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Wolves Fans' Verdict v Southampton: Sloppy at St Mary's

By Joe Edwards | Wolves | Published:

Our supporters go over a disappointing defensive display as Wolves lost 3-1 at Southampton.

Wolves performed poorly against Ralph Hasenhuttl's team (AMA)

Chris Hughes

What's your verdict on the match?

The big questions being asked by many of us before the game were about how we’d react to last Sunday’s defeat.

Would Nuno make changes? No.

Would we show resilience and come out fighting? Not really.

Would we struggle to produce our best on the back of an energy and morale-sapping defeat? Definitely.

Yes, we had a lot of possession but we created very little in the way of clear goalscoring opportunities. At the other end, we resembled a pub side as, collectively and individually, we defended like we’d never played a game of football before.

Like the Burnley game, we were behind within two minutes. A simple ball across the box tucked away by Nathan Redmond, who had cut his run across the back of Saiss as the Moroccan attempted to clear the ball with his favoured left foot rather than just poking a foot at the ball to turn it behind. Schoolboy error number one.

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Having gotten ourselves back into the game from Boly’s excellent header, we immediately went back behind. This time it was Coady’s turn to forget how to defend as he dropped three yards behind the defensive line.

While this is usually ok as he’s the centre of the back three, it didn’t work when he’d drifted to the left tracking a runner and played Redmond onside as he ran in behind Saiss to dink the ball over Patricio.

After that goal we had a five-minute spell where we looked like we were trying to give Southampton a goal to wrap the game up. First Neves played a square ball straight to Josh Sims and we were lucky the midfielder chose to go for goal and shoot wide rather than squaring for the unmarked Danny Ings. Then a sloppy Saiss pass was intercepted and Ings played a lovely ball beyond the slow-to-react Coady that we were again fortunate to see Sims fail to convert.

For the first 25 minutes of the second half it was all Wolves but, as at Turf Moor, we were all bark with no bite. The best chance we had came more from some awful Saints defending than our own creativity. A looping mis-clearance dropped to an unmarked Raúl, seven yards out. Goal, right? Erm...

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The most galling thing about the Mexican hitting his volley out for a Southampton throw-in (yes...) was that the home side then came straight up the other end and won their first corner of the game. More circus-clown defending put the seal on the game.

Traore, who had two or three moments going forward, showed why he’s always been viewed as an attacking player than a wing-back as he was slow getting out from the corner. Just like Coady for the second goal, he’d been left well behind the rest of his defensive line to play an attacker onside 10 yards square of him.

Shane Long’s tap-in sealed a fantastic week for us where a Birmingham-supporting former Walsall player had ruined our FA Cup dream, and another fan and former Blues player’s double and a former long-serving West Brom player sealed another defeat here.

We’ve had better weeks.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

There have been many occasions this season where this question has been hard to answer because the entire XI have been excellent.

This is one of the few occasions where it’s the opposite. Other than Patricio, who was left helpless with all three goals and made a couple of smart stops in the second half, and maybe Boly and Jonny down our left side, this was one of our worst collective performances of the season full of below-par displays all over the pitch.

Let’s hope some Vitamin D from a week in Marbella reinvigorates them ready for Brighton next week.

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match?

Well, in a strange way, I really enjoyed this game. The players do look jaded and are struggling with the wounds of the semi-final defeat. However, they played well for long periods and but for some poor defensive lapses, I’m sure we would have got something from the game. Even at 2-1, I could see a Wolves win!

The fans were brilliant in their support and I’m sure the players were giving it their all.

Two things worked against us here. First, the early goal again, this time within two minutes. Then, the fact that we dominated possession is never a good thing with the way we are set up. You could say Southampton did to us what we have done to others so often.

Saiss should have cut out Redmond for the goal. The defence, so solid all season, have lost their way. Though we had all of the ball, Southampton had two more good chances to score before we equalised.

We deservedly equalised after half an hour, with a great Moutinho corner met by the head of Boly. To concede again, so quickly, was careless. We gave them too much space and time in midfield and this time no one picked up Redmond.

It’s fair to say, we were all over them in the second half. The issue is that when we have so much of the ball (70 per cent) our play becomes slower and so predictable. We need the electricity of the counter-attack to make the most of our strengths.

They duly scored against the run of play to seal the victory. Lucky in that the ball bounced off Dendoncker to Long. I thought it was offside, but clearly, Traore did not move out quickly. Traore is not a defender!

