On the Mané: Sadio is a Saint!

…Well you’ve had the lowdown on Toby Alderweireld (http://georgeweahscousin.com/2014/09/02/alder-right-noises-toby-is-a-saint/) and now here it is on his new deadline day colleague Sadio Mané.

Unlike the Belgian, Mané is lesser known in the UK but has had high profile links to Arsenal in the past, and it is believed he was a target of some bloke called Pochettino at Spurs this Summer. A Senegal international, Mané has made his name in Austria playing for Red Bull Salzburg, scoring a hefty amount of goals for a winger.

With Saints crying out for some pace and natural width Mané looks to be just the kind of player we have been missing. I spoke to Josh Bloom a Red Bull Salzburg regular on what Sadio will bring to the team.

It’s came from nowhere, but this seems to be a very good signing for Saints. What can we expect from Mané?

JB ‘Mané is a pacey, exciting, wide right forward/winger – who will cause defences a few problems. It was always felt he had become too good to stay in the Austrian Bundesliga, he deserves his move. I watched him tear Bayern’s full strength back line to pieces in January in a friendly. Several clubs have been monitoring him for a long time.’

Any specific strengths and weaknesses?

JB ‘He’s very quick, and has a trick or two. He will be very exciting to watch and will rack up the assists. However he does go to ground easily, and for a man who breaks through the line often, he should score more than he does.’

If you listen carefully Sadio you can hear Ben Smith and Neil Ashton's bubble burst...

If you listen carefully Sadio you can hear Ben Smith and Neil Ashton’s bubble burst…

Do you think he will be able to adapt quickly to the Premier League?

JB ‘ I expect him to have an immediate impact, and will come up to speed quickly. He may need to bulk up a bit to deal with the physical nature of the Premier League, he can get knocked off the ball too easily. That said he is very, very fit. Salzburg play a high pressure, high tempo 4-2-4 system in which he runs his socks off.’

Is there another player in England you think he is similar to?

JB ‘He reminds me of Theo Walcott – when he’s on form, he’s unplayable, when he’s having a bad day you want to pull your hair out – not because he’s playing particularly poorly, but rather you know he could influence play more than he does.’

King of the Breakdance Tackle!

King of the Breakdance Tackle!

With the outgoings at Saints this Summer, many have suggested there is a lack of ‘ambition’ at the club. With Mané being linked to bigger clubs in the past, does this signing refute that?

JB ‘I think that’s his level actually. He needed to leave the Austrian Bundesliga, his only real tests were coming in European games. He’s still young – bigger teams will be keeping an eye on him to see if he sinks or swims in a decent league. Good signing for Saints, especially when he easily could have gone to a ‘bigger’ German club.’

So there we have it Sadio Mané marks the end of a brilliant turnaround at St. Mary’s this Summer, and for me it would seem Ronald Koeman has built a very good squad with his kitty. Thanks to Josh for the help.

Bring on Newcastle!

Chris

 

Alder right noises: Toby is a Saint!

It was a pretty eventful transfer deadline day for Saints with the club leaving it as late as possible to announce their new players.

The first through the door last night was Belgian international defender Toby Alderweireld on a season long loan with option to buy deal from Atletico Madrid.  Alderweireld was part of Atletico’s La Liga winning and Champion’s League runners up squad last season and it is somewhat of a coup to see him arrive at St. Mary’s.

Capable of playing at both centre half and right back he not only provides vital cover but also the ability to take the club up a level in defensive terms.

I spoke to Kristof Terreur from the website ‘One Man in England‘ and asked him for the lowdown on his countryman.

It’s came from nowhere, but this seems to be a very good signing for Saints. What can we expect from Alderweireld?
KT ‘Alderweireld is a strong, determined central defender with an excellent long pass. He can also play as a right back. Despite the fact that he’s not the tallest, he’s strong in the air and a threat on set pieces. He likes too tackle too. ‘

Any specific strengths and weaknesses?

KT ‘Strengths: His presence, his long ball, his tackle, his treat on attacking set-pieces.

Weakness: he’s not the quickest, and both at Atlético and Ajax he was sometimes caught out of position and made some errors. Although he has a good long ball, he’s not the most accurate passer either, like the other Belgian central defenders in the PL.’

Toby the Saint!

Toby the Saint!

 

Do you think he will be able to adapt quickly to the Premier League?

KT ‘With his determination and tackling he’ll win hearts easily. He has the capacities to turn his hand to the English game.’

