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25 Oct 2017 22:13:29
Now Leicester have confirmed Puel, what are people's thoughts?

It seems an odd appointment to me in light of Leicester's style of play but it will be interesting to see whether Puel tries to change his approach or whether Leicester change tack.

figodasilva

{Ed002's Note - Very good manager, not the club for him.}


1.) 26 Oct 2017 09:01:03
Hi Ed's. What's your opinion of him, in terms of Southampton getting rid of him? Do you think we were right in doing that or do you think we should have kept him on?

{Ed002's Note - I think he should have stayed. He is a good guy.}


 

 

 

figodasilva's banter posts with other poster's replies to figodasilva's banter posts

 

24 Nov 2017 14:22:43
Planet Football have a top ten of this season's Keepers in the Prem and our very own Fraser Forster ranks at number 7. Apparently, being 6ft 7 helps you save a lot of shots from close range. Sadly, his save percentage of shots from outside the box is in the low 60s making him by far the worst stopper in the Prem from that range. Just about sums it up.

figodasilva

1.) 24 Nov 2017 15:09:33
I'm not even sure he saves the close range ones. they just seem to hit him. Anything a couple of inches either side of him that require moving usually ends in a goal.


2.) 25 Nov 2017 09:04:24
Better give him another new contract then, well done Les you useless pr***.


 

 

02 Nov 2017 13:19:20
This is response to Saint Duke's post on the transfer rumour page.

I for one am sorry to hear that watching the Saints at the moment is so depressing for you. I think from most of the messages and posts you read on here, most if not all agree that it is hard going at the moment so you're not alone if that does give you any comfort. Nothing any of us has posted or will post on this site is going to make the team or tactics change is this is just a forum for getting things off your chest and batting ideas around but its cathartic at least so let my try and put a positive spin on the way you're feeling at the moment.

Supporting Saints has always been a roller coaster in my life time - mid to late 1980s onwards. After the moments of success on the 70s, my childhood was spent forever fearing the abyss of relegation as Saints seemed every season to pull it out of the fire in the last game of the season to stay up for another year. Then came the 90s with little change until Hoddle brought us league comfort for the first time in decades, only to ditch us for his real love, Spurs. The bar of expectation was raised. We can compete in this league. We want more of this. Then it seemed the board would conspire to hold the team back, or it least that's how it appeared. Little investment on the field saw little progress until Strachan came in and suddenly brought a bit of swagger back to the side. However, that didn't last long as a fall out with the board, probably over spending and ambition put paid to the best spell in the sun we had had in my years supporting Saints.

So when all that promise fell away and we quickly tumbled out of the league, it was hard to take. Little changed in the Championship and after failing to get straight back up, money was tighter and again, lack of ambition and spending lead to us falling to the third tier of English football. But it was the best thing to happen to us.

In League one, we were far better than pretty much everyone in our promotion season. With the caveat that we were down there, watching Saints became a pleasure once more as we were prolific and won so often. The bar was raised along with our expectations. Runners up in the league, the Championship performances were equally impressive. We had goals of play-offs and promotion in both of these leagues and we got there. In the Champ, it was at the first time of asking. We were riding the crest of a wave. We went to Wembley and comfortably won the Johnson's Paint Trophy. Silverware. The bar was raised again and the team delivered with new owners and investment making it all happen.

Back to the Prem and we all hope in the first instance to stay safe and the job was pulled off. We had a good, young manager drafted in and more success in league positions followed as we started to defy the critics and challenge for Europe whilst playing good football. Poch left and was replaced by Koeman who changed a few things but the team carried on where Poch had left off. And so, four seasons went by with us punching above our weight and becoming accustomed to challenging for Europe each season.

But Alex Ferguson said that the lifecycle of a team is about four years and then you have to change things up. Start again. Rebuild. And I genuinely think that's where we are. We've sold more players than we've brought in during that period of success with Poch and Koeman. The club's idea is that we bring young academy players into the team but despite the odd appearance of 3 or 4 in our recent successful spell, none have broken in and held a place. This season, I can't recall any of our young players coming in. I'm not sure if that's down to the club or the coaching staff. The Premier League is a very competitive and pressurised environment and let's not forget, we have a new owner now, whose expectations may be very different to those previous.

figodasilva

1.) 02 Nov 2017 13:32:59
(Cont. )
So, we’ve had a long period of about 8 or 9 years where the team has enjoyed a good spell of success, won things, brought confidence in the team and excitement about winning and playing well. We’ve signed some good players at last and carried on despite the doom-mongers predicting failure every time Liverpool and Arsenal circled our best players. That inspires pride and grit and belief that our team will carry on, despite adversity. It’s only natural that now we are on a bit of a dip, it will feel a little depressing to everyone. You’re not wrong for wanting the team to play well and win matches. It’s what every fan wants. But don’t hang-up your season ticket just yet.

