Category Archives: Chris Rann

All posts written by Chris Rann

World Cup 2018 – Meme’s, Dreams and Penalty Appeals

“I think people should recognise that I am also one of the best bloggers in the world and not just talk nonsense.”

For Southampton fans, this World Cup maybe best remembered as the time our Dejan Lovren schadenfreude went global. After the calamitous Croat made the ridiculous claim of being one of the best defenders in the world, you just kind of knew it would be followed by a 4th defeat in 4 finals for the hapless head wanderer.

I mean, the best defenders in the world don’t say in interviews ‘I’m one of the best defenders in the world. It’s the same as when a bloke in the pub says they used to be in the SAS. By the very nature of the fact that they are telling you… They weren’t.

We should have moved on from this Lovren hate to be honest, but the bloke doesn’t make it easy. The arrogance and delusion mixed with his prolific record of losing makes him a sitting duck for mockery.

Credit where it’s due though, he achieved something I didn’t think he could. He managed to have me cheering against a rather likeable Croatia team in favour of France. FRANCE. I wanted drastically overrated walking meme Paul Pogba to walkaway with a World Cup winners medal, trophy dab and all, more than I wanted to see glee on the face of little Luka Modric. Remarkable.

But what was better than one of the best defender’s in the world conceding four goals in the final?

The ‘It’s Coming Home’ Movement.

I, like many others lost faith in the England team a long time ago, and it’s difficult to describe what actually happened, but Harry Kane’s last minute winner against Tunisia seemingly turned everything on it’s head. I haven’t experienced English support like this since France ’98. Pubs in full swing, singing and a real sense of unison. The type of support was even different, less ‘Ten German Bombers’ and more Atomic Kitten.

On the pitch, we had players we could believe in again, and off it we had one of the greatest meme takeovers the internet has ever seen. The ‘It’s coming home’ memes were fantastic, and obviously only ever a subtle dig at ourselves, yet of course it was construed as arrogance by the ‘Anyone but England’ brigade. Divs.

We got to the semi final. That was far beyond our expectations, yet at that point you have to start believing you have a chance of winning it right? Arrogance again apparently.

Ultimately, football didn’t come home, but a restored sense of national pride did. It really was a fantastic few weeks to be a football supporter, even an English one.

Now when does the Premier League start?

Have Saints found pragmatism too late? Or will Hughes Spark them into life?

So, the Saints board finally caught up with the rest of us and lost patience with the Argentine Branfoot and gave him his marching orders (#youmarchon) after the frankly diabolical display at Newcastle. Too little too late? Perhaps, but the last couple of days has felt like a fresh start, and for the first time in a long time there would appear to be hope.

Now he is gone, I wish Mr. Pellegrino no ill will, seems like a (too) nice bloke, just wildly out of his depth. I did ‘celebrate’ his sacking though, and I feel no guilt in doing so. This isn’t a bloke on £15k a year who has just been made redundant from the local factory as the result of some Tory inflicted austerity scheme, who now has to worry about how he pays his rent and feed his kids. This is a highly paid man (no doubt already comfortably off from his playing career) who showed incompetence from day one. Worse than that, he didn’t learn and was loyal to the end to his turgid style and failing system. What’s more he didn’t even have the decency to resign when it was plain to see he was taking us down. He will have received a handsome pay off for his trouble and will now be having a lovely holiday in a luxurious resort. With respect Mauricio, I wish you luck in your future endeavours, but I am glad you were fired, please don’t ever darken our door again.

This current Saints board had never been more under pressure. They left the sacking of el confundido far too late, he should have gone after the Leicester debacle and in not removing him sooner have left us staring into the abyss with a very difficult run in. This is self inflicted pressure, and meant the job of replacing him was not an easy one. You could argue the logic behind the appointments of both Pellegrino and Claude Puel, both were employed in pre-season, and both looked like long term options, sadly both failed. Employing someone with 8 games to save the season is a different kettle of fish altogether. Premier League experience is absolutely essential, we aren’t in a position to be letting someone learn as they go, and in Mark Hughes we got the best available.

While Pellegrino floundered on the touchline, it cannot escape attention that the players were not performing to their ability, and that may have been a question of motivation. What we have now in Hughes is someone who knows this league, knows how to organise a team and won’t accept dropping standards of his squad.

