Southampton produced a dismal display in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday afternoon as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against Leicester City, and much of the blame lies with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The Austrian made just one change to the side that was thrashed 3-0 by West Brom in their previous fixture, with Moussa Djenepo replacing Theo Walcott out wide.
Whilst Southampton weren’t punished as much by the Foxes, they left themselves vulnerable to counter-attacks throughout the game with slack passes in midfield, with Ibrahima Diallo, in particular, guilty of giving the ball away on a number of occasions.
The 4-4-2 set up left Southampton’s wingers isolated out wide, with Djenepo barely having a touch of the ball before he was axed in the second half, whilst Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond were dominated by Leicester’s back three throughout the game.
A lack of options in midfield, combined with the pressing of Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho in the Leicester attack, regularly forced Southampton’s defenders to go long with their passes, which were easily mopped up by Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Redmond and Ings were never likely to win many headers against Leicester’s powerful trio of Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu, and yet that remained Southampton’s tactic throughout the game.
Only when Jannik Vestergaard was pushed up front in the final few minutes did Southampton ever look like winning any flick-ons, and even then they struggled to win the second ball.
One of Hasenhuttl’s key tactical blunders in the game was leaving Che Adams on the bench, as he would’ve occupied the Leicester defenders more with his physicality, whereas Redmond simply wasn’t involved in the game and was never close enough to Ings to form a meaningful partnership in attack, something which Adams excelled at earlier in the season.
Too many times this season we have seen opposition teams figure out how Southampton play and change the way they play in order to dominate proceedings, whereas the Saints seem to be completely clueless when their original plan isn’t working, with Hasenhuttl’s lack of a ‘Plan B’ something which has frustrated fans.
It was clear that Southampton’s tactic was to try and keep possession and press Leicester high up the pitch, yet on the rare occasions they did win the ball back, they went backwards instead of forwards, and simply never looked like scoring.
Failing to have a single shot on target in a FA Cup semi-final is, in our view, unforgivable.
And, in other news… 9 passes completed: £16.2m-rated Saints dud cost Ralph with an anonymous display