Yet again, the voting response to these awards was fantastic, it genuinely surprises me every time, and grows every year!
This is what everyone associated with Saints dreams of getting their hands on at the end of a season:-
So without further ado, here are YOUR winners….
Player of the Year
This was calculated like so:- Each player got 2 points for a vote as winner and one point for a vote as runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.
Scored points:- Lee Todd (<1%), Steven Caulker (<1%), Some Scummer (<1%), Cuco Martina (<1%), Victor Wanyama (<1%), Jordy Clasie (<1%), Cedric (<1%), Graziano Pelle (<1%), Jose Fonte (1%), Oriol Romeu (1%), Sadio Mane (2%), Dusan Tadic (2%), Fraser Forster(2%), Steven Davis (6%).
3rd Place:- Ryan Bertrand (8%)
2nd Place:- Shane Long (32%)
And the winner is……with a huge 44% of the points, after a stand out season at centre half……
Most Improved Player
Received Votes:- Steven Caulker (1%), Oriol Romeu (1%), Steven Davis (1%), James Ward-Prowse (1%), Alfie Jones (1%), Some Scummer (1%), Jordy Clasie (2%), Ryan Bertrand (2%).
3rd Place:- Matt Targett (11%)
2nd Place:- Cuco Martina (17%)
And the winner is…..in any other season he would have been ‘player of the year’…..
Young Player of the Year
Received Votes:- Lloyd Isgrove (1%), Josh Simms (1%), Jake Hesketh (1%), Jason McCarthy (1%), Jake Vokins (1%), Some Scummer (1%), Kelvin Davis (2%), Sadio Mane (2%), Olufela Olomola (2%), No One (3%).
3rd Place:- Alfie Jones (5%)
2nd Place:- James Ward-Prowse (15%)
And the winner is…..
Received Votes:- Steven Caulker (1%), Maya Yoshida (1%), Jordy Clasie (1%), Graziano Pelle (1%), James Ward-Prowse (1%), Dr. Barry Gale (1%), Erwin Koeman (1%), Some Scummer (1%), Shane Long (2%), Dusan Tadic (2%), Sammy Lee (2%), Jose Fonte (5%), Cuco Martina (5%).
3rd Place:- Oriol Romeu (10%)
2nd Place:- Ryan Bertrand (16%)
And the winner is….
Signing of the Season
Received Votes:- Juanmi (1%), Steven Caulker (1%), Cuco Martina (1%), Kenzie Benali (1%), Some Scummer (1%).
Joint 2nd:- Oriol Romeu & Charlie Austin (2%)
And the winner is….
Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)
Received Votes:- Virgil van Dijk (1%), Shane Long (1%), Mane v Chelsea A (1%), Pelle v Chelsea A (1%), Susan Tadic? (1%), Team v Man Utd A (1%), Wanyama v Arsenal H (1%), Wanyama v Liverpool H (2%), Team v Spurs A (2%), Mane v Liverpool H (3%), Long v Arsenal H (3%), Davis v Spurs A (3%), Tadic v Man City H (4%), Team v Man City H (5%), Team v Chelsea A (6%).
3rd Place:- Forster v Arsenal A (10%)
2nd Place:- Team v Arsenal H (27%)
And the winner is……Team Performance/Comeback v Liverpool H.
Goal of the Season
Joint 2nd:- Ward-Prowse v WBA (1%), Mane v Liverpool (1%), Long v Newcastle (1%), Pelle v Liverpool (1%).
Received Votes:- In the Box Jay Rod & k Davis (<1%), Yoshida’s Backpass (<1%), Pochettino chants at WHL (<1%), Spurs Title Bid (<1%), Koeman Out campaign (<1%), Lovren bottlejob/subbed at HT (<1%), Wanker Spurs fan in blue at WHL (<1%), Austin sinking United (<1%), Davis 5mph goals at WHL (<1%), Liverpool fans after comeback (<1%), Antonio’s goal (<1%), K Davis flicking the security man’s balls (<1%), Lovren’s twitter sulk (<1%), Ronald’s injury (<1%), Long getting away with a foul in build up to goal v Arsenal (<1%), Any video with Maya (<1%), Midgetland (<1%), Cuco clearance v Man City (<1%), Camera shots of Angry Juanmi (<1%), Lallana Pen miss (<1%), Kid in crowd caught doing the v’s (<1%), Wanyama dummying three players by falling over (<1%), Cedric always bleeding (<1%), Brendan Rodgers fired (<1%), Juanmi (<1%), Wanyama’s red card (<1%), Adam Blackmore commentary on JWP goal (<1%), Sunderland playing it into the corners (<1%), Ex Saints celebrating at Liverpool game (<1%), Pompey’s play-offs (<1%), Mourinho Meltdown (<1%), When my mate shit himself on the way to West Ham away (<1%), Man City fan who let a flair off 5 minutes into the game and got himself and his son arrested on his son’s 13th birthday (<1%), Drawing with Villa (<1%), Bertrand’s acceptance speech (<1%), Pelle doing the Haka (<1%), JWP panicing when clean through against Man City (<1%), Forster refusing to wave (<1%), Europa campaign (<1%), General officiating (<1%), Jon Moss (<1%), Dutch fans fighting each other (<1%), Spurs finishing 3rd in a two horse race (<1%), OctaFX goal hitting a steward (<1%), Forster v Spurs (<1%), Stekelenburg (<1%), Koeman linked to Everton (<1%), Ronald v 4th Official in Arnhem (<1%), Pelle airshot (<1%), December (<1%), Joleon Lescott’s defending (3%), Wenger after the 4-0 blaming all the goals on the ref (4%), Cuco after his goal against Arsenal (6%), The comeback against Liverpool (7%).
3rd Place:- Ref taking the ball off Sadio Mane after his hat trick (8%)
2nd Place:- Various actions relating to Steven Caulker (9%)
And the winner is…..Ronald’s touchline run v Liverpool!
Received Votes:- Bournemouth (1%), Meh (1%), Midgetland (1%), Chelsea (1%), Villa (1%), West Ham (1%), Liverpool (4%), Man City (7%).
3rd Place:- Spurs (17%)
2nd Place:- Everton (20%)
And the winner is…..Just when they thought their season couldn’t get any better! Leicester City!
Best Opposition Player
Received Votes:- Anthony Martial (<1%), Divok Origi (<1%), Ref at Leicester (<1%), Pione Sisto (<1%), Eden Hazard (<1%), Christian Eriksen (<1%), Kevin de Bruyne (<1%), Joe Hart (<1%), Toby Alderweireld (<1%), Martin Stekelenburg (<1%), John Stones (<1%), Andros Townsend (<1%), Hugo Lloris (<1%), Mezut Ozil (<1%), Sergio Aguero (2%), Willian (2%), Harry Kane (2%), Coutinho (2%), Ross Berkley (2%), Delle Ali (2%), Andy Carroll (2%), N’Golo Kante (3%), Dimitri Payet (3%), David de Gea (3%), Kelechi Iheanacho (6%), Daniel Sturridge (6%).
3rd Place:- Romelu Lukaku (10%)
2nd Place:- Riyad Mharez (12%)
And the winner is……
Best Opposition Fans
Received Votes:- Man City (<1%), Coventry? (<1%), Couldn’t give a crap (<1%), Not the Scummers (<1%), Midgetland (<1%), Liverpool (<1%), Spurs (<1%), All shit (<1%), Everton (<1%), Norwich (1%), Sunderland (1%), West Ham (2%), Bournemouth (2%), Sunderland (4%), Villa (6%), Newcastle (8%).
So that concludes this season’s Ali’s! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who voted and massive congratulations to all the winners!.A big thank you to Alistair Downs for the Photoshop wizardry, check his work out at http://www.carlasam.com! Another great season! Keep the faith!
A decent month in all for Saints, opening with a convincing victory over the champions at Stamford Bridge, before a slightly disappointing draw with Leicester at home and culminating in a point at Anfield and progression to the Capital One Cup Quarter Final!
There were some stand-out individual performances but who was the Player of the Month? Vote below.