To those who I’ve seen complaining about the appointment, I always ask the same question? Who would you have brought in? You can rule out the currently employed. Why would they risk it, when they can wait until the end of the season and see if Saints are still interested, and more importantly what division they are in?

That leaves the unemployed, and risking someone without experience of the Premier League would be one risk too far. The current Saints board are 1 for 2 when it comes to appointing foreign first timers, 1 for 3 would be relegation and their own positions untenable.

Hughes’ record in the Premier League is decent, there is no doubt about that, and despite a poor spell at car crash club QPR and this season with Stoke he would firmly be considered a middle tier manager, and here’s a newsflash. We aren’t a middle tier club at the moment, we are lower tier and in danger of being out of the top flight.  Lest we forget, that in removing Hughes, Stoke have ended up with Paul Lambert. A fate worse than death in my opinion. The point is right now we don’t have a ‘project’ to sell to a fashionable foreign manager like we have had in the past, we are in a desperate situation. We should be grateful Hughes has put his reputation (never having been relegated) on the line for us.

Yesterday’s press conference gave everyone a lift. A football man, talking a good game and not the riddle messr’s Puel and Pellegrino gave us. We need grit and we need fight from our squad, they have the talent. Hughes is the man to get it.

It’s time for the fans to stop the infighting and the ‘woe is me’ attitude to go. This is what being a Saints fan is all about. We had it far to easy for far too long and we got comfortable and we got entitled and we got lazy. On Sunday Mark Hughes will start his reign with a trip to league one Wigan and the potential to take us to an FA Cup Semi-Final and as we know from last season once you get a semi anything can happen. Then it is 8 cup finals.

Get behind the manager, get behind the team and as always keep the faith.

With apologies to Madonna…

Steve Wigley and Poortvliet
Mark Wotte and Dave Bassett
Alan Pardew, Wilkins Dean
On the cover of a cheap fanzine.

Stuart Gray; Puel, Claude
Picture of a coaching fraud.
Paul Sturrock and Souness.
Pellegrino, what a mess.

They had no style, had no grace,
Harry Redknapp twitchy face.
Gorman, Wise, Sturrock too.
Ian Branfoot we hate you.

Manager’s without a clue.
Fellows that weren’t in the mood.
Don’t just stand there let’s get to it
Strike the pose there’s nothing to it.

Coach.

The Weekly Rannt: Ex Infatuations

Yesterday Saints beat Watford 1-0. Perhaps not the most inspiring or dominating victory, but a victory nonetheless, and passageway into the 5th round of the FA Cup.

I opened up Twitter this morning to see what the assembled masses had made of our performance, the manager’s tactical decisions, maybe even an honest appraisal of the striker that was promised and how he will save our season.

But no. The first so many tweets I saw were all melancholy teenage angst surrounding the performance of Jay Rodriguez for West Brom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it was an impressive showing from the former Saints forward,  as he bagged a brace and duly put a van Dijk inspired (snigger) Liverpool defence to the sword and out of the cup, but should it be the primary focus of the Southampton support?

It’s an odd phenomenon amongst our fanbase, especially the social media wing of it that certain players are elevated to the status of deity when they move on.

If you read the words of our fans on twitter today, with no previous knowledge of Rodriguez and his time with Saints you would form the impression that he had left the club against it’s wishes on the back of a goalscoring season the likes of which could barely be believed. The reality of course is that he never looked the same after his horrific injury against Man City and scored just five league goals in the three and a bit years that followed it.

It’s called Jack Cork syndrome. Cork, like Rodriguez was a good player for Saints and a decent servant, but as the club moved on in terms of the quality of player it attracted his playing time reduced and at what was the right time for both him and the club he was moved on. Both Cork & Rodriguez went to clubs where they were more likely to play and neither pulled up any trees. Yet, every time they put in a decent shift for their new clubs, the Saints fans unite in their bemoaning of ‘the one that got away’ and how shortsighted the club were in letting them go.

The fact is the club have improved on both those players. Several times.

If you stop being blinkered and analysing one off games you will see that they aren’t actually being consistently brilliant for their new clubs either and there was a reason Saints let them go. Despite a considerably higher amount of game time for West Brom, Jay Rod has scored just four league goals for the Baggies, Austin has six for Saints in a third of the minutes on the pitch!

