles who is unmarked.  He rolls it to Parreira who is also unmarked and right in front of goal and Fraser comes out and trashes him.  No VAR bullshit is getting us out of that one – down the middle it goes, 1-0.


Fraser Decides It's Time Someone Actually Got Close to a Player.  Misjudges It.

Saints work hard in possession to try and get back into the game for about a minute and then Danny Ings gets involved, turns back towards our own goal on the right and plays the ball straight to Diagne.  He’s off and curls a beautiful ball across the goal and there’s Phillips at the back post who has come in off the right and he bundles it high into the net at the back post.  Fucks sake. Taxi for Bertrand to get him back – that’s your man who just scored.

The rest of the first half is shit as we settle for only being 2-0 down at half time.  We achieve that which feels to me like a bit of a result.  No one wants to do the basics like running and pressing and passing the ball to a team mate quickly, not to mention the old ‘mark the opposition players’ thing.  The only question should be, how many of these useless arseholes get subbed at half time?  Two? Maybe three?

None is the answer as the same 11 come out.  West Brom have clearly decide to try and hold their advantage and not give us anything so of course, we have a bit more possession.  We do draw the Baggies out and attack on the break but KWP takes too long and chooses the wrong option and the promising break ends with Armstrong drilling a 30 yarder with his wrong foot, straight at Johnstone.

With the Baggies now playing on the break, we then concede the shittiest goal since the last one as Johnstone boots it downfield, it’s headed down by Bednarek, one pass and Robinson is clean through with Vestergaard isolated and on the turn, bang, 3-0, absolute shit.

There are 20 minutes left and we still haven’t made any subs.  West Brom have made two and they’re 3-0 up.  Finally there’s movement on the bench after 76 minutes of unadulterated shite and it’s a predictable one with Adams coming on for Walcott.    Adams at least makes a bit of an impression as Redmond puts him away on the right-hand side it cuts into the area and drills a cross-shot and it flashes just wide of the far post. That’s our best effort on goal to be honest. 

87 minutes and it’s time for some game changing subs with Tella and Djenepo coming on for Ings and KWP.  Djenepo is at right back but he doesn’t care and he lines up Townshend who trashes him with a very tired looking challenge and it’s a clear penalty.  It’s that kind of day though as up steps JWP and he goes for his usual corner with the usual whip and Johnstone gets across well to save.  He moved a fucking mile but they can’t be bothered to look at it, which is good because it means that the end comes quicker.

Absolute dogshit.

I feel that it’s going to be pretty hard to express in words how absolutely fucking dreadful that was. I mean, it had no redeeming features whatsoever. Did we put in effort? no. Were we unlucky? no. Did the score flatter West Brom? no. Do we have an injury crisis? No. Did a bunch of decisions go against us? No.

Let’s start with Ralph. Ralph picked the team that he thought was his best side and in all likelihood was going to be the team that started the FA Cup semi-final next week.  Today, that team was fucking dreadful from the first minute. You could certainly tell from the opening five that we were going to lose and it didn’t get any better and yet it took until the 75th minute for Ralph to try and change anything significant.  It’s not like he has no options on the bench any more. Allardyce actually made his subs first and they were 3-0 up for fuck sake. When the subs did came, it was just the usual suspects and we learned nothing.  For me, there was a massive problem today, same as in the first half against Burnley, with the Diallo and JWP midfield pairing. The two of them just do not defend and the centre backs are then exposed because the gaps between the lines are too big.  In short, in modern parlance, Romeu is a 6, Hojbjerg was a 6, JWP and Diallo are both 8s.  Last season and for most of this, a combination of a 6 and an 8 in central midfield has worked pretty well for us.  This combination just doesn’t work at the moment.  They both try and push forward, we lose the ball, then there are huge gaps and the slow central defenders are exposed.  Diallo has not been the same player since his injury but it’s this version of Diallo that we have at the moment.  Also, because they are not getting much protection from in front of them, the defence tends to naturally drift back towards our own goal, making the problem worse.