Amongst the many previews out on offer as we approach the (official) start of a new season, none bring together many as many of the voices of those who give up their time to talk about their club. I gathered together the Saints blogging fraternity to see what they expect from the new season.
Which new signing are you most excited about?
Me ‘Cedric has looked impressive in pre-season so far, and looks like he will offer even more going forward than Clyne did. We shall see if he can recreate that level of form in the Premier League.’
Glen de la Cour (from League One Minus Ten) ‘Cedric Soares looks an exciting addition especially as it fits our ethos of selling big and replacing with better quality for less money. The most important though is Jordy Clasie because of the boots he has to fill.’
Connor Armstrong (from All of the websites) ‘For me it’s probably Cédric, so far. It looks like he’ll give us great balance when Bertrand is back too, as well as another genuine attacking threat.’
Sam Dobson (from The Saints Hub) ‘Excited is probably the wrong word, but Cedric Soares looks the most impressive so far’
George Galpin (from St. Mary’s Musings) ‘I’m really excited about Jordy Clasie. Morgan Schneiderlin was a fantastic player for Saints, and will be remembered as an icon of the club’s recent rise. But people move on, and the Utd move is something that not many would be able to say no to.’
Ben Stanfield (from Teamtalk Fanzone) ‘Cedric Soares. I think he looks like a really bright young talent who, in glimpses against Vitesse, showed he will thrive in getting forward to create opportunities for Saints. He looks physically strong, is quick and seems to have an experienced head on young shoulders. The acid test, which hasn’t really been seen yet, is his defending – particularly against Premier League attackers..’
Ben (from Go Marching In) ‘Cédric Soares – Has looked very assured already despite only playing a few games in a Saints shirt. I like his positivity going forward and have a feeling he could bag a couple of goals in his first season.’
Ben McQuaide (from McQuaide’s Musings and SportsPulse) ‘Without a doubt, Jordy Clasie. I’ve wanted him at Southampton for quite a while now and after watching him a fair bit in the Eredivisie I’m convinced he’ll be a hit in the Premier League.’
Which Saints player do you think will have the biggest impact (secure move to United/Liverpool/Spurs) on the Premier League this season?
Me ‘Sadio Mane. He is such an exciting player and already making a name for himself. Still only 23 I think he is destined for the top sooner rather than later.’
GdlC ‘Sadio Mane- he will hopefully be better equipped in his 2nd season to keep a high level of performance right through.’
CA ‘It’s going to be Sadio Mané. He’s gonna tear it up. Big Vic will keep being Big Vic too, so he’s another who will have a big impact. Let’s hope that Jay Rodriguez makes his mark too.’
SD ‘Sadio Mane. He will win us games single-handedly .’
GG ‘I really think this is Sadio Mané’s year. He’s settled into the team well, but it was noticeable how much physically he had grown and looks frighteningly quick. He could become a real superstar this season.’
BS ‘Sadio Mane. I’m really looking forward to seeing Sadio have a full season with Saints. He was one of the more consistent performers across last year and has already shown in pre-season that he is ready to go. I think he should, and will, be targeting 20 goals for Saints this season. He could well be the key to us winning a few close games.’
B ‘Sadio Mane – One the most fouled players in the Premier League last season. Feel that if he has another impressive season we’ll be fighting off some big offers for him next summer.’
BM ‘Sadio Mane, if he can maintain or better his form from the second half of last season for a whole season he’s gonna tear teams apart and I think he could score 15+ goals this season.’
How do you rate our transfer business out of 10?
Me ‘So far I would say it is a 7-8, add another centre half, and in my opinion an out and out striker and then it would be higher.’
GdlC ‘Hard to tell until they’ve adapted (or not)…. on the face of it, it looks like an 8 or 9 out of 10. A top quality centre back in addition to Caulker will make it even better.’
SD ‘6 or 7. Difficult to argue that we won’t be worse off without Clyne and Schneiderlin, but the players that have replaced them aren’t THAT much worse, so we should still be competitive.’
GG ‘If Saints can get the CB to replace Alderweireld, 10 for me. The players who had left all had understandable reasons for going, but once again the transfer committee seem to have brought in the right replacements.’
BS ‘I’d say a 7. We seemed well prepared for any departures but, unlike last year, we didn’t need wholesale changes this summer anyway. If we can get a top-class CB in, like Van Dijk for example, then that 7 can become an 8/9 and I think we’re ready to go!’
BM ‘Probably a 6, the replacements look pretty solid for those that departed but I think we may be slightly weaker than last season, starting XI wise. ‘
Morgan Schneiderlin. Impossible to truly replace?
Me ‘Not impossible but incredibly difficult. I hope the Wanyama/Clasie partnership hits the ground running, if it does then we are going to be fine.’
GdlC ‘Maybe hard to immediately replace but you have to give time for a player to grow into the role. Once Clasie gets used to English football, he may well be that man. He has roughly the same number of caps for Holland as Morgan has for France – all he doesn’t have is the English football experience.’
CA ‘Probably, but we’ve given it a very good go.’
SD ‘He will definitely be missed, but we’re still pretty strong in that area of the pitch. Victor Wanyama is one of the best midfielders around and if Jordy Clasie doesn’t cut it, Harrison Reed will be ready to step up.’
GG ‘In all honesty, he is not impossible to replace, because no one is for a club the size of Southampton. He was an incredible player, but like I said earlier; people move on. Le Tissier retired, Channon left, Nick Holmes, Terry Paine, Rickie Lambert.. They all stopped playing for Saints, but the club is still there.’
BS ‘No player is ever truly irreplaceable. Morgan was a class act, no doubt about that, but I really feel Wanyama can step up to the same level Morgan was playing at each week and become the star of our Midfield. I wish Morgan well but we will survive without him.’
B ‘I think so. The ability to win the ball back, control the game with his distribution and an engine to cover every blade of grass on the pitch. A lot of players only specialise in one of those areas but Morgan was capable of them all. In Jordy Clasie we have a player who can certainly tick a lot of those boxes, but I think he’ll need time to find his feet in the Premier League. But at 24 there’s plenty of time for him to become as integral to Southampton as Morgan was.‘
BM ‘Wouldn’t say irreplaceable, top class player but I think Clasie will replace him well.’
Who will win the Premier League?
Me ‘Chelsea, but not as easily as they did last season.’
GdlC ‘Vitesse Arnhem’s feeder club.’
CA ‘Chelsea. Manchester United will push them but the Blues have got the knack.’
SD ‘Man United.’
GG ‘In my opinion, it’ll take a lot to stop Utd if they can add another attacker. ‘
BS ‘If United ‘click’ then I think they could go close – which they should do after the ridiculous amounts of money they’ve spent over the last two years – but I think it’ll be Chelsea’s to lose again. They are generally the epitome of consistency.’
BM ‘Chelsea, again. Despite concerns over Diego Costa’s hamstring.’
Who will go down?
Me ‘Bournemouth, Sunderland & Norwich.’
GdlC ‘Tottenham, Liverpool and I don’t really care who else.’
CA ‘Bournemouth, Norwich and Sunderland.’
SD ‘Aston Villa, Leicester and Bournemouth.’
GG ‘Bournemouth, Leicester and Norwich’
BS ‘Watford, Leicester and Norwich.’
B ‘Leicester, Norwich and Watford.’
BM ‘Bournemouth, Norwich and Leicester.’
Who do you most want to beat this season?
Me ‘Whoever we get in the cup final.’
CA ‘Liverpool. For obvious reasons. Chelsea and Tottenham are others, but only because I have mates who support them.’
SD ‘Tottenham, we must be due a win against them by now.’
GG ‘Everybody… ;-). For me, I’d like Saints to beat Tottenham, purely because they’re the only team in the top six clubs that I haven’t seen Saints claim all three points from since promotion.’
BS ‘Liverpool and Tottenham. Both for obvious reasons of course!’
B ‘Probably Liverpool. Tottenham was a close second but the scousers win because they have more ex Saints players in their team. It’s got a lot to do with showing that we’re not weaker without them.’
