Mails: Sparky can save Saints, Jose can save himself

Date published: Tuesday 20th March 2018 2:35

Keep those emails coming (on various topics) to…

Saints need the spark
Having read some scathing comments from contributors over the past year or so (oh how IK78 must wish that Puel was still in the hot seat) I think it’s only fair that the Southampton board are congratulated for hiring Mark Hughes, albeit belatedly, in a move that may save our Premier League status.

My seat at St Mary’s is in the Itchen Stand, 5 or 6 rows behind the away dugout, which means I have literally heard what each of the away managers have to say over the past few years and this gives me a small window of insight into how each manager goes about their business. Honourable mention goes to Klopp who was extremely entertaining.

I was there last season when Stoke came to our place and nicked a 1-0 win via a Peter Crouch goal (typical) and it was a textbook smash and grab win. Throughout the game Hughes was screaming at the team (particularly Mame Biram Diouf) to eek a tune out of them, and I think this fundamental principle of his managerial style will serve us well in contrast to Pellegrino who in my view let the players get away with putting in substandard efforts on the pitch.

We have been too easy to defend against, too easy to score against, too easy to overpower and too easy to beat to the second ball this season. My hope (and prediction) is that this will change under Hughes as he simply won’t put up with it. I agree with F365’s recent coverage of Saints as a team that have been coasting to relegation. As Hughes only has a contract until the end of the season, he won’t be put off making tough selection choices and I’m sure he has already been pulling fingers out of arses at Staplewood.

The second half of the game against Wigan was really promising given their demolition jobs of three Premier League sides including Citeh on their journey to the Quarter Final. I’m hoping for an even better performance at The London Stadium after a couple of weeks on the training ground. While I don’t want to see a repeat performance of the pitch invasions and virtual rioting, I’m hoping the West Ham fans make the atmosphere difficult for their team again, thus making their jobs much more difficult. If we win that game, Moyeseh and the Irons will be in serious trouble, at least for a week, and we can start to look up the table.

As a Saints fan you have to take the rough with the smooth, but here’s to hoping that Mark Hughes will provide the ‘spark’ that we need (see what I did there)…

Come on you reds.
Alex, London Saint


Responses over Mourinho
In response to Ryan B

I was far from completely agreeing with you but thought you made some interesting arguments, albeit coloured byou obvious bias, then I saw the “Fraudiola” remark.

Really? This again. Yes he’s spent money but he’s also spent it on players that enhance his team, fit his system and has improved vritually all of them sometimes week on week. Nobody I’ve seen makes the argument that he doesn’t spend large sums but he builds with that. I’m not even a City fan but at that stage your arguments become invalid. City and United both have very good managers, their track records prove that. Mourinho has a lot to prove at the moment though and doesn’t help himself by spouting constantly. Guardiola is just going about his business in frighteningly dominant fashion.

Note to fans in general, you can defend someone without having to fling mud at others.
Chris (Spurs)


…In response to Ryan B and his 8 conclusions I agree to an extent, we have definitely improved vast amounts however I find it a chore being a fan at times. Funny thing is a Chelsea supporting friend warned me I would feel this way.

Is he currently taking the pressure off players like Luke Shaw? Two months ago he has a future for many years at the club, now he plays slightly under par and is being subbed off.

I’m on board with spending money when it is needed, but every week you hear Mourinho moaning about how he doesn’t have the players to compete, this is nonsense.

Under-recruitment over the last few years, are you referring to Moyes because we signed loads of players under LvG. Including the Champions League Finals man of the match in 2014

A world cup winning mid fielder and a striker once thought of as one of the top strikers in the world, but of course they didn’t work out. Unlike city’s signing which did work out. Clearly City

were building the team for Pep 2/3 years before an agreement was in place for him to join the club and he was managing in Germany.

Not to mention the football, the dull, safety first approach. The players have to take their part of the blame and need to work harder, but I can’t help but feel we have creative players who need freedom to operate, give Pogba licence to go forward the he is more likely to bust a gut chasing back to win a tackle in midfield, but no sit back absorb pressure and lump it forward to Lukaku.