I don’t have an issue with still liking those players, or appreciating what they did in their time at the club, but do we need the constant outpouring of support every time they have a good game? We don’t put as much energy into supporting the players that are currently at the club!

I don’t know what it is about them that makes them so universally popular still, perhaps it is because they are clean cut young English lads? I don’t know. But the time for them to go was right.

Move on. They have.

Keep the faith.

 

Hello darkness, my old friend

Saints are 18th in the Premier League with fourteen games to go.

‘Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again.’

We’ve been here before. We hoped we’d never be here again, but the ever growing competitive nature of the Premier League means that for a number of reasons 2017/18 is one that will not sit comfortably in the memory whatever the outcome, unlikely FA Cup win aside.

Before I proceed I want to make my position clear. Were I in an executive position on the board of Southampton Football club Mauricio Pellegrino would be out of a job by now, in fact he’d have gone immediately after the frankly embarrassing Leicester thumping at St. Mary’s. Having said that I am prepared to accept that while his tactical naivety is the overwhelming factor in our current decline, it isn’t the only variable that has seen us slip into a relegation battle like it’s the mid-90’s.

But let’s start with the manager. Like it or not, the manager’s one and only remit really is to get results and he isn’t doing that. Saints have a habit of starting games well, which suggests he isn’t so tactically unaware, the problem seems to come once we are in front. His immediate thought process seems to be to stop what was working and settle for what we have. Sitting back and inviting pressure has only gone one way so far, three points have rapidly evaporated.

Great goal Sofiane, but we did discuss holding out for a point. So…

My other concern on the manager is his response to changes by the opposition or lack thereof. The Watford game is a perfect example of this. Saints were two goals to the good and comfortable against a side themselves in disarray, but their introduction of Troy Deeney changed the dynamic and Saints were on the back foot. We didn’t react (one like for like sub in the 63rd minute) and although there was a huge element of fortune in the Hornet’s equaliser, it had been coming and their reading of the situation meant they gained a point, our misunderstanding of it meant we dropped two.

We have won just four league games all season, and barring an element of fortune against West Ham, a Forster masterclass at Selhurst Park and a moment of individual Boufal brilliance it could so easily be one. I know it’s not as simple as that, and we could analyse our draws and defeats and make a case for where we deserved more, but the fact of the matter is, our only truly convincing league win this season was a home thrashing of Everton, who themselves were in free-fall (something they have rectified with a new manager).

But. I think we have to accept that the manager isn’t going, if there was any chance he was under scrutiny by the board then surely they’d have made their move by now? So assuming it isn’t coming then we have to look at what else is going wrong.

I’ve seen many question the qualities of the squad, but to me this is poppycock and a compelling argument as to why the manager has failed. This is not a bottom three squad. No way. I will argue that with anyone. We have a better and more talented group of players than 5 or 6 clubs currently above us in the league. Is it as strong as it was in previous seasons, no I don’t think it is, but departures have weakened it, not destroyed it completely.

We do have an issue with a lack of depth. An injury to Charlie Austin (given his history, something that shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise) and our already lacking goals scored column becomes almost non-existent. A caveat to this though is that we do have a talented striker not getting game time? If we go down with Manolo Gabbiadini as unused sub we’ll be a laughing stock.

The same could be said for Mario Lemina. The lad looks like a real talent yet seems to be out of favour, if you add Sofiane Boufal to the mix that is three of our better players getting splinters.

The mis-use of Steven Davis is frustrating to see also. For me Davis is a consistently good performer in a Saints shirt, if he is played as part of the support three. He isn’t a defensive midfielder, and always plays poorly when asked to be one. The fact that he has been used there when Romeu, Lemina and Hojbjerg are available is baffling to say the least.

Decent. Team.

Football isn’t rocket science. Play your best players, and in the position they are most suited to play.

The biggest factor and the one that is effecting everybody is ‘the fear’.

‘And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Still remains.’

There is a trepidation amongst the players, coaching staff and fans alike that is worrying to say the least, and the capitulations from winning positions reek of 2004/05 and the last time we dropped out of the top flight.

