It feels like yesterday that it was August and the Premier League season was just getting underway. Already, though, we find ourselves near the halfway mark of the Premier League campaign. At this time, some clubs are focused on maintaining their spot at the top of the table. For others, like Southampton, it’s at this point in the season that clubs begin to evaluate their early failures as well as take some time to try and plot their way out of the relegation battle.
No matter where you find yourself in the table, this is the time to assess all that has been. Looking back on the first half of the season, clubs begin to break down who impressed and, of course, which players were a letdown. This evaluation does not just affect the players already at the club, though. It also affects other clubs around the world thanks to the fact that the January transfer window lies just around the corner.
For now, let’s take some time and focus on Southampton. While change has already arrived in the form of new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, these upcoming evaluations could lead to some more shuffling for the South Coast club. Without further ado though, let’s take a look at some of the Southampton players that have underachieved during the first half of the campaign.
Southampton’s Underachievers from the First Half of the Season
Wesley Hoedt – Centre-Back
One of the biggest reasons for Southampton’s early season struggles was the inconsistent play of its back four. No player in the Saints first team represents this more than Dutch centre-back Wesley Hoedt.
Arriving on the South Coast last year, Hoedt became a consistent name on the team sheet for Saints. Appearing in 32 matches for the club last season, the Dutchman entered the 2018/19 campaign as a potential leader for the Southampton back line. However, those hopes were quickly dashed as Southampton began to allow an amazing amount of goals.
While Southampton’s defensive woes were not solely Hoedt’s fault, the centre-back became a target for pundits and supporters alike due to his terrible form. This growing anger eventually came to a head during Southampton’s trip to Fulham where the 24-year-old made a major mistake in the second half to allow Fulham to score the eventual game-winning goal.
Relegated to the bench since Hasenhuttl’s arrival, Hoedt has sealed his spot as one of the Southampton’s biggest underachievers.
Cedric Soares – Full-Back
Beginning the 2018/19 campaign as Southampton’s only real option at right-back, Cedric Soares is a player Southampton were forced into relying on. At the time, that was a good thing. After all, Cedric was one of the most senior members of the squad, having played at the club since arriving back in the summer of 2015.
Adding to that, Cedric has remained the first choice right-back his entire tenure with the club. A true stabilizing force, many believed. However, it did not take long for this thought to be proven false. Showing awful form at times this season, Cedric likely only remained in the starting eleven because of a lack of options at right-back.
That was until recently. Following the first team arrival of youth product Yan Valery, Cedric now seems set for a fall down the pecking order. While the Portuguese right-back may be able to eventually recover his form, his first-half form has already made him one of this squad’s biggest underachievers.
Mohamed Elyounoussi – Winger
Failing to start a match for Southampton since the end of October, summer signing Mohamed Elyounoussi has quickly fallen down the rungs. In fact, since the 0-0 draw at Newcastle, the Norwegian winger has only made three late second-half substitute appearances. Even worse, though, for Elyounoussi, is the fact that he has failed to make the last two matchday squads under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Due to this, Elyounoussi’s tenure with the Saints can only be described as extremely disappointing. After all, Elyounoussi was signed for a near club record £16 million this past summer. With so much expected of him, Elyounoussi has clearly not lived up to the hype. In fact, it’s safe to say that fellow summer signing Stuart Armstrong has proven to be a much better acquisition than Elyounoussi, despite costing less than half the transfer fee.
Elyounoussi still has some time, though. At only 24-years of age, the Norwegian may just need extra time to adapt to the Premier League. However, the fact that Elyounoussi was left out of the last two matchday squads in favour of youth players cannot be understated. Time to panic? Not quite yet. If things don’t change quickly, however, Elyounoussi may quickly turn into a major transfer bust for Southampton.
Manolo Gabbiadini – Forward
A favourite among many of the Saints supporters, Manolo Gabbiadini has struggled to match the hype this season. While a combination of factors have lead to this, few can argue against the fact Gabbiadini has been an underachiever. Struggling to even get on the pitch this season, Gabbiadini failed to take any opportunity when presented to him. Scoring just one goal 15 appearances this season, the Italian has clearly struggled in front of goal.
Adding onto all of the above is the fact that Gabbiadini has failed to make the last two matchday squads. A terrible fit for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s pressing formation, Gabbiadini seems destined to leave St. Mary’s Stadium in January. With all the factors currently going against the Italian, now seems like a good time for both to cut ties.
Despite the massive support for him as well as a lack of competition at his position, Manolo Gabbiadini has quite clearly failed this season. Will it be the kiss of death for his Saints career? We will get that answer in January. For now, though, all we can say for certain is that Gabbiadini has been a major underachiever this season.