With the outgoings at Saints this Summer, many have suggested there is a lack of ‘ambition’ at the club. Does this signing refute that?

KT ‘Well, it’s only a loan. Alderweireld was linked to Arsenal a lot, but the interest was never concrete. Neither with the other big teams. Because he’s Belgian everyone is jumping on the bandwagon as the next big thing. But as a central defender he will always be behind Kompany or Vermaelen in the national team.’

Alderweireld at the World Cup.

Alderweireld at the World Cup.

So there we have it. Saints first of two deadline day players sounds like someone with a big future in the game. Thanks to Kristof for his time. The lowdon on Sadio Mané coming soon…..

Chris

How Southampton have actually come out of the transfer window a stronger club

Originally posted on Metro:

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has attracted some big players to the club (Picture: Getty Images)

Well in the end that was quite some transfer window for Southampton Football Club.

Just a few weeks ago it seemed the emphasis on Saints was that of an ‘exodus’ a ‘firesale’ and the media’s favourite term a ‘meltdown’,

Sadly, and much to their disappointment, the English press found themselves having to report on two more incoming players at St. Mary’s last night, and as stated by chairman Ralph Krueger despite their protests, that both Jay Rodroguez and Morgan Schneiderlin would be going nowhere.

Yesterday’s deadline day additions of La Liga winner and Champion’s League finalist Toby Alderweireld and Senegal winger Sadio Mane took the clubs Summer spending to nearly £60 million and arguably Saints have ended the Summer with a more successful manager and a deeper squad.

The signing of Alderweireld in particular will turn…

View original 210 more words

Southampton face West Ham United – a club that are hard to like

Originally posted on Metro:

West Ham’s Kevin Nolan United (Picture: Getty Images)

I’ve always liked West Ham United as a football club, for me they have always embodied London in footballing terms, far more so than the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs but in recent years they have made it increasingly difficult for me to retain my admiration.

This is largely a personnel issue granted, but there is something about Saints’ fixtures with the Hammers that really see me struggling to find any enthusiasm for them. Partly because of late they have always frustrated us, and I’m pretty sure nobody in football outside of East London enjoys smugness on the faces of Sam Allardyce, David Gold, David Sullivan and Kevin Nolan amongst others?

I know this is going to seem over the top and harsh, but those four people in particular make a club once famed for it’s expansive play and promotion of…

View original 241 more words

Graziano Pelle and Jack Cork score and make a point at Southampton

Originally posted on Metro:

Southampton celebrate with Graziano Pelle after he scored at Millwall (Picture: Getty Images)

There were two extremely happy men in Southampton shirts at the final whistle last night. Jack Cork and Graziano Pelle.

Both broke their Saints’ ducks, and both will be relieved for very different reasons. Jack Cork was making his 135th Southampton appearance, Pelle just his third but both will have been feeling different types of pressure.

For Cork it is a conundrum I’ve spoken of before, despite being a fan’s favourite and consistently good performer for the club, he starts another season, under another manager, seemingly out of favour.

Jack Cork celebrates scoring against Millwall (Picture: Getty Images)

Criticisms aimed at him have often included his lack of output from an attacking sense, so his appearance off the bench at half-time and subsequent decider (a headed goal, straight out of dad Alan’s textbook!) will have given him new impetus and…

View original 208 more words

Ronald Koeman has plenty of work to do at Southampton

Originally posted on Metro:

Ronald Koeman has the basis of a decent side (Picture: Getty Images)

New programme stands, banners to hold up, Hog Roast and the stripes are back! We were all excited for the return to St Mary’s after Southampton’s ‘turbulent summer’ eager to see Ronald Koeman’s new look side take West Bromwich Albion to task.

Sadly, the actual football was very much a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show comes the dust cart’ as the two sides played out a ‘borefest’ lacking any real quality and it will have done nothing to detract the ‘say what you see’ television pundits from continuing their insistence that Saints are in disarray.

I coined a phrase during many games where Southampton failed to convert their chances last season that the side were ‘all flatulence, no excretion’ well yesterday they struggled to muster the flatulence.

In Serbian playmaker Dusan Tadic they showed some flashes…

View original 199 more words

Shane Long can help Southampton prove ‘experts’ wrong at West Brom

Originally posted on Metro:

Shane Long, left, can get off the mark for Southampton at West Brom (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

Many people (myself included) balked at Shane Long’s hefty transfer fee given his Premier League goal record.