United are doing much better, we are winning trophies and Mourinho is doing his thing, but let’s look at how that went for Chelsea (x2) Inter and Real Madrid, I expect something similar when his time at Old Trafford comes to an end. When it does I’ll be happy to say thanks for the work you have put in, but good riddance.
Dan Belfast


…So after seeing criticism from Chris Sutton & Didier Deschamps, I have to jump to Jose’s defence here. Okay sure, the fact that Jose was criticising Frank De Boer as the worst manager of ‘all’ time in the Premier League is a bit dramatic considering he managed in the league for 4 games and it was just unnecessary to say also and should go just concentrated on beating Sevilla, but Chris Sutton has never managed in his life and Deschamps could not even beat a Ronaldo-less Portugal in France. For Deschamps to be defending Pogba is understandable, but he shouldn’t be defending him and criticising the club at the same time, especially when Pogba is too busy dying his hair blue and calling it Super Saiyan Blue on Instagram, the man is 25 for goodness sake, guy needs to get over himself and start delivering.

I will say this though, the sooner Jose stops criticising his players in-front of the press the better, not only does it reduce confidence in your players, it reduces trust also. I doubt journalists give a f*ck about the players morale and form, the majority are probably loving it since United have dominated the Premier League era and everyone really hated United when they kept on winning with Fergie.

Not sure why United keep going on and off form this season, but the most important thing now is to try and beat Spurs in the semi final, finish second in the league and win the FA Cup against Chelsea & Southampton (I hope its Chelsea). If the players are not even capable of that, I can see why Jose is being a bit of a dick to them, just do it in private, not in front of the press to make a show.
Rami, London


…1. I don’t care how salient your arguments may seem, as soon as you use an awful quasi-pun name like Fraudiola for a rival’s manager you lose all credibility and I just hear static from there on out.

That’s it, actually, just the one point.
David (I’m glad Mourinho is your manager, too), Wexford


Enjoyable piece from Johnny Nic on Carragher.

A lot of the sentiment I feel is similar to the gist of mail last week (unpublished sadly) on this topic, where I mostly expressed surprise at the Father, with his young daughter, looking for a confrontation?

You see this is a crucial part of what Johnny was getting at rather eloquently.

What is “just banter” to you, may be crossing the line to me, or plainly inviting an altercation to me, for any number of reasons, both real and imagined.

Are you chirping me, but filming me, to humiliate me, perhaps to try and ridicule me for the Internet, perhaps to comment on my lack of perceived loyalty, sans a reaction, if I do not entertain this grown man, driving alongside me but not focusing at all on the road.

That alone is enough for me personally to feel anxious, and since the cause of that discomfort is right alongside me, goading me, I may well snap and let him know about it.

It’s very much a “look, do not be unnecessary with me, drive your car safely, focus, jog on lad” type of response that I feel when imagining the situation, and should the driver persist in causing this issue, we may have a problem if I do not remember that this is actually not worth any trouble.

As my previous mail concluded though, spitting really is not the acceptable choice of response for Jamie, as yes, he has had far more exposure to these pressures than most of us have, and this leads us to feel that he should have somewhat more of an immunity to these jibes.

But familiarity doesn’t always breed acceptance does it?

No indeed, it breeds contempt?

He deserves censure certainly, but the point here is to not forever class him as a thug, because many mild men have behaved horribly at times, after a bad day, one too many drinks, and they regret it moving forward, but they still did it, and need to live with the consequences, and even just the memories, of those actions.

I am referring to those moments that us ordinary civilians can get away with, the drunken argument in the pub for example, where your mates tell you that you were very uncharacteristically forceful in your opinions, and made everyone around you feel uncomfortable or intimidated, or perhaps the one time you got into a fight, and woke up thinking to yourself, who the hell was that man??
Manc In SA (This is not an excuse, that renders the need for explanations moot, merely an observation, and perhaps I am wrong and no one relates to this, but so be it then.)


England squad for Russia
In the dreary lull that is International Football Breaks, and, having listened to Monday Night Club, I have been pondering my preferred England squad and line up for the world cup.
Squad wise I am currently here:

Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young, Eric Dier, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Raheem Sterling, Deli Alli, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Jesse Lingard, Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Ryan Bertrand, Jamaal Lascelles, Marc Albrighton, Ben Mee, Jack Butland, James Tarkowski, Dominic Calvert-Lewin

The basis of this squad is that it allows Southgate to play 3 at the back in either a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 but also has the depth in midfield and wide areas to play a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3/4-4-2 if needs be.

For me Pickford is no.1 because, unlike Pope, he is used to playing behind a dodgy defence and his distribution is better than Butland. Midfield is hard to pick for as we need options for various formations. Players like Ox, Lingard and Wilshere can play a couple of different midfield roles and are currently on better form and fitness than their peers. Up front we are woefully short so Calvert-Lewin makes it in ahead of Glenn Murray, Ashley Barnes and Callum Wilson as he can play out wide too and has scored in a final. Him, Young and Alli are also good for approximately 3 dived for pens too.

