One Man Team…

After a rather stunning victory at the weekend, where in fairness we probably didn’t deserve to win the game, a Rickie Lambert hat trick saw all three points head back to St. Mary’s.

What came with those three points though were a few accusations, mainly from West Ham fans, but also on a lesser scale from Reading and our South Coast friends from Portsmouth and Brighton.

Firstly that we are cheats, and that we were given two “dodgy” penalties to convert a defeat into a win. This point I’m not going to discuss. Watch the replays.

Secondly, that we are a “One Man Team”. This isn’t new territory for us. For years in the nineties Matthew Le Tissier’s heroics seemingly kept us in the Premier League, and it is hard to argue with that, and I won’t even try. This time it is a little different. Rickie Lambert now wears Le Tissier’s number seven shirt and is undoubtedly a talisman for Nigel Adkins’ side, hitting 24 league goals so far. But. To call this team a “One Man Team” is a little facetious. This team is top of the Championship on merit, and the goals have come from every aspect of the side.

So exactly how important is Rickie Lambert to our season? In truth. Very.

If we erase his goals from history, instantly wins against Forest and Millwall become defeats, while victories over Brighton, Watford and Leeds all become draws and draws with Derby, Blackpool, Pompey and Ipswich all convert to losses. In all, this is a loss of 17 points and sees Saints four points outside of the play off places.

This only tells half the story of course. Lambert takes our penalties, of which there have been nine awarded this season, and of which he has converted all nine. Had he not been playing, someone else would have taken them, and quite possibly scored them too, which would again completely change the outcome of those games.

Arguably, without Lambert we would have gained at least a point at Brighton too. Sent off with the scores at 0-0 in a game Saints were dominating!

All by myself. Lambert reels away after beating another team on his own...

Another factor is that while West Ham and Reading’s top scorers sit on nine and seven goals respectively, our joint second top scorers sit on ten each! So what if we didn’t have those players either?

Guly do Prado. For me, still one of our most consistent and impressive performers, to other Saints fans the devil incarnate. But in terms of dropped points, he becomes the second most important player. Without Guly’s goals wins over Millwall, Hull and Palace become draws and Saints drop to fourth place on 66 points.

Adam Lallana may be shocked to find he plays in a “One Man Team” after being voted in the top three players in the Championship this season. He has also won points for Saints this season, victories against Hull and Barnsley becoming draws without his goals, dropping Saints to second with 68 points.

Frazer Richardson and Danny Fox should also get a mention here. The full backs are often the unsung heros, both in the top ten players in the Championship for assists with Lallana and Guly not to far behind.

And what about Kelvin Davis? How many points would we have taken from Elland Road recently and plenty of other games without him in goal?

This “One Man Team” image becomes more of a myth, the more you look at the stats. Another angle to approach it is which player have we missed the most when they haven’t played? And that is clearly Richard Chaplow. Saints have lost seven league games this season, five of which have come when Chaplow wasn’t involved. In fact we have dropped a staggering 25 points without the energetic midfielder in the side. We have dropped six when Lambert hasn’t played, seven without Lallana and two without Guly. It is no coincidence that our most lacklustre performance, the 0-2 home defeat by Leicester came when Lambert, Lallana and Chaplow were all missing.

So in conclusion we aren’t a “One Man Team”. We have several stand out men, playing amongst what is a very good team. Take away the assists of Fox, Richardson, Guly and Lallana and how many goals would Lambert have?

I would also urge the accusers to go and check their own sides stats before they point the finger again, I wonder how many points West Ham would have without the goals of Kevin Nolan or Mark Noble’s penalties…

Chris

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12 thoughts on “One Man Team…

  1. Well researched and reasoned as always…it goes without saying that whilst Ricky is rightly taking the plaudits the overall playing style of the team is geared to making chances – we’re a goalscorers dream.

    You mention Chaplow…he had an outstanding spell before his injury but in Morgan and Jack Cork we have energy and invention – when neither Chappie or Cork play I find that we lack that energy – I’d love to see the GPS vest stats on who covers most ground…I’d bet on Cork – I also feel he’s due a goal or two!