This season and last do appear very transitional. Last season, we had an owner looking to sell and players unhappy with the decline of the team and blaming the manager for it. We’ve had a summer of changes, a new owner after much wrangling and arguably our best player openly sought a move away and sulked when it didn’t come. On top of that, we brought in a new manager. We shouldn’t be so surprised we haven’t hit the ground running.

I think a lot of the concerns relate to the team’s performances and how nothing appears to have improved after last season. We hoped for a fresh start and return to success but instead, it feels like we’re still the same team as last season. Then, as now, we struggled to score goals and we failed to address that over the summer with signings or bringing in our academy players and it’s unclear why. But, we are not hopeless. We are winning games and we sit in the middle of the table. We are far away from the relegation fights I grew up on. We only appear to be struggling because we have enjoyed such a long period of success. There must be at least 9 other teams in the league who look at us and think, ‘wouldn’t mind their problems’.

I still have faith in MP as our coach. He is positive about changing the team to try to get the best results, although our best formation and starting line-up haven’t quite been settled on yet. If CP deserved more time and shouldn’t have been sacked, then MP deserves at least the same time, if not the additional period you feel CP warranted. We should give MP the season and see where we are. Also, the Eds on here reckoned that spending would be limited this summer with a new owner coming in late under the terms that he did, and we were more likely to see investment next summer. If that’s the case, there is still hope to cling on to, even if its waiting for the summer and seeing where that takes us. This season will be a toil at times and man of us, me included, have forgotten what that feels like. We don’t want a boring side, a mediocre side or a struggling side and I still hope the players and coaching staff will turn things around.

But even if things remain the same, its Saints. They’re our football team and I will support them each game through good and bad because that’s what we always have done and will continue to do. When things are hard and results a struggle, the team need our support more than ever. Now is the time to make sure you’re at the game (and not booing) to get behind the team so you can be smug about not being a fair weather fan when things improve later. We’ve only played 10 games, not even a third of a season. Plenty of time to consolidate, improve and make up ground. COYR.


2.) 02 Nov 2017 14:16:25
Great post. There is a psychology concept called Familiarity Bias - which in shorthand goes - if things have happened recently - your brain expects them to happen again, even though the data and stats suggest otherwise.

So instead of using the promotion seasons and European season/ s as a guideline to what you expect from Saints - use other data - team value, league points, spending at other clubs etc and you will see that we are probably lucky to be in the Prem or at the very least not scrapping it out in the bottom 6 each season.

To float around at 10th place is actually pretty good - given that the 6 or 7 clubs above us are too good to win points off consistently - kind of puts us in the top 3 or 4 of our 'other' premier league table.

But Southampton is a great club and once in a while a team comes together that is better than the sum of its parts and with our buying in the £20m bargains that we seem to find that may well happen every few seasons - and the football Gods smile again.

But be sensible - we are unlikely to win the prem League - could win another FA cup say once every 30 years - won't win the CL or probably even qualify for it more than once every 20 years - and have a reasonable chance at the league cup once every 8 seasons.

So if you support the Saints because they are a good smaller club who punch above their weight and give you joy a few times a year by beating Liverpool or Arsenal etc - and bring through some excellent talented players - then COYS - but if you expect a huge trophy list and lots of Easyjet away games - then Saints is not the team to support.

One last point - our current stable of younger players - many joined when we were on the way down and out of the top tier - at an old training facility - and probably the better selection joined other clubs. Now we have been in the prem for a few years with excellent facilities and reputation for player development the younger 12 - 16 year olds should start to produce again in 3 or 4 seasons.

I am a Saints supporter by the way - just being honest about being constantly disappointing by over expecting the team to over-perform when compared to the last few years exceptional outcomes.


3.) 02 Nov 2017 17:15:13
In reply to both posts responding to my post I think they are both eloquently put and make a lot of sense. My only response to them both is that I was stating my personal feelings regarding where we are as a football club, I don't believe we are in a transitional period I would rather call it stagnant and uninspiring almost as though we are walking through treacle. I really want to be wrong but there does become a time when waiting for the promised improvement you can lose a bit of faith. I have almost lost that and go to all matches now hoping we might get it right this time but deep down expecting as to struggle. I will never stop supporting the club ever but I certainly don't look forward to the weekends with hopeful anticipation, this makes me a bit sad, I know we can play better and I have just got a feeling it needs to happen pretty soon or we could be in trouble. As I have said it is just my personal opinion which I know this website is designed for however I respect all posts submitted and enjoy reading them regardless of whether I agree or not. Keep them coming guys.


