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Football News: Team Review - Southampton

Team Review - Southampton
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Team Review - Southampton

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League Position: 15th

 

Goalkeepers:

Alex McCarthy
Fraser Forster
Harry Lewis

Until the manager makes a decision on who is his number 1 and sticks by him, Saints will not make genuine progress. No solid defence can be built with a constantly changing goalkeeper behind them. It is clear Hasenhuttl is unconvinced that any of them are good enough for the long term, which I agree with, but he just needs to make do with what he has until he can find one who is good enough. That means making a decision on who is his first-choice and standing by him.

 


Defenders:

Jan Bednarek
Jannik Vestergaard
Mohammed Salisu
Jack Stephens
Romain Perraud
Kyle Walker-Peters
Yan Valery

They are still missing a left-back, but it looks a well-balanced group other than that. The problem is the lack of real quality to play the way the manager wants to. With Hasenhuttl's liking for a back three at times, maybe they could also do with another centre-back, or even two, but they definitely need higher quality there. It is a defence that even the weakest forward line in the league would fancy their chances against and are heavily reliant on the workrate of those in front to protect it.

 

Midfielders:

Ibrahima Diallo
Mario Lemina
Oriol Romeu
James Ward-Prowse
Stuart Armstrong
Will Smallbone

This midfield group worries me, great set-piece delivery from Ward-Prowse, but I fail to see what else he offers other than running around like a headless chicken. Romeu is slow, clumsy and prone to rash challenges, Lemina wants out and plays like he wants out as well, Diallo has a horrible touch on the ball but at least offers a bit of pace and mobility, Armstrong runs around a lot but achieves very little for me other than getting in the way and Smallbone is young and learning. There is a major lack of vision and creativity throughout the midfield, with no one to spot and then pick a pass. Maybe Ward-Prowse could do it, if he settled down a bit and stopped running about aimlessly.

 


Forwards:

Nathan Redmond
Moussa Djenepo
Mohamed Elyounoussi
Theo Walcott
Nathan Tella
Danny Ings
Che Adams
Michael Obafemi
Dan N'Lundulu
Shane Long

It is a case of Ings and not a lot else. They are in real trouble without Ings, they do not have a single natural goalscorer other than him. They have a lot of wide players who put their heads and attempt to run, but could end up anywhere and usually lose the ball without ever having looked to see if there is a pass on. Then there is a bunch of forwards who are simply not that good but graft hard. Or, in Long's case, swap not that good for terrible. I really have no idea how that guy is a Premier League footballer, he has never been close to being good enough. They were close enough to relegation with Ings, if he goes this summer they have to replace him or they become favourite to drop.

 


Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl

It is hard to know what to make of Hasenhuttl, at times Saints looked brilliant under him, but they were just often awful. I am not sure if he is incapable of getting the players to play the way he wants on a consistent basis or if he tries to change things tactically for some games. Either way, it simply does not work what he is doing. So far he has been very well backed, even when his team has been hammered embarrassingly, but there has been little sign of progress under him. It is good to see a board show a bit of patience with a manager though and it is now up to him to prove they were right to stand by him.

 


Conclusion:

The biggest problem for me is their youth academy. It was once able to bring through a player or two each season who could challenge for a first team place by the time they were 16 or 17, nowadays they seem to be intent on buying younger players to nurture instead. I am not convinced it is working for them at all. By signing those younger players, it is simply blocking the route for youth academy players and it is rare the younger players impress. The question needs to be asked of their recruitment policy, is it the right one? Or is it simply that their academy is simply not bringing through the same quality as before? In which case they would be better investing the money there, rather than in buying players like Djenepo and Lemina, who are only there to find a move elsewhere anyway.

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Written by Tris Burke July 06 2021 13:24:00

 

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