Parked buses and vultures
Cardiff were the latest team to visit St Mary's on Saturday, with the Bluebirds fighting to hold on to their Premier League status.
April 14th, 2014
Southampton were looking to bounce back at the first time of asking from their 4-1 defeat away to title hopefuls Manchester City a week ago; a match which also saw Jay Rodriguez’ dreams of going to the World Cup disappear after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, ruling him out of action for around six months.
As to be expected from a side trying to avoid relegation, Cardiff were quite happy to sit with 10 men behind the ball and make life difficult for the Southampton forwards. No real surprise then that Saints bossed possession for large periods of the game, but without the direct and powerful running of Jay Rodriguez they lacked any real pace and penetration to trouble the Bluebirds defence.
Take nothing away from Cardiff in what was ultimately a frustrating game to watch as a Southampton fan. The Bluebirds came to St Mary’s with a game plan and it worked for them. Unfortunately for Saints it yet again highlights a lack of pace up front and how we struggle against teams who park the bus.
Playing against teams with a more attacking approach suits Southampton. It means more space and opportunities to exploit a stretched defence. But if Saints are to improve on their impressive top-half finish and look to push on towards a position that brings European football with it, they will need to find a way to combat those ultra-defensive teams. They need a plan B, or they need the players capable of making the difference in the final third.
There are a few issues that Southampton fans will want resolved fairly quickly this summer. The first being the retention of Mauricio Pochettino to a new long term contract, who has a year left on his current deal but has been heavily linked elsewhere. A large number of the first team has spoken highly of their manager and how much they want to play for him. The new board should look to secure the manager’s future as soon as possible after a very successful and promising first full season in England.
Secondly, will Saints be able to keep their best players in the transfer window? Luke Shaw will be linked with plenty of clubs – as he was in January – whilst the likes of Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin have recently been linked with moves away.
Word from the top of the club remains that Southampton are not a selling club and that we do not need to sell. Time will tell whether the club can withstand big money offers for some of its prized assets.