The Other Side of the Coin
Southampton has had several moments to be proud of this term, but the clash against West Ham ably demonstrates the team’s multiple shortcomings.
The Hampshire side has adopted an intense style which requires continuous work rate. Regrettably, there’s been several instances this season in which the club has failed to find the levels required.
Whether low-energy or a lack of focus, Saints have struggled to put two halves of quality football together. The first goal for the Irons, saw Jarrod Bowen make it past three defenders before firing at Alex McCarthy.
The keeper could only manage a weak hand away, back towards danger. Fornals follows in quickly to strike the ball home. The second goal just three minutes later was arguably even worse.
The away side initially looked to have cancelled out a West Ham move, by winning an important header in the box. As the ball drops to Nathan Redmond it looks to be a simple clearance, but the attacker makes a hash of it with an embarrassing air kick.
This allows Vladimír Coufal to put the ball back into the box and find Fornals, who is entirely unmarked. The Spaniard Is unerring as he straightforwardly puts it past the helpless McCarthy.
The squad has conceded 68 goals this term which is among the worst in the league. With the afternoons defending it isn’t hard to see why this is. Saints have repeatedly fallen victim to being a step off the pace throughout the season.
A moments lapse is enough to separate the best from the rest in the English top-flight. Quite often this can be forgiven because the team is clearly trying with only a small if costly blip.
The performance at the London Stadium was not one of those times. Every team has the occasional write-off, where the play is low-energy, the tactics plan goes out the window, and absolutely nothing goes as envisioned.
This is a natural part of the footballing experience, and no fan should begrudge the players an occasional crummy day at the office. A weeks’ worth on the other hand is a different story. And this is all before we discuss a tepid attack.
After the opening half an hour, the first 11 offered the bare minimum going forward. Star striker Danny Ings couldn’t find his way into the game, which long-suffering fans will know is never a good sign.
Takumi Minamino and Kyle Walker Peters missed early opportunities and the visitor’s day went quickly downhill.
While the former was anonymous after his chance, the latter did at least show energy and threat to the opposition. When the full-back is the biggest problem to the opposition trouble isn’t far away.
As with the defensive woes this is far from the first time, we have witnessed an inert frontline.
To make matters worse, Nathan Redmond appear to lack a basic level of due care and attention. Not only was the Englishman at fault for the second goal but eagle-eyed Twitter users have appeared to spot the moment the Englishman gave up. Twitter user Ben Stanfield provides the best illustration.
With his side on the attack, Redmond can be seen standing in the opposition penalty area, stock still and miles offside. To compound the player’s sin he has applied both hands to his hips. The infamous double teapot is typically the sign of fed up dejection.
Many fans and players will surely have felt this way at some point during the season. However, a picture has never so starkly captured what supporters hate most in a player’s attitude.
Yes, you may be fed up, tired, and at a loss as to how to get back into a game, but the basic requirement is that you keep trying and stay alert. Redmond has not shown his best quality this season and it would not be a surprise to see him exit in the summer.
The former Norwich man clearly has talent, but inconsistency has plagued him during his Southampton career. If this is his goodbye it’s a pretty underwhelming bow.