It appeared though at Anfield that he might get to make a point relatively early in his Southampton career, alas his simple chance to open his account went begging. Not to worry though! If ever there was a time to right that wrong, a home debut against your old club is perfect right?

Saints entertain West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, and despite having played for Hull City in-between Long was their player just seven months ago. The last time he faced them he showed his worth as a forward, controversially winning a penalty (for which he was roundly condemned by those who had once cheered his name despite not appealing for it) then scoring the second goal…

View original 196 more words

How defeated Southampton made a big point at Anfield

Originally posted on Metro:

Southampton’s manager Ronald Koeman has talked up his side’s chances this season (Picture: AP Photo)

Southampton may not have taken any points from the Premier League opener at Anfield on Sunday, but they certainly made one.

With the build-up to the season littered with the opinions of the football media, professional pundits and so called experts, on the whole predicting doom and gloom for Saints, many even suggesting relegation their opening performance will have sent a clear message.

Just as Ronald Koeman suggested in the pre-match interviews, ‘if you are going to bet money on Southampton going down, be prepared to lose it’.

The fans were perhaps not as confident as the manager, and most expected a tough start on Merseyside, but were more than pleasantly surprised.

Despite a slow start, they grew into the game and more than matched their hosts, new boys Ryan Bertrand and Dusan Tadic formed a…

View original 313 more words

Who knows what Southampton should expect from Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday?

Originally posted on Metro:

Defector: Lovren has joined the Reds (Picture: PA Images)

Loss of key players, questionable replacements and too much upheaval to expect a decent start to the season? Yes, that’s the problem that faces Liverpool as they prepare to entertain Southampton this Sunday.

Liverpool were pretty formidable at Anfield last season, but were toppled by Saints in a game the visitors dominated, a one goal defeat even flattering to the hosts, but both sides are likely to look somewhat different. While Liverpool have remodelled their squad post-Luis Suarez by signing Johnstone’s Paint trophy winners, Saints have revamped their lineup with league champions, and Champions League winners.

This is a difficult start for both clubs, mainly as it is difficult what to expect from either. Liverpool without the flesh-hungry Uruguayan are undoubtedly still strong, but the man is irreplaceable and it is questionable whether the replacements can make-up the 31 goals he…

View original 369 more words

The Long and the Short of it: Shane is a Saint!

As Ronald Koeman and Saints set about rebuilding the squad ahead of the new Premier League season, we have been linked with a plethora of players across Europe, so the news that they had had a bid accepted for Shane Long seemingly came from nowhere.

A player who in the past has had, shall we say, minor disagreements with Saints fans might take his time to get the crowd behind him, but as a full Irish international and with bags of experience under his belt, Long is a player who certainly adds to the squad and in a position where the club lacks depth.

Personally I’ve never been overwhelmed by him, and his goal record isn’t great for a striker, but his work rate and ‘hassling’ of Saints defences in the past has been a nuisance. I thought I would get the thoughts of those that have seen him week in/week out as per the norm and caught up with Hull City fan Rick Skelton from Boothferry to Wembley and WBA fan and aspiring coach Ash Davies.

This one came a little out of the blue, were you surprised to see the news that Long was heading to St. Mary’s?

RS ‘ I was surprised. He wasn’t a player I’d expected any interest in given that he’s only been here seven months and I couldn’t see anyone coming up with enough money to tempt Hull CIty to sell.’

AD ‘At first yes, I think everyone was surprised, we had got a great fee for a player who’s contract was out this summer and he’d moved to a club he seemingly liked, although he didn’t want to leave WBA the lack of a good enough offer forced him out, however he has many strong bonds down south and on that front I am not surprised he is heading down your way, I didn’t expect it to be so soon after a move to Hull though.’

Does Long have any specific strengths and weaknesses we should be aware of?

RS ‘His pace is his biggest attribute. He has real acceleration and combined with his willingness to keep making runs, it wears down defenders. He has enough strength and a good enough touch that he’ll turn hopeful balls into good ones. His weakness is obvious in his goalscoring record. It was around 1 in 4 before he joined us and it hasn’t been that good since. He’s a hit and hope finisher rather than a taker of chances. Someone who gets in the positions he does should do far better.’