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

The defence were poor collectively. Boly was the pick of them and got his goal, but even he was giving the ball away too often. Saiss did not have a good game.

I do wonder if we have upset the balance leaving Bennett out since his suspension?

Doherty was largely ineffective, with Jonny seeing more of the ball and looking to create opportunities.

Moutinho was the pick of midfield, though we didn’t have the energy required with Neves and Dendoncker below par.

Jota and Jimenez were working on scraps and both did well considering this.

The game was shouting out for Vinagre, in my opinion. I’d have had him on the left with Traore on right wing for the last 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, the subs were ineffective in changing the game. Many Wolves fans need to take a chill pill. So many over-reactions of negativity.

One year ago we secured promotion to the Premier League and what a year we have enjoyed. Think on, two years ago we were watching Paul Lambert’s dire football.

Glad to see the die-hards who have seen the bad times are keeping the right element of perspective.

Five games to go and a massive day out in a Liverpool to look forward to. Let’s hope the title goes right down to the wire.

Natalie Wood

What's your verdict on the match?

For the first time under Nuno’s reign, I really didn’t want to go to the game.

The thought of a six-hour-plus round trip followed by watching a game of football was just something I wasn’t quite ready for after Wembley, but as ever we were there full of hope and belief because this was Nuno’s wolves… we would definitely respond to that performance, wouldn’t we?!

It was always going to be a tough game, Southampton are not a bad team and they are a bottom-six team, and we all know how those games go for us, but to go one down after 90 seconds was ridiculous. We were completely asleep. Boly and Jonny completely lost Sims and well, god knows what Saiss was doing but it clearly wasn’t trying to stop Redmond who scored completely unmarked. Awful, awful goal to concede.

We did wake up after that and looked a threat going forward, and after a couple of close calls, we had a deserved equaliser through Boly. Moutinho’s corners can be a bit hit and miss, but this one was perfect, straight onto the head of Body who fired it home - a deserved equaliser and a belief that we would now kick on and win. We had control of the game and Southampton looked shaky at the back... but instead two minutes later Southampton were back in front. Yet again we were completely asleep at the back and Redmond literally walked through them to finish coolly past Patricio… I would love to know what was going on in their heads!

After that we completely fell apart, giving the ball away constantly, some absolute nightmare defending and clueless going forward. Southampton should have had one or two more before the break, they deserved it and we deserved nothing more than to be three or even four down.

Half time, the number one thing that needed to change for me was Saiss off and Bennett on. Saiss was having a nightmare of a game, probably the worst defensively for him in a Wolves shirt. Coady and Boly were also not having a great game but Saiss was completely off the ball and it knocked the normally rock solid defence. Obviously, there was no change and we started the second half with the same lineup. We did start the second half better we must have had 70% possession and have a couple of half chances but nothing was really working. Southampton's defence did look like it could be easily undone though especially with a bit of pace so it was great to see Traore enter the field. He worked hard going forward but with very little end product (a very familiar phrase to describe Traore!).

Our big chance of the second half was undoubtedly Jimenez’s free volley inside the box. If you were playing the lead up to it then paused and asked which player you would want waiting for that volley it would be Jimenez every day of the week but on that occasion, his volley went so far wide Southampton got a throw in... it was probably the best way to sum up our performance. Almost straight away it was game over and yet again it was an awful goal to give away and an easy goal for Southampton to score. Traore stood yards deeper than the rest of the line keeping Shane Long onside for an easy finish. It should have been textbook defending.

The game was over after that, other than more silly defensive mistakes to allow Southampton more opportunities to increase the scoreline further. They really did deserve to win by more.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

It is very difficult to pick a man of the match as I can’t say anyone really played that well however the stand out for me was Jonny, defensively he wasn’t great but he was nowhere near the worst, but going forward he looked sharp and quick, he was probably our best chance all day to create something.

Defensively it was probably the worst display I have seen under Nuno. We looked absolutely clueless, there was no communication and we just looked half asleep throughout. The whole team for the first time looked tired and it was the first time I think we really showed the impact of having such a small squad can have.

Realistically, we can’t expect every single one of these players to be able to play 100 per cent all the time but we do expect them to because we have no other option. I really worry that our season is going to start petering out now, it really looked like the players have had enough. The results yesterday show that we still have a huge chance to finish seventh and top off a dream season but I’m not sure we have enough left in the tank.

With a little bit of perspective, though we have already had a dream season, we are battling for 7th place and FA Cup semi-finalists… can you imagine someone telling you that 3 years ago? But really we all know what we can achieve with this team and also what this team deserve… let's just hope a week in Marbella does them good and they come back ready to finish this season in style!