4.) 02 Nov 2017 17:20:54
Oh and just one other point in response to Figo's post I didn't say that Pellegrino should be sacked, far from it, my point was that I don't think he was the right replacement for CP.


5.) 02 Nov 2017 18:26:12
Everything coming from southampton seems to be "transitional " or "looking for identity" so I agree they are in a rebuild, cusp type moment. I still would like to know more about behind the scenes. how are the youth players training, how are they getting on . because I don't know if I missed something but Josh Sims and Harrison reed looked ready and were performing well in the premiership. I'm not saying they should be starters I'm just saying I would like more access to the thinking behind where Stephens, mcqueen, reed, Sims and alike are in the squad setup. I appreciate the social media spoofs they do . always good for a laugh but I would rather watch an episode of films done on the squads younger players and fringe players (I know injuries have been an issue and they can't be too open with the information but fans are paying lots of money and sitting through some awful football. some clarity would be nice.


 

 

21 Oct 2017 17:24:57
So 4-4-2 diamond today. Usual issue is with width as it asks a lot of your fullbacks to play like wing backs and Romeu will need to deputise as a makeshift centre back as they push on. Fingers crossed.

figodasilva

 

 

 

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02 Nov 2017 13:18:17
Hi Saint Duke. I've posted a reply on the banter page if you have a few minutes to read it.

figodasilva

 

 

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13 Sep 2017 11:03:37
Thank you. I agree, that the best way to use a forum is to have a chat, clear the air and then hopefully, find a positive thread to look forward to Saturday rather than dread it.

I don’t see Redmond or Boufal as viable wing backs. Perhaps auxiliary forwards if we need to move a midfielder up to play off Austin? I still think this 3-5-2 lacks pace though. We’d rely heavily on the wing backs for pace. In an ideal world our attacking midfielder would also have pace too but if you look at a team like Leicester, they make do with pace in wide areas and a striker.

I don’t think Forster is the long term solution but he’s the best option from the current squad. I was disappointed the young keeper who came on loan last season didn’t get more of a chance. Forster doesn’t command his area which is odd given his size. The best example was Zlatan’s headed goal to beat us at Wembley last year. What was he, three yards away from our goal line? It was a floated cross too so Forster had time to get there. Distribution last season was frightening and barely reached the halfway line at times and he doesn’t get down quickly enough to save the low shots. I was concerned to see him dive to save Watford’s first attempt last week and he seemed to pull his hands away at the vital moment, as if he thought it was going wide.

So I’m not crazy. I do see the flaws, but I just think there’s no fixing some things at the moment and this is going to be another transitional season. Its cathartic to come on here and have a moan but at the same point, negativity can spread like wildfire and we end up jeering or booing our team which does little for their confidence this early on the season.

I hope performances can improve but it may be up and down like last year. We may see more from Hojberg now he’s more settled, Boufal may also improve and Lemina may be the new Schneiderlin. Fingers crossed. I also hope the new owners will make funds available next summer. I think the eds highlighted ffp rules may mean less spending this year, but given PSG have been able to do what they have with limited scrutiny, apparently ffp is now worthless.

On to managerless Palace. Its got draw written all over it with two teams struggling to score and low on confidence, but if we can get a lucky break, or if MP hits on a solution to our attacking issue, tactically or through personnel, maybe we can secure another three points. COYR.

figodasilva

 

 

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12 Sep 2017 21:08:03
Thanks for the response Rich.

I’m not going to bang the JWP drum much because I’m also not sure where he fits into our team – he’s not really an attacking midfielder, nor a defensive one. He would probably benefit from a 3/ 5/ 2 with Lemina and Romeu behind him to provide protection so he can patrol behind and interchange with a front two.

The problem I have with statistics is they are always open to interpretation. Yes, in the last 5 seasons, JWP has 148 appearances, but only 79 were starts and he hasn’t played the full 90 minutes of many (if any) of those games. If we say a young player learning the ropes requires a consistent run, these stats don’t tell us how many consecutive games he has played. I’m sure its not many considering he’s been around the first team for 5 seasons. His best appearance stats came last season and he provided 4 goals and 4 assists from 22 starts. Not bad for someone who is in and out of the team and utilised in several different positions when he does come in. Not only that but he’s 22. The onus is on the club to find a way to fit him into the team if they want to get the best out of him, rather than squeeze him into the starting line-up.

Like Redmond, yes they both have a good level of experience now, but age also relates to maturity and confidence levels and other related factors. If a player reaches his peak at about 27 or 28, both players have a lot of development ahead of them so is it fair we bin them now? It comes back to the argument of do you give our young players, our young English players, a chance to progress in their respective first teams, playing regularly in the premier league, or do you give up on them and drop them back to the under 23s?

