Tag Archives: Jan Bednarek

The Saints Primaries: Who Will Be Player of the Year?

Greetings Readers, if you are a long term visitor of this barely maintained blog you will know that one of the highlights is the end of season awards. The main talking point amongst fans is usually who will be crowned the player of the year. You will need little reminder that the previous few seasons have had few highlights under a trio of enjoyment vacuums at the helm and often the POTY is a stand out individual amongst a myriad of mediocrity. Since Ralph Hasenhüttl arrived though, things have started to look up and several players have shone under the Austrian’s dynamic and intensive regime.

Four in particular for me have stood out, so for a change of tactic for this year’s awards I decided to gauge public opinion. Below were the results:-

It seemed clear cut at that stage, but with all the contenders getting votes, I wondered if it would possibly change over the run in of the season. With that thought, and the fact that everyone is really engaged with politics right now (Brexit is fascinating right?) I thought I would up the ante and ask for someone who voted for each candidate to act as their campaign manager. Maybe their impassioned backing of their favourite could swing a few votes? Or at least give each candidate some recognition. So here we go…

The campaign for Jan Bednarek by @ELIELIELIELIEL_ : –

‘Jan Bednarek has been Southampton’s most important player this season.

This may seem a reach as he hasn’t netted a goal this season, but his work at the back has been crucial in securing points. With interceptions and goal line clearances just part of his game, I can whole heartedly say that his presence in the back line fills me with great confidence; not only because of his ability to defend but his calm and collectiveness whilst doing so.

Having not missed a league game since the departure of Hughes and consistently putting in amazing performances in crucial games it is clear he has been the most important player for Saints this season. Crucial games seem to be what he thrives upon, putting in some of his best performances against Chelsea (A), Leicester (A), Spurs (H), Everton (H) and most recently Wolves. I personally believe that had he gone out on loan we would have been in a worse position than we are now and feel the team gets confidence from the fact we have a reliable centre half.

50 interceptions and 151 clearances from this season alone just goes to show how crucial the Polish Maldini has been.’

The campaign for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg by @TheFalseLibero : –

‘Oh Pierre Hojbjerg, the one and only, he’s from DENMARK.

Højbjerg is from Denmark, and unlike his countrymen predecessors at Southampton – Michael Stensgaard (who?!) and Peter Madsen – he’s actually quite good; rather like the first Danish player to play for Saints was. Ronnie Ekelund was Johan Cruijff’s gift to Saints in 1994, and 22 years later, one of Cruijff’s finest understudies – Pep Guardiola – gifted us Højbjerg. Romantic isn’t it?

Remarkably, he is still only 23-years old. With all his tattoos, his face going proper red when he’s up for it, and the armband looking all snug round his magnificent bicep, he looks at least 25. If he continues charging round the pitch – or box to box, if you like your jargon – picking up more cards than any one else at Saints, he’ll look at least 28 next year.

He’s quite literally the centre of our play. With an average of 58 passes per game, 17 more than second-place Lemina, who was last seen not driving his car (because it was possibly his cousin, or his brother – he’s not sure) and 21 more than fellow Dane Jannik Vestergaard, everything goes through him. Everything apart from the opposition; he goes through them to the tune of 7 yellow cards and 2 reds, and in return is the most fouled played in Red and White.

When he’s not doing all the above, he’s busy contributing to the scoring of goals. With 4 goals and 2 assists, only Ings (9) and Redmond (8) have done more of those things.

The other nominees? MEH. The best? PEH.’

The campaign for Nathan Redmond by @SaintMat24 : –

‘Arguably Nathan Redmond has been one of the most derided players by Saints fans (including myself) in recent memory. This season however, he has played a crucial role in the Saints attack, the dissenting voices are fading away and he is a player transformed.

Now I find myself telling you why he is my player of the season.

No longer do we have the all too regular cut-inside-to-right-foot-cross-come-shots, but a player willing to take his man on in any direction. He is more aggressive in his play with the ball, which utilises his pace and makes the most of his natural technique.

However the biggest change for me is the team responsibility he has taken on. Ahead of the 3-1 victory over Wolves, Redmond told Josh Sims “If you end up breaking, …fizz the ball across the box… if me and Ingsy aren’t there that’s our problem”. Redmond is not afraid to make things happen now, to orchestrate moves and place himself at the centre of all things when Saints attack.

In my mind, no player is more important to Saints than Nathan Redmond has been this season. That’s why he should be your player of the season too.’

The campaign for James Ward-Prowse by @ArthurFane : –

‘After featuring only fleetingly in the first half of the season, it’s been a real pleasure to see James Ward-Prowse become a mainstay of Hasenhuttl’s side and begin to fulfil his enormous potential.