BM ‘Liverpool, without a doubt. You know the reasons. ‘
Chips. Mayonnaise or No Mayonnaise?
Me ‘No. Total Dutch nonsense I’m afraid. HP Sauce (now made in Holland) is your standard chip affair.’
GdlC ‘I am determined to try the mayonnaise option soon! Will get back to you.’
CA ‘Mayonnaise, and lots of it. ‘
SD ‘No Mayonnaise. Sorry Ronald.’
GG ‘I tried chips with mayonnaise in Rotterdam for the Feyenoord friendly, and can see why they love it there. But for me, salt, pepper and vinegar is a winner. So is Reggae Reggae sauce.’
BS ‘I’m afraid this is (probably) the only thing in life that Ronald and I don’t agree on. Chips for me can only ever have one condiment on them – tomato ketchup!! So no mayonnaise for me. Sorry Ron!’
B ‘Mayonnaise. Lots of it.’
BM ‘Mayonnaise, obviously.’
You wake up suddenly and find yourself in Fratton Park for a Pompey home game. How do you escape unnoticed?
Me ‘There is a scene in the US zombie drama ‘The Walking Dead’ where the heroes smother themselves in zombie blood and guts and then act brain-dead to blend in and walk freely amongst the zombies. Like that. But using fish guts.’
GdlC ‘Grow an extra finger on each hand, an extra toe on each foot and an eye in the middle of my forehead, sing ‘Amarillo’ and shout ‘I HATE FACKING SCUMMAHS’and then (most importantly) blame the owners for everything. Now that I’m fully blended in… I can leave.’
CA ‘Fratton Park? Isn’t that where the big Tesco’s is now?’
SD ‘Reckon it’ll be pretty easy for me to navigate my way through rows of empty seats.’
GG ‘Stick on a thick coat, and casually walk towards the exit. If they say I can’t get back in, I’ll say I’ve left my car unlocked. Simple!’
BS ‘I’d turn to the only other guy in attendance and advise that I think I’ve left my car unlocked and will be right back….’
B ‘Scary thought. I would probably go for some sort of diversion tactic, saying loudly, “Isn’t that guy over there from HMRC?” and then walk briskly in the other direction.’
BM ‘I think you mean the Portsmouth Dockland Stadium (See below). ‘
Cheers to all those who took the time to answer questions. We’ll all meet back here in May and see how right (or wrong) we got it!
Saturday was a momentous day in football. As the world looked on, the sport brought the curtain down on a brilliant Premier League career.
A regular in the top flight since the mid-90’s everyone will be wishing Shay Given the best after his time at the top was ripped to pieces by a blistering Southampton attack.
Not many people were expecting Robbie Fowler’s 1994 hat trick record of four minutes and 33 seconds would ever be beaten, but with some generous assists from the hapless Ron Vlaar (perhaps a lucky escape for Saints fans last Summer) and Alan Hutton and tactical suicide from Tim Sherwood having his back four a ridiculously high line, Sadio Mane smashed it.
It took Mane just two minutes and 56 seconds to end the game with with Villa as a contest, though if you were to only…
Aston Villa host high flying Southampton on Monday night, with Villa sitting two points above the relegation zone while Southampton are enjoying an incredible start to the season in second place.
Villa turned around a run of six straight defeats with a heard earned point against another of the Barclays Premier League’s in form teams, West Ham, in their last outing, and so will feel confident facing West Ham.
That point was earned by a tight Aston Villa defence, including a superb performance by Brad Guzan. Guzan made five saves in the game, the second highest in the last round of games after Sunderland’s Costel Pantilimon. Overall, Guzan is ranked fourth this season for total saves, with 34 in 11 games.
Nathan Baker was another star performer, making 18 clearances, the third highest in the last gameweek. That took Baker’s tally of clearances so far this season to 71, ranked 17th in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
Ali Cissokho also put in a shift in defence in earning the clean sheet, winning six tackles and not losing out on a single one attempted. Cissokho’s hard work has epitomised his season, having covered the second most miles among the Aston Villa squad with 67.87 miles on the clock so far this season.
Ashley Westwood is the only player in the squad to have covered more ground this season than Cissokho, with 72.34 miles covered, the 14th highest in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. That feat is made all the more remarkable when you consider that Westwood is the only player in the top 25 for distance covered to have played ten games rather than 11 this season. Averaging 7.23 miles, he’s ranked sixth for average distance covered per game.
Much may have been made of Villa’s struggle to score goals, but fans may be surprised to hear that Weimann’s conversion rate this season is on a par with that of Sergio Aguero. Weimann has averaged 3.67 shots per goal this season – exactly the same as the Argentine hitman, and significantly better than Monday’s rival Graziano Pelle who averages 6.67 shots per goal. The stats show that if Weimann is given shooting opportunities then he is as reliable as any striker in the Barclays Premier League at putting the ball in the back of the net. Weimann is 10/1 to score first with 888sport.com.
Southampton have defied all expectations this season, sitting in second place after eleven games and four points above Manchester City despite losing a number of players over the summer.
Graziano Pelle was known for his free scoring in the Eredivise, and his continued this in the Barclays Premier League. Pelle has scored six goals this season from 40 shots on goal with 26 on target. Averaging 6.67 shots per goal, the Italian striker is not afraid to have a shot when the opportunity arises, though his conversion rate is not as clinical as some strikers.
Pelle’s goals have certainly helped Southampton’s rise up the league, but their defensive qualities have given him license to get forward. Nathaniel Clyne has won more tackles than any other players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 55. To put that in context, the second ranked player (Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak) has won 46. Pelle is 11/9 to score with 888sport.com.
Incredibly, Southampton have three of the top five players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for tackles won. As well as Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin is ranked third with 43 won and Victor Wanyama fifth with 39.
Schneiderlin is also the engine room of the Southampton team, having covered more ground than any other player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 83.44 miles. Aston Villa shouldn’t expect too much time on the ball against this defensively tough and hard working side.
Interestingly, Southampton only have one player in the top 30 for interceptions (Jose Fonte ranked 8th with 30) showing that Koeman’s side prefer to allow their opponents to receive the pass and then make a tackle, rather than attempt an interception and risk being caught out of place.
While Liverpool are busy signing Johnstone Paint Trophy winners, Saints sprung the surprise of the summer with one the papers didn’t get hold of, bringing Champion’s League winner Ryan Bertrand to the club from Chelsea on a season long loan with the option of a permanent move. Interestingly the Merseyside club had been trying to secure a deal for the defender but couldn’t agree a fee.
With Luke Shaw gone to Man United, left back was clearly somewhere the club lacked depth and Bertrand who started for the Blues in their triumph over Bayern Munich in 2012 looks a solid signing.
As always, through the heady mixture of ignorance and laziness I have got two experts to give us the lowdown on the new man.
I caught up with Chelsea fan David Dickson and given that Bertand has spent most of his Stamford Bridge career on loan, Aston Villa fan, freelance football writer and Club Metro colleague Andrew Raeburn.
Bertrand started in Chelsea’s Champion’s League final win, but has never made it as a regular at Stamford Bridge. What did you make of him?
DD ‘Firstly, Bertrand will always, always receive a hero’s welcome back at Stamford Bridge, especially now he hasn’t been shipped off to Liverpool and had to perform the ‘biggest club in the world’ PR initiative in his first interview. I remember the slightly baffled/borderline stunned reaction to hearing his name in the starting line-up that night in Munich from all involved, and his outstanding performance against Bayern in his first ever European appearance for anybody is testament to the balls the guy has. He always struck me as a try-hard; far from a player likely to dislodge Ashley Cole from his throne but enough about him to carry on regardless, taking his opportunities when they arose.’
Bertrand spent some time at Villa last season. What did you make of him?