Your other team stats in your first post all focused on action inside Watford’s box. As much as we would like the game to be played out in the opposition box, the majority of a match’s action takes place in the middle third of the pitch for the vast majority of teams in the vast majority of matches, so events inside the box, unless you’re playing an inept team, are going to be very limited. Also, with stats as detailed as this, I for one do not know what is average in a 90 minute game of football in the premier league, what is average in a match for a team that plays a similar system and style to us (when you are able to detect one), or even what is average for the teams that are likely to be around us in the league table. Whilst a zero stat isn’t great, how rare is it?

In any event, my point is the stats, even your new ones, don’t tell us the cause of the problem, they simply highlight the symptom, which is we are pretty blunt going forward. In my view, we struggle because we are playing in front of the opposition because we are slow in moving the ball forward and any chance of a quick break, unless a genuine one on one, is usually curtailed as the breaking player has to check his run to hold the ball up and await support. Its all very one dimensional and predictable with even the weakest teams in the prem not being stretched as we do not hit them at pace and catch them out of position.

I’m not sure I’m comfortable with a 4-4-2 as most teams set up with up to 5 midfielders and three attackers when in possession, so they could bypass a 4 man midfield. Plus, Shane Long I don’t see as a wide option as, while he has some pace, I’m not sure he has the end product required either. I like playing Gabbi and Austin together though. It has to be worth a try. So a 3-5-2 perhaps with Yoshi, Stephens and Hoedt/ Bertrand (if VVD doesn’t return to the team), Cedric and Bertrand/ McQueen as wing-backs Lemina, Romeu and JWP/ Hojberg/ Davis in the middle and Gabbi playing in and around Austin.

figodasilva

 

 

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12 Sep 2017 14:12:55
The point is Rich that your statistics based on one match do not actually shed a great deal of light on the problems our team is experiencing, they merely highlight the symptoms. Also, if you feel that 3 or4 of our starting players are not good enough, then what is the solution? You suggest none. We can’t buy anyone now. Who in the squad can come in to the first team and make such a radical difference? Lemina of course can return and looks a prospect on paper, (lets not pretend after one appearance for the first team we have it nailed on how good he is and what his strengths and weaknesses will be), but even he is a young player who will require a little time to adapt to the pace and power of our league in comparison to Serie A. Saying age has nothing to do with the performance and consistency of several of our players is either wilfully naïve or moronic.
My point about bedding in new players Gregg does not relate solely to the starting 11, especially not in relation to the one game against Watford. A team needs strength in depth to provide competition for places and for form players to come off the bench and make a difference in games where things aren’t quite working. With players like Bednarek, Hoedt and Lemina, Hojberg i. e the young players that our club is choosing to invest in rather than bringing in proven premier league performers, all will take time to find their feet with ups and downs in their performances. This will impact the first team whether they are on the pitch or competing for places.
Southampton Football Club has stated its aim is to invest in young players we can develop and bring in to the first team, rather than spending a lot of money on established players. Until those young players are on the pitch performing consistently, we continue to invest in the future of the first team rather than its present. That said, the club is not slow to invest and bring in established players to bolster the first team squad if the need is apparent. Gabbiadini is an example, coming in last January to great effect before his injury. So, if we continue to struggle in front of goal, hopefully we’ll see investment in January. Long gone are the days under the likes of Rupert Lowe where your squad at the start of the season, irrespective of the opening and shutting of transfer windows, would remain the same. Our club is now more pragmatic with its playing staff and the coaching staff if things aren’t working.
We’re 4 games in. We have a new head coach. The first team squad has not really been added to over the summer, especially in attack so we face similar problems to last season. That puts a lot of pressure on the new head coach to solve the problem going forward that Claude Puel could not. Why not wait and see how we’re doing after 10 games or on the run up to Christmas before writing off the team?

figodasilva

 

 

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11 Sep 2017 18:51:34
We just need to be patient. let's not forget we have a new manager and several new players to bed in. Its frustrating to see we have the same problems as last season but that is due to the lack of recruitment in attacking positions which was down to the club rather than MP. He has to coach the squad he has, the same as we have to support the team playing for us each week.

Our weakness is that we lack pace in attack, so end up playing in front of teams, failing to break with enough pace to get in behind or catch them out of position. We’re too easy to defend against at the moment. Teams know what we’re going to do before we do as we are one dimensional and nothing has moved on since last season at the moment.

The positive thing is that MP sees the problem and is shifting players around and dropping anyone who is not performing. Its logical that if the first team squad cannot perform well enough, someone in the reserves may so at some point, MP may start introducing fringe players into the match squad. let's not forget, Chelsea looked ropey at the start of last season until their new manager rolled the dice, changed formation and gambled on squad players like Victor Moses being able to do a job out of position. It paid off and MP may need to find a similar solution.

