Southampton turned in a disjointed performance and were justifiably bounced from the Carabao Cup second round by Championship side Brentford.
Ralph Hasenhuttl made a single change to his starting eleven from the Premier League opener with Crystal Palace. Nathan Tella was given an opportunity with Stuart Armstrong injured and Will Smallbone finding little success on the wing. The fact that he also leap-frogged Moussa Djenepo, who appeared as a late substitute, shows the type of trust Hasenhuttl has in the academy product.
The lack of changes in the Southampton side stems from a worrying lack of preparedness. In the build up to the Premier League opener, Hasenhuttl cited the International break and quick tun around as obstacles to a strong start. After watching Southampton limp through the Palace match and appear totally disconnected against Brentford even more cards were thrown on the table at the post-match presser.
Hasenhuttl has made it clear his players are unfit, his side lacks depth, and are slow to adapt to newly inserted tactics. Brentford, more so than Palace, showed the true colors of the team in the moment, erasing memories of an amazing project restart for the fans. Thinking the team cannot return to form is dramatic, but it may be some time before the team clicks into gear.
Brentford played a tactically sound match and took their goals at the end of the first half exposing Southampton weaknesses. Take nothing away from the Championship side’s disciplined performance, but the Saints could have still easily won that game. Che Adams sitter off the woodwork, Shane Long’s complete miss from a Walker-Peter’s cross and Jack Stephen’s header to the back post were all goals on a good day. Danny Ings’ clinical form is also going to take some time to be recollected, as the striker spent much of the game with hands on hips.
Southampton have a ways to go, but there is still a strong starting eleven when the players return to fitness. We can look at three takeaways from Brentford as lessons learned, and although a EFL Cup run is not in the 2020-21 calendar, we can now focus more intently on Premier League Success.
First and foremost, the team must quickly address this weakness in the squad…