AR ‘Left-back had been a massive problem for us in the first half of the season, so when Bertrand came in we were all chuffed, considering his background and pedigree (starting in the CL final, etc). He was excellent on his debut in a 2-2 draw at Liverpool, and had several other good games early in his loan spell. But after having to sit out our 1-0 win over his parent club in March (when Joe Bennett came in and was excellent at left-back), Bertrand really struggled. Partly this was down to our own defensive naivety, which appeared to infect him too at times and partly it was down to being shunted between left-back, left midfield and left wing-back. But there were occasions when he was our weakest link. I’d say overall he was solid without ever being spectacular, but disappointed because he was never as good as his Chelsea background suggested he should be.’
What would you say are his significant strengths and weaknesses?
DD ‘As stated previously, Ryan seems to enjoy a complete lack of fear on the big occasion. Following Munich, he was thrown into some of the bigger games towards the end of the (sigh) Rafa Benitez era and performed with similar aplomb. He is quick, with the ability to go forward at pace, whilst also reading the game relatively well, but his defensive ability seems to suffer as a result. He never seemed particularly strong and, as a result, his ability to simply make a tackle never really stood out. He would, on occasion, be caught out of position too, but when pushing up in a good, attacking side, this may be expected and can be forgiven.’
AR ‘One of the real plusses of his loan spell was how well he got forward and linked up with Fabian Delph on the left hand side of Villa’s central three in midfield. His crossing can be hit and miss but he knows which passes to pick out. Defensively, he struggled when isolated one-on-one. Whereas on his debut at Liverpool he was excellent against Raheem Sterling, who runs straight at people, he was given a real examination a couple of weeks later by Everton’s Aiden McGeady, had problems with Ashley Young and got into all sorts of bother against Stewart Downing. Unlike Sterling, all three of those dared to cut inside and go outside to try and beat him. It may be he just needs more support defensively.’
Do you see him as a player that has yet to reach his full potential, having been backup at Chelsea for some time?
DD ‘Sad as it is to say, but I feel his potential may not extend beyond his exploits for Chelsea. He still has a decent ten years left in him, obviously, but Ryan seems to be caught between not being technically good enough for a top side, but not able to defend well enough for a less-than-top side. He was exceptionally popular at Norwich, Reading and Forest by the sounds of things, and has long outgrown being a Championship player, but it is hard to see him doing anything but bouncing between mid-table clubs unless someone devotes the time to getting the best out of him. In a Chelsea side with Ashley Cole and the resources to bring in more experienced and better overseas players after Cole’s departure, that role was never going to be taken up by Mourinho, Benitez, Di Matteo…etc. (I’m sure this article has a word limit, so I won’t list them all).’
AR ‘Very much so. Until his loan spell at Villa, he had never really been given a proper run of starts at Premier League level, which is what you need to develop. Obviously he’s had his path blocked by one of the best left-backs England has ever seen, so he’s been unlucky in that regard. Until Cesar Azpilicueta became Ashley Cole’s main backup, Bertrand could never be sent on loan so he had to bide his time. He started 14 PL games in 2012-13 but all in blocks of three or four, never enough to make a mark or develop your game. I actually saw his only Chelsea start last season as well, by sheer coincidence. I was covering the Chelsea-Cardiff game for West London Sport and in the player ratings described Bertrand’s display as: “Always keen, got up and down and provided solid support for Eden Hazard but lacks the self-assurance and attacking penetration of Ashley Cole.” Trouble is, after a half-season of regular games at Villa, I’ve seen no improvement on that. However, I do think he just needs to settle down somewhere, as a trusted, starting left-back and get a full season of regular games under his belt. The only time he’s done that was for Reading in the Championship five years ago.’
What do you make of the goings on at Saints this summer?
DD ‘I find it all relatively extraordinary. Yes, players from unexpectedly successful sides are regularly burgled (arf) by sides with larger budgets the following season, but the sheer extent to which Liverpool (and seemingly, Spurs) have pilfered every player with ability you have is far beyond anything I’ve seen since the great Leeds exodus of the early 2000s. Ronald Koeman has moved in, and shortly after someone has nicked his fridge, shed, boiler and roof. I am sure there are financial nuances (zzz) to this masterplan, but it is hard to see how any replacements could fill the gaps that have been left and this season could be a real struggle for you chaps, unfortunately. You’re quite nice when you’re not moaning about little smoke bombs…’
AR ‘It’s inevitable really, once the bigger clubs started circling. We got the same treatment after coming 6th three years in a row under Martin O’Neill (you were trifling with the likes of Exeter and Stockport at the time, how things change!). We couldn’t keep Gareth Barry (£12m) and James Milner (£26m) away from Man City, nor Ashley Young (£17m) from Man Utd, nor Stewart Downing (£20m) from Liverpool. The only difference was it didn’t happen all in the same summer. Sometimes that can be worse, as it appears to the fans the club won’t ever keep hold of their best players. But that’s the way football is these days – even Everton, who contend for the Champions League spots, wouldn’t be able to prevent their top talent leaving if the title challengers came knocking. The important thing is reinvesting the money you earn, otherwise you end up like us. I can see why some Saints fans may be angry – it seems, from the outside, that the club isn’t doing much to stop the top players moving on. But when players sense the grass is greener (or their agent convinces them it might be) then you can’t stop them. Speaking of which…’
Can we have some other Chelsea players? Please.
DD ‘Rickie Lambert’s gone. You need to replace him with another reliable goal-machine. We have this lad, Fernando… And I’ll bloody drive Ramires to you.’
Can we have Ron Vlaar? Please.
AR ‘No. Leave Concrete Ron alone, please. He’s got a phobia of the sea, anyway. Hopefully.’
So there we have it. Thanks to David and Andrew for their contributions. Let’s hope I need some more contributors soon!
So that is the end of another fantastic season following Saints! No season would be officially over though without a spate of reviews and awards.
This site is no different and yet again the response to this years Ali awards has been fantastic, and this is what is up for grabs:-
So without further ado, here are YOUR winners….
Player of the Year
This was calculated like so:- Each player got 2 points for a vote as winner and one point for a vote as runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.
Scored points:- Rickie Lambert (< 1%), Victor Wanyama (<1%), Jose Fonte (<1%), Artur Boruc (<1%), Nathaniel Clyne (<1%), Morgan Schneiderlin (2%), Jack Cork (5%), Steven Davis (6%), Luke Shaw (7%).
3rd Place:- Dejan Lovren (13%)
2nd Place:- Jay Rodriguez (18%)
And the winner, making it a clean sweep in all Player of the Season awards, and about to find out for certain that he is off to Brazil! With a whopping 46% of the points……Adam Lallana!
Most Improved Player
The beauty of this award is that everyone interprets it differently. Some went for an overall improvement on last season, while others voted for those who improved over the course of the campaign.
Received Votes:- Whole Squad, Victor Wanyama. Sam Gallagher, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Jack Cork, Dejan Lovren, Steven Davis, Luke Shaw.
3rd Place:- Calum Chambers (11%)
2nd Place:- Jose Fonte (31%)
And the winner, retaining the same award that he one last season, after a fantastic season in which he finished top scorer. With 37% of the votes…..Jay Rodriguez!
Young Player of the Year
A new award this season, though why, considering how good this club’s youth system is, I haven’t done it before is beyond me!
Received Votes:- Harrison Reed
3rd Place:- James Ward-Prowse & Sam Gallagher (2% each)
2nd Place:- Calum Chambers (15%)
And the winner, having broken into the England squad in time for the World Cup and turning the heads of the big clubs, it could only be. With 80% of the votes….Luke Shaw!
Received Votes:- Mauricio Pochettino, Guly, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Morhan Schniederlin, Victor Wanyama.
3rd Place:- Jose Fonte (7%)
2nd Place:- Jack Cork (17%)
And the winner is, after a season in which he has proved crucial to the way Saints play. With 60% of the votes…..Steven Davis!
Signing of the Season
2nd Place:- Victor Wanyama (8%)
And the winner with a ridiculous 92% of the votes is the ever dependable centre half and absolute bargain ant £8.5 million….Dejan Lovren!
Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)
Received Votes:- Team v Everton (h), Team v Man City (h), Team v Arsenal (h), Team v Fulham (a), Team v Hull (h), Pochettino’s season, Wanyama v WBA (a), Lovren v Liverpool (a), Back Four all season, Clyne v Everton (h), Schneiderlin v Arsenal (h), Team v Man Utd (a), Lallana v Newcastle (h), Team v Palace (a), Team v Fulham (h), Guly v Yeovil, The Groundsmen, Chambers v Man City (h).
3rd Place:- Lallana v Hull (h) (9%)
2nd Place:- Team v Newcastle (h) (22%)
And the winner is, a memorable day early in the season in which a team that hammered plenty this season were made to look very ordinary. With 29% of the votes……Team v Liverpool at Anfield!
The Ali Dia Award for Comedy Moment
It says everything about the gallows humour of being a Saints fan that this award always comes with most varied answers. Brace yourselves….
Received Votes:- #Scarfgate, Boruc’s headstand against Arsenal, Linesman missing David Silva offside at Man City, Jason Puncheon’s poo break (last season but still funny to someone), Pochettino’s interview after Man City, #lovrenlive tweets, Hooiveld & Fox v Spurs, Boat capsizing in the Thames at HT v Fulham, Pochettino’s interview after Everton game, Newcastle fans video after St. Mary’s mauling, Jack Wilshire bouncing off Wanyama, MELTDOWN, Asimir Begovic Goal at Stoke, Dani Osvaldo, Dani Osvaldo on the touchline at Newcastle, Training nutmeg videos, Ref getting slapped in the face at Newcastle, Lovren’s injured testicles, Rodriguez scoring on his arse at Palace, Boruc and the waterbottle (again last season), Lambert’s goal v Swansea, Paul Lambert claiming Villa deserved their victory at St. Mary’s, Fulham, Mark Clattenburg (take your pick), Lovren’s tweet about Peter Crouch, Americans watching Saints because of Jozy Altidore, Villa fans ‘We pay your benefits’, Toni Jiminez kicking off, Lambert’s miss at Sunderland, Team selection for FA Cup at Sunderland, Masks at Swansea, Schneiderlin dumping Yaya Toure on his arse, Lovren getting spanked.
2nd Place:- Wanyama’s disallowed goal celebration against Swansea & Everton’s double O.G. at St. Mary’s (Both 12%).
And the winner, with 24% of the votes, not so funny at the time but hard not see the amusing die now…..Artur Boruc’s ‘Cruyff turns’ at Arsenal!
Best Opposition Team
Received Votes:- Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton, Sunderland.
3rd Place:- Arsenal (5%)
2nd Place:- Liverpool (31%)
And the winner is, the only team that outplayed Saints twice this season. With 57% of the votes……Chelsea!
Best Opposition Player
Received Votes:- Christian Eriksen (Spurs), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), Oscar (Chelsea), David Marshall (Cardiff City), Willian (Chelsea), David Elliott (Newcastle United), Officials, Emmanuel Adebayor (Spurs), David Silva (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jussi Jaskeleinan (West Ham United), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Nathan Dyer (Swansea City), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Fabio Borini (Sunderland), Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham), Yaya Toure (Manchester City).
3rd Place:- Fernando Torres (Chelsea) (6%)
2nd Place:- Eden Hazard (Chelsea) (20%)
And the winner is, the man everybody loves to hate but is simply an unbelievable footballer. With 22% of the votes…Luis Suarez!
Best Opposition Fans
Received Votes:- Newcastle United, Swansea City, Hull City, Manchester City, Portsmouth (?), Fulham, Arsenal, Sunderland, None stood out, Everton, Yeovil Town, Manchester United, Don’t Care, Spurs, Norwich City, Burnley, West Ham.
3rd Place:- Cardiff City & Chelsea (6% each)
2nd Place:- Liverpool (16%)
And the runaway winners and certainly my choice after their constant and varied noise at St. Mary’s. With 42% of the votes…Crystal Palace!
Best Saints related Tweeter
As always this award is just a bit of fun and plenty of people vote for themselves!
Received votes:- crstig, James Price, Sridout92, Jim Lucas, mgnsnddn_, Dejan Lovren, dictateplay, danbsfc, Luke Shaw, Artur Boruc, Max_Sopel, Radhi Jaidi, TalkSaints,Matthew Le Tissier, TractorSaint, jamie_benjamin1, Saints Media Team, BigAdamSport, TacoAli, Kelly Mauger, Saints News&Views, L1minus10, uglyinside, gulydopradonaat, Mike1617, SamDobson1, saintsfc, Not going to blow smoke up your arse, Sirvoodoo, SaintsArg, Me, SaintsRelated, MatthewLeGod, Most are mongs, You’re all miserable, Glasgow_Saints, Victor Wanyama, Rich Robertson, markreeves999, Anyone but Chris Rann.
3rd Place:- Club’s Official Account (7%)
2nd Place:- Simon Peach (8%)
And the winner is with 9% of the votes the Peter Crouch of the Saints micro-blogging fraternity….@ConnorArmstrong!
S0 that concludes this season’s Ali’s! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who voted. A big thank you to Dan Tiller for the Photoshop wizardry! It’s been a great season! Here’s to a great summer watching more Saints boys than ever competing at a major tournament and then it will be time to look forward to another campaign following the South Coast’s top club!
Everyone loves a stat don’t they? I know I do, and that is why I was chuffed when the guys from kickoff.co.uk offered to put together a season preview for me using their expertise. So dear reader, settle back and prepare to be dazzled by the numbers and enjoy!
Will the Saints go marching on?
‘Second season syndrome’ is a phrase regularly bandied around at Premier League level, with the perception being that promoted clubs are more vulnerable to relegation after their opponents have had a year to get used to facing them.
Southampton find themselves in that position ahead of the new campaign, so I thought I’d take a look back at their 2012/13 season and highlight both what they did well and any areas in which I feel they can improve.
The Saints finished 14th in the final table, yet they were the tenth highest scorers in the division with 49 goals from their 38 matches. Rickie Lambert was responsible for 15 of these strikes, benefitting from being the focal point at the top of their attacking formation.
Both Mauricio Pochettino and Nigel Adkins before him encouraged a positive brand of football, with this being reflected by the fact that Southampton found the net in 29 (76%) of their top-flight fixtures. This achievement is furnished with additional kudos when you consider that this represented the best record outside of the top-seven.
Furthermore, the men from the South Coast scored in all eight of their meetings with the eventual Champions League qualifiers:
As the chart above also shows, home wins were achieved against two of the top-three, whilst only late brilliance from Robin van Persie handed Manchester United victory at St. Mary’s.
This shows that Southampton can mix it with the big boys, on their own patch at least, but they also managed to remain unbeaten against teams finishing in their quarter of the final table:
Although six of these games ended all-square, it is certainly worth noting that only Fulham picked up more points (13) from meetings between members of this quintet.
The Saints were similarly strong in matches in which they opened the scoring, winning eight, drawing six and losing four of these encounters. When you consider that half of these defeats came against the eventual champions, then that record starts to look even better.
Draws were undoubtedly a problem, with only Everton and Stoke managing more than the 14 picked up by Southampton. Although the team shone offensively, there was a lack of support for Lambert in the scoring stakes; no other player contributed in excess of six league goals.
Another major issue would have to be the defensive frailty displayed by the South Coast outfit. Just seven clean sheets were kept in 38 games, with four of these coming against the six sides that finished below them in the table.
Winning at the top clubs is never easy, but five draws and eight defeats from 13 trips to those that finished above them hints at fundamental flaws in the Saints’ approach to away matches. Could this be the result of some kind of mental block or is it the end product of an overly-positive tactical approach on the road?
Whatever the reason, it is hard to offer up anything other than complacency as an excuse for Southampton losing at home to three of the bottom-four last season:
Alarm bells also start to ring when we take a look at results from games in which the men from Hampshire conceded first. Eleven of these 17 fixtures ended in defeat, with the 4-1 hammering of Aston Villa representing the only success achieved on the back of going 1-0 down.
Perhaps the most damning statistic of all, however, is just how easy opponents found it to convert their chances against the Saints:
As you can see, nearly one in five of the shots that Southampton allowed resulted in a goal being scored against them. Only relegated Wigan fared worse in this category, and that by the narrowest of margins, whilst Newcastle were the nearest club in the other direction.
