It was a massive home game this evening that could have boosted our Premier League survival hopes no end, but Swansea City bottled the chance and gave Southampton all three points and top-flight safety after a 1-0 defeat.
The performance simply wasn’t good enough, absolutely nowhere near, and the lack of quality sums the whole situation up – we’ve not been good enough quality to survive in this League and we proved yet again today that we’re bound for the Championship next season.
It’s not mathematically over, survival that is, but after that performance tonight, it feels like we’re most certainly down, and out.
No League wins in 8 games, and only 2 goals scored in those 8 games tells its own story. It was a scrappy game throughout, both sides showed why they were battling at the bottom but Southampton had that extra bit of quality from the bench that made the difference.
Carlos Carvalhal made the first change of the night on 62 minutes when he surprisingly brought off left wing-back Martin Olsson for striker Tammy Abraham, but it wasn’t a formation change, he simply moved Sam Clucas to left wing-back and moved Jordan Ayew out wide. Within 6 minutes, Mark Hughes was bolder with his subs and had brought on striker duo Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiandini. Just 4 minutes after the £14m striker had come on, he netted what will prove to be a massive goal for the Saints, who are pretty much safe unless a -9 goal difference can somehow be reversed.
Carvalhal didn’t help matters either. He said he was confident ahead of the game, despite watching yet another poor showing in yet another defeat, this time at Bournemouth last Saturday. Was the performance any better? I suppose it was but nowhere near the levels you’d expect in such a massive game where your Premier League status is on the line against a direct rival.
It wasn’t too long ago we were five points clear of the drop zone, but the heavy 4-1 defeat at Brighton seemed to be something of a warning to Carvalhal, who was more and more cautious with his approach and setup, and tonight was no different. A back 5 that included Naughton and Roberts, with King, Ki and Clucas in midfield. We were crying out for more attacking players on the pitch, not to mention some pace.
When we had Abraham and Narsingh on the pitch for the final 15 minutes plus 6 in injury time, you wondered why we didn’t go for it from the start. While his negative and safety-first approach hasn’t helped in the last month or two, the facts are simple – we’ve looked like one of the worst sides in the Premier League pretty much all season. The squad wasn’t good enough right from the start, we lost Sigurdsson and Llorente and simply didn’t replace them. We’ve tried to rely on the loans of Abraham and Sanches, who’ve made little to no impact, while last-minute desperate signings of Wilfried Bony and Andre Ayew did little else to help our problems.
Its a shame. Back then Every team we played against was scared to get close to us. We kill them with possession and switch up play. I dont understand why not playing 4-3-3. Real wingers and 1 sitter in midfield.
— kemy agustien (@KemyAgustien) May 8, 2018
This has been long coming, there’s only so many seasons where you can fight against relegation before the inevitable happens – just ask Sunderland, Aston Villa etc. Poor management, poor recruitment and greed are some of the key factors behind our demise. We’ve got a squad that hasn’t been taken care of for a few seasons now. There’s been no plan in place, managers have had to come and go quickly in an effort to do a quick repair job, but there’s only so much repairing you can do.
To say that we’ve taken our eye off the ball would be a massive understatement. The squad is severely lacking Premier League quality and it really shone through tonight. We’ve barely managed a good performance since the 3-1 win against Arsenal and today’s showing makes you wonder how on earth we managed that, and how we scored 3 goals in a single game.
While Lucasz Fabianski could come off the field with his head held high after a few more excellent saves, the rest let themselves down – badly. Connor Roberts, to be fair, put in another decent shift, but there were some poor displays, particularly from the likes of Ki, and Olsson was also way below the standard we saw from him last season. Again, Jordan Ayew struggled up top on his own, he was without any attacking support as Clucas and Andre were either too deep, too wide or a bit of both, but there was just no cohesion up top.
That’s enough for now…