22 Sep 2018 16:44:25
Hi guys

Watching Sfc vs Liverpool and to me this epitomises the vast gulf between the top teams and the rest. Liverpool can routinely now spend £70m on a player which is our entire budget for a season. Having seen how so many of our recent acquisitions have been a disaster e. g. Carillo, Boufal, Clasie and incidentally are still on our books and purely on loan until presumably we bite the bullet and sell them for a substantial loss, this surely demonstrates the need to concentrate on a youth system which provides a steady stream of quality players with a genuine chance of progressing through to the first team. My knowledge of our youth set up is minimal so any input would be welcome. Regards vs.

1.) 22 Sep 2018
22 Sep 2018 18:01:44
We have some OK young players. As always, the level of talent isn't on an even keel with some showing promise and others looking Championship or lower. Even Les Reed didn't express any real enthusiasm about he current youth squads until you get down to about 14 yrs old so some way off the first team.

LR also stated that to make it into the Saints first team, a player will need to show international class. We have no youth players at that level, by which I mean knocking on the door of the senior international side. It seems to me he's painted himself into a corner as a young player may not show what he's capable of until he gets a run of starts in the first team, but if LR doesn't think anyone below international class or potential will start, you have to wonder what's the point for many of them.

The Southampton Way previously meant exactly what you set out in your post; acknowledging our lack of financial power against the big six, the aim was to buy young players with potential and promote from our youth ranks with a view to an academy based first team in the future. That dream now appears to have been axed by the club taking a short term view of surviving in the prem. That's the main reason why teams like West Brom, Stoke and Swansea ended up being relegated so with things on the field not improving, we're headed down a similar path unless the club wakes up and changes its approach.

2.) 22 Sep 2018
22 Sep 2018 18:56:11
Hi figo

Excellent post thank you, I'm afraid you may well be right no youth team policy and some awful recent acquisitions, this looks like it could be a long hard season with hopefully 3 worse teams than us, I'd be interested to hear opinions on where and why it seems to have gone so badly wrong!

3.) 22 Sep 2018
22 Sep 2018 19:24:27
With regards to Liverpool, it was actually a pleasure to watch the, (and I am a very hardened Saints fan) . While they once relied on scoring lots of goals and defence seemed secondary, they now have a solid defence that is always fluid. Their pressing was all over the pitch, not just half hearted pressing, but fast, agressive and direct.
Ok and now us. I thought we moved the ball quicker and more upfield than before. We fought hard to gain possession and then just gave it back with poor passes and long balls. I am not sure this is lack of skill, we just weren't used to being pressed so hard and so quickly.
Hoejberg seemed to cope with it, but Lemina really struggled.
As for playing Long upfront alone, did we really think Liverpool were going to be so worried about him that they wouldn't press so high? Long was completely out of the game.
While it was great to see Targett play, playing alongside RB meant that neither quite were used to that scenario. The Bertrand/ Redmond partnership has been a huge part of our attack. So moving RB inside, replacing him with Targett and then moving Redmond over to the right, was changing too much.
High points . watching Liverpool play!

4.) 22 Sep 2018
22 Sep 2018 20:07:11
There were times today where we played alright football. We had some success out wide on the overlap but for me that’s where the positives end. Our defence is alarming currently, I genuinely believe Hughes is a worse defensive coach than Pellegrino (although not as bad overall) and a team of our size and stature can only achieve success based upon a solid defence like in the Poch and Koeman seasons. I’ll admit I don’t go to games regularly but Liverpool away has become an annual game for me so I was there today and last year and I thought today was worse.

5.) 23 Sep 2018
23 Sep 2018 09:20:31
The thing that was bad about the game is that we lined up with 8 defensive minded players and still conceded 3 goals in the first half. Having Redmond and Long as our 2 attacking players was never going to create any problems for Liverpool. We set up to keep Liverpool out and that really didn't work. We set some really soft goals as well. We were obviously lining up to mark zonally from corners, meaning Mario had all the space in the world to score. Hoedt and Vestergaard both look immobile. They shouldn't be playing together. Again today suggests Hughes doesn't have a clue. We're not going to get any better.

6.) 23 Sep 2018
23 Sep 2018 08:50:40
Where and why has it gone so wrong? As is usual with these sorts of things, I don’t think there is only one problem. Its more likely to be a number of issues that have not been addressed properly or ignored full stop. That said, I do not think the club is shot to bits and everyone should resign or we should all give up and go home.

We’ve gone from having aggressive and ambitious approach and a clear strategy in place under Cortese, to reigning that in due to the club’s financial instability. On the field, we reaped the benefits of this initial aggressive approach as MP was brought in and coached Saints to play our finest football. However, the club couldn’t realistically maintain pace with the big 6 clubs so a new financial model was required with curbed ambition. Looking at Barcelona, they recruit the best young talent, mould them to play their style of football and they have that fixed identity and style through all of their youth teams up to the first team allowing a seamless transition and rotation of players. This was the cornerstone of the Southampton Way. The identity of the football was crucial and unchanging so loss of playing staff or even a head coach should have little impact.

