Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 307):
The Target occurs only in a sub-type of ‘verbal’ clause; this function construes the entity that is targeted by the process of saying, which may be a person, an object or anabstraction; e.g.
He also accused Krishan Kant of conspiring with Bansi Lal in destabilising the set-up in Haryana who, in turn, issued a press statement saying that Devi Lal was suffering from ‘hallucinations’.
I think there are serious problems in her work traceable to the writer’s distance, or lack of it, from all this; but she is rightly praised at least for showing it.
Rather than criticise my teaching ability, he actually praised it.
Here the Sayer is, as it were, acting verbally on another party, judging them positively or negatively (cf. Martin & White, 2005, on appraisal of the judgement type).