Tag Archives: Dejan Lovren

Our 6th Birthday!

Blow me readers! georgeweahscousin.com is 6 years old!

Here we are just 6 days away from a major final, as yet again the Saints journey becomes even more of a fairy tale! Where have 6 years gone?

As has become as traditional as Saints making at least 5 changes per game, we celebrate our birthdays by awarding the ‘Ali Dia award for services to Southampton’ this year proudly sponsored by Fonte’s Face spiting Nose biters!

You can see the previous recipients of the award here. But who will take this year’s crown? The wait is finally over.

As every year, the jury (myself, Ali Dia, Kleber Chala & Graham Potter) found it extremely difficult. Amongst those nominated were Stuart Taylor for turning up and milling about as the figure head of the ever growing Southampton Goalkeeper farm, Jose Fonte for spurning ‘Legend status’ and heading to the London Stadium to ‘win trophies’ and Juanmi for well being Juanmi. But. When it came down to it there was one man who stood out amongst the rest.

We here at georgeweahscousin.com are delighted to announce that the sixth winner of the ‘Ali Dia award for services to Southampton’ sponsored by Fonte’s face spiting nose biters, for providing the icing on the cake to an already memorable semi final against Liverpool with the perfect screenshot:- It’s Dejan Lovren!

Ever since Lovren’s head decided to part company with his neck and head (pun intended) to Anfield early, the Croat and his performances as part of the ever hapless Liverpool defence have provided us with much amusement. From being nutmegged by Tadic, going to pieces under the abuse at St. Mary’s to this perfectly captured shot of his gormless face realising some of his former Saints team mates might pick up Silverware before him no one can say Dejan isn’t a sport!

Cheers Dejan!

Jose Fonte: Are Saints fans in danger of becoming bitter and twisted?

It’s the 7th December. We are still 25 days away from the opening of the transfer window, yet par for the course the papers are awash with talk of the ever widening St. Mary’s exit door.

Speculation on the whole surrounds the centre half pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte, and as usual it is causing disruption and unrest when we should be talking about a win or bust Europa League game on Thursday night.

In the case of van Dijk, his near immaculate performances since joining from Celtic in 2014 have seen him gather an army of admirers. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Dutchman is one of the best in the league at what he does, if not the best. To see him linked with the usual suspects at the top of the table should be, and isn’t, of no surprise. As usual we are the club that took the risk on a player, blooded him, improved him, and now the vultures are circling

Jose Fonte on the other hand is an altogether more curious case. His superb displays for 8 years at the club have largely gone under the radar. Fonte has quietly gone about his job, while a succession of partners seem to attract all the praise. Dejan Lovren, Toby Alderweireld and now van Dijk are lauded as the key member of the central defence club. While Jose is overlooked as the constant, the variables are enjoying the plaudits and so far managed to secure bigger contracts with ‘bigger’ clubs.

That might just have changed in the Summer though when Fonte was a key member of Portugal’s European Championship winning team. His profile was raised and rightly so, and with it came some wanted and unwanted attention. Speculation has been rife ever since, with Manchester United and Everton both supposedly keen to improve an area they are poor in. Unfortunately that speculation has led to fan unrest and now we have an unnecessary and unwanted public PR battle between club and player as talk of a ‘new’ contract has divided opinion.

Let’s look at it from both points of view.

Should Jose Fonte, returning from a hugely successful Summer, and having given the club eight successful years feel deserving of a contract extension? Sure, that doesn’t seem to much to ask.

Should Southampton FC feel obliged to extend the contract of a player who is 33 this month? Not at all, that is fully dependent on the long term plan of the club. As we know, for everyone at the club there is already a replacement in mind. If that replacement is already inbound, would it be financially prudent to extend Fonte’s contract?

What we don’t know is what the demands of a new contract are? With the likes of Jose Mourinho and Ronald Koeman interested and in charge of cash rich clubs, perhaps Fonte is looking for a considerably lucrative new deal. It would be naive to suggest ‘super’ agent Jorge Mendes wouldn’t be pushing for it, and will be using the interest of others as a deal breaker.

It is reported, and confirmed by Fonte himself that he was offered a pay rise in the Summer, but it didn’t come with an extension. Did the club do enough?

Given his age, and the fact that he is now entering the twilight of his career would anyone begrudge him a move to a Manchester United sized club? It would be hard to justify any anger in that situation, especially if Saints have no interest in extending his deal and were to get a decent fee. You could argue that this is all ‘perfect timing’ from a business point of view.

However, it would be a sad end to a journey that Jose Fonte has very much been a part of, and with the propaganda and the sniping that appears to be commonplace with such speculation, are fans in danger of becoming bitter and twisted about departures? It’s football right, but the business model of the club, successful as it has been, brings with it a sense of anxiety when our players are seemingly hand picked by those we are competing with.

It feels like only a matter of time before Saints fans have somebody to boo in every fixture they play, and that level of negativity isn’t required.

