Mario Lemina

What’s going wrong at Saints? How do they recover?

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The good news for Southampton is that they’ve hit rock bottom. The bad news is that they are likely to stay there for some time.

From top to bottom, Southampton are a sinking ship.

Given the manner of their 9-0 thumping at home by Leicester City on Friday, the issues which have been brewing behind-the-scenes for months, if not years, came to the fore. The way the players chucked the towel in at St Mary’s pointed to much bigger problems than a bit of bad luck, going down to 10-men early and Leicester being clinical.

Southampton are a rudderless ship. They have been since Gao Jisheng purchased a majority 80 percent stake in the club in August 2017. Just a couple of public statements from Gao over the past two years have left Saints’ fans, and some of those working at the club, bewildered. Nobody knows what the plan is and they have no vision other than just trying to keep their heads above water.

Gao said this summer that Southampton are ‘not a pig to be fattened’ and that they must be sustainable.

Unless he changes that model and adds key additions, especially defensively, in the January transfer window, Gao will lose huge sums with Saints no longer in the Premier League. Southampton almost went out of business in 2008, so the club will be hesitant to gamble by spending big, but if they don’t then relegation seems certain.

Relegation is highly likely unless something drastic changes, as they are one of the lowest net spending clubs in the PL over the past decade. Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Morgan Schneiderlin, Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic have all left to make the club huge profits.

But with the likes of Guido Carrillo, Wesley Hoedt, Mario Lemina, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Fraser Forster all out on loan, some horrific transfer buys have hamstrung Saints’ model of profitable player trading as the replacements haven’t been good enough.

That is why over the past two seasons they’ve just battled off relegation twice, they’ve sold all of their best players, again, and the players who remain are not performing, are expensive mistakes out on loan or are on huge contracts and seem to have no desire to prove themselves week in, week out.

Above manager Ralph Hasenhuttl there has been an almighty clear out in recent months. Director of Football Les Reed was fired 12 months ago. Chairman Ralph Krueger was fired in April. His replacement and former Head of Recruitment, Ross Wilson, left for Glasgow Rangers last week.

Add in that Hasenhutt’s trusted assistant Danny Rohl left in preseason to go to Bayern Munich and it is a case of last-man standing for their Austrian coach.

It seems like Hasenhuttl’s position is under threat given the clear unrest among the playing squad, as there have been murmurs of discontent for some time. He’s made strange tactical decisions all season long and has no idea what his best team is. Even dating back to last season some within the club felt Hasenhuttl had got lucky due to Huddersfield, Fulham and Cardiff City being that bad and getting relegated instead of Saints.

The constant intensity of Hasenhuttl’s training sessions, and his personality, are wearing his players down. He has managed to send plenty of players out on loan and sell others to try and rip apart the decay at the center of this squad. But he’s not an easy man to please and plenty of Saints’ current starting lineup have felt his wrath over the past 10 months.

Officials, players and supporters of Southampton are in a state of shock after this defeat.

They should be, but there should also be a realization that this hefty loss has been a long time coming and that it will take even longer to get themselves out of the mess they’ve created for themselves.

Hopefully, at least for their sake, it is a huge wake-up call that sparks them into changes across the club. For so long their recruitment policy and academy has been the envy of others. It still can be, but they’ve been treading water for the past three years since Ronald Koeman departed in 2016 and they’ve shown a severe lack of ambition since.

Focusing on the here and now, Hasenhuttl has a huge job on his hands to galvanize this squad which was totally humiliated on the global stage.

For years to come when you mention Southampton people will laugh and say “they were smashed 9-0!”

Just ask Ipswich Town fans. They’ve had to deal with that since they were thumped by that same record scoreline at Manchester United back in 1995.

Of course, the scoreline reverberates around the world and it is the worst defeat in Saints’ 134-year history. It was also the biggest-ever away win in the top-flight since the English Football League was founded in 1888. Think about that.

But aside from the mammoth hiding they took at the hands of a ruthless Leicester side, the manner in which Saints lost was utterly shocking.

The players let themselves down, the club down and their manager down.