The atmosphere on and off the pitch is the same now as it was then. As most of you will know my physical presence at games is limited now due to my living abroad, but I did have the ‘pleasure’ of being at the Huddersfield game. Again Saints led and looked comfortable, but the Terriers equaliser was met with ‘the fear’, and we might consider ourselves lucky to have come away with a point. Immediately the players heads dropped and the attitude of the crowd changed, like the outcome was now a foregone conclusion.

Overcoming ‘the fear’ will be key to our survival this season, and that is where the crowd plays it’s part. We are Southampton, this isn’t our first relegation battle. We have to draw on that experience, and those of us who, like me, were there for the regular anxiety of the 90’s will tell you that one of the reasons we were very good at getting out of it was the backing of the crowd.

Nobody wanted to come to the Dell in that situation because the crowd backed it’s players and got on top of the opposition and we have to make sure St. Mary’s is the same. Especially when we entertain those around us. It’s all very well getting up for Spurs, but just like the players, we as fans have to take the same attitude into games against Brighton etc.

And please. Get off Nathan Redmond’s back. A promising player who was recognised by England looks a shell of his former self, and some of the abuse he has received while other under-performers seemingly get off scot-free is frankly disgusting.

I know it’s frustrating to watch at times, but to a point you are stuck with the manager and the players, so back them. Save your discontent for the end of the season come what may.

As fans our input is only vocal but it is important. Don’t let the players be faced with the sound of silence.

Keep the faith.

My Ultimate XI

Dear reader, I’ve no doubt that this will open me up to some criticism and that’s fine, all I ask you is that you make that criticism constructive and debate worthy!

Recently Saints have launched their campaign to find the ‘Ultimate’ Saints XI.

As a fan you are entitled to vote for a Goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders, three forwards and a manager. Simple right? Not quite. Only those with 150 plus appearances qualify. That to me is an odd rule. There have undoubtedly been players who made less than that but had more impact than some that did, but anyway, that is their rules and like the submissive man that I am I shall simply take that restriction on the chin and vote while mumbling Dean Richards quietly under my breath.

The beauty of a public poll like this is, that everyone interprets it their own way. For instance I immediately decided I couldn’t vote for those I never saw play.  This was a sub-conscious but clear decision. This is MY Ultimate XI. To me the idea that someone in their 20’s is voting for Mick Mills is a little ludicrous. This is your team, not your Dad’s! But, as it is your team then you are entitled to interpret it however you see fit.

Due to my decision, basically anyone who played for Saints prior to 1986 was basically out. This might seem reckless, but no matter how good they might have been they don’t mean the same to me as they might those who were there at the time. And besides, olden days football was a rubbish standard right? (joke).

Anyway never-mind the reasoning, here is my team:-

This side would of course be managed by Gordon Strachan.

As everybody will think, my team seems self explanatory to me, but I’ll explain it anyway.

Goalkeeper:- Antti Niemi

The Flying Finn, was simply put, a fantastic Goalkeeper, and undoubtedly the best I’ve seen for Saints (even without the 150 appearance rule).  His shot stopping was often spectacular and he was certainly one of those keepers that was worth a few points a season.

Left Back:- Wayne Bridge

Now a star of reality TV, Bridge really was as good as we made out at the time and his further career at Chelsea, Man City and with England goes to prove it. The local lad I watched from debutante to high profile transfer exit. It seems odd to think he is two years younger than me!

Centre Half:- Claus Lundekvam

Our Claus, the Norwegian with a Hampshire twang to his accent was somewhat of an anomaly. It is rare in modern football that somebody earns a testimonial, even rarer when a foreigner does it, but Claus took the city and the club to his heart and backed it up with solid performances.

Centre Half:- Mark Wright

This was the first time when I was selecting where the appearance rule proved a problem. Wright only just sneaks into my own personal criteria, but I have to say the choices in this position weren’t awe inspiring. Wright was a classy ball playing defender, perhaps ahead of his time!

Right Back:- Jason Dodd

For me Dodd was Mr. Dependable. Over 400 games for the club and I don’t remember a bad one. Maybe not the most dynamic right back in the league, but one you could trust and never lost his affinity with the club, even drinking with the fans in Milan last year!

