As Saints got totally outclassed with a deplorably weak and seemingly uninterested performance at West Ham last week, three players watched on helplessly – once again but there’s a fourth option we should consider in the final few games of the season.
Oriol Romeu, Maya Yoshida and Steven Davis have all been reliable and trusted players until injuries or loss of form ruled them out. In the case of loss of form they are hardly alone given our 2017/18 campaign so far.
There is one telling commonality though in a season that has largely seen narrow one goal defeats or draws where it was feasible we could’ve taken more from an individual game – there are exceptions to the rule – all three players were missing for the back to back Premier League three nil defeats in March.
When Virgil van Dijk was injured last season Jack Stephens was thrust into his place at centre back. Stephens was not ready at the point owing to his inexperience but Yoshida helped him grow into the job and they became a half decent pairing. Yoshida has held the captaincy before and is a strong player. Yes he has his limitations, but he is the best option that we have as a centre back in my opinion. He is also a fighter which is another plus with us in our current situation. He has to be brought back in to replace Wesley Hoedt who could benefit from the break and being taken out of the firing line.
Oriol Romeu was our best midfielder last season. He was a massive help to our defence as he protected them with many last ditch interceptions and tackles. He also plays as though he cares and must play. Mario Lemina has been a complete failure, a total disaster this season. How much blame can be placed on Mauricio Pellegrino I don’t know but a willingness or ability to perform has been sadly missing from Lemina this season. He has to be dropped – let’s face it some players need more than a season to adapt to the Premier League and the English game.
James Ward-Prowse has the reputation of being a brilliant crosser of a standing ball. Free kicks specialist, he is amongst the best but a tad lightweight. Never the less he cares for the club and will always give his best. He may even help Charlie Austin by giving him some good heading opportunities and allowing him to focus on what he does best, find space and finish.
Steve Davis is our club captain. He has been a valued servant of our club and we need him in the side. The best chance we have of seeing a midfielder score a goal for us come from the threat he provides in live play. He may not be the best technically but he is a trier and leads by example.
With seven games remaining in the season, we’re passed the stage of being pretty. We need players that more often than not, we can rely on, and whilst each of the above four have had their fair share of criticism in the past, each has bounced back and won fans over with their effort even if there’s are prettier names in the game so to speak.
The ‘Southampton Way’ may have taken a backseat this season, maybe it’s time we simply went back to basics and stopped over thinking things?
With Mark Hughes saying in the aftermath of West Ham that he had decisions to make based on what he’d seen and learnt about players – whilst I’m not saying anyone should be written off, it’s time for others to get a chance and lead by example and not necessarily their transfer fee.