Natives getting restless as City frustration continues

City 0 Southampton 0

Report by Eddie Blount

City last won a home game on Jan 20th in spite of a run of fixtures against teams in the lower half of the Premiership who should all have been swept aside by a side with Europa league pretensions. Instead we have seen the same game played over and over again. We do the vast majority of the attacking against a team with a minimum of ten men behind the ball, decent defensive organisation and commendable team spirit.

In spite of much huffing and puffing we rarely threaten the opposition’s goal particularly from corners when it is a major surprise if we win a header let alone get one on target. Sooner or later we generously commit a defensive howler from which very limited opponents sometimes prosper when it is usually their only shot on target in the whole game.

At least last night, a balmy evening light years away from the arctic temperatures of the previous home game, we did not have to suffer the indignity of losing to a team so limited in attacking ambition that they deserve to be relegated. Manager Mark Hughes is a small step away from managing two premiership sides to be relegated in the same season given that Stoke are in an even worse position than his current employers.

There was an ominous outbreak of booing at the end of this eminently forgettable match. At a lower decibel level this has happened several times recently though previously quickly drowned out by the cheers of other fans, but on this occasion there were no counter-cheers. Enough is close to being enough you feel.

Partly of course the booing is for the opposition who have made little or no attempt to make a game of it but there is a growing feeling that the frustration of the fans is reaching boiling point. This is pretty understandable given that this match had 0-0 written all over it from a long way out!

Neither keeper looked like conceding and in fact both had really only one save to make worthy of the name, both in the second half. Hamer, deputising for the injured Schmeichel, looked perfectly competent doing virtually nothing and brought off a good block-save from Long in what was the only semblance of a chance the Saints had.

Looking at the table Saints desperately needed to win this game but opted instead to go for a point which is of little use to them at this stage. City for their part had far more attacks but creating chances was no easier for Puel’s men than for Southampton. Iheanacho might have given City the lead in the first half, his first attempt from within the box was blocked and his second put just wide. Vardy inevitably did require their keeper to make a save when he helped on a ball over the top but put it too close to the keeper who tipped the effort nonchalantly over the bar.

So why are we finding it so difficult to score at home? As you would expect there are several reasons. First we have no real aerial power. It was surely a mistake to send both Slimani and Ulloa out on loan at the same time. We now have no plan B yet there comes a time in most games when Plan A (a possession/passing game) has to be varied. We have to persevere with a failed plan and simply look to have run out of ideas long before the end.

Corners are greeted with great acclaim though the opposition are far more likely to score from a City corner than we are! Second we lack physical power in too many parts of the pitch. Burnley don’t! No one can take on two big physical defenders and keep possession in the central part of the final third. Equally importantly we are exposed as lightweight when it comes to fighting for 50-50 balls. Third we are weak at shooting from outside the area so we rarely profit from deflections, a prolific source of assists for some teams. Finally we lack central players who can go past people with the ball and/or play a telling through ball; in particular we lack a suitable partner for Vardy.

In a game almost devoid of incident and excitement no one laid claim to be City’s Man of the Match. There were a number of solid performers as usual but the overall dross-rating of this fixture got to them all in the end. Special mention however for Dragovic (in for Morgan) and Maguire who gave City a generally solid spine and for Ndidi who performed limited defensive duties well and is by far our best tackler

This is a young city team with potential but none of the promising youngsters is yet the finished product as was evident last night in relation to Chilwell (not yet in the same class as Fuchs), Gray (nowhere near a replacement for Mahrez), Iheanacho (more a substitute for Vardy than a partner) and Ndidi (sideways passing improving but needs to get forward with the ball at pace). The one consolation with boring games is the opportunity it gives for reflection!

City: Hamer. Albrighton, Dragovic, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Ndidi, Silva (Barnes 90), Gray (Choudhury 90), Iheanacho (Diabate 76), Vardy

Southampton: McCarthy, Bednarek, Yoshida, Hoedt, Soares, Romeu, Hojbjerg (Redmond 88), Bertrand, Ward-Prowse (Davis 57), Tadic, Long (Austin 73)

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

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Saint Jamie seeks a football miracle

View from the opposition – Southampton

A bit about you

Name: Jamie Gordon

Current home town:  Leicester  

Birthplace: Southampton  

How long have you supported your team? 37 yrs  

Overview of your club: 

Great club which somehow keeps going when it keep selling it best players though seems to have run out of luck this year

Favourite thing about your home ground: The condition the pitch is in is always fabulous 
 

Favourite match played by your team & why: Beating Liverpool last season being 2 nil down and coming back was so unlike us. Great to get one over all the old players  
 

Favourite player of all time who played for your club: Matt Le Tissier… 

About our forthcoming match against you:

Your favourite current player in your squad and why? Yoshida for always giving it his all

Player in your squad we should most fear and why? Tadic for his creativity

Player in our squad you most fear and why? Vardy for his pace

Up and coming prospect in your squad? Worryingly nobody seems to have made a breakthrough this year.
 