Midfield:- David Armstrong

Largely regarded as one of the most underrated players in English football, though he was recognised internationally. I didn’t worry too much about balance in my team, but I do feel Armstrong is key to that. A tidy midfield player who chipped in with goals.

Midfield:- Morgan Schneiderlin

Like Wayne Bridge, this one has a sense of journey about it. I watched this lightweight French kid who looked useless at first develop into one of the most accomplished midfielders in the Premier League. A defensive midfielder, but so much more, under Pochettino then Koeman he was consistently outstanding.

Free Role:- Matthew Le Tissier

The greatest of all time. Surely there wasn’t anybody who didn’t vote for him, except himself?

Forward:- Danny Wallace

This could easily have gone to Rod, but not Ray. Sorry Ray. Eventually I went for the one with the most goals. Again, I wasn’t looking at balance (but perhaps I was) but with one target man, I wanted my other strikers to be the exciting pacy kind.

Forward:- Rickie Lambert

Had he not continued his fantastic form into the top flight then maybe this position would be filled by a Beattie or a Shearer, but he did. Of course he did. Perhaps the first player to capture the imaginations of Saints fans since Le Tiss. A gentleman, and a great goalscorer.

Forward:- Marian Pahars

 

Impact. Longevity. Talent. The kid from Latvia who dazzled us both with his fantastic ability and his affection for the club. His celebration v Portsmouth still sends shivers down my spine, the man from Riga celebrating like he grew up in Sholing. Some will overlook him, but they would be wrong to, had injuries not hampered him I’ve no doubt he’d be talked in higher regard.

Manager:- Gordon Strachan

I spent more time on this than perhaps on any of the others. There were three periods as a Saints fan I really loved. Under Messrs Strachan, Pochettino and Koeman. Poch didn’t qualify so it was a choice of two. At the end of the day both got us into Europe after prolonged breaks but only one got us to a cup final!

So there it is. Make of it what you will, but please remember, this is MY Ultimate XI, I’m not asking you to change yours. There will be thousands of different combinations, all with great justification but ultimately democracy will decide! I do think the more recent players will win as this is an internet competition for the internet generation, but let it be said, that every nominee in the list deserves our respect and our gratitude for being Saints!

Vote here:- https://southamptonfc.com/news/2017-10-13/southampton-fans-ultimate-xi-sea-city-museum-exhibition

Keep the faith!

Ali Dia: Origins

Let me take you back to the Summer of 1996. It was a different time. Robson & Jerome were stunning us on a regular basis with their reworked classics and we were still the best part of a year away from Tony Blair and Cool Britannia taking the country and turning it on its head. It wasn’t all grim though, England had just put in a credible performance at a major tournament on home soil and were a Gazza boot lace away from a major final. There was an air of optimism, especially for this Isle of Wight student about to embark on a miserable (self-inflicted through lack of effort) A-Level campaign……

Continue Reading

Eight ways to cure goal shy Saints….

It will not have escaped your attention dear reader, that Saints have for some time been a little goal shy. In fact the club’s hierarchy is said to be tempted to change the match-day host to Paul O’Grady† and Ben Elton is considering writing a book about us‡.

To that end I tasked myself with coming up with solutions to this issue, and hopefully see us not be subjected to another week of frustration in front of goal.

Disclaimer. If at this point you are expecting to read carefully thought out coaching suggestions, this isn’t the blog for you.

Still with me?

1. Running Man style exploding collars

I haven’t done the science, but basically invent an exploding collar that all the Saints players must wear. If they get within 25 yards of the opposition goal and the ball doesn’t cross the line (some sort of tie in with the existing goal line technology required here. Over to you Boffins) within the next 3 minutes the wearer’s collar explodes.

2, Pray to Le God

We all worship him, but perhaps our offerings of late haven’t been sufficient and he’s angry with us?

Let’s take it in turns to sacrifice our first born sons at the feet of the Ted Bates statue at midnight on the night before each game while collectively and repeatedly chanting the Le Tiss song under our breaths.

I know what you are thinking. This is easy for Chris to say, he doesn’t have any kids? Point taken, but I would be prepared to do it, and that counts.

Le God approves.

3. Play Home Games at Staplewood

As discussed this week on the Total Saints Pod, our players look superb in training. Banging shots in top bin every time, Ward-Prowse sinking free kicks like it’s the easiest thing in the world! But have we got a team of Willie Thorne’s?

