Date: 29th April 2018 at 8:04am
Written by:

Written by Neil Dawson

Another derby….another insipid performance from a Bournemouth team who have never got to grips with St Mary’s or what it means to the travelling fans. Nobody expects a result but you do expect effort and fight…the one-sided yellow card count tells you everything you need to know about this game. The gifting of goals continues as well… it was more neighbourly than neighbour rivalry.

Eddie switched to his ‘side that gets me out of crap’ from the start today with Mousset partnering King and Wilson and Fraser at wing back in a 3-4-3. It was a bold move especially with neither Mousset or King natural wide players and it meant that Southampton had more possession than normal. They struggled to do much with it though as Bournemouth held firm and the Saints lacked quality. The issue was that nothing was sticking up front when Bournemouth did have the ball and there was little respite from Southampton’s better desire and work-rate. In midfield, Cook was once again playing on his own with Gosling again sadly missing and it made for a very disjointed game.

Begovic was bright though and he made smart stops from Tadic and Cook threw himself in the way of Austin’s drive. When Bournemouth finally started getting corners little did the away fans realise that a flag kick would lead to a Saints opener. Well, those of us that were at Middlesbrough last season had seen this before. It’s embarrassing that twice in the last two years we have been caught on the break from our own corner and that despite everyone starting in the same race two Southampton players ran the length of the pitch with the ball faster than any Bournemouth players without it. TADIC slipped it past Begovic.

Southampton’s tails were briefly up and Begovic made a superb full-length stop from Lemina’s blockbuster.

Bournemouth offered precious little although from another corner Mccarthy stopped with his legs from Ake. Eventually, a corner paid off with KING firing smartly back across goal into the top corner when the ball reached him unmarked.

HT Southampton 1 Bournemouth 1

I’d be interested in how many goals we have conceded in the first part of the second half this season. You can almost set your watch by it. Bournemouth had actually enjoyed their best spell of the game with Mousset particularly lively and causing problems. His attempts to one-two with Wilson though floundered on the complete lack of confidence Callum is currently suffering and everything broke down. With Gosling finding a Southampton player with every pass, it started to swing back in Southampton’s favour. Once again an error was the catalyst, Steve Cook chesting the ball when he should have headed it and losing out to TADIC who advanced to curl a sumptuous drive past Begovic.

The end of the match was strange. Defoe arrived to replicate the lack of presence he has shown all season and Ibe appeared to show pony and duck out of challenges. Bournemouth gave the ball away at will and yet because they were playing a team that hadn’t won since November nerves allowed them back into it. The last ten minutes were like the Alamo with Southampton giving up on attacking and Begovic coming up for corners. The quality of balls into the box was very poor though and although Fraser got on the end of two chances his left foot couldn’t maximise the chances and McCarthy was able to make two routine saves. Other than Surman displaying the shooting power of a five-year-old with a beach ball that was about it in a very disappointing show.

FT Southampton 2 Bournemouth 1

Begovic 7 – some smart saves and left exposed for goals.

Francis 6 – kept trying but misplaced a few passes.
Cook 5 – crucial error and not at his best throughout.
Ake 6 – Usual competent display in a sea of averageness.

Fraser 5 – not his best position and he didn’t seem to know where to put himself.
Cook 5 – outmuscled and passing nowhere near normal level.
Gosling 4 – two speeds ‘slow and stop’ and talentless use of the ball.
Daniels 5 – couldn’t grasp where he needed to be so reverted to old role.

Mousset 6 – the pick of forwards with some lively runs but tired.
Wilson 4 – a great player in the past but desperately needs a rest. Confidence shot.
King 5 – really struggled to know where to be.
(Defoe 4 – did he come on or did they just hold his number up? Ibe 4 Surman 5)

Mom…Begovic for being the only one to do his actual job.

Verdict.
Where do you start? That’s was an embarrassing afternoon. We have a team of players some of whom like the trappings of the Premier League more than the effort needed to play in it. If Eddie can’t get a team tactically and motivationally ready to play a derby against a team that hasn’t won since November he needs to take a long hard look at himself and his team too.

Southampton wanted it more, had studied us more than us them, played with power and were happy to foul. We just idled about and even ducked out of challenges. Shameful when 3000 fans wanted it so much.

Tactically Eddie showed once again why he has to play 4-4-2. He doesn’t understand any other system and hasn’t signed players capable of doing key roles in other systems. He doesn’t have a number ten to play two up top and while he does have the players to play three up front he didn’t pick them up instead choosing three centre-forwards all of whom spent the game up the field facing backwards. This meant the wing backs didn’t come forwards and we ended up 5-2-3. It gave Southampton confidence.

His other problem is he has had a strange break down of relationship with the energetic powerhouse of his midfield without having a suitable replacement. So we have to watch Gosling once again looking like he has won a competition to play in a Premier League game – with us all stood wondering whether his first touch might occasionally bounce to one of his own players out of luck. It rarely does and his laboured attempts to get around the pitch and win it back are pitiful.

Don’t get me started as well that we have had a player as prolific and talented as Defoe for ten months and have still no clue how to play to him. That’s shameful. Couple that with ten days to work on set pieces to come up with a crap lofted ball to nothing and it becomes alarming. Finally, we conceded an identical Sunday League breakaway goal today for the second season in a row because of tactical ineptness on positioning and a lack of desire to get back. Hughes will have also seen Palace do the same to us (but Van Aanholt missed) and plotted the same. Poor, poor, poor.

The positive I take from all of this is had we got to 45 points this season we would have limped into next year with the same poor pre-season prep, bad start, mid-season trip to Dubai that gets the players into beach mode and lack of signings of the players we actually need. This end might actually jolt us into trying something different after a very poor season of effort and performances. Hopefully, that hurt the key people today and we come out and hammer Swansea with passion if nothing else.

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