The incomings at St. Mary’s this summer should certainly provide the supporters with plenty of encouragement. Croatian international centre-back Dejan Lovren arrives from Lyon, whilst Victor Wanyama has won rave reviews for his performances at Celtic.
Although I have only seen Lovren in action once, in the Europa League at White Hart Lane last season, he comes highly-rated and has already won close to 20 caps for his country.
Young Wanyama has been far more on my radar, however, producing a string of top-class performances both domestically and on the Champions League stage from his natural position in the middle of the park.
These additions, along with the continued development of Luke Shaw, should help to address some of the aforementioned defensive issues, though the squad as a whole is an extremely young one:
This perfectly feasible starting XI, for example, would boast an average age of just 24 years and nine months come the start of the season.
One more signing in a forward area could be made with a view to easing the burden on Rickie Lambert, but I don’t actually believe this to be necessary. Jay Rodriguez started to blossom when given a run in the team, albeit not in his preferred position, whilst Emmanuel Mayuka is a real talent. I would be interested to hear what Southampton supporters have made of the Zambian in his fleeting cameos, because he has impressed me greatly on the international stage.
If the previous campaign is anything to go by, then a difficult start awaits:
If we exclude home games with the newly-promoted duo of Crystal Palace and Hull, then it becomes apparent that the Saints failed to win any of the equivalent 11 fixtures during 2012/13.
I must admit that I have my doubts about Pochettino and his high-pressing style, but I have a lot of faith in the group of players that has been assembled at St. Mary’s. This is a squad capable of pushing for a place in the top-ten, but whether or not they achieve that is open to debate.’
So that is the end of another topsy turvey season in the life of being a Saints fan, but no season would be complete without a spate of reviews and awards. This site is no different and yet again the response to this years Ali awards has been fantastic, and this is what is up for grabs:-
So without further ado, here are YOUR winners…..
Player of the Year
This was calculated like so:- Each player got 2 points for a vote as winner and one point as a vote for runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.
Scored points:- Adam Lallana (0.0013%), Jason Puncheon (0.0013%), Steven Davis (0.4%), Jay Rodriguez (0.94%), Maya Yoshida (1.34%), Artur Boruc (2.42%), Luke Shaw (5.24%), Nathaniel Clyne (8.2%)
3rd Place:- Jack Cork (15.8%)
2nd Place:- Rickie Lambert (17.9%)
And the winner, making it a clean sweep in Player of the Season Awards, well deserved after an amazing system, with a whopping 47.37% of the points…..Morgan Schneiderlin!
Most Improved Player
The beauty of this award is that everyone interprets it differently. Some went for an overall improvement on last season, while others voter for those who improved over the course of the season.
Received Votes:- Rickie Lambert, Jose Fonte, Steven Davis, Jos Hooiveld, Nathaniel Clyne, Artur Boruc, Jack Cork, Maya Yoshida, Morgan Schneiderlin.
3rd Place:- Luke Shaw (16%)
2nd Place:- Jason Puncheon (18%)
And the winner, a young man who started his career at Saints with a lot of doubters, but in the second half of the season was undoubtedly one of our top performers with 29% of the votes……Jay Rodriguez!
Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)
Received Votes:-Puncheon at Loftus Road, Second Half at Stamford Bridge (Team), Gaston Ramirez v Villa at home, Team v Villa at home, Team v Newcastle at home, Jay Rodriguez v Liverpool at home, Boruc at Villa Park, Team v Arsenal at home, Team v West Ham at home, Second Half at Old Trafford (Team), First half at home v Everton (Team), Lambert v Chelsea at home, Cork v Chelsea at home, Boruc at Carrow Road, Team at Loftus Road, Cortese v Le Tissier, Cortese sacking Adkins.
3rd Place:- Team v Chelsea at home in the league (13%).
2nd Place:- Team v Liverpool at home (20%).
And the winner, a memorable day as the champions were made to look extremely ordinary with 31% of the votes….Team v Man City at home.
Signing of the Season
Received Votes:- Maya Yoshida, Mauricio Pochettino, Gaston Ramirez, Steven Davis, Vegard Forren.
3rd Place:- Jay Rodriguez (7%).
2nd Place:- Artur Boruc (24%).
And the winner, forming a formidable partnership with Jason Puncheon on the right and proving as asset both in defence and going forward with 62% of the vote….Nathaniel Clyne!
Received Votes:- That Fat Bloke in the glasses who hangs around outside the dressing rooms, MoPo’s interpreter, The Travelling Sains Support, Jos Hooiveld, Guly, Emmanuel Mayuka, Nigel Adkins, Artur Boruc, Jason Puncheon Jay Rodriguez, Morgan Schneiderlin, Nicola Cortese, Nathaniel Clyne.
3rd Place:- Steven Davis (16%).
2nd Place:- Maya Yoshida (22%).
And the winner is, a man who we missed in our terrible start to the season and made a massive contribution when he returned. He retains this award from last season! With 36% of the votes…..Jack Cork!
The Ali Dia Award For Comedy Moment
It says a lot about Saints fans, that this is always the award that comes the most varied answers. Great effort from everyone again! Brace yourselves….
Received Votes:- Arry Houdini, Jos Hooiveld Own Goal and Penalty King, Guly miss v Stoke, Boruc Juggling at Reading, Arsenal Away, Guly Skills v Spurs, WBA Away, WBA Home, MoPo’s skinny jeans, Danny Fox Tackle v WBA, Gazzaniga v Norwich, WBA Mexican Wave, Kelvin Davis Keeping, Steve de Ridder cameo’s, Puncheon substitution v Reading, Half Time Relay miss from 2 yards, Danny Fox, Defending in opening 10 fixtures, Boruc first couple of games, John Terry slips, Andy Carroll ‘You look like a horse’, Artur Boruc: Bottlegate, WBA ‘You’re going down on your sister’, JRod dive v Villa, Danny Fox v Arsenal, Nigel Adkins substitutions v Man Utd, Grant Holt cheating to win a penalty then missing it, Taunting West Ham ‘HOOOOF’, Ref tackled by Rodriguez, Boruc pushing Fonte after penalty save, Gazzaniga doing his boots up at goal kicks, Richardson and Seabourne defending against Stevenage, Half Time Relay – Split Trousers, Gangnam Style Sammy Saint, The amount of big clubs who had ‘off days’ against Saints, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions, Portsmouth FC – The gift that keeps on giving.
3rd Place:- Jos Hooiveld and Danny Fox together is like ‘crossing the streams’, the own goal at Newcastle (7%).
2nd Place:- That Gareth Barry perfectly place side foot finish own goal (11%).
And the winner, it could only be, the unscheduled rest break at home against Everton. With 40% of the votes…….. Jason Puncheon, he shits when he wants.
Best Opposition Team
Received Votes:- Officials v West Ham, Norwich City, Swansea City, QPR, Liverpool, Everton, Wigan Athletic, Spurs, Man City, Chelsea.
3rd Place:- Arsenal (11%).
2nd Place:- Manchester United (21%).
And the winner, deservedly so after dismantling Saints both home and away, with 51% of the votes……West Bromwich Albion.
Best Opposition Player
Received votes:- Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Paul Scholes, Demba Ba, Santi Cazorla, Jos Hooiveld, Danny Fox, Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Robert Green, Marouane Fellaini, Sandro, Stephen Peinaar, Youssouf Mulumbu, Michu, Chris Samba, Antonio Di Natale.
3rd Place:- Gareth Bale (14%).
2nd Place:- Robin Van Persie (27%).
And the winner, after an immaculate performance in the Baggies’ demolition of Saints at St. Mary’s. with 39% of the votes…..Romelu Lukaku!
Best Opposition Fans
Received Votes:- Sunderland, Reading, Newcastle, Liverpool, Man City, West Ham, Wigan, Swansea, Villa, Spurs, All Shit, QPR, Everton, Arsenal, Norwich, Ajax, Stoke. (The sharp eyed amongst you will notice that only Fulham didn’t register a single vote!).