Southampton are desperate for a league win but presumably keen to avoid injuries and conserve energy for your semi-final on Sunday – how do you think you’ll approach the game? We just have to go for it and forget about Sunday

How do you think you'll do against us? 2-1 win for the saints

General Questions:

 
Where do you now think you'll finish this season? 16th

You were hoping for 8th place – where did you think it all went wrong? Not been good enough this year , never been the creative threat going forward and lost all confidence at the back. Tactics seemed questionable at times

Though you previously predicted Stoke (& this looks a good prediction now) do you still think Palace and Huddersfield will not claw their way out of the battle and if not which three teams do you now think will be relegated? WBA stoke and don’t care who else as long as not us!

Way back in December you correctly tipped Man City to win the league – why was that? Been best team by far  this season

Any other comments? Praying for a miracle on Thursday!

Season Over Despite Siege

Burnley 2 Foxes 1

Match Report by Graham Tracey

Our season effectively ended in Lancashire on Saturday afternoon with defeat to our Europa League chasing rivals Burnley. In warm conditions at last, it was a case of no jacket required, but also no passport required as 7th place surely now out of reach.

With the rollercoaster of the past 5 years, we are not used to the prospect of playing out a few end of season matches with little riding on them. However, what we are unfortunately well accustomed to this season is starting slowly and leaving ourselves with too a high a mountain to climb, as well as the difference between the often high quality of the goals we score and the softness of the goals we concede.

Puel had spoken of the cup-tie feel of this game, and there was a raucous atmosphere in our end at kick off. Unfortunately, within 8 minutes the decibel level was akin to a county championship game at Grace Road. 

Pre-game cricket ground 

On 5 minutes, our defence could not cover up the cracks of an out-of-sorts Wes Morgan mistake and Chris Wood applied the ‘law of the ex’ despite Schmeichel blocking his original strike. Shortly afterwards, centre half Long headed home from within the 6 yard box from a corner, with keeper and defenders AWOL. It was a goal so basic that it beggars belief that we concede so many without ever looking like scoring one at the other end.

It normally takes Burnley 3 weeks to score 2 goals but they had done it in 3 minutes. Needing to win, it looked mission impossible and it took us a while to pull up our socks. Credit must go to Hamza Choudry, who was not over-awed by making his full debut in the midst of this woeful start. He played maturely and in the interests of the team, sitting deep to allow others to bomb forward as the game went on, and also demonstrating a long throw ability.

With Burnley happy to invite and soak up pressure, we began to dominate. Unfortunately, our 3 best chances of the first half were all headers, not our strong suit without Slimani or Ulloa. Vardy nodded badly wide from Chilwell’s storming run and cross, and later straight at Pope, while Pope expertly fielded Mahrez’s running header which seemed certain to get us back in the game.

As well as his shot-stopping, Pope caught every ball into the box (of which Gray curled several of decent quality), spreading confidence through his ranks. Mahrez sent a free kick just wide with the last kick of the half to leave us despondent at the break.

Attacking our fans in the second half, we made a real go of it. Iheanacho came on for the ineffectual Okazaki and linked play up well. There was hunger from our players, especially Silva who played with the urgency of being cheated of 4 months of his career but could not influence the game as much as he desperately wanted and has the ability to do, and Mahrez, often coming deep to collect the ball, and clearly keen to give us something for next season, whether or not he is here.

Pope saved low from Vardy before the breakthrough came with 20 minutes left when the Vardy blasted home from Iheanacho’s though ball. Diabete came on for Gray and having a left-footer on the left wing made a difference as his crosses caused problems throughout. A low cross that agonisingly evaded Vardy was the closest, but the last action of the game also saw Vardy miss a heading chance from another cross in a great cameo by Diabete.

Match of the Day did not do justice to how dominant we were, nor did it show Barnes’ follow through on Schmeichel that led to us having to bring on Hamer. The yellow card was scant punishment as it prevented us from introducing Albrighton to add another source of delivery from right back, as Chilwell was doing on the left.

It was just not going to be our day, and I have since read that Vardy has now scored in 8 league defeats in a single season which is an unwanted record and a far cry from the “when Rush scores, Liverpool never lose” rule for years in the 80s.

The season has left regrets, for me mostly in the cups rather than the league. However, I believe the future can be successful – all goals count the same however good or bad they are, so we just need to start scoring some scruffy ones rather than conceding them.  