As fans, all we can do is support the team and MP and hope they find a way to turn things around. We’re only 4 games in so let's not write off the season just yet. We must understand MP will have to take risks with players and try different things. Rather than bemoan any failed experiments, we should celebrate having a head coach who is willing to shake things up to try to get us out of this rough patch.

Finally, we have to be realistic. let's not forget who we are and where we have come from. We are now a good premier league team and relegation is not on anyone’s minds at this early stage. If it is, you should feel free to book an appointment with your psychiatrist at the earliest available date. We have a model of developing young players, whose form and confidence can be up and down. Look at Pogba at utd last season for example. We can’t be too harsh on the likes of JWP and Redmond as they are still young. The same applies to Stephens, Lemina, Targett, Sims, even Hoedt etc. We must therefore accept that we will go through rough and smooth patches and our league position may be inconsistent. Short term loss for long term gain. If we can create a squad like Tottenham has, with youth and ability on its side, we could see the start of a long spell of success for the club. That’s what the club wants. That’s what we all want. It will be worth a few mediocre seasons is we can reach that goal.

figodasilva

 

 

 

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01 Dec 2017 14:37:51
After the Liverpool match, Cedric said in an interview that the players probably gave up after going behind and MP was understandably angry with this. He called a meeting with the players and whatever went on behind closed doors, the team came out and played very well against an admittedly mediocre Everton side. The players were at it from the first minute and the opening 20 minutes of play where some of the best Saints have played in about 2 years. The second half was also impressive and a huge improvement on performances earlier this season.

We then go to Man City, in Manchester, the team that many on here were predicting a week ago would put double figures past us and we were unlucky not to force the draw. Hell, as some other posters have highlighted, if we’d scored one or two of our other gilt-edged chances, we could’ve been in dream land. But in the end we lost, beaten by the best side in the league at the moment and from near enough the last kick of the game.

MP and the players have done incredibly well in the last two games and deserve a good deal of credit for doing so. It has certainly helped to raise hopes as not only have we earned three more points but the performances in both matches are such a dramatic improvement on what we have seen so far. Yes, we lost to Man City but no-one expected any other result before kick off and we came within seconds of defying the odds, not through luck, but through an impressive tactical, defensive, committed performance from our squad of players. I still hold firmly that by year end, we will not be in the bottom three.

That said, if we are to continue to stumble from time to time, and I expect we will as the team is rebuilding, I suspect its more likely to be due to individual error than anything else. The same was evident for both Man City goals in my p. o. v.

Many of you are praising FF on here and he did have a better game, but I still have to question a goalkeeper being beaten by a freekick at a tight angle at his near post. The wall must be wide enough to make a low shot at goal impossible, allowing the goalkeeper to take a more central position to deal with a crossed ball. This was not the case here. This meant that De Bruyne could whip a low shot in at goal and Forster’s near post was not sufficiently protected. Error of judgment.

I feel I’m leaning towards a biased view against the big man as City’s winner also looked to me like he could have done better, looping as it was and at a saveable height, so I will accept that to save it would have required remarkable agility and not pin it on him. Instead, blame for the second may rest with Boufal. He had brilliantly tracked Sterling back and forced him to stab the ball backwards towards De Bruyne. However, this is where he made his error of judgment. Rather than holding his defensive position on Sterling, Boufal’s eagerness to defend his goal saw him follow the ball to close down De Buyne, leaving Sterling free. Romeu was already closing on De Bruyne, forcing him to look away from goal. De Bruyne saw Sterling now free and with one deft move, passed it back to him. Sterling then had enough time to take his touch and shoot before Yoshida or any other defender could close on him. A seemingly unlikely outcome if Boufal was still marking him.

But he’s 23 and not used to performing this role. It’s a steep learning curve in this league and I’m sure it will be picked up on so the mistake isn’t repeated. It gives grounds for great optimism to see the players like Boufal and Redmond defending so diligently against such strong opposition and I can see us fairing better against the bigger teams now. When tactics and performances start clicking, things start to look rosier.

Finally, there’s a lot of outrage flying around about Pep’s flamboyant discussion with Redmond at the end of the match. Its very odd for an opposition manager to do this but I don’t think he’s done anything horrendous. He was complementing the player and was frustrated not to see him attacking the Man City defence more. However, I don’t think he should have done it as he’s effectively criticising MP’s tactics directly to one of MP’s players in front of tv cameras, but I doubt he’ll do it again in light of the coverage of it since. It does really annoy me though to see players on the pitch talking to one another and covering their mouths to avoid toilet rags like the Sun getting a lipreader in to try and ‘interpret’ (make up) a sensational and incorrect transcript of a conversation. How cynical have our players had to become because of bottom-feeding sensationalism in the press. Two men from opposing teams spoke about a football match. Shock, Horror. I’m sure he’ll apologise if necessary. Move on.

figodasilva

 

 

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23 Nov 2017 13:17:55
Whilst I disagree with posts suggesting bringing in managers like Keane, Pulis, Allardyce, Giggs, hiring coaching staff simply because they had a degree of success in their playing career or selling a number of the first team squad and replacing them with lower league players, I am not saying no action is required.