3rd Place:- Chelsea (11%).
2nd Place:- Manchester United (12%).
And the winner, a clean sweep for the team from the Midlands, boinging there way to three awards, with 42% of the votes……West Bromwich Albion!
Best Saints Related Tweeter
A lot of people voting for themselves here I suspect…..
Received Votes:- Connor Armstrong, Ollie Johnston, anthonydjames, Joner07, MatthewLeGod, stevegrant1983, Richard Chaplow, Radhi Jaidi, macdoodle, danbsfc, shaunthecabbie, pilchards, Not Nigel Adkins, DutchTom, colinjb84, Official Club Account, kellymauger, Anyone but aap3saints, aap3saints, Matt Le Tissier, S13SFC, Iwan Thomas, Jos Hooiveld, I Hate Twitter, MoPo parody account, talksaints, Luke Shaw’s mum, SamDobson1, megan_snedden, SaintsRumours, dubaisaints, Nicola Cortese, Billy Sharp, LewisTull, Wattyspics, Anyone but sridout92, jayrodfan2, GGalpin95, Sam Hoskins, Sean Gonzalez-Lambert, OnlyWayisSO14, crespino10.
3rd Place:- Luke Shaw (14%).
And in joint first place, the imaginary trophy will have to spend 6 months in each users mind, with 16% of the votes each, errrr, this is a little embarrassing…..Simon Peach and I!
So that concludes this year’s ‘Ali’s’, some truly deserving winners there I’m sure you will agree. Thank you to everybody who voted, and thank you all for a fantastic season. I actually think the atmosphere at St. Mary’s this season was the best it has ever been, and one of the best in the Premier League. As the club goes through some interesting times progress wise our support is more important than ever.
Seeing as Saints cleverly thought ahead, and knowing that Mauricio Pochettino’s impending high pressing game was going to require some serious energy, rolled over for Chelsea and got themselves a rest this weekend, I thought I would tackle some general Saints worries and get the feelings of the other great Saints bloggers out there.
No matter how well things are going for Saints we can always find something to worry about, it’s in our nature, so this is a mixture of positives and negatives…
AI – ‘2 years.’ GdlC – ‘3 and a half years.’ SGL – ‘1 year.’ WT – ‘3 years.’ BS – ‘5 years.’ SD – ’18 months.’ EK – ‘7 months.’
How has the season been so far by your standards and expectations?
AI – ‘Not quite as well as I’d expected.’
GdlC – ‘It’s about how I expected in terms of league position. We are playing better football than I expected though.’
SGL – ‘I think this season has been a pretty decent showing in our return to the Premier League. Our first 10 fixtures didn’t help us. However, the players have coped with the demands of the top flight and we have shown everyone that we can compete against England’s elite. I would have expected us to have a few more points though.’
WT – ‘I’d say as expected. Expected us to be battling relegation and we are.’
BS – ‘I think, as expected by most, Saints are in a relegation battle with 17th being the minimum target for the end of the season. They have however shown throughout the season (except Arsenal away) that they can compete with anyone in the league, home or away, but the amount of points thrown away from winning positions has been both regular and disappointing.’
SD – ‘We’re about where I thought we’d be. I did think we’d pick up a few more points at the start, even with that awful run of fixtures, but our recent form has made up for that somewhat. I didn’t expect anything other than a struggle to be honest, so as long as we stay up this season I’ll be satisfied. I think the teams at the bottom of the table are slightly stronger than they have been in recent Premier League seasons, so it was always going to be difficult to establish ourselves at first.’
EK – ‘I would put us on course of exactly where I thought we would be, although the last four games under Pochettino has been a wake up call and there is a real optimism that we can progress well and challenge the teams above us.’
Who has been your player of the season so far?
AI – ‘Nathaniel Clyne. Consistently excellent at right-back, contributing in defence and attack. Should be in the England squad.’
GdlC – ‘Morgan Schneiderlin, honourable mentions to Jack Cork, Sir Rickie and Luke Shaw. By the end of the season it will be Artur Boruc.’
SGL – ‘For me, either Rickie Lambert or Morgan Schneiderlin.’
WT – ‘Morgan Schneiderlin’
BS – ‘No doubt about it for me – Morgan Schneiderlin! Lambert’s goals have been important but Morgan’s energy, commitment, tackling and even his goals this season have been very consistent. As a young player who has been with the Club nearly 10 years now its great to see how far he has come and he must be one of the first names on the team sheet each week!’
SD – ‘Nathaniel Clyne has been unbelievably consistent at right-back, while Jason Puncheon has done better than anyone could have imagined, but for me you can’t look beyond Morgan Schneiderlin. I’ve always been a fan, but for me he’s improved immeasurably every year. He’s pretty much the total package now. His reading of the game is top class, as is his tackling and passing. He’s even added goals to his repertoire this season.’
EK – ‘Morgan Schneiderlin by an absolute mile, we all knew he had it in him. But he’s excelled in every area and it’s great to see him enjoying his football with Saints, not to mention he’s the top tackler in the Premier League!’
Will Saints stay up?
AI – ‘Yes.’
GdlC – ‘Yes – 3 from Wigan, Reading, QPR and Villa will go.’
SGL – ‘Absolutely! Before the season started, I stated that Saints would finish between 12th and 15th in the table. It is still possible to achieve this!’
WT – ‘Yes. Well they should do.’
BS – ‘Yes – just! Saints have lacked the ability to close off games this season and its already cost them 24 points! They can’t keep doing it! Performances have been good but Saints need to be more clinical at both ends or they will be in trouble! Luckily for us it seems that there may be 3 ‘worse’ teams than us.’
SD – ‘I’m cautiously optimistic that we will. I’m pretty satisfied with the squad we’ve got, and I’m confident that there are at least three teams worse than us. Having said that, I’m concerned about us throwing away so many points in games we really should have won. We could really be in trouble if a few key players come down with injuries, but that could be said of any team. I predict we’ll be in the mix until near the end, but survive with a late rally. ‘
EK – ‘Yes, I’ve always had faith in this team and I believe with Pochettino leading us we will be a Premier League team next year.’
Adkins/Pochettino. Still hurting or looking forwards?
AI – ‘Looking forward to a bright future- no point dwelling on the past.’
GdlC – ‘Looking forwards – no point doing anything else. Nigel’s done well out of us and he’ll move on to good things.’
SGL – ‘Hmmm. I was disgusted with the circumstances of Adkins’ sacking and thoroughly deserved more time. I will never forget the job he has done for the club though. I wasn’t sure about Pochettino at first. However, his style of football was really appealed to me.’
WT – ‘Still can’t watch/listen to ‘The Man in the Glass’ but Pochettino is an exciting appointment.’
BS – ‘I was thoroughly disappointed about Saints treatment of Nigel. Disgusted! To have never thanked him for his achievements at Saints was not in the spirit of the Club I love! He was a great character at Saints and we will always owe him a lot BUT I will always support Saints whoever is stood on the touch line – so for me it’s a case of the king is dead, long live the king!’
SD – ‘Like everyone else I was very shocked when it all happened, but the more I read and see about Pochettino, the more optimistic I feel about the future. Time will tell if it was the right decision, but the early signs are good. The players seem to genuinely like him and already look to be buying into his ideas. I will never have a bad word said about Adkins, but if Pochettino delivers I will be glad we made the change.’
EK – ‘Still hurts the way Adkins was treated at the end, but these last few games we have played some quite outstanding football and the future looks to be a bright one under Pochettino.’
Will Redknapp keep QPR up?
AI – ‘No.’
GdlC – ‘No. Will he take any responsibility? No.’
SGL – ‘I don’t think he will. QPR’s problem is that they have too many individual players instead of team players.’
WT – ‘The million pound question if the contract rumours are true. Think it’s too steep a challenge even for Mr Houdini.’