CITY: Schmeichel 4 (Hamer 5), Simpson 4, Chilwell 7, Morgan 4, Macguire 5, Gray 7 (Diabete 7), Choudry 7, Silva 6, Mahrez 6, Vardy 5, Okazaki 4 (Iheanacho 7)

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

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Next Up – Southampton 19 April 2018

Next Up – Southampton 19 April 2018

Manager       Mark Hughes

Founded       1885             Ground         St Mary's Stadium

Address       Britannia Rd, Southampton, SO14 5FP

Capacity        32,505

Squad:

2        Portugal                 DF     Cédric Soares

3        Japan                    DF     Maya Yoshida

5        England                 DF     Jack Stephens

6        Netherlands           DF     Wesley Hoedt

7        Republic of Ireland FW     Shane Long

8        Northern Ireland    MF     Steven Davis (captain)

9        Argentina              FW     Guido Carrillo

10      England                 FW     Charlie Austin

11      Serbia                    MF     Dušan Tadić

13      England                 GK     Alex McCarthy

14      Spain                    MF     Oriol Romeu

16      England                 MF     James Ward-Prowse

18      Gabon                    MF     Mario Lemina

19      Morocco                 MF     Sofiane Boufal

20      Italy                      FW     Manolo Gabbiadini

21      England                 DF     Ryan Bertrand

22      England                 MF     Nathan Redmond

23      Denmark               MF     Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

26      France                   DF     Jérémy Pied

28      England                 GK     Stuart Taylor

30      England                 DF     Will Wood

32      England                 DF     Alfie Jones

34      England                 MF     Jake Flannigan

35      Poland                   DF     Jan Bednarek

38      England                 DF     Sam McQueen

39      England                 MF     Josh Sims

42      England                 MF     Jake Hesketh

43      France                   DF     Yan Valery

44      England                 GK     Fraser Forster

We have tried our best to ensure factual accuracy at the date of going to press – apologies in advance for any errors or out of date information.

For the very latest updates please follow the link below to the club web site: http://www.saintsfc.co.uk

 

One forecast we really hope John Kettley gets wrong!

The avid Burnley fan (and weather forecaster) John Kettley caught up with Matt Davis prior to the big game on Saturday …….

View from the opposition – Burnley

A bit about you:

Name: John Kettley, Weather Broadcaster and Consultant – Sport Nut!

Current home town: Lincoln but brought up in Todmorden, West Yorkshire on the right side of the border (but only 9 miles from Burnley)

Birthplace: Halifax

How long have you supported your team? Since I first noticed they were quite good beating Nottingham Forest 8-0 in Division 1, circa 1959?

Overview of your club

Prudent in the Bob Lord days but had to be run as a business, hence good players were lost early. Last twenty to thirty years have been hard, almost lost to non-league in 1987, but the ITV Sport deal was crippling losing the club several million pounds a few years ago which they are now just recovering from. The Club is run brilliantly in my opinion considering the size of the town and the big clubs nearby.

As a Trust member also I admire the hard work of such organisations and the will to have a voice.

Favourite thing about your home ground:

Home from home – much changed since it looked more like Filbert Street. Now a fine stadium.

Favourite match played by your team & why: Smashed Leeds 5-1 in 1969? when Revie was in charge and Leeds were the team hated by everybody it seemed.

Favourite player of all time who played for your club: Leighton James will always have a huge following but there were many at the time. Previously Jimmy McIlroy was a genius……

About our forthcoming match against you:

Our defence is very strong these days, well-disciplined and give away very few goals, stats tell you it is one of the best in the Premier League – we will be tough to beat.

Your favourite current player in your squad and why?

Wood up front is very sharp and the surprise package is Ashley Barnes who has calmed down and concentrating more on scoring than being sent-off !   

Player in your squad we should most fear and why?

We are a team and not individuals, a goal can come from all areas of the field but we have an established unit which will work for ninety minutes – defeat is no longer talked about.

Player in our squad you most fear and why?

I still fear Vardy, not bad considering his lowly roots such as AFC Halifax (my birthplace).

How do you think you'll do against us?  Win 1-0

Transfer Activity:

What did you think to your overall transfer activity this season?

Brilliant, spent lots of money, unprecedented at Turf Moor, but has seriously brought strength in depth to the first team

You are quite use to forecasting and so ……..

Who do you think will get relegated?

Huddersfield lack of goals, WBA lack of confidence, Swansea still looking over their shoulders.

Do you think Man City will win the league this weekend?

Certain (John tipped them back in November)

Any who will get that seventh place?

Burnley