4. Recycle the Clappers

Not my idea, but the brainchild of @saintsmadmomma, and it’s perfect. No one asked for the clappers, no one likes the clappers, so why not make use of them?

5. Hypnosis

Get McKenna in. It’s a cut and shut job for the master of minds. All he’s got to do is collectively hypnotise the squad and tell them that every time they hear the song ‘My Way’ or any bastardised version of it they will believe they are a combination of Le Tissier and Shearer.

As a bonus, while he’s got them under, we can ask Paul to also tell them that every time they hear the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ you suddenly become football’s answer to Frank Spencer. It worked on Lovren.

6. Change the Changing Room Music

Whenever the club releases a playlist of the squad’s choosing it is overrun with terrible R&B tracks. No one in the history of anything has been inspired by anything written or performed by Drake. No wonder half of them look like they’ve just had bad news when they are playing at the moment. Soul? Soul destroying.

Luckily I’ve created a pre-match playlist for them. You can find it here:- https://itunes.apple.com/gb/playlist/saints-matchday/idpl.u-1V3F8keGYj

7. Play in Cartoon Format

Who misses those guys from the kit release cartoon? So accurate, yet Pellegrino has ignored them so far. Ridiculous.

8. Put an Instagram Frame Round the Goals

They love an Instagram post. Some might say they are over focused on posting dull updates on their lives in which they are inevitably wearing hideous clothes and listening to terrible music (refer to point 6). Put the frame up and they won’t be able to get there quick enough!

So there we have it. None of them are realistic or will likely work, but all I’m saying is they can’t do any harm.

Keep the faith,

† – Least famous presenter of Blankety Blank, but only one not dead.

‡ – Elton wrote a book about infertility.

5 minutes with…. Kevin Davies Part 3

Continuing from Parts 1 & 2…..

After the big money move to Blackburn, was it a difficult decision to come back to Saints? How had the club changed?

KD ‘It’s well documented that I didn’t enjoy my time at Blackburn. It was a big money move and sometimes they just don’t work out. I signed a seven year contract when I went up there and then had a difficult first season competing with five or six strikers. I was used to playing in dressing rooms where everybody got on and I didn’t feel that at Blackburn. There were power struggles going on and it felt quite cliquey. It didn’t feel right and I didn’t enjoy my football. We got relegated that season and I was in and out of the team with injuries and illnesses. It was a difficult time especially with the expectation that came with the fee. There were pressure and nerves and I was driving back to Sheffield a lot. Roy Hodgson got sacked and Brian Kidd came in and a couple of games into the Championship he pulled me into his office and was very understanding with me. He said ‘Would you be interested in going back?’ because Blackburn wanted to swap with Egil Ostenstad. So with ten minutes to go I was in the car with my medical records heading back down. It wasn’t a difficult decision at all because I’d had a great time at Southampton and I wasn’t prepared to sit there for five or six years just picking up my money at Blackburn. It suited both parties and for me it was the easiest decision of my life. I have to say that Jack Walker was fantastic with me throughout my time there and he knew I wasn’t happy.

Not much had changed at Southampton. There was still a great team spirit and Dave Jones was still there. It was like going back home. I loved the lifestyle and the area and I had great friends down there.  The only thing that changed was me. My confidence had taken a bit of a battering so it took some time to get that going again.’

While most might remember the FA Cup exploits with Chesterfield, some forget the last minute goal for Saints that kept them in the 2003 competition (which led them eventually to the final). How disappointing was it not to be involved in the final?

KD ‘Gordon Strachan came in and we didn’t see eye-to-eye from the first week. That happens in football. I wasn’t in or around the squad so I took the decision to go out on loan. I was in my final year anyway and I wanted to prove I could still do it so I went to Millwall. It didn’t matter where really because I needed some games: I was rotting away. I came back and knuckled down and started scoring in the reserves. There was a cup run and I think I came on as a sub for that game and scored a late equaliser. We won the replay and got to the final and though I’ve had lots of good points in my career that was a difficult moment when he pulled me aside an hour before the game and told me I wasn’t going to be involved. It was a huge disappointment for me. I knew I wouldn’t start but I was hoping to be a substitute and you have those dreams about coming on against Arsenal and scoring the winner. I was desperate to get my hands on that trophy throughout my whole career.

I see Gordon Strachan on the media circuit now and I know it’s difficult. Somebody has to miss out and back then it was me.’

You were perhaps unfairly labelled as a more physical player later in your career, which is nothing like the style of the player at Southampton. Why did your game change?

 KD ‘I can’t remember a moment when I thought I needed to adapt. At Chesterfield I’d played out on the wing or behind the main striker. I was a bit nippier in my younger days and maybe the injury to my ankle affected that. But I always enjoyed the physical side of football. I grew up on a council estate and I’d play against the older boys on the parks. Then I went to Bolton with Sam on trial around 2003 and, I don’t know, I just enjoy the battle and getting the better of your opponent then shaking hands and having a couple of pints. That was my way of thinking. So it just developed and that first season at Bolton we had a huge amount of success with me as the main striker and the likes of Campo and Diouf playing around me. The stats backed it up because I was involved in about 70/80% of the goals. Maybe Sam just stumbled upon it and we went from there.’

Who was the best player you played with at Saints (Le Tiss excluded) and the worst?

KD ‘Matt was obviously the most naturally gifted player I’ve played with alongside Jay Jay Okocha. At Southampton we didn’t really have a lot of superstars: we were hard-working players who enjoyed training and each other’s company We’d be out at weekends together having a few drinks. It was a proper changing room. We had characters like Carlton Palmer, John Beresford and David Hurst – old-school players – so no-one was allowed to go off on one and be big-time Charlies. I’d liken it to Wales at the Euros where they did so well without having any proper superstars other than Bale.

“We had some good players of course. Marians Pahars was a natural finisher and they loved him down there. There was my partnership too with James Beattie’

Read the full 888sport interview with Kevin Davies, including his thoughts on where Southampton will finish this season. 

5 minutes with…. Kevin Davies Part 2

Carrying on from Part 1….

Unlike most clubs, Saints have not spent much money – do they need to invest in order to remain competitive?

KD ‘They need to and they haven’t been shy in the past of reinvesting the money they receive. In the past couple of years they’ve brought in something like £200m and they keep reinvesting it because they’ve got the scouting ‘black box’ model down there where they’re constantly scouring the planet for the best young players coming through. It almost feels like a stepping-stone club at times where they look to develop. It wouldn’t surprise me if they already have their targets in mind and negotiations are going on so they can wisely reinvest the money they get for van Dijk. They need competition for places and to keep adding to the strong if they want to push forward from what they achieved last year.’

What are your fondest memories of playing for Saints?

KD ‘The first year down there. I obviously made the move from Chesterfield where I’d been playing in League’s one and two so it was incredible to play in the Premier League at the age of 20. I still remember going down with the PFA and them negotiating the deal for me with Graeme Souness who was the manager at the time. He left that summer and Dave Jones took over. There was so much hype around the Premier League and to play with these legends like Zola and Bergkamp was so exciting for me. I loved the area and the club.’

November 4, 1997. Goodison Park. Talk to us about that solo goal against Everton, where does it rank in your best goals scored?

KD ‘That has to be the best one I scored. It was live on Sky and I loved playing at Goodison Park. I see it every now and again on those TV shows and I have a little laugh and a joke with my children saying ‘Have a look at this”. I got the ball and things opened up for me so had a little dribble up from the halfway line and it found the net.

It was a decent little goal and I’m sure if Messi had scored that one it would have been shown a few more times. We won the game 2-0 as well. It was an embarrassing celebration though.’

Do you feel you may have got a bit unlucky at Saints at times  – looking back especially on that ankle ligament injury against Manchester United at The Dell?

KD ‘Leading up to that ankle injury I was absolutely flying at the time in January. I think it was ’98? We had a good team spirit and I loved living on the south coast. We had a good season that year barring my injury. You have ifs and buts and maybe that was a turning point for me because you wonder what could have happened. If I hadn’t got injured that summer was the World Cup. My ankle was never really the same again and that was a big turning point in my career. I went on to do alright but I was never quite the same player again.’

Read the full 888sport interview with Kevin Davies, including his thoughts on where Southampton will finish this season.