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match?

As if our week has not been bad enough. Two minutes in and it was Burnley revisited. Saiss was too slow to react to a cross and it would be no clean sheet. That pretty much set our mood for the whole game. There were times when we passed the ball around delightfully but equally, there were far too many times our play was riddled with mistakes and our passing was just dreadful.

Boly, Saiss and Coady were all passing to the opposition on a regular basis. Dendoncker was obsessed with passing backwards, even when there were ten yards of space in front of him. That resulted in slowing our moves down and allowing more of their defence to get goal side.

We dominated possession and got going in the game. After a couple of variations, a regular corner at last and Boly did the rest. It was so annoying to then lose the lead in two minutes when our static defence let their runner in. 2-1 could have been worse by the break after Neves, then Saiss gifted the ball away in our half.

So again we were chasing the game but continued to be our own worst enemy. Jota, and to a lesser extent Jimenez, wanted that extra touch near goal and the chance was then gone or wasted.

As so often happens, Nuno started to make changes on the hour. When Traore replaced Doherty however our usual consistent shape just evaporated. Rather than turning the game our way it did the opposite. Traore put in two decent crosses but they were not accurate enough.

A scrappy third goal followed quickly after a Jimenez shot missed the corner flag by a yard despite him being closer to goal than the penalty spot.

It was hard not to walk away from the game feeling thoroughly miserable, again. Thankfully, the bigger picture sees us in eighth so we should really keep smiling.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

Patricio made a couple of decent saves, but should perhaps have done better on the second goal.

Doherty took a while to get going but got in a few good attacking positions only to waste them.

Otto, before tiring in the last ten minutes, looked our most dynamic attacking threat, especially in the first half. Man of the Match.

Boly got the goal but gave the ball away time and time again, passing and with his headers.

Coady struggled to pick out a pass and tried to force it too often.

Saiss looked uncomfortable from start to finish. Careless with his tackling and passing – he was poor.

Dendoncker treated the ball like a hot potato. Getting rid of it as quick as he could. He failed to support the front two and, more than anyone, looked nervous and to have a hangover and his confidence knocked from last week.

Neves was always available in space, circulated the ball well at times, but was guilty of a couple of howlers too. He didn't look like he was enjoying the game at all.

Moutinho was steady without being very dynamic. Most passes were safe and rarely found the front two in any space.

Jota looked a yard slower than at Wembley. He was getting caught with the ball, or needing an extra touch before getting a shot off.

Jimenez started well but faded out of the game after his dreadful miss just prior to their third goal.

From the bench, Traore usually got the ball too deep. It looked like he should have pushed up to prevent the last goal and get an offside. Doherty would have. Gibbs-White and Costa had no impact.

Russ Evers

What's your verdict on the match?

A six-day hangover with the fabled five-man defence having an absolute nightmare, both individually and collectively.

Another game against an in-your-face side where we failed, but this time it was pace not power that cost us whilst we looked second-best upfront despite the best efforts of Jimenez and Jota.

Too many poor touches and misguided/misplaced passes, but the bigger picture is that we are safe and thanks to other results still in contention for seventh.

The warm-weather break will be a good thing – any more room Nuno?

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match? Overall it wasn’t good enough. There were a couple of spells individually that were decent but as a whole it was way below the standards we’ve set this season, especially from a defensive point of view.

It was the start we all didn’t want after last week’s result. In any game going behind so early makes it more difficult but away from home it becomes even harder.

Confidence is a huge thing in football and any sport for that matter. Last week in the semi-final clearly took a lot out of us physically and mentally which could have made a difference to our performance yesterday. It’s natural to be affected by what happened last week, we’re all human.

Obviously it’s frustrating to make the mistakes we did yesterday because we all know the players are capable of much better and it’s rare for us to be so bad defensively and making the mistakes we did when in possession. Happens to the best of us though and as good as some of our players are, when you’re low on confidence you end up doing things you wouldn’t normally do which then leads to making mistakes a lot of the time.

Defensively the goal was poor to concede, no one got close enough to Sims and then Saiss got beat to the cross by Redmond too easily.

After that we started to play our own game and created a few opportunities. We deserved the equaliser, fantastic delivery from Moutinho like always, brilliant leap and header from Boly.

However, all that hard work to get back into the game was thrown away within minutes. Defensively switching off again, no one tracked Redmond’s run which allowed Ings to play a simple pass through. Very good finish I can’t deny it, Patricio had no chance but at the back we needed to be doing so much better.

Could and should have been 3-1 straight after too. We kept giving the ball away when there was absolutely no need to, accepting pressure onto us and we were panicking which is very unlike us.

After half time we had so much of the ball but didn’t create much other than a chance for Jota and Jimenez. Both should have done better, especially Jimenez who had that volley when no one was around him and he smashes it out for a throw in. You just knew it wasn’t going to be our day.

Their first chance of the second half and they score. Can’t complain though because it was our own mistakes again. What Traore was doing keeping Long onside I will never know, basic errors that shouldn’t be happening at this level and it killed the game.

If it wasn’t for Patricio and Boly as well late on, it could have been four or five which would have been embarrassing in all honesty.

One to forget and move on from. Hopefully the week in Marbella will do the players some good to just refresh themselves and get themselves focused ahead of the last five games.

We haven’t lost at home since January 2 so hopefully we can make the most of our next two against Brighton and Arsenal as it would be fantastic to end the season in a positive way.

Who played well – and who didn't impress? No one played amazingly well or anything like that.

Jota and Jimenez were below their usual standard but I didn’t think they were too bad in the first half.

Going forward we looked quite decent at times but defensively were where the main problems lied yesterday. The forwards got at the Southampton defence when they could and created a few chances. They both could have done a lot better in the second half with the chances they had and performance wise they both seemed to fade as the game went on.

Boly started awfully but after he scored he grew into the game more and saved us, along with Patricio, from losing by more in the end. He was giving the ball away sloppily early on and just getting caught out at the back but his equaliser was a fantastic header. He’s now our third highest goalscorer in the league this season which does raise eyebrows about our attacking players off the bench a little.

Patricio saved us from the score being embarrassing. There wasn’t anything he could really do about the goals, from his personal point of view he might think he could have got a hand to Redmond’s second but it was a clever finish. Not much he can do when the defence got opened up like the Red Sea constantly.

Moutinho’s delivery for the goal was perfect as it has been for a lot of times this season. Eight assists now which is a brilliant return for him and I think out of the three midfielders, he was the best. Don’t remember him doing too much wrong but as a midfield collectively we weren’t good enough, more-so defensively as I thought there was little protection from them at times.

Neves had a very poor game. Our expectations of him increased massively due to how well he did last season but I do think next season he will improve and he is still only young so the more experience he gets, he will only get better and better.

Think he would benefit even more with a quick, holding midfielder next to him but that isn’t always easy. Dendoncker is very good but he is box-to-box a lot of the time as he makes runs into the box but that means Neves has to do more defensive work and I think at times the opposition can take advantage of that.

Coady had one of his worst games for us. He was constantly getting done by Sims, Ings and Redmond running in behind him. We all know he’s capable of much better but then again as a defence collectively we were poor. Saiss was at fault massively too and he was been important for us in recent games.

Adama didn’t even do that bad when he came on in an attacking sense. He got the better of Bertrand and Vestergaard a few times and did try to make things happen.

The expectation of him is so high due to his price tag and the fact he’s so good at beating players, people automatically expect him to put in a perfect delivery every time but for many times he beats his man, that’s never going to happen because if he did he would still be at Barcelona.

Defensively he has no awareness at all and there are no excuses for his mistake which lead to Southampton’s third. I guess he isn’t a defender and never has been so doesn’t have those qualities but he shouldn’t have been that deep when the ball came back in.

Gibbs-White offered very little although he does want the ball a lot and isn’t afraid to have the ball at any time which is always a good mentality at his age. He needs to improve massively on a lot of things though, he’s never scored for us and apart from the Spurs and Chelsea home games, whenever he’s played he’s not been effective at all.

He has played quite a few minutes for us as well, maybe even more than the likes of Foden and Hudson-Odoi for example but they seem to be streets ahead of him in terms of ability. Potential only counts for so much, eventually there has to be a point where you produce whether it be goals/assists especially for an “attacking midfielder” which is what I would class him as.

Helder Costa coming on made absolutely zero sense to me. Four minutes to go and we bring him on, we may as well have brought no one on. I was surprised at the sub, he could have even brought him on 10 minutes earlier or even brought on Cav/Vinagre who would have surely been more effective. 3-1 down with four minutes left there is no point in making a sub because the game was done.

Joe Edwards

By Joe Edwards
Multi-Media Sports Journalist - @JoeEdwards_Star

Sports reporter for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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