Well yesterday was great. No sooner had I written this for ESPN:- ‘In the Know? Off you go…’ the greatest thing since the beginning of Twitter happened.
Somebody posted this picture (taken at Ocean Village) and posted it to twitter:-
Cue Hysteria. Andrea Pirlo was coming to Southampton. Such was the frenzy that the fact that it was a GB registered plate was ignored, the fact that it was a right hand drive dismissed, one of the greatest players in world football was heading to St. Mary’s. What a coup. A signal of intent and the best transfer in British football since European Footballer of the Year Kevin Keegan made the same move.
Soon a search on the hashtag #saintsfc came with the handy ‘related search’ options of ‘Pochettino’, ‘Rickie Lambert’ and….. ‘Pirlo’.
Even Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri got in on the act.
Sadly a spoilsport was quick to tell us that the car belonged to a local namesake who owned a chain of hairdressers, and soon our dreams of Pirlo joined those about Bierhoff, De Pedro, Del Piero, Owen, Korneev and Lineker in the great Saints fantasy team in the sky.
What is great about such moments is the reaction of the fans, some believe, some mock and some (like me) go into pisstake overdrive!
All in all it was a fantastic day for all those that dare to dream! I don’t mind admitting that were Saints ever to sign Andrea Pirlo, I would weep uncontrollably for weeks.
Recently I was invited amongst other bloggers to attend a training day with Ray Wilkins courtesy of Nivea for Men and the Great Football Experiment.
Unfortunately I couldn’t make it, but England and Chelsea legend, and brother of Saints coach Dean had a message for the readers of this site.
Ray, former England and Liverpool keeper Ray Clemence, Ex-England manager Terry Venables and other professional FA coaches have spent the summer with Brentwood Sunday League First Division side Ivory FC from Billericay in Essex. The experiment aims to see if, with access to the right coaching, nutritional and fitness advice, an average Sunday league team can be turned into table toppers.
Catch up with the latest episode of the Nivea for Men Great Football Experiment where Ivory FC take on potential title challengers Lawns Park Rangers in the opening game of the league season.
Will star striker “Goggles” make it before kick off?
Follow the Great Football Experiment, and see how much proper coaching and professional expertise really helps…
Amongst the humdrum of pre-season gossip and speculation, Saints fans were able to concentrate their optimism on not only who might be coming in and out at St. Mary’s, but also on the design of the new strip.
After taking a break from the traditional Red & White striped offerings of previous years for last seasons 125th anniversary celebrations, the “sash” was released to very mixed reviews, and the anticipation of a striped return reached fever pitch over the summer.
This got me thinking. How important is kit design? We took a notable scalp in one of the Premier Leagues most infamous games, when we defeated Manchester United in 1996. Sir Alex Ferguson blamed the sides grey change strip for their first half hammering and made them change into Blue & White in the second half. Which they won 1-0.
Are stripes a particularly successful kit design? On the face of it no. There are notable exceptions of course. AC Milan and Juventus have had some results in their time, and Barcelona look likely to reign in European football forever, yet Crystal Palace, who adorn the same stripe design as the Catalan club aren’t likely to danger Manchester United in a Champions League semi final any time soon.
Argentina have twice been crowned world champions in stripes (although they were in their plain blue change strip for one final victory), and of course, they cheat.
Domestically, it is a tale of woe for the striped teams. In the FA Cup you have to go all the way back to 1987 for a striped winner, when underdogs Coventry City shocked Spurs, a staggering five teams in stripes (though Saints wore their away yellow) have been runners up in that time. In fact, unless I am mistaken, there have only been twenty one FA Cup winners who play in stripes, many of which are the same club several times, and many of which may not have played in stripes in the final. There have been twenty seven runners up.
In the League Cup it isn’t much better. Sheffield Wednesday were the last stripe wearing winners in 1991, and only they again have since made the final, runners up in 1993. Actually, and I am hoping someone will prove me wrong on this, but it seems there have only ever been two striped winners. Wednesday of course, and Stoke in 1972. There have been six runners up.
There have been one hundred and twelve seasons of the football league. Striped winners? Nineteen. As famously taken this May, Manchester United have this many on their own.
So are stripes a hinderance? Are they simply bad luck?
From Saints personal viewpoint, there have been some differing results, which give some disappointing outcomes for the stripe lover. We had our highest ever league finish in 1983/84 wearing a “thirds” of white surrounded by red sleeves. We won our solitary FA cup in solid yellow, and of course last season we secured promotion in the sash.
But what does all this mean? Well nothing. The fact is, less teams play in stripes, so less trophies is a given. Only one side outside the top four has won the FA Cup since 1995, and they did it with ill gotten gains. From a Saints perspective, and without looking to upset anyone, we aren’t exactly overrun with silverware anyway.
The likes of the aforementioned Juventus, Milan and Barca are trophy laden giants in Europe, even Saturday’s opponents Atletico Bilbao have had some success over the years, and they have done it using a red & white striped kit inspired by us! The nerve.
Had Roman Abramovich tipped up in 2003 and poured his billions into Sunderland instead of Chelsea, I am sure the FA Cup and League winners tallies would have a few more striped scores on them.
It is probably naïve to think that these days, clubs don’t have some sort of psychologist having an input on kit design, but then surely they would all come to the same conclusions, and clubs would all be changing to the same pattern?
The fact is you make your own fortune, and with the right personnel, tactics, coaches, finances, luck and fanbase any team can be a world beater and they can do it whatever kit they like.
To end this pointless yet informative piece , I can quote the Bill Murray film “Stripes”
“A hundred dollar shine on a three dollar pair of shoes”.
It’s about what is underneath the shirts not how they look.
The Southampton Football Club Blog that doesn't like to take itself too seriously!