Hasenhuttl may not pay the ultimate price in the coming days, and he should be given the chance to prove this thumping was a freak result and one which they can bounce back from and be stronger. Hasenhuttl did well to keep Saints up last season but since that initial impact he had has faltered and he is now part of the bigger problem and doesn’t seem to have help from his board and his thinking is muddled.

But it will take some doing for Saints to not only recover in the coming weeks but also stay in the Premier League this season. They need to bring through young players once again, and they have some promising youngsters coming through. Too many players in their current squad have had chance after chance and are clearly not good enough.

What is clear is that neglecting to add to the squad and having no direction from Gao over the past two years has hit Southampton hard.

The performance on the pitch against Leicester City was appalling and embarrassing, and that tone has been set by the total lack of competence at the top of the club.

Hasenhuttl mentioned the Titanic in his opening press conference as Saints boss last December. The doomed ocean liner left the Port of Southampton on its ill-fated maiden voyage, and Hasenhuttl jokingly said that he hoped his team didn’t hit an iceberg in their battle against relegation.

Southampton have, and now they are in a huge battle to stay afloat.

Transfers in Europe: Final deals done before deadline

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A roundup of the final few transfers completed across Europe on Monday, including a few outgoing deals involving players belonging to Premier League clubs…

[ MORE: Transfer Deadline Day in Europe: Deals galore ]

Yannick Bolasie (Everton to Sporting CP)
Bolasie is headed out on loan for the third time in 12 months, following half-season spells at Aston Villa and Anderlecht last season. After arriving at Goodison Park for $30 million back in 2016, Bolasie has battled long-term injuries and a lack of fitness/form.


Mario Lemina (Southampton to Galatasaray)
This is just about all the needs to be said of Saints’ transfer activity over the last few years…


Kenedy (Chelsea to Getafe)
Speaking of players going out on multiple loan spells from their parent club, Kenedy has departed Stamford Bridge for the fourth time since joining the club in 2015. First, he went to Watford (one appearance); then it was Newcastle United (13 appearances); and again, to Newcastle United (23 appearance). It’s the first time the Brazilian has been loaned to a club outside the PL.


Andre Silva (AC Milan to Eintracht Frankfurt) & Ante Rebic (Frankfurt to Milan)
AC Milan and Eintracht Frankfurt have essentially swapped forwards for a period of one season. According to reports, neither loan agreement includes an option to buy. Silva scored 11 goals in 40 appearances while on loan to Sevilla last season. Rebic bagged 10 in 35 during Frankfurt’s magical 2018-19 season.


Jese Rodriguez (PSG to Sporting CP)
From Real Madrid, to Paris Saint-Germain, to Las Palmas, to Stoke City, to Real Betis, and now Sporting CP, Jese has been trying to right the wrongs of his career for a few years now. Now 26, he has made 20 or more league appearances just once in his career (2015-16 for Madrid).

Transfer Deadline Day in Europe: Deals galore

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Transfer Deadline Day has arrived across Europe, and plenty of deals are being wrapped up in Spain, Italy, France and elsewhere ahead of the summer window closing.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news

Plenty of Premier League clubs are moving players on to trim their squads after the first few weeks of the season.

Below we look at the top deals developing, as the clock ticks down we roundup the transactions.


Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan to Paris Saint-Germain)
The Argentine striker is close to a loan move to PSG, as his wife and agent, Wanda Nara, has been seen in discussions with Les Parisiens officials in the French capital. Sky in Italy are reporting that Icardi, 26, will actually sign a new deal at Inter Milan before heading to PSG. A lethal finisher, Icardi is a totally different option up top and will compliment Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani well. His character is often questioned but his goalscoring record speaks for itself with 124 goals in 219 appearances for Inter.


Javier ‘Chicharito‘ Hernandez (West Ham to Sevilla)
Hernandez, 31, has joined Sevilla on a three-year contract, as the La Liga side paid $9.6 million for Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer. This is a great move for Chicharito, who never settled down at West Ham. Sevilla are in the Europa League and will pushing for Champions League qualification once again.


Matteo Darmian (Man United to Parma)
The Italian defender has finally left Man United. After four years at Old Trafford, Darmian returns to Italy for a transfer fee of $4.5 million. The 29-year-old arrived at United in the summer of 2015 and won the FA Cup and Europa League with the Red Devils. He made 92 appearances in all competitions for United and heads back to Italy to play for Parma, as he struggled to hold down a regular spot at United.


Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal to AS Roma)
A season-long loan move for Mkhitaryan who is a bit-part player at Arsenal. After Ceballos’ arrival this summer, the writing was on the wall, and the emergence of several youngsters and Mesut Ozil hanging around also pushed him towards the Emirates exit door. A chance to regain his confidence after a rough few years.


Keylor Navas (Real Madrid to PSG) & Alphonse Areola (PSG to Real Madrid)
The Costa Rican goalkeeper is no longer the starter at Real and he is heading to Paris Saint-Germain. Navas, 32, still has plenty of good years ahead of him and performed well for Real when Thibaut Courtois was out injured last season. After five years and 11 trophies at Real, Navas is set to be the starter at PSG and has signed a four-year deal. Alphonse Areola, 26, moves in the opposite direction to challenge Courtois at Real Madrid. Areola arrives on a season-long loan deal.


Ryan Kent (Liverpool to Glasgow Rangers)
Liverpool want $8.4 million for the young midfielder who excelled on loan at Steven Gerrard‘s side last season. Kent, 22, has been a Liverpool player his entire career but just can’t break into Jurgen Klopp‘s first team. Now is the right time for him to move on a permanent basis and Gerrard will get the best out of him. Kent will be key in Rangers pushing Celtic all the way for the Scottish title.


Fernando Llorente (Free agent, Napoli)
He finally announced his move on deadline day, as the veteran striker was out of contract after being at Tottenham Hotspur. Napoli is a great landing spot for him, as he will continue to play in the UEFA Champions League and his experience off the bench in tight situations was crucial for Spurs last season. At 34, he continues to age like a fine wine…


Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth to Qarabag)
A shock move for out of favor Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, as he sealed a loan move to Azerbaijani champions Qarabag until January. Begovic, 32, has yet to play in the Premier League this season after losing his place in the Bournemouth lineup late last season. He will play in the Europa League for Qarabag.


Florin Andone (Brighton to Galatasaray)
His last act as a Brighton player, at least for this season, was getting a silly red card against Southampton. Andone has joined Galatasaray and the Romanian forward joins Falcao and several others in sealing late move to the Turkish giants. Andone, 26, scored for Brighton on the opening day in their win at Watford, but his tackle against Saints was a straight red card and cost his team dear. They have a few attacking options, but this is a bit of a strange move for the Seagulls.


Mario Lemina (Southampton to Galatasaray)
The Gabonese midfielder is leaving Saints for Turkey, with Galatasaray confirming they are in talks over a season-long loan move. The former Juventus midfielder has been frozen out by Southampton this summer after saying he wants to leave and although the Premier League side wanted a permanent deal, Lemina will initially leave on loan.


Wesley Hoedt (Southampton Royal Antwerp)
Another Saints player will be heading out on loan, as Dutch defender Hoedt is heading to Belgium. Antwerp will initially sign Hoedt on loan and have an option to buy him permanently. Hoedt, 25, is not part of Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s plans and after being signed as a replacement for Virgil Van Dijk he just hasn’t settled at Saints.


Marcus Edwards (Tottenham to Vitoria)
The Spurs youngster has left on a permanent deal and many at Tottenham will be disappointed by this. Edwards, 20, has been on the fringes of Spurs’ first team under Mauricio Pochettino but the winger failed to kick on after loan moves at Norwich and Excelsior. The England youth international will now play for Vitoria who are in the Europa League, and has signed a four-year deal.

PL Tuesday Preview: Tottenham hosts Brighton, Watford faces Southampton

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Thanks to results from Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea over the past two days, Tottenham didn’t lose any ground to its rivals despite its own loss early on Saturday.

Now, Spurs has a chance to earn points to secure another top four finish and keep one of its rivals out when it hosts relegation-threatened Brighton and Hove Albion. Watford, meanwhile, hosts a Southampton side with three wins in its last five games.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE HERE


Brighton and Hove Albion v. Tottenham — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

This match should have just about everything as both sides will be desperate for all three points. Tottenham can take advantage of Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea’s failure to jump ahead or catch ground with a big win on the road, especially after the big win at Man City in the UEFA Champions League. Heung-Min Son showed that Tottenham fans won’t have to miss Harry Kane too badly as he recovers from another serious ankle injury, and Son will be expected again to score and have a big impact in the attack. The team received a boost as well, with Eric Dier returning to fitness and Hugo Lloris set to return to the lineup this week, if not this weekend.

