Chris Rann gives us his first thoughts in our new feature ‘georgeweahscousin@saintsworld’
Saints and dramatic close seasons are as common as fag packet tax returns from Fratton Park, but this season’s has an ironic twist.
Whereas past Summers have been a case of watching with one eye through clenched fingers as the club’s top talent was harvested, this year we are the victims of an ironic twist. The combined reigns of the triumvirate of tedium (Puel, Pellegrino & Hughes) have left the club with a bloated squad, the majority of which nobody wants, including us.
We find ourselves in the rare position of not being able to offload our players, or at least, not being able to get rid of them for the money we originally outlaid. While once promising academy players Matt Targett and Sam Gallagher have gone, and for inflated transfer fees, it’s the collection of senior players on big money, but with no future at Saints that the club is finding difficult to shift and thus allow Ralph to re-build the squad as he sees fit.
The problem is, when you sign players on decent contracts, then they flop in the Premier League you are left with two options, keep hold of them or lose money on them, by selling them to clubs in other European Leagues. But, option two isn’t straightforward as those clubs are unlikely to match the salaries to which these flops have become accustomed.
I don’t envy the job of the club in shifting some of these ‘players’.
Guido Carrillo is a striker who doesn’t score goals, he doesn’t know why he is here and neither do we. His only likely move away is if a club managed by Maricio Pellegrino is interested and can afford it. His current club Leganes have the nickname ‘Cucumber Growers’ so fingers crossed.
Wesley Hoedt is a centre half who is rubbish at being a centre half, but is his own mind is Franco Baresi. Roll up, Roll up, come and get your defenders who are both not very good and have a questionable attitude, come and get em while stocks last!
Les Reed ‘What do you mean a waste of money? They’re beautiful! Not only are they exquisite ornaments, guaranteed to brighten any sideboard, they are also a revolving musical box!’
Ross Wilson ‘They are China cats that play “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window.’
From the incompetent to the frustrating, Sofiane Boufal looked to be a shrewd signing when the club signed him in 2016, but when he is breaking records in Spain while on loan at Celta Vigo, and they still don’t really want to sign him you have to accept that something isn’t right.
All three of those players, and a few others were signed in the period where the club seemed to move away from the strategy that saw team players like Mane, Van Dijk, Pelle and many more come through the door. It’s almost like doing the due diligence on a player’s mental attributes pays dividends.
While we are talking about team players I couldn’t not mention two others who need to move on as quickly as possible. The naughty boys, Charlie Austin and Mario Lemina. Ralph has obviously identified them as not having a future with the club and has done the honest thing and told them straight, you’d think that would be acceptable to them, alas no.
Lemina’s theft of a Man Utd fan’s highlight reel, played at 1.5x speed and featuring a cameo by Nathan Redmond, inserting his own logo on to it (why does a footballer need his own logo? FFS.) and proudly tweeting it after being linked with a move to Old Trafford was desperate and embarrassing, and what’s more proves that even players themselves can be hoodwinked by paper talk. Tonic like Leminade? The response so far from United? Flat.
Austin’s behaviour has been odd for some time. Seemingly frustrated at his lack of opportunities under Ralph (do we need to analyse this? His style hardly matches that of the managers) has seen him take to twitter to intentionally bait and argue with fans, including pictures of himself in Liverpool shirts, funny Frozen/The Shining gifs and ranking himself a better finisher than all of his team mates. All tweets and no play… Is Charlie Austin’s current situation.
The pair of them started tweeting each other, sharing Lemina’s self-made hashtag (if you are going to have a logo, you may as well have a hashtag right?) joking about great training sessions after they were left to train with the U-23’s. A clear public bite at the hand that feeds them.
They are one strop away from egging old man Hasenhuttl’s car at midnight after a few cans in the park. Both players have something to give, and should perhaps focus more on getting a career move than childish twitter rants and self-promotion.
Sadly, the likelihood is that most of these misfits will at best go on loan moves to the continent, and thus hamper any more useful incomings at Saints. It’s not their fault, but it’s annoying nonetheless. Saint’s Summer business has been good so far, but there are still areas of the squad that need strengthening, with a clear policy of selling first (and with the amount of deadwood it’s hard to argue with that decision) we might need to offload at least one of these players permanently to make sure Ralph has his preferred options in place.
Keep the faith, and remember. Try not to have nightmares.