Players like Cahill, Hart, Defoe and Smalling haven’t been included because they are off form and not starting. They might have more caps than my team but their main experience is being underwhelming and wilting under any scrutiny.

Lallana could be swapped for Wilshere and one of those should be the only fitness risk we take. Other players such as Sturridge, Jones and Barkley shouldn’t go because they are a fitness risk and given the lack of squad depth there is no point taking someone who isn’t fit unless they are world class – Kane. Our sick notes are more Darren Anderton than Wayne Rooney.

Any player who is off form – Michael Keane, Jake Livermore, Danny Drinkwater etc. – won’t find it in Russia and probably isn’t good enough anyway. Danny Rose shouldn’t go as he is unfit, hasn’t played and his head is in the Saido Behrahino phase of transfer sagas.

Back-ups should be younger players like Lewis Cook, James Ward-Prowse, Ryan Sessegnon, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alfie Mawson with Glenn Murray being a serious shout over Calvert-Lewin due to his shithousery being a good option off the bench against literally any team from Panama to Spain.

My staring 11 would be either:

Stones, Lascelles, Maguire.
Walker, Alli, Dier, Wilshere, Young.
Kane, Vardy –

Stones, Lascelles, Maguire
Walker, Dier, Henderson, Young
Sterling, Kane, Rashford

If we do play 3 at the back it does make it hard to accommodate our two best midfielders – Alli and Sterling – in the midfield as 3-4-3 requires two disciplined CMs and 3-5-2 allows no room for wide players. Interested to hear what Football365 and other mailboxers think the squad should be.

Postcard from N Ireland
If you are interested in a close title race, you should follow the Northern Ireland Premiership. With 6 games remaining, Crusaders top the table on 79 points, two ahead of Coleraine. The top two are due to meet at Seaview on Easter Tuesday. A couple of notable stats from this season – Crusaders are currently on 95 league goals (check out Gavin Whyte’s contributions). Coleraine, meanwhile, have only lost one game all season (actually since Boxing Day of 2016, they’ve only lost three league matches). I’m hoping that Crusaders’s irresistible force will be able to shift Coleraine’s immovable object in the last few games.
Matthew, Belfast


Underappreciated XI
It’s international week. Let’s fill the mailbox with our much loved but underappreciated players (Oxymoron 11?). The idea is that this is a starting 11 capable of winning the league, composed of cult heroes who are often overlooked in discussions of premier league greats. Extra points for players from exotic lands and lesser teams. Here’s mine:

1 Shay Given – Probably just outside the bracket of being a top-top keeper but one of the most likable guys in football. With the right defence in front of him would no doubt keep plenty of clean sheets.

2 ‘Tony Valencia – For the sake of this team we’re going to remember him as a Wigan RB, OK?

3 Lucas Radebe – Pronounced ‘Ra-day-bay’ or ‘Ra-da-bee’? Hardly mentioned as a premier league great. Was immense for Leeds before they imploded.

4 Sami Hyypiä – One of my top 10 PL CBs (Check.) From Finland (Check.)

5 John Arne Riise – Tarnished somewhat after an underwhelming spell at Fulham but it’s hard to think of a more beloved foreign fullback.

7 Nolberto Solano – The Peruvian trumpeter, 18th in the all-time PL assist rankings (the highest non-European).

6 Gary Speed – Perhaps not that underappreciated but imagine if he were English. Incredible all-rounder and universally loved.

8 Tim Cahill – The perfect man for this team’s wide players to pick out.

11 Jay-Jay Okocha – Do I need to explain this one?

10 Juninho Paulista – Middlesboro’s 2nd favourite Brazilian (after Alfonso Alves) and our set-piece specialist. Once dubbed ‘The poor-man’s Zola’, by me, in this mail.

9 Jimmy Flotd Hasselbaink – ‘Big bottoms, big bottoms, talk about mud-flaps our striker’s got ‘em’… or so the chant would go. 13th in the all-time PL top scorer list. Remember that season when he kept scoring screamers?
Nik (Reference: This is Spinal Tap, 1984) NUFC


City ruining everything
Is there any other Chelsea fan out there who is happy for Man City but disgruntled that most of the records we have built over time and are immensely proud of will be likely broken by Man city. In just one season!

Highest number of goals scored
Highest number of points
Highest number of games won
Biggest goal difference.

And even a few more.

Big kudos to them though. They deserve it all
John, CFC.


Welcome, Luke
Arsenal already have two left backs and no right backs – I’m not counting Bellerin – he’s crap.

So signing Shaw makes no sense.

What am I saying? Welcome to the Emirates son.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

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