Liverpool Away Lost 3 – 1
There are three types of person in the world: those who think ‘Nathan Jones’ was a Bananarama original; wiser ones who know it was a hit for the Supremes first; and those too young to know the song at all. Presumably the last group includes those responsible for critical decisions at St. Mary’s as they also don’t seem to remember the ill-fated decision to appoint Paul Sturrock either. There are plenty of articles suggesting that there is method in the Jones experiment but the gut feeling is it is a mistake and the papers were just looking for off-the-wall stories at the slow news end of the week… well, we are where we are and time will tell.
No selection surprises for game #1 of the new era, at Liverpool. The Walker-Peters injury (and that to Larios, I suppose) sort of force us to use three centre backs, here as a back three with Perraud helping shore up the left side and Elyounoussi less useful on the right where Bella-Kotchap struggled as much as Salisu had at left back in the midweek fixture. Ćaleta-Car, though, was the first to be exposed, cautioned in the fifth minute when conceding the free kick that led to the opening goal; Firmino‘s header found the corner, but Bazunu might have kept it out, and TV subsequently showed he had committed himself to his wrong foot. Then suddenly, before the clock had reached double figures, Saints were level, again from a free kick with Adams heading home Ward-Prowse’s excellent delivery. Nūňez went past Bella-Kotchap with ease to cause a serious problem somehow solved by Bazunu whose technique looked odd, and then Nūňez put another one over on A B-K by getting behind him too easily to head his side back in front; then the side suffered a hammer blow just before half time when Robertson, this time, went down the left, outpacing Elyounoussi and crossing for Nūňez to score with ease. At that point, rather than a new manager bounce, you could see things turning distinctly ugly, but Saints did find that bounce and the hosts’ best player in the second period was probably their goalkeeper. Firstly Becker got things absolutely right in a one-on-one situation with Elyounoussi who didn’t do much wrong, he then repeated the feat rather more easily to deny substitute Edozie and finally he clawed away a late Adams header. Saints were fortunate to escape from the breakaway after the first of those incidents when Bella-Kotchap, finding himself on the left, just about made up for a mistake that let in Salah without conceding a penalty, and consequent sending off. In the end a 3-1 defeat almost seemed harsh, but it meant a drop further into the relegation mire – we’ll all bear that in mind as we try to enjoy the World Cup. Back again just before Christmas to cover a visit from mighty Lincoln City.
Three LSSC Man of the Match candidates to choose from:
8. James Ward-Prowse. The BBC made him Southampton’s best player by some distance, but I don’t think they were very generous to his colleagues.
10. Ché Adams. A nice header for his goal, and could have had a second as a reward for hard work.
15. Romain Perraud, who is proving to be very consistent, whether at wing back orthodox left back.