Thank you to all those who responded, we got some detailed and varied answers.
And a lot of them we agreed with.
A selection of some of the reasons offered:
- Ralph’s tactical inflexibility
- Complete lack of organisation throughout the team
- Bizarre substitutions
- Absence of leadership across key positions
- Ralph’s demanding style leaving players running on empty
- INJURIES (obviously)
- Bad luck (VAR mainly)
- Lack of squad depth made worse by a lack of money and fringe players being allowed to leave on loan (more on that below)
- Oh and our confidence being shot after the 9-0
Many of those fall on Ralph.
And when he said after the game on Tuesday that the players ‘gave up’, I’m sure that sent alarm bells ringing at St Mary’s.
For a manager to admit the players stopped trying is an admission the manager is struggling. Badly.
Now by all accounts Martin Semmens and Ralph have an excellent relationship.
Saints have invested in Ralph personally. They have given him complete freedom over our football operations (hence The Playbook).
That doesn’t mean he cannot be sacked if results don’t improve, but it does mean that he has an extremely long leash.
We’re now at the stage of the season where we don’t care really if performances improve (and you hope they can only get better after that horror show at Elland Road).
We need wins. Points.
At one stage this season we were 18 points clear of Fulham. It’s now 8, and could reduce further when they play Crystal Palace on Sunday before we travel to Goodison Park.
Everton on Monday is an extremely tough game for us. Sheffield United after that is must-win if we want to maintain breathing space to 18th.
But, as I said on the pod after Leeds, our season will now be defined by this run of four fixtures in March/April…
Southampton v Brighton, March 14th
Southampton v Burnley, April 3rd
West Brom v Southampton, April 10th
Southampton v Crystal Palace, April 17th
Get results there and Ralph’s smile will be back. We’ll finish 10-15 points clear of relegation. Happy days.
But stumble, and maybe then I could imagine the club giving thought to making a change. We’d be in a right scrap over our final five matches, with Leicester at home and Liverpool away in there.
I feel dirty just typing those words and I don’t think it will come to that.
Still very much In Ralph We Trust.
Up The Saints.