BS – ‘Nope! They’ve been the worst team in the Premier League all season, bought in far too many players in the summer and prayed that they all ‘gelled’ but they haven’t! They also have failed to get another striker in in January to cover Loic Remy, who is injured – again! Whilst they’ve tightened up at the back I simply can’t see them scoring the goals they need to to stay up!’
SD – ‘I don’t think so. Granted they have improved recently, but if you stick eleven men behind the ball, you’re always going to pick a few 0-0 draws. It’s still a hell of a gap they have to make up. Sooner or later they are going to have to start attacking teams. I’m just not sure where the goals are going to come from. You’d think they’ll need a minimum of six wins from their remaining thirteen games, and even that might not be enough. It’s a big ask for a team who have only won twice all season.’
EK – ‘No.’
Le Tiss/Cortese. Damaging the club or irrelevant squabbling?
AI – ‘Pretty irrelevant, but certainly can’t help the club.’
GdlC – ‘Gives the media a negative stick to hit us with. For me it’s very, very boring.’
SGL – ‘It is depressing to see the pair as it doesn’t help whatsoever. Without Liebherr and Cortese, there would be no Southampton Football Club. It seems to me they’re out to score points as if they’re on the Jeremy Kyle Show! Le Tiss hasn’t helped by going to the media about it all but, on the other hand, the fans might know what is actually going on.’
WT – ‘Petty but not irrelevant. I find it quite sad.’
BS – ‘A bit of both! Cortese runs the Club and Le Tiss needs to appreciate that! It’s his rules now! I don’t agree with Cortese’s ‘dictator style’ rule setting all the time but whilst Matt is, and probably always will be, the greatest player I’ve ever seen in the beloved red and white, he isn’t the smartest when it comes to speaking his mind publicly re Cortese!’
SD – ‘It is what it is. In an ideal world they would get on, but they don’t. Not a big deal, at the moment at least. I love Matt as much as the next fan, but sometimes I don’t think he helps himself by constantly sniping at Cortese so publicly. The meeting thing was a bit of a farce. I doubt either man had any intention of ever going through with it, both we’re playing a childish game. It was so predictable how it turned out. Matt has made his point countless times, and while he may be justified in some of the things he says, most fans have already decided which side of the fence they are on. There is very little he could say now to make people change their minds. Fans will only turn on Cortese if the team stop delivering on the pitch. Rightly or wrongly most supporters will turn a blind eye to pretty much everything as long as the team is winning. If things turn sour then people will be ready to attack, and Cortese might wish he hadn’t made so many enemies. Personally I think he’s a very shrewd guy, and I’m confident we will continue to be successful under his guidance.’
EK – ‘Damaging their reputations with the fans more than the club, but I personally think it’s pretty irrelevant.’
Pompey. Sympathy or Satisfaction?
AI – ‘Sympathy. The majority of their fans don’t deserve it.’
GdlC – ‘Bit of both. I have kids in the U9 team I help run who wear Skates shirts to training cos Dad supports them and that’s fine. I’d rather that than Man U/Chelsea to be honest. Would hate to explain to my lad that his team had gone. However, they are a cess-pit and should have been thrown out of the league 2 years ago. There are some special people on Twitter who deserve the worst to happen.’
SGL – ‘I have never seen a club in such a worse state than Pompey in my lifetime as yet. I have sympathy for the fans as we all know how they feel as we were in administration four years ago. There is some satisfaction as they simply used money that they didn’t have and the previous owners have ruined the club completely.’
WT – ‘Can’t say I haven’t enjoyed sniggering at the results and numerous has beens they keep signing up. I have sympathy for some of the fans though.’
BS – ‘Unfortunately I have no sympathy for them! Forget their fans, the Club actively cheated the system by winning a Cup with a team they couldn’t afford to buy, achieved European football through this and therefore revenues that a more deserving Club should have had, left charities out of pocket through non-payments and mistreated local businesses as well – potentially the most important ‘fans’ to any Club! Compared to some other Clubs like Aldershot, Luton, Rotherham, who in similar positions suffered sever consequences, Pompey have managed to get off very lightly so far! No Club in British Football history has been so mismanaged by people clearly selfish in their desire to win! History will show that they achieved great things in a short space of time but the reality is that they did it dishonestly and their upcoming comeuppance will be very satisfying for many people!’
SD – ‘I’m pretty indifferent to the whole situation to be honest. Between 2005-2009 I was very bitter about their success. It hurt to see them doing do well, while we were struggling. I would have given anything to see them crash and burn, but now that natural order has been restored I’m content again. I don’t really take much notice of what they are doing anymore.’
EK – ‘Both, I know a lot of Pompey fans so anything to do with the performance on the field I can have a little laugh, but everything off it isn’t particularly nice.’
Any Niggling worries about Saints?
AI – ‘That we’re not clinical enough in front of goal.’
GdlC – ‘If we stay up we’ll be fine and push on. Relegated and we lose Boruc, Clyne, Shaw, Morgan, Cork, Ramirez, Lambert and have to virtually start again – oh, and I expect we’d need a new manager. On the pitch, an injury to Sir Rickie would still kill us and the central defence needs to sort itself out.’
SGL – ‘I’m slightly worried at the fact that we can’t hold onto leads in games. The statistic of losing 27 points from winning positions doesn’t look good. However, I’m sure we can get the points to stay up.’
WT – ‘Only with the way former players seem to be treated. Le Tiss and co paying for tickets is disgusting in my opinion.’
BS – ‘Just their inability to cut out the niggling defensive mistakes and close off games when they’re leading! They must be more ruthless when leading and get ‘wise’ to seeing out Premier League games.’
SD – ‘The obvious worry is that our star players will eventually be picked off by bigger clubs. Jason Puncheon is worthy of a new deal, but I’m concerned he may not be given one because of his history with Cortese. Schneiderlin’s contract is up in 2014, so that’s another issue that needs addressing soon. If he were to move it would leave a huge whole in the team. He seems very happy at Southampton, but I doubt his recent form has gone unnoticed. He wouldn’t look out of place at any Premier League club in my opinion.’
EK – ‘Relegation is always on my mind despite the confidence I have in the team, as well as potential injuries to big players.’
Guly. Got to go or does a job?
AI – ‘Does a job. The majority of the criticism he gets is totally unfair as people look for a scapegoat.’
GdlC – ‘Does a job when needed as a squad player. Not a starter and forgive the Brazilian stereotype but away from home on a freezing cold day – leave him at home.’
SGL – ‘Difficult as we don’t know which Guly will turn up! I have to be honest in that I wasn’t his biggest fan but I’d never boo him. At times, he does do a job. I don’t think he is Premier League quality. Although, he has put in some respectable performances recently. I have no idea whether he will move on in the summer though.’
WT – ‘Definitely does a job. The abuse he receives is ridiculous, we have far worse players than him.’
BS – ‘Any player who wears a Saints shirt should be cheered not booed! Guly is not one of my favourite players but he certainly does a job and, bearing in mind the continual abuse he gets from the uneducated section of the Saints fan base, I think he should be applauded for that!’
SD – ‘It annoys me how so many people ignore all the good things he does, and then barrack him every time he makes the slightest mistake. Sometimes he has bad games, but who doesn’t? Most other players can get away with the odd poor showing, but with Guly it’s always a massive scandal. I have no idea what the new coaching staff thinks of him, but I know for a fact he was very highly regarded by Adkins. I’ve heard from more than one player that his teammates think very highly of him too. Ultimately they are the people who really matter, and if Guly is good enough for them then he’s good enough for me. I wouldn’t start him every week, and I suspect he’ll be gradually phased out over the next 18 months, but for now he still has an important role to play.’
EK – ‘Does the job, I’ve never understood the hate towards him, he is the one who helps Saints retain possession of the ball and can on his day change the game with a little bit of his Brazilian magic…although that has been pretty limited so far this season.’
EK – ‘(4-2-3-1) Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Cork, Puncheon, Lallana, Ramirez and Lambert.’
Thanks again to those that took part! Some differing opinions, but credit to the players who have made some very consistent looking starting XI’s, and with recent performances, I think it would be fair to say that Jay Rodriguez is giving Mr. Pochettino some nice selection problems!
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