But that’s dismissive of the importance of the personality and ability of a head coach. The likes of Johann Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, so influential on Barcelona’s style of play, may well have been taken aback by the sheer arrogance of such a thought. Our last 3 coaching appointments are a case in point. If you’re to maintain a style of play, in the very least you must appoint managers that can coach the team to play that way. It seems obvious but it was lost somewhere along the way. Its also arrogant to expect the best coaches to simply stand by and watch their best first team players sold out from under them each season and be forced to start the coaching process from scratch each season with a new squad.

The downside to the Southampton Way was that it was a long term project that could take years to have an academy based first team. We were very fortunate under our first two coaches to see such collective improvement so quickly. Good young players added excitement to the first team, but player turnover was very high and seemed unsustainable. When you combine high player turnover with loss of head coaching staff, it was incredible we sustained our league position as we did. With hindsight, we had the right players and the right head coaches at the right time. Together, they were able to get the team playing at a surprisingly high level and maintain it. But after the loss of so many first team players and two good head coaches, the Southampton Way had already started to disappear. Under RK in his final season, exciting young players took a back seat as older players were signed in the transfer windows. So it was under CP and MP2.

The other obvious thing is that for a club to have a uniform style through all of the teams, it required a coaching staff all of the same mind set working collectively for the improvement of the players from top to bottom. But I don’t believe we have ever had the right quality of coaching staff or enough coaches to achieve such player improvement. Rather than having young players reach their best, we have been relying on giving players the chance to reach that level of their own accord. So many reserve players going on loan shouldn’t be an indication of their ability as they will spend a season out of the Southampton coaching fold, playing a different style of football.

So in summary the problems were financial, over-ambition, over-confidence, poor recruitment of coaching staff, poor recruitment of playing staff, a loss of identity and style of play, a loss of focus on producing the very best from our youth players already at the club preferring instead to buy in good young players for the first team and the loss of a long term plan, replacing it instead with a short term goal of simply maintaining Premier League football with the hope of being better each season rather than taking any proactive steps to achieve it. If we continue down the route, it’s a well trodden path with the likes of Stoke, West Brom, Sunderland and Swansea all paying the price for lack of development and long term goals, choosing instead to say they don’t have the money to buy the best players and accepting underperformance so long as they ended outside the bottom three.

But as I say, we’re still in the league and still in a position to turn things around. We still have some good young players and a first team squad capable of so much more than we see week in week out. The club needs to return to a long term approach and apply it with total commitment. Return to the Southampton way from style of play through to development of youth and take an honest and objective review of whether those here now can do as required. If not, replace them at the best time with someone who can. Bring stability to the club. Act swiftly, before all positivity of what we have achieved is forgotten and we are simply seen as another undesirable club for players, becoming a graveyard for careers rather than a springboard to the top table.

7.) 23 Sep 2018
23 Sep 2018 11:26:39
I don’t think we are any better off under Hughes than we were last season. The quality of the football has slightly improved but we aren’t exactly knocking em in for fun are we? Defence is the key issue and because of the drop in that under Hughes I feel we are less equipped to pick up points.

8.) 24 Sep 2018
24 Sep 2018 13:06:05
I think our recent success (not in the last 2 years! ) has also become a key reason for our failure. Other teams have cottoned on and now taken the same approach to pluck top talent from around Europe at an early age, which is making it far more difficult to get what I perceive as our top targets.

We see a lot of players 'rumored' to interest Saints, but i'm seeing us signing less and less of them. Are the likes of Clasie, Boufal, Carillo etc simply just the 'best of the rest' from our summer targets?

9.) 25 Sep 2018
25 Sep 2018 02:18:32
Hi guys
It's taken me some time to reflect on Saturdays performance and what a lame lacklustre performance it was. We all know there is now a massive gulf in finances but really! Are we going to use the excuse that Liverpool are that good? and we simply fail to put up anything but token resistance because if that is the case we do not deserve our Premier League place, what about those loyal travelling fans who give up their time and considerable money, they don't deserve that lack of respect. Can you imagine a Pompey side laying down like that? It would never happen. Also who would want to watch a game like that apart from LFC fans? We earned a lot of respect from all soccer fans last season with our battling performance against Man City and what a great game for the neutral to watch and to resort to this pitiful performance is unforgiveable. We have spent £50m in the summer and we are worse this year and let's face it who wants to pay to watch the dross football that we are playing. It took me until October last season to contact the club 're MP2s hopeless management and I would admit I thought MH coming in was a good choice but I am beginning to have my doubts. I have said before I would prefer less talented players possibly Uk who would give everything out on the pitch than the overpaid foreign mercenaries who either see Saints as a stepping stone to a higher level or else a chance to purely double their salary playing in the Premiership shop window. I have commented on our youth policy and for me it is an investment that we should be placing greater emphasis on particularly when you consider what a train wreck our recent transfer policy has been. I read that Manchester United are considering appointing Paul Mitchell who was the guy who pioneered the Saints black box, you may remember he joined up with MP1 when he joined Spurs but evidently got frustrated with Spurs transfer policy and after a 16 month notice period ( you have to love Levy! ) joined RB Leipzig. Now if Saints were smart they would break the bank to get him back if he had still been here hopefully Boufal, Carillo would have been somebody else's catastrophe! I also saw Gazaniga had a good game for Spurs vs Brighton on Saturday presumably that would have saved the £15m for Gunn, your comments are appreciated. Regards vs.