This was the ideal game to bring on Alex Jankewitz at half-time for Diallo because the game was already going south and he couldn’t possibly have been any worse (as long as he stayed on the pitch). We might have actually found out if there was a genuine option for central midfield there but as it was, we learned nothing.  “We lose or we learn” – apparently.

Is there a possibility that teams have totally sussed out how we’re going to play because there is never any variation in it? Same formation, same style of play and if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work.  Remember, the comeback against Burnley was an anomaly – when we go behind we usually have nothing in reply. If you look at West Brom‘s last two games, they played five at the back against Chelsea and though they were admittedly helped by the early red card, they won the game. Against us, they decided to set up differently and they won the game – we clearly weren’t sure how they were going to play at the start whereas they knew everything about us. We go in to every game with the same formation and the same way of playing. I’ve no doubt that there were minor tweaks made along the way in the game today but today needed more than minor tweaks. We were getting fucking hammered, even before they scored, so moving someone 5 yards this way or 5 yards that way at half time really wasn’t going to make any difference. Like against Burnley, the front six players were completely lightweight. Admittedly we don’t have a lot of options but we got away with it against Burnley but we didn’t get away with it today because West Brom stayed on it for the entire 90 minutes.

Look around the team – so may players were awful.  KWP played like a fish up a tree and defensively was horrific for the first half at least. Ryan Bertrand has turned into the player most likely to bottle out of any challenge.  Bednarek has been shot since the Man United 9-0.  Going forward - we were pathetic, either choosing the wrong option, being too slow to play the pass and basically not being committed enough to score a goal. No one was really busting a gut to score and that’s what pissed me off the most. It was like the Brighton home game where we showed absolutely no urgency to score a goal when behind.  Redmond was favourite for a goal after a rebound, but the defender wanted it more and guess who got the ball?  Ings just kept on trying to work a position rather than shoot and Walcott… bloody hell.  Che Adams has been dropped when playing well and because Redmond had a good game against Bournemouth and a half decent one against Burnley, Adams is still on the bench.  I’d maybe excuse Armstrong, Forster and Vestergaard today but the rest of the starting XI were dreadful.

We got incredibly lucky to get away with a VAR decision after about three minutes which we apparently got away with because they didn’t have a camera at the right angle or some such complete bollocks. Even if they had had a camera, Diagne’s his arm may well have been beyond Vestergaard‘s foot so it may well have been disallowed anyway but it looked perfectly okay and it’s the sort of goal that should stand. The penalty we gave away was an absolute clusterfuck - Fraser kicked it, two free headers and an unmarked player in the box and Fraser carts him over. The second goal goes down as an assist for Danny Ings but our scramble defence once we gave the ball away was non-existent with Bertand not matching the run of man Phillips who scored the goal. The third goal came because we had nothing in the centre of midfield and West Brom were allowed to stroll through and set up Robinson for an easy finish.

The players clearly had one eye on next week and to be honest, if it was down to me, there would be a few not playing next week, namely Redmond and Walcott. Diallo and Bertrand would also be under threat if we had any other option. Adams (missed by a whisker) and Djenepo (won a penalty) did more in their cameos today than either Redmond or Walcott managed.

The ironic thing is that all will be forgiven if we manage to win next week but I would say that the chances of that happening are very slim. Leicester are not in great form themselves but their form is considerably better than ours and as we are certain to go into it with virtually the same team as we had tonight, we are going to get absolutely smashed in midfield and we could well end up just hoping to keep the score down. It was absolutely pathetic today and it’s the sort of performance that makes you feel that way.

West Brom are incredibly unlikely to stay up. They probably know that but it didn’t stop them playing with a spirit and urgency that was far too much for our gutless wankers today. They totally deserved to win and if they kept their foot on the gas throughout the second half they probably would’ve won by more. Fair play to them and fair play to Big Sam. I bet he’s chowing down on an extra-large gravy boat full of the good stuff as we speak.

Next week it’s the FA Cup semi-final against Leicester at Wembley and won’t that be fun. Up the fucking Saints.