  2. “I would also urge the accusers to go and check their own sides stats before they point the finger again…”

    As a Reading fan, not sure that can really apply to us. We are pretty much the definition of a team that is more than the sum of our parts and that’s credit to McDermott’s man management skills. Pundits have been quick to point out our lack of star players. At the start of the season this was their reasoning for writing us off as promotion contenders. After all, we had sold our “best” players (we’ve not missed Mills to be fair) so it’s unlikely we’d be competitive, even though the exact same thing happened the year before and we still made it to Wembley.

    Opposition fans may point to Jason Roberts as the cause for our surge up the table, but that is not the truth of the matter. In reality, we’d started our good form 10 games before he started, his arrival has only strengthened the team.

    Most Reading fans will realistically not expect promotion, nor do I think any consider Southampton to have cheated their way to the top. Everyone I’ve spoken to recognise how well Saints have played, particularly at home. But, we are in second place on merit, regardless of the level of form that got us here. Write us off at your peril…

  3. I think you’re always going to get ‘1 man team’ accusations when you’ve got someone as prolific as Lambert. As a Reading fan we had it last season with Shane Long yet few mentioned the contributions of players like Mikele Leigertwood and Adam Federici.

    I think Lambert is a key cog in the team and it would be very hard to replace him like for like but then we couldn’t replace Long for months until Roberts came in and if he went down now we’d be in a fair bit of trouble.

    It’s mostly bitter/jealous fans who come out with the ‘cheat’ and ‘one man team’ jibes! Can’t say I wouldn’t love Lambert at Reading right now, here’s hoping we both go up at West Ham’s expense!

    Dan

  4. Aren’t strikers paid barrow loads of dosh to score goals? Perhaps West Hoof should examine why theirs are currently gash.

    Simple truth is that others set them up and Lamberts knocks them in, just as it is at any successful club.

  5. I always find ‘one man team’ accusations as funny as ‘your keeper kept you in it.’ Even if we were, the fact is he is part of the team. Lambert’s not at Southampton by luck. We didn’t win him in a raffle. We chose him, purchased him and then physically and mentally improved him. If Saints are doing well and he is part of the reason then I see no casue to belittle the achievement. He’s part of the team. Of course, if any team does find itself relying too heavily on one player then they do of course need to think about the implications for if that player goes away (injury, move or loss of form), but that’s a problem for the management – till then I’ll keep on enjoying his goals.

    Oh, and I DEFINITELY want it to be us and Reading now…

  6. We acquired the “cheat” label at West Ham purely because of Sharp’s so called play acing which proved rubbish after photos released of Taylor poking him in the eyes and grabbing him by the throat, and Lallana’s dive which in truth was embarrasing and he aparrently got reprimanded after by Adkins! And because West Ham didn’t win the game subsequently blamed the referee for which Allardyce has done in several of their games this season. I personally think it lacks grace when you blame the ref for costing you the game but I’ll put it down to the heat of the moment. Apart from that, I can’t remember any other fans labelling us a ‘cheats’. I also hope that Reading accompany us up into the Prem and look fwd to when we meet at St Mary’s.

  7. Sorry – you were NOT dominating the game at the Amex against Brighton. Utter rubbish. Fairly even first half of which we had to two best clear cut chances.

    Otherwise, a good article.

    • What’s the problem? You won didn’t you? But take a look at the following match reports –

      BBC: “The visitors dominated the first half but were outplayed once Lambert, the division’s leading goalscorer, was sent off for the first time in his career.”

      Telegraph: “Southampton had been dominant until then, producing three clear-cut chances in the first half, but the leaders were instead left to rue a fifth match without a win in six outings which led to West Ham moving second on goal difference.”

      Sporting Life: “They looked on course to do that early on in the encounter but, after dominating the first half, were dealt a bitter blow when Lambert saw red in the 51st minute.”

  8. Pingback: Rickie Lambert: Just how good is Southampton’s latest legend? « Chris Gordon's Blog

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