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Jim Smith

Sitting off the opposition again

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For me, the most disturbing thing about Saturday (and its been a constant theme of our poor away performances under Hughton) was the way we nearly always have 9 or 10 players behind the ball yet Southampton''s players had so much time and space to do whatever they want. We simply applied no pressure on the man on the ball at all.

This is not a one off. We have done it in several away performances this season. We did not do it at Stoke, Cardiff and West Ham. There, despite the results in the latter two, we actually played well. the fact we have done it in some games and not in others therefore suggests to me that its a deliberate tactic meant to counteract certain teams that Hughton doesn''t feel we can compete with in footballing terms. I remember him saying earlier in the season that you can''t press some teams as they will pass it around you and I believe that Saturday''s pathetic effort was a result of that attitude.

They seem to be instructed to stay on their feet at all times, not make any tackles and just drop off and play some sort of zonal defence system from the moment the ball enters our half. The result is that runners don''t get tracked and good players pick us off. Its so frustrating.

Mcnally may or may not have the guts to sack Hughton now but surely as someone who watches all of our away games even he can see that the coaching and tactics are sub standard?

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