Written by Neil Dawson
We’d hoped it would be one of those days, a Grimsby or Brentford day for older fans, a Bolton or Charlton day for younger fans – in the end, it turned into what seems like every day for the last year… a tactically inept, confused, shot-shy game with technological kicks in the stomach thrown in for good measure.
I used to really understand and get Eddie but recently it has become a lot harder. His dreadful season had shown a splutter recently with a high press and a five-man midfield. It wasn’t perfect, it required work but it was infinitely better than the abject crap that preceded it giving encouraging defeats at the two Manchester giants, an unlucky draw with Spurs and a win over Leicester. Some on social media questioned whether Eddie would return to his three flat lines for this game – most people scoffed, I was asked the question this morning by my elderly dad – ‘no way Dad’ I replied ‘even Eddie will have seen that it wasn’t working after the last four games. I was wrong. Eddie was wrong – back it came, a man with a love for 80’s music giving us his tired museum piece homage to 80’s football. The result it deserved followed and his team are now clinging on to their top-flight status by a fractured fingernail.
Solanke and Gosling had clearly given too much to the cause in the last few games so gave way for a c jaded Brooks and hit or miss Phil Bil. Three flat lines and a clear determination to sit deep, get the ball forward early and bombard Southampton’s giant defence with long throws from any throw in the final third. Fans that didn’t want Pulis in January ( that’s all of us) must have been so relieved he didn’t come and we got to watch this instead…..
The surprise element worked to a degree and although it wasn’t pretty it was semi-effective with a string of crosses causing Southampton problems – although the main problem for their defenders was wondering if unchallenged they had time to chest it or whether they should be safe – such as the lack of numbers in the box this formation affords. Wilson, in particular, was so off form when it came to anticipating anything.
The play was heavily based on the left side of the pitch with Brooks in particular poor on the right and Stacey and his understanding breaking down regularly. There was one shot of note from the home side to show for all the set pieces and throws – Kelly’s deflected shot flying just wide. Southampton had more possession but our defence, Kelly and Rico in particular, was on top form. Ramsdale stopped smartly from Redmond though and Ward Prowse headers.
King was causing a lot of problems for Saints and when he broke clear and crossed it only Walker-Peters knows how he managed to keep his interception from going into the net.
It was looking like we might get into the break level but Danny Ings had other ideas. Unfortunately, it was Kelly at fault with a loose ball into midfield that saw Southampton break, INGS received the ball on the left and was allowed to cut in onto his good foot too easily by Stacey and fire across Rambo to deflate Bournemouth going into the break.
Bournemouth 0 Southampton 1
Bournemouth started the second half like a team that had just conceded. Eddie had strangely kept the same formation and swapped one out of form Welsh midfielders for one slightly less in form and Harry was soon into the action giving the ball away in a crucial position and then from the resulting corner wincing and putting his hands in front of his face like a small child to concede a penalty when the ball hit it. Ramsdale was on it though, diving left to keep out Ing’s kick and rescue Harry’s blushes.
It was then Eddie went a bit weird…. goodness only knows what formation we ended up with when our two best attacking threats were withdrawn for Solanke and Lewis Cook. I think it was the Leicester wing-back formation but with Harry Wilson as one of those wing-backs – a man as hardy and steadfast as those polystyrene balls you get in packaging………but slightly less mobile. Not content with the confusion and opportunities for Southampton to attack at will on their right this gave we then threw Surridge on for a 3-3-4. Unfortunately – as with every time we have ever tried this it leaves you without the ball or needing to launch it which was the only type of ball Vestergaard doesn’t fear. We then compounded this with 45 long throws straight onto his willing Danish bonce. Three chances were created – two for Harry Wilson who wasted one and was brilliantly denied for the other by Mccarthy’s fingertips. Solanke then had an effort miraculously blocked by Vestergaard. .
As Bournemouth pushed they understandably left holes at the back and they were exploited by Ings and Redmond – Ramsdale making a fantastic stop to deny the latter.
There was one time the throw worked – a moment that will long cause me stomach acid. I made a crucial mistake. I allowed myself to celebrate a goal with raw passion as I used to in the days before VAR. Surridge flicked on, Wilson flicked into the keeper and Surridge pounced on the rebound to fire home and send the watching hordes of Dorset people into delirium. Back at the studio, they watched……. Wilson’s whole leg was offside and off it was chalked. At moments like this, you almost want relegation so you can behave inhumanly and let the release go – it’s the point of supporting a team after all.
That was the moment and the only thing we didn’t need to do then was concede again. This is 2020 though – the year that gives in so many ways and with the player’s minds clearly focused on unfairness Che ADAMS was given acres of space to spin and fire past Rambo for his second ever top-flight goal. That in itself might prove pivotal…..
FT Bournemouth 0 Saints 2
MOTM against Southampton
Ramsdale 8 – An outstanding performance keeping the score down.
Stacey 6 – Stuttered a bit to link with the various Welsh wizards put in front of him
Cook 6 – Steady enough but never quite at grips with a lively forward line.
Kelly 7 – I thought he was very promising despite his pivotal loose ball.
Rico 7 – Good defending and use of the ball in play but poor set pieces.
Brooks 4 – Just not really on the pitch mentally or physically.
(Wilson 3 – counting down the days until he leaves us)
Lerma 7 – Battled hard and put himself on the line continually.
Billing 6 – One of his more determined efforts but crowded out.
Stanislas 6 – Not as influential as recently but decent enough.
Wilson 4 – Once again offered nothing and inability to stay onside cost.
King 6 – Lively and direct although again over tricks when no need.
(Solanke – battled hard and made a few things happen, Cook one great ball and tidy, Surridge – that’s a sickener but took it well will be good if we do drop).
MOM – Ramsdale – clear winner and also got the TV vote so I must be right – even if it was Glenn ‘not so keen on differently-abled folk’ Hoddle that called it.
The management team have gambled on tactics that worked well when the players outran the opposition and attacked and defended as units.
Reaching the end of the season the first choice midfield and strikers are random pairings and the defence is settled by who is fit.
The squad with the best ability has underachieved which is down to attitude, too good to go down must not be replaced by too good not to go up. – Join the conversation, click here.