Ruben Selles defends decision to leave out Southampton’s January signings

By Sports Desk April 28, 2023

Ruben Selles insists he is not overlooking Southampton’s January signings due to a lack of quality after his side slid closer to Premier League relegation.

Paul Onuachu and Mislav Orsic were left out of Saints’ squad for Thursday evening’s damaging 1-0 loss to Bournemouth, while £22million club record signing Kamaldeen Sulemana was restricted to 14 minutes from the bench.

Defeat to the Cherries at St Mary’s left bottom club Southampton six points from safety with only five games to go.

Manager Selles, who replaced the sacked Nathan Jones in February, pointed to the size of his squad as he refuted suggestions he does not rate the recent arrivals.

“Mislav was in the squad last week and Onuachu was also in the squad last week, I don’t think it is the same ones (being left out),” said the Spaniard.

“I don’t think it is a lack of quality, it is about decisions.

“I need to make decisions and then I have to give to you some comment on that. It is not about the quality of the boys.”

Ghana winger Sulemana has struggled to nail down a regular starting role following his move from Rennes, while £15.8m former Genk striker Onuachu has not started in the league since February.

Croatia winger Orsic, who cost a reported £6m from Dinamo Zagreb, has played only six minutes for Saints in the top flight and not featured at all under Selles.

“I will not evaluate the board,” replied the coach, when asked if the club had bought players who are not good enough.

“I have a big squad with 30 or 31 players in the first team. And then of course we talk always about the players who are not there.

“I just know that I have to manage a big squad.

“We can defend any decision with some different parameters but the reality is that because we have that big a squad we will always talk about the ones that are not in the squad.”

Southampton’s uphill survival mission continues on Sunday with a daunting trip to Champions League-chasing Newcastle.

Selles is hopeful captain James Ward-Prowse will be fit to lead the team at St James’ Park after being forced off by illness at half-time on a soggy south-coast evening.

“He wanted to play but with the weather conditions that we had during the first half it was too much for him, so he ran out of energy,” Selles said of the England midfielder, who had a sore throat.

“I need to speak with the doctor. I think he will be OK but with those things the doctor needs to let me know.”

Marcus Tavernier’s deflected strike moved Bournemouth seven points clear of the drop zone, while VAR denied Southampton substitute Che Adams a late equaliser due to offside.

Adams’ 89th-minute finish initially looked set to compound Gary O’Neil’s frustration after the visitors were denied a second-half penalty when Jan Bednarek handled Ryan Christie’s cross.

“I don’t see any difference between that and some of the ones we’ve had given against us this year,” said the Cherries boss.

“His arm’s a long way from his body, the ball’s going into a dangerous area, I can’t see why.

“To have it dismissed so quickly…I remember sitting in our dugout when they go against us for ages waiting, they’re watching eight different camera angles being played in slow motion.

“This one, maybe an eight-second check and then we’re told it’s clear. And then I see the replay and I cannot believe that’s not been given as a penalty.”

Related items

  • Milan and Italy legend Gattuso appointed Hadjuk Split coach in surprise move Milan and Italy legend Gattuso appointed Hadjuk Split coach in surprise move

    Former Milan and Italy great Gennaro Gattuso has completed a surprise move to Hadjuk Split, taking over as head coach in Croatia.

    Gattuso, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, has signed a two-year deal with the Croatian giants.

    The 46-year-old will be officially welcomed at Poljud next week after Split announced his appointment on Wednesday.

    Gattuso's coaching career began as player-coach of his final club, Sion of the Swiss Super League, and he also had short spells in charge of Palermo and OFI Crete.

    The former midfielder then led Pisa to Serie B promotion before taking charge of old club Milan and subsequently joining Napoli, where he won the Coppa Italia in 2020.

    Short tenures followed with Fiorentina, Valencia and Marseille before his sacking from the Ligue 1 side in February.

  • Southgate succession plan in place after Euro 2024 despite no approaches for England boss Southgate succession plan in place after Euro 2024 despite no approaches for England boss

    England have started to plan for life after Gareth Southgate but Football Association executive Mark Bullingham insists no approach has been made for the manager, nor has his future been decided.

    The Three Lions boss raised questions over his future after German media outlet BILD published an interview this week from Southgate, who suggested Euro 2024 this month is his last chance with England.

    Manchester United were reportedly interested in the 53-year-old as well before reaffirming their commitment to under-fire manager Erik ten Hag.

    As the European Championship awaits in Germany, Bullingham sought to ease any fears over the future of Southgate, though reiterated the FA has already thought through a succession plan.

    "Gareth has been really, really clear that he wants to talk about that after the tournament," Bullingham said.

    "And I don't want to provide any distraction for him and the team, and I want to respect the fact that he wants to talk about the future after the tournament.

     "I've seen some things about, 'Have we got a plan, haven't we?' Any organisation has a succession plan in place for their top employees, and we are no different to that.

    "A succession plan normally includes everything from what you do for the short-term cover, through to a process you follow, through to [drawing up] a candidate pool. We have that for all our top employees."

    Bullingham also assured that Southgate's future will not be dictated by success at Euro 2024, with the manager's contract set to expire in December.

    "[The team] could go further but be playing poorly or have a really unlucky result where you get a couple of red cards and hit the woodwork three times," the FA chief added.

    "I think setting an arbitrary figure isn't the right way to go. I think we step back and look at everything after the tournament."

    In a staunch defence of Southgate, Bullingham lauded the job the former England international has done, guiding the Three Lions to the Euro 2020 final and World Cup semi-finals in 2018.

    "I would say I think the world of Gareth, I think he has done a phenomenal job," Bullingham said.

    "I think he has transformed the fortunes of our team, and that's not just off the pitch, and you can see the culture, but also the performances on the pitch.

    "Since 1966, he has won about half of our knockout games, which is a measure we really use, so we value him massively."

    Should Southgate leave, Bullingham remains open to bringing in another homegrown talent to manage England.

    "We have two senior coaches," he continued. "One of them is English, one of them [England women's boss Sarina Wiegman] is not.

    "Any federation in the world would always want to have a pool of top homegrown talent playing and managing at any time."

  • Milan target Zirkzee called up for Netherlands squad at Euro 2024 Milan target Zirkzee called up for Netherlands squad at Euro 2024

    Joshua Zirkzee is reportedly drawing interest from Milan, Juventus and Manchester United, and will have the chance to further his stock after a late call-up for the Netherlands at Euro 2024.

    Oranje boss Ronald Koeman has lost Frenkie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners, as well as midfielder Marten de Roon, in the build-up to the tournament in Germany.

    Koeman criticised former club Barcelona for their handling of the injured De Jong before Koopmeiners' absence was also confirmed this week in another blow for the Netherlands.

    Ajax forward Brian Brobbey is another said to be struggling for fitness, forcing the Dutch to act swiftly with reinforcements.

    Zirkzee's inclusion was confirmed on Wednesday as the Netherlands added the striker to their international camp ahead of their tournament opener against Poland on Sunday.

    The 23-year-old does not have a single senior cap under his belt for the Netherlands, but did score seven goals in 19 caps for the Under-21 side.

    Zirkzee found the net 12 times in 37 appearances for Bologna in the 2023-24 campaign as the Serie A side qualified for next season's Champions League.

    That form has reportedly drawn interest from Erik ten Hag's Man Utd, Juventus – who appointed Thiago Motta as their new head coach on Wednesday – and Milan.

    Ian Maatsen, who reached the Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund this year, is the other man brought in for the Netherlands to fill the void left by De Jong and Koopmeiners.

    The Netherlands also face Austria and France in Group D at Euro 2024, where Germany open the tournament against Scotland on Friday.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.