If Jose Fonte leaves in January (and personally I hope he doesn’t) then his contribution over the years will be outweighing of any unpleasantness over the last six months. He should leave with our blessing and be given a Rickie Lambert-esque reception on his return.

The fact of the matter is, that none of us really know what has gone on behind closed doors and perhaps never will. As a Saints fans we have to roll with the punches. We should be used to it by now.

Keep the faith.

Jose Fonte: Our Constant. Our Legend.

Last night was the first time I had a vested interest in who won a major international final.

Portugal lined up with both of their Saints, Cedric and Jose Fonte. I’m that kind of person. If there are Saints in the team then I want them to win, and though the likes of Pepe and Ronaldo promote ill feeling amongst many football fans the love I have for our players and in particular our captain outweighs any dislike I have for anyone else.

I found myself bickering on twitter the other day with someone who took exception to somebody else referring to Jose Fonte as a ‘Southampton Legend’. Their argument was that he isn’t as worthy of that title as the likes of Peter Shilton amongst others. Isn’t he?

Jose Fonte made a drop in division to join Saints in League One, and although we were clearly a club rejuvenated, that kind of move represents a risk no matter what the circumstances.

Fonte was part of the team that won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in his first season and followed it with promotion from League One in the following year.

Fonte battles with Carlisle in the JPT final.
Fonte battles with Carlisle in the JPT final.

En route to that promotion it was Fonte that struck a dramatic winner at the Withdean at the death and showed his passion for the club, sparking wild celebrations at the Saints end.

Pandemonium in Brighton!
Pandemonium in Brighton!

Fonte by this point was a stalwart in the centre of Saints defence and carried on his superb form in conjunction with a second successive promotion and the Premier League beckoned, Fonte again finding the vital touch in the final game against Coventry to seal their destiny.

Off to the top!
Off to the top!

Many Saints fans (myself included) questioned whether Jose might be one of the players to make way as the squad was strengthened for the top flight, but luckily Saints procession of manager saw otherwise.

Fonte stayed as the constant amongst a plethora of variables. Dejan Lovren and Toby Alderweireld both benefited from his partnership, perhaps taking the credit for some of Fonte’s work as they got ‘big’ moves away, while Jose quietly and consistently got on with his job.

As each season has passed since we got back to the promised land, it has become somewhat of a Southampton tradition to lose a glut of our key players and rebuild, but always there, at the heart of it all is still our constant.

during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary's Stadium on December 26, 2015 in Southampton, England.

Taking the captain’s armband from one of the many ingrates who walked, Jose Fonte has led us into the Europa League twice, overseen a cacophony of records broken and forced is way into the Portuguese national setup.

While those that have left for ‘ambition’ or to win trophies were sitting with their feet up watching it unfold on the television, Jose Fonte was playing out a clean sheet for his team and being crowned a Euro 2016 champion.

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06: Gareth Bale of Wales battles for the ball with Jose Fonte of Portugal during the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Bale. Shepherded.

Only in 2012, I was working on a sporting event in Porto and one of the guests was former Portugal player, and now Sporting Director Joao Pinto. I asked him if he had taken a look at Fonte of Southampton. He said he’d never heard of him. He has now.

Fonte’s rise in such a short space of time has been remarkable and is parallel with our own as a club. He’s grown with us and shown that you don’t have to leave to achieve your goals.

Jose Fonte has been a consistent positive since he arrived at St. Mary’s. He’s more than just our captain. He’s our constant, and he is a legend.

Savile Rogue Scarf Competition Winner Announced!

Apologies for the delayed announcement, but the Savile Rogue Luxury Cashmere Scarf competition winner has been picked!

The Rogue Saint was of course…..

……hapless Croatian head detacher Dejan Lovren!

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Congratulations to Doug Maclellan who was picked at random from all those who got the correct answer!

You have won any of the Southampton scarves priced at £62 from Savile Rogue. We’ll be in touch!

Don’t be too disheartened if you didn’t win, all gwc.com readers can use the discount code 10WEAH at Savile Rogue to get 10% of any order before the 13th December.

 

 

Liverpool’s visit to St. Mary’s has all the makings of a classic!

A lot it being made of the return of the three former Southampton stars who swapped St. Mary’s for Anfield last summer, and no-one was predicting the two clubs would be locked in the same race with regards to league positions back then. But this Sunday’s finale to the Premier League weekend has all the makings of a classic.

There is certainly an edge to the fixture given the choice made by Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to head for Merseyside under the impression it was a step up in their careers. Traditionally of course, it was, but against all the odds, it is Saints who occupy a place in the top four and Brendan Rodgers’ men make up the chasing pack. Rodgers himself added spice to the fixture with his comments about his lack of sympathy for Southampton, given their perceived lack of ambition and finishing below…

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly return to St. Mary’s…

Last summer was a difficult period for Southampton supporters, of that there is no doubt.

As we had to sit back and watch Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Calