End Of Season Review
Saints took a step backwards in 2016/17 for the first time under Liebherr ownership, but under any reasonable assessment, a drop from 6th to 8th place in a season when Chelsea and Liverpool rediscovered themselves is perfectly satisfactory, and we have a cup final to factor in as well – a game which the team could easily have won against far better funded opposition, and by that stage of the season we were without our best defender and our most successful forward. However… the drop is of 17 points, the equivalent of nearly six wins, and it certainly feels like it; even so, there was that cup final. But what about Europe? Conventional wisdom has it that a Euro campaign can cost six points, but maybe that’s if you take the competition seriously. You could see from the players’ reactions when they failed to deliver that they were keen on progressing, but selections (or, in the case of Fonte, non-selection) left them short. Above all though, it’s the lack of home goals that has put Claude Puel’s position under threat. We actually scored more away than last year, but overall only the bottom four were less prolific, and of course 17 goals at home is awful, and the home schedule included a total of 16 games yielding just 8 goals – the maths is easy. I’ve a feeling that a shake-up of the support coaching staff would be more creative than lopping the head off the manager, but it has been awful, hasn’t it?, and there may be few tears shed if he left.
Men of the match stats in an inconsistent year for many of the key players:
One: Cuco Martina, Jose Fonte, Fraser Forster
Two: Nathan Redmond, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Cédric Soares, Manolo Gabbiadini, Jack Stephens
Three: Duŝan Tadić, Virgil Van Dijk, Jordi Clasie, Soufiane Boufal
Five: Steven Davis, Ryan Bertrand, Maya Yoshida
Six: Oriel Romeu
Seven: James Ward-Prowse
A late run from J W-P, but it’s the (not surprising) lack of awards for attacking players that’s let him in. Shows how much Pellè and Mané were missed, and that’s no fault of the manager – replacing them adequately may have been.
Eric Shadick London Saint’s Match Reporter