So… here we go again… finally … whether we like it or not. With Southampton the visitors, it was to my old Metro mucker, Chris Rann that I turned for his thoughts on what may, or may not happen…
First things first… should we be playing? In your view, is the PL’s unseemly scramble to get the league completed worth the risk?
I’ve long been in two minds about this. The issue was that there was no ‘ideal’ solution, and even the one we have hasn’t achieved that. The best option was always to complete the season. Voiding/points-per-game would have been deeply unfair on a lot of clubs, but even now, anything that happens will always have an asterix.
Liverpool will be deserved champions*, but like it or not the season is being completed in a different fashion to which it started so there will always be a caveat to go with any explanation of what happened. As a Saints fan, no outcome really would have affected us negatively.
We weren’t going to win/qualify for anything and relegation now would be the culmination of a lot of unlikely scenarios, so I guess I had the opportunity to view it differently to a Liverpool or a Norwich fan whose futures could have been decided without kicking a ball. Although a voided season would have made that 9-0 disappear from the record books…
Have the Saints been directly affected by the pandemic? Any positive tests among the players or staff?
Not that I’ve heard of. We have to presume that clubs have been 100% open about the testing etc.
A couple more wins and you’re 100% safe, right? How the heck did Hasenhüttl manage to turn it all around after that Leicester game? Was one hell of an achievement to be fair.
Yes, I would think two might even be more than enough. It’s been remarkable, to be honest. We were a better team than that early season form/Leicester debacle suggested, but something wasn’t right. I won’t shy away from the fact I said Hassenhuttl should go directly after that game because I didn’t see any way back.
Thankfully, the board and Ralph himself saw it differently and the improvements were vast. It was perhaps the kick we needed to address the clear failings in the squad. Alex McCarthy got his place back which has been a huge positive, and really he did nothing wrong to justify losing it in the first place. Hassenhuttl is clearly a capable manager and given more time to stamp his style on the team, we might see a much better crack at things next season. We just need to keep key players at the club and Ings in goalscoring form.
It feels like we’re starting a new season rather than continuing the old one (I wish!), so form will probably count for nothing, but were Saints playing well prior to lockdown?
Having turned our dreadful form early on around we had become a bit inconsistent, but the performances were still encouraging. We looked like heading for a comfortable mid-table finish which, having had the start we did, we would have been more than happy with.
Has the enforced break given any long-term injured the chance to get some game time this season? We have a couple – Timm Klose and Onel Hernandez – who’ve rejoined the squad when their season was pretty much a write-off.
Not really. We’ve been ok for injuries to be honest. Maybe Yan Valery will return after being mysteriously out for months before lockdown with no real explanation given.
Here’s one for you – fancy predicting Ralph’s starting XI? (marks out of 11) 🙂
Ok, here goes…
McCarthy, Bertrand, Bednarek, Stephens, Walker-Peters, Smallbone, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Armstrong, Ings, Long.
This is based on Hojbjerg batting his virtual eyelids at Spurs during lockdown and losing the captaincy.
You reckon the break/restart will help us? We keep being told that the empty stadiums will assist teams, like us, who build patiently from the back and who rely on keeping the ball. These people are just being nice, right?
I don’t think it will help I’m afraid. If the Bundesliga is anything to go by, home advantage is out of the window, and largely the better teams win the games. This is one of the reasons even this ‘solution’ will be deemed unfair by some. Could you beat Man City at home like you did earlier in the season under these conditions? I really don’t think so. For Saints, we have been much worse at home than away this season, so I’m hoping that playing without the loud groans at a misplaced pass may do us some good, but let’s see…
Finally… standard … score prediction?
I think it will be tentative from both teams. 1-1. Pukki and Ings to continue their goal runs.
Cheers mate. (I’d normally say we’d probably take a point, but it’s not much use to us really).