In my posts, I have simply been trying to encourage patience and that we keep things in context rather than resorting to the extreme suggestions of tearing everything up and starting again because everything at the club is broken. I simply do not accept that that is the case just because the first team is struggling at the moment. That said, there are also troubling signs from the youth teams’ performances, albeit without our best young players who are out on loan at the moment.

As far as our fixture list goes, again we must appreciate that we are a midtable side and so no, its unlikely we’ll get points against Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Man Utd. That said, in this league, there might be an upset in there somewhere so maybe we nick a draw here or a surprising win there, but its less likely. We must therefore focus all our energies on games against Everton, Leicester, Bournemouth and Huddersfield. If we can get 7 or 8 points from those, it won’t be a bad return.

Again, context here, we are not in a league of one so if we look at the teams around and below us, Palace have a more comfortable run but I see them getting maybe 7 points up to the new year. Swansea have a bad run and are the worst team in the league at the moment so I see them picking up 3 or 4 points and propping up the table come early January. West Ham have some horrible games coming up and I seek them picking up 7 or 8 points and similarly, managerless West Brom will likely struggle with their fixtures up until January so maybe 6 or 7 points. Everton and Stoke are our biggest threats in terms of leapfrogging us and I see them picking up anywhere between 8 and 12 points over this time period. Leicester I would guess will pick up around 9 points up to Jan and Bournemouth between 8 and 12. Newcastle have an ok run so maybe 8 – 10 points, Huddersfield, not so much and maybe only picking up 4 or 5 points in this time frame. This would leave the table looking like this:

10. Newcastle 23 pts
11. Bournemouth 23 pts
12. Stoke 23 pts
13. Leicester 22 pts
14. Everton 22 pts
15. Saints 20 pts
16. Huddersfield 19 pts
17. West Brom 17 pts
18. West Ham 16 pts
19. Crystal Palace 12 pts
20. Swansea 11 pts

It may look optimistic and its as reliant on us getting 7 points from our easier fixtures as it is my predictions of other teams performances coming true, but we may well only find after this nightmare run that we’ve dropped one place. Maybe….

But the team is not playing well and something needs to change. The normal first fix is to bring in a few fresh faces in January that could score some of the chances being created, but the January transfer window is fickle and if our new owner does have tied hands in relation to the amount of money he is able to invest this season, this may not be possible without selling someone like Virgil Van Dijk. The way he’s playing at the moment, I’m perfectly happy with this. The team can’t stick by its principle of not selling if it benefits the team in the short and long term to sell and move on. If we can get £40 - £50m for him, that’s maybe 2 – 3 good players coming in that could improve fortunes.

Sacking a manager should always be a last resort for me in the middle of a season. Obviously if you have a talented squad that another manager could get more from, or you have no more funds to bring in new players, then by all means try it if things are desperate, but a new manager is not guaranteed to improve things and its likely they’ll need a few games to settle and get the squad working together as they want them to. Also, whilst a firefighting manager like Allardyce, Pulis et al may organise a side and keep them up, they’re a short term fix, they play dire football and the fans clamour for them to leave after a full season of it. This isn’t the football we want and nor should we expect these managers to swallow their pride and sign a short-term employment contract and come in simply to keep us up. If we take them on now, we must do so with the acceptance that next season and for as long as they are here, the football will be ugly and we will be rooted to the lower half of the table.

Its harsh to judge MP entirely on the performances he is getting from this squad of players. We have only one striker and he is unfit to play a full 90 minutes from what we have seen. We’re playing an attacking right forward as a striker and he’s not comfortable there. We have a strong midfield pairing in Romeu and Lemina, now Lemina is ready to come back, and good centre backs and full backs/ wingbacks. If we can sign a striker in January and a left sided attacker or a First team quality Keeper, we have every chance of finshing in the top half. If we sign only one, it has to be a striker for me. If we drop Van Dijk, give Alex McCarthy a go in goal and have Lemina back, we should be able to push higher up the table. If we don’t sign a striker, I can’t see things getting any better in the short term or for the remainder of the season.