AD ‘Strengths; He’ll run all day for you, he’ll leave everything on the pitch and create a bond with the fans, that always helps when the going gets tough. I have to say his ability to win yards was a huge plus under Hodgson, he would win a throw in, free kick or corner from a long punt towards him at times and that gained us 60+ yards and put the pressure on the opposition, it was huge. He has a huge leap for a little(er) lad and really uses that to get at defenders, a great tool that’ll always give you hope on a  heading battle. I like the way he can play channels, drift out wide and when we had him, Odemwingie and Lukaku he played well from wide areas getting balls into the box and combining with the other attackers, however I don’t think wing play is his game.

Weakness: Goals. Ultimately he never got enough over the time he played for us, he linked well, he had some great movements but when the finish came around he wasn’t consistent enough, just look at the last fixture he played for us, against you boys, he should have buried Boruc and didn’t. First touch has a tendency to let him down at times too, when it needed to stick it couldn’t and that was what frustrated many with him. His injury record also should be a major concern for you, he often praised us for the way we dealt with his Hamstring condition and said that the club needs to understand what he has, so you’ll find his Hamstrings are weaker than most and he will pick up knocks.’

...and some say their training facilities are the best in England.

…and some say their training facilities are the best in England.

He’s had run in’s with the Saints crowd before, and many have been upset by his tendency to ‘go down easily’, is this something we should get used to?

RS ‘Yes, he definitely “draws” fouls. He upset WBA fans in winning a penalty against them last season which was incredibly soft. As with most cheats in football though – no one seems to mind when they’re on your team.’

AD ‘Yes, something he’s added to his game over the past year and a side to his game us baggies were glad to see leave, he does love a dive, and to go down under pressure, it’s not a lack of strength it’s him falling down under the slightest touch. It’s diving and it’s something he will continually do, also expect some arm flapping and a bit of moaning to come along with that.’

How is Long best utilised from a tactical/formation perspective?

RS ‘He can play as a lone front man and will do a great job in games where discipline is the objective. If you want to take the game to the opposition – which Saints have tended to do – he needs to play in a pair or wide in a three because he won’t score the amount of goals required. He’s a selfless player though so he’ll play anywhere across the front and do the hard work for other people.’

AD ‘Difficult to say; He’s played many roles at WBA and I liked him as a lone forward when he arrived, pack the midfield and give him service down the sides and in behind where he can chase and harry defenders all day long, ultimately his pressure lead to WBA possession but as his time at WBA drew to a close we saw more of him in a 4-4-2 where he’d run channels and play into his fellow striker and try and create a partnership. Best way to utilise him would be a lone role with a number 10 getting around him, I’m not sure he likes running channels in a 2 and I am not sure he is specific enough as a striker to play in a two, he’s an all rounder which leads me to play him alone, but that would require goals coming from midfield and a supply line, he’ll give midfielders space by taking away defenders.’

Long after scoring against England last year.

Long after scoring against England last year.

What have you made of the situation at Saints this summer?

RS ‘I’ve been a bit surprised. Taking stupid money for Lallana and Shaw was a no-brainer really and no club could be criticised for that but some of the other sales have seemed unnecessary. It’s not like you need the money after the two big deals so all it does is give the impression that you are open for business. That then leads to difficult situations like the one with Schneiderlin. I think you should have put your foot down earlier and given the right impression to the likes of Lovren and Chambers.’

AD ‘Feel for you, to lose that many players and management hurts, we’ve had an eventful summer ourselves but you’ve outdone us on that score. I would question certain aspects of running the club at times but would also say if the player does want out then so be it, let them go, what needs to be done now is a rebuild and quickly. Need to get new, quality players in who want to be at the club, it’s more than do-able, but you need a reliable scouting network, a manager willing to speak their mind on who and want they want and a board wanting to back them with all their decisions. Personally feel you’ve taken quite a few backwards steps thus far and instead of looking at Europe you’re looking over your shoulders again vying to stay with the big boys. Very much like us on the season aspirations, survive this season and I think you could really kick on in 2015/16 when it’s all calmed a little/ What’s important for you fans now is to have a sense of perspective, you’ll never break into the top 6 because of financial reasons so the aim is always going to be below that in our mini league and staying up should always be the first aim for all of our mini league sides. Get to 40 and go from there.’

So there we have it, a signing many of us would not have chosen, but a valuable squad member no doubt. Perhaps not the marquee transfer some would have liked, but it’s not often Saints pry a first team player away from another Premier League club, and Long strikes me as one you would rather have for you than against you!

Chris