Meanwhile, down in Brighton it’s been a different story all season. The Seagulls have just 34 points after 34 games, sitting just three points above the relegation zone. Before Saturday’s draw with Wolves, Brighton had lost four straight games in the Premier League and five in all competitions, including in the FA Cup semifinals against Manchester City. Now, with only the Premier League on its mind, Brighton can focus on finding an answer to its defensive and goalscoring woes. After a strong start, Glenn Murray hasn’t scored in seven games, and club-record signing Ali Jahanbakhsh has zero Premier League goals this season. Brighton will take one step closer to Premier League survival with a massive win over Tottenham. With Cardiff City facing Fulham this weekend, it’s crucial for Brighton to receive at least a point to maintain space between it and Cardiff.

INJURIES: Brighton and Hove Albion —  OUT: Davy Propper (hamstring), Anthony Knockaert (suspension). | Tottenham — OUT: Moussa Sissoko (groin), Harry Kane (ankle); DOUBTFUL: Harry Winks (groin); PROBABLE: Hugo Lloris (muscle), Eric Dier (illness)


Watford v. Southampton — 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSports.com/Gold

While much of the Premier League drama focuses on the top four and the bottom three of the table, there’s quietly a very dramatic race for seventh place, which could still end up with a Europa League berth should Manchester City beat Watford to win the FA Cup (if Watford wins, only the fifth and sixth-placed teams would earn Europa League berths).

Watford is among a small group of four teams all within one point of another that could finish anywhere from seventh to tenth by the end of the season. Watford currently sits tied with Everton in seventh place and is looking for a third win in four Premier League games, though its last two wins were over Fulham and Huddersfield. One aspect Watford will have to work on in this match against Southampton is recording a clean sheet. Watford have conceded a goal in eight straight Premier League matches, their longest run this season without a shutout.

Southampton on the other hand are looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat against Newcastle. Like Brighton, Southampton is currently safe but still in a precarious situation, just five points clear of Cardiff and the relegation zone. Ralph Hassenhuttl has done a decent job in securing some breathing room for the Saints in his half-season at the club so far. If Southampton can replicate its form from its April 13 3-1 win over Wolves, in which Nathan Redmond scored a pair and even Shane Long found the back of the net, it will surely help towards Premier League survival. Also working in Southampton’s favor is that it has five wins, five draws and one loss in its last 11 matches against Watford.

INJURIES: Watford —  OUT: Troy Deeney (suspension), Jose Holebas, Tom Cleverley, Domingos Quina and Sebastian Prodl (all knee). | Southampton — QUESTIONABLE: Jannik Vestergaard (injury), Yan Valery (illness), Mario Lemina

Ayoze Perez hat trick leads Newcastle past Southampton (video)

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  • Newcastle now 10 points clear of 18th
  • Perez scores both Magpies goals
  • Southampton five points ahead of drop zone

Ayoze Perez a hat trick as Newcastle United held off Southampton’s second half charge in a 3-1 win at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Mario Lemina scored a beauty for Saints in a game of high quality goals.

Newcastle goes 12th with 41 points, while Saints remain 16th with 36.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Newcastle wanted a penalty when an early shot from Ayoze Perez was blocked by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg‘s arm.

Miguel Almiron took a Salomon Rondon flick and hit a wayward cross that Angus Gunn slapped wide of the goal.

The dam burst near the half-hour mark, when Perez scored both of his goals.

The first came with a fine, physical dribble right which the Spaniard punctuated with a hard shot across his body and inside the far post.

Then it was 2-0 within four minutes, Perez sliding onto the end of a Rondon cross to slap the ball inside the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Saints deserved a goal and nearly had one through Maya Yoshida before Lemina answered the bell.

Off the bench, the ex-Juve midfielder scored from 21 yards after Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond combined to set the table.

But Matt Ritchie‘s diving header was redirected by Perez for an 87th minute insurance goal and the completion of a fine hat trick.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]