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20 Nov 2017 11:28:53
I’ll start with my view on Saturday’s result. Yes, its disappointing to see us going to Anfield and playing defensively, but given our current form, it makes sense not to go and try and outscore Liverpool. I didn’t see the game live, but from what I have seen, we performed the plan pretty well and all three goals were down to individual mistakes. The first goal, Tadic was too slow to clear the lines. Who knows what he was thinking almost walking the ball across the edge of our box surrounded by Liverpool players!? Van Dijk, as he has been prone to do this season, went walk about for the second, leaving a huge space for Firminho to run into. If he’d stayed put, the pass couldn’t be made. The third, this may be a little harsh, but if a player shoots at goal from a tight angle, surely if you’re a keeper going to block the shot, you aim to deflect it behind the goal and concede the corner. The shot hit Forster hard and fast, but his arms were down by his sides and he turns away from the shot (similar to the Newcastle equaliser earlier in the season), twisting his body back towards the penalty area and therefore, deflecting the ball that way. I’d like to think all of these errors could be corrected through training or swapping players who keep making errors but it seems one or two players/ positions are lacking in decent competition at the moment.

As to the other posts, VS, West Ham have appointed a manager whose last three jobs have ended in abject failure and he has appointed coaching staff for their name, not their coaching abilities. They have had limited time with the players and so I think you’re wide of the mark to suggest they’ve come in and had an instant impact. The Neville brothers have both had a hand in coaching with equal poor impact. And Ryan Giggs doesn’t want to be a coach, he wants to be a manager. Let him learn the ropes at a lower league side and work his way up, not throw him in at our place. Like the suggestion that we should sell a number of players in January and replace them with lower league players, its cutting off your nose to spite your face isn’t it? They may be hungry to play in the Premier league but that doesn’t mean they have the ability to do it. You’d be making relegation more likely, not less. let's also not forget that several are saying that our current plight is due to the last few seasons of selling our best players coming back to haunt us. Is selling more of our first team players the answer? Roy Keane was another name mentioned. Yes, he would likely bully a lot of people but that doesn’t lead to improved performance or morale, hence the fact he’s also a failed manager. In contrast, wouldn’t the answer be to buy better players and bring in better managers, not lower league players and failed coaches and managers.

Our training facilities our top notch but our youth set-up needs strengthening in the coaching department as this season and last, things have deteriorated in terms of results and performances. Despite a lack of first team chances with the top teams in the league, the best young players are still attracted to the big 4 – 6 teams and with the need to have home grown talent in every premier league squad, everyone is scouring for young prospects they can develop as well as the best young British players. We’re now in a fight with everyone else for these players.

This is the greater concern for me. The club, since promotion to the premier league has openly stated that it wants the club to have a style of play that is like a brand; ‘The Southampton Way’ as Les Reed calls it. But in the last two seasons, the style of play has altered drastically. The only approach we seem to have retained is slavishly seeking to win the fight for possession but results have surely now underlined that possession is not king anymore. We were meant to be able to seamlessly change head coach and playing staff because the teams from youth up were all playing a fixed way and so change was meant to have little negative impact.

We are also meant to be bringing in youth players we have developed to reduce the need for spending vast transfer sums on players to strengthen the first team. However, this season so far there are fewer youth players involved with the first team than any previous season. Results in the youth teams are inconsistent as is the talent pool. Four seasons in, it would be nice to see some of youth players in the first team but despite Reed, Gallagher, Stephens, Targett, McQueen, Hesketh, Sims and Seager all getting some game time in previous seasons, most have been loaned out now so won’t be developing with our first team and playing the Southampton way at their new respective clubs. Two seasons ago, you could see this plan developing well. Now, it seems further way than ever and it’s the clubs responsibility to either follow through or announce things have changed and instead, we’re going to buy our first team players like everyone else.

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08 Nov 2017 10:58:50
For the record, this is precisely the sort of post being made at the moment by a number of people that I have a problem with. Whilst I appreciate there is no agreement on the cause of the difficulties Saints are facing, this post echoes a number of others you’ve made VS that states there is an inherent problem from the ground up at Saints and every facet must be improved. I simply do not agree that the performances support this view. I’m not talking statistics here, I’m talking about actually watching the way we play football.

To say we are ill prepared for matches is utter nonsense. There are no professional football sides in the top tier who do not have dossiers, scouting reports and videos of upcoming oppositions to review and plan for their next match. There are no clubs who do not review the last match and highlight areas of improvement for the squad. You can always plan how the opposition set up and their strengths and weaknesses, but out on the field, it is the players’ responsibility to execute. Our issues are not preparation based.

Nor are they a result of well paid players going through the motions. If you see players struggling or moving the ball ponderously or with less attacking intent, it is more likely to do with confidence rather than a lack of interest in their profession. It seems to have been quickly forgotten that the team has struggled not just this season but for long spells of last. That affects your confidence as a player as much as it effects ours as fans. We know at the moment Saints struggle to score and when we do, one goal probably won’t be enough every game. That puts a lot of pressure on everyone and when things go wrong, it can quickly lead to a drop in confidence and form.

