Southampton supporters have been pretty satisfied in the last few days after seeing their side extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to three games on Tuesday.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men went into their encounter with fellow strugglers Crystal Palace off the back of beating Leicester City and Everton in their preceding two matches, results which moved the Saints out of the division’s bottom three. Yet the South Coast outfit were unable to keep their winning streak going in only drawing 1-1 with Roy Hodgson’s side, with James Ward-Prowse’s effort cancelling out Wilfried Zaha’s opener to earn the hosts a share of the spoils.
Thus, there have been many satisfied Southampton fans up and down the country in recent times, although several may well be looking back at the January transfer window with an element of disappointment, what with the club unable to land a replacement for right back Cedric Soares.
The Portugal international made the move to Italian giants Inter Milan during the January window, thus leaving the Saints somewhat short of cover in that area of the field, only for manager Hasenhuttl to fail to bring a replacement to St Mary’s.
And failing to solve that glaring problem, given it now leaves the vastly inexperienced Yan Valery as the main option in that department, could seriously cost Southampton as they battle to avoid Premier League relegation.
Ultimately, while Cedric wasn’t quite as effective down the Saints right-hand-side during his final 12 months at the club, the Portuguese ace had proven to be a solid and relatively dependable option at right back – after all, he was a regular under Ronald Koeman, Claude Puel, Mauricio Pellegrino, and indeed Mark Hughes.
And with over 100 Premier League appearances to his name during his time on the South Coast, the 27-year-old seemed to represent the ideal player and professional needed to aid the club in their battle against relegation – going through it last season may have also rubbed off on this Southampton team.
Significantly though, his departure to the Italian giants has left the Saints short of options in that area of the field, as while Valery has been the main man at right back since Hasenhuttl’s appointment, his inexperience, alongside the lack of genuine alternatives, represents a huge gamble made by the Southampton manager.
Yes, 19-year-old has done reasonably well since coming into the team at the start of December, but his red card in their victory over Leicester City was an indication that relying on the young defender could prove problematic as the season wears on – ultimately, being the main man in that position brings with it a lot of pressure.
And that is why failing to land a replacement for Cedric appears to be something of a mistake from Hasenhuttl, as while he may not have felt the 27-year-old was the right man for his team, his exit has left his side short in that area of the field – and placing all the emphasis on 19-year-old Valery is certainly a risk.
As such, failing to solve that glaring issue he has in the right back department could prove very costly to the Saints as the season progresses.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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