His ability over the set piece has always been the jewel in his crown – something reinforced by his stunning strikes against Man Utd and Spurs – it’s his all-round game though that has really hit next level this season.

I’ve for some time felt the ‘nice guy’ attitude was holding Ward-Prowse back – technically gifted, but rarely seen making combative challenges or busting a gut to recover the ball. 2019 has not only seen him cover more ground than any other Premier League player but has revealed his nasty side (Zaha sending off anyone?) He is no longer easily pushed off the ball and is absolutely vital to the way we now play.

His tally of 6 league goals in 2019 is bettered by only two Englishmen, Vardy & Sterling, rewarding him with a first England call-up since March 2017. Hughes’ regular failure to pick the midfielder will no doubt damage his chances, but Prowsey would richly deserve to win Player of the Season.’

So there we have it. Now it’s up to you.

Inverta-brat. The van Dijk conundrum and other fairy tales.

Of the millions of species in the world, 98% are invertebrates. Invertebrates don’t have a back bone. Common examples of this are Jellyfish, worms and over precious, multi-millionaire Premier League footballers.

It’s somewhat of a mystery to me, that someone as relaxed on the ball as van Dijk, someone as commanding in the air and with such physical presence can find themselves ‘not in the right frame of mind’ to play for their club in a pre-season friendly because their dream move to perennial also-rans Liverpool doesn’t seem to be going to plan. It beggars belief it really does.

Now let me be clear. I have zero issue with someone wanting to better themselves, and despite my tongue in cheap dig at the Scousers in my previous paragraph, they are back in the Champion’s League, and that is where a player of the Dutchman’s quality belongs. So yes, he may have his heart set on a move, but when you are highly paid to do a job that most would kill for, how about you do it in a professional manner? Just get on with it. Do your job, and do it for the club who is paying you until that club agrees a fee with somebody else.

Let’s not overlook that he has taken this stance before a game being played for the benefit of the victims of the Grenfell fire, I wonder what his team mate Ryan Bertrand makes of that? Dream move or not, this whole episode is not putting him in a very good light as far as being human is concerned. He seemed to be enjoying his trip to Disneyland Paris instead and I think Lucy put it best…

Southampton are trialling the new Anti-Liverpool head magnet this Summer…

I’m very much in the camp that believes he should be moved on now as soon as possible. If that is to Liverpool then so be it. If they meet the asking price then move him on, he’s a bad apple. His actions have shown he has zero respect for the fans who chant his name, and the club that gave him the platform to shine. Sadly, he’s a bad apple who is exceptionally good at football. If a deal could be done with any club other than Liverpool then that would be a nice bonus. Our new manager has a handle on it having told ‘the boy’ to train alone. Many would have us stand firm and stick him in the reserves and I understand their frustration, but that is an expensive asset to have hanging around stinking the place up in a permanent sulk. Besides, that money could be invested in the next van Dijk, and God knows we want to be able to go through all this again in a couple of Summers time.

The board are (yet again) in a shit situation regarding a key player, and while I can sympathise with their position, they have to take some of the responsibility themselves having given in in the past. I suggest they make clear decision one way or the other, can they get a final year a la Schneiderlin/Wanyama or cash in and invest the money in new players. Either way, it’s yet another Summer of distractions for Saints and poor Forster has already been caught out at Brentford after spotting a van Dijk lookalike in the crowd at the worst possible time….

Anyway, at least we have all the new incoming players to take our minds off van Strijk. Oh wait…

Personally I’m not of the opinion that we need wholesale changes, but one or two new players to freshen up the squad would be nice. I’m certainly not as desperate as some, and I have to have a little chuckle when I see the same people who were telling us that Puel wasn’t getting the best out of a talented squad now telling us that the squad is poor. Make your mind up lads and lasses.

This squad finished 8th last season with van Dijk and Austin missing for large chunks, and with Puel’s odd negative tactics and a terrible home record. If Pellegrino is the man we all hope him to be then we shouldn’t need an influx of new players to have a better season. Jan Bednarek has come in, in a position that actually we are stronger in than we ever realised given Stephen’s performances in the run in last season, and maybe we could do with another attacking midfielder? I’m not sure we need a lot else.

If van Dijk is sold then I would expect that money to be reinvested in the squad, the board must surely understand that, but if he doesn’t then I don’t think we are in bad shape.

Silly season sees us linked with all sorts, and when they sign for someone else try not forget that may never have really been interested and they may not have improved our squad. We aren’t going to sign the likes of Hernandez and Sigurdsson, it jut isn’t our way. If we sign anyone else this Summer it will likely be someone you’ve never heard of, and in two years time you will be bemoaning his impending big money move to another club…

Enjoy the rest of the window dear reader.

Keep the faith.