The other thing is, we are not terrible defensively. It remains one of our strengths as it always has. We have conceded fewer goals this season than the likes of Aresenal, Leicester, Liverpool, West Brom, Stoke, Everton and several others. We are joint 8th in the league for fewest goals conceded. A good number of our goals have come as a result of poor goalkeeping by FF and if his form was better or we tried someone else in goal, perhaps even this would improve, taking some pressure off the defence. I played principally as a defender and fully agree with the view that if your keeper is unreliable, it puts your defenders under greater pressure. Rather then holding discipline and knowing your keeper will clear up anything that gets by you, you worry more about making an error or being beaten by a good ball, so you instinctively drop a little deeper or overcommit in closing the opposition down, thus losing positional discipline and leaving little holes for teams to exploit.

The fear of conceding also places pressure on the strikers and that’s where our true problems lie; a lack of goals. 9 in 11 is pretty poor and rather than seeing problems everywhere from coaching, preparation and application of the players, the reality is if we scored more, everything would be much rosier. The club failed to invest in attacking players over the summer, presumably in part because they blamed last season’s lack of goals on Puel more than personnel. In addition, there was the on-going takeover saga which may have limited funds available to invest. I support the club’s stance on not taking on loan signings from rival clubs. Why improve someone else’s player or put them in the shop window for a bigger club to steal from under our nose. Lesson learned from Alderwiereld. But the reality is, we only have one striker at the club and that is Charlie Austin who, for whatever reason, cannot buy a game at the moment. Redmond, Long, Gabbiadini are all forwards but there is a clear difference in the skill set between a striker and a forward. Strikers are your natural goalscorers. That is their principal role. Forwards are attack minded players who are on to create as well as score. The problem when you don’t have a striker is you have no natural focal point for your attack as forwards are not as selfish and single-minded as strikers are in terms of getting in the box and scoring goals. You know the type; if you pass him the ball outside the box, he’ll pass it straight back to you but send you a little wide on purpose to encourage you not to shoot but to instead square or cross the ball back to him to tap in. We don’t have that type of selfish player without Austin in the side and I can only assume Austin is an injury concern or MP doesn’t want players with such a narrow skillset in the side.

I’ve had a look at Alex McCarthy in a little more detail and a couple of things surprised me. Firstly, I didn’t realise he was still quite young – 27. Also, after being Reading’s number one and playing well for them, he went to Palace and was basically a back-up keeper playing a handful of games over two seasons before joining us. Palace’s defence has never been the best so I take little from his performances there and think he could do very well for us. He is at least worth a shot with FF at such a low ebb. He really is a liability for us at the moment and if we cannot improve our goal scoring at the moment due to personnel, we could at least make a change to try and reduce the number of goals conceded. Perhaps then one goal would be enough.

Of course, the other suggestion is to play Austin as a natural striker at the same time. One thing that was annoying last season was the number of times Austin was played in a wide forward role. Not his game. Play him in the middle and feed him. With Gabbi, Redmond, Boufal, Long, Tadic, as options to play off and around him, it would give the attack a little more balance.

This has all been said before in posts earlier in the season but I think it bears repeating as with each passing game, it seems the panic, anger and finger pointing is wavering off target. I do not believe there are deep rooted problems at the club or in the side. If we can start to score more goals, results will improve. If Austin can’t play for some reason we haven’t been told, we have to bring someone in in January, as we did last year, who can hit the ground running and turn our season around.

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06 Nov 2017 18:21:35
SaintDuke, apologies if my response to Rich’s post caused any confusion or gave grounds for you to infer I have some alterior motive or a delusional superiority complex. Neither is accurate. I don’t consider myself or my opinion more important, better or more accurate than anyone else who posts on here. But it is my opinion and the whole purpose of this forum is for us to discuss our views.

My self-appointed role is, where I genuinely disagree with what someone has said, to give the counter-argument. That’s how debates and discussions work. Without it, you just have a group of people agreeing with each other so why bother posting your opinion at all, other than to type the words ‘yeah’, or ‘you’re right’ or ‘I agree’?

I responded to Rich’s post directly as I would anyone else who responds to me. He rightly took issue with a mistake in my post and Rich and I have had constructive forum discussions in the past so I wanted to be sure I corrected my mistake. I don’t expect or require anyone to respond to my posts. When I said there were a hell of a lot of posts to respond to (i. e that is me responding to posts, not me asking anyone to respond to mine) it’s because by that time there were a hell of a lot of posts on the forum, all varying degrees of negative, that I wanted to reply to in order to give the other side of the argument as I disagreed with each post in turn. Hope that clears it up.

figodasilva