Analysing Nathan Redmond's performance in Southampton's 3-1 win over Burnley
Southampton have an enviable ability to change their manager at regular intervals and sell their best players, without registering a drop off in performance levels. There are structures in place above and beyond the manager that enable the club to absorb change, principally director of football Les Reed and his team of scouts and analysts. They have a list of targets drawn up well in advance of key players departing and are able to replace like with like, often for a useful profit. At a time when the Premier League is awash with money, and there is a sea of avaricious agents to swim through, their approach is an example to clubs across of the football pyramid.
Nathan Redmond looks to be another in their long line of astute signings. Having lost a pacy, goal-getting wide player in Sadio Mane to Liverpool in the summer, the Saints ventured into the market to try and replace his attributes. This was not an easy task, but Redmond is filling the void nicely at present under the tutelage of new head coach Claude Puel. The club also recruited promising French youngster Sofiane Boufal; a less direct and rather more technical option who will see more action as the season progresses.
Redmond produced another vibrant display as Southampton dispatched Burnley with a comfortable 3-1 win at St Mary’s. Puel’s side were fortunate not to concede a first-half penalty when Virgil van Dijk bundled into Johann Berg Gudmundsson. However, the homes side amassed an incredible 34 shots on goal and were clear and deserved winners. The former Norwich wideman was a constant threat throughout; playing largely from the left flank but also given license to make runs inside into the centre forward position.
It needs to be stressed that Redmond is still only 22. He has been a familiar name for a long time now having racked up 22 starts for Birmingham City in the Championship in the 2012-13 season when has was just a teenager. Redmond has also won 25 caps for England Under 21s without ever becoming a serious part of the discussion when it comes to the senior squad. £10 million was a healthy fee for Southampton to pay for a winger with just seven goals in 69 Premier League appearances for his previous club.
Puel has used him as part of a front two in his preferred 4-4-2 diamond system and Redmond perhaps needs to start scoring with more regularity to hold down this spot. His fine half volley against Burnley was his first league goal since the opening day of the season against Watford. That said, he has been far from anonymous in this period; Redmond has created 20 chances which is more than two a game. For a player whose game is based on pace and dribbling ability, he has an impressive pass completion rate of 90% which is an impressive level of accuracy.
In the game against Burnley, he maintained this level of technical assurance by completing 92% of his passes. Redmond did not do that by taking the safe option though; he made three key passes and had seven shots on goal, of which only one was off target. Most of these shots came from the left side of the penalty area, as Redmond opened up his body. Puel worked with a young Thierry Henry as coach at Monaco, and though the comparison is extremely unfair, it seems the Frenchman is trying to channel some of that into Redmond.
The trend of using players typically thought of as wide men in central areas has been evident across the Premier League; from Nacer Chadli at West Brom, Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal and more recently Eden Hazard at Chelsea. Counter attacking, attacking transition, creating from turnovers; all these phrases describe a feature of the game that has become increasingly important. Defences are almost universally well organised, and teams are keen to take advantage of the moments in a game when they are out of shape (usually just as the defending team loses possession). To exploit this to the maximum you need pace, both across the ground and in your passing. Redmond and those like him are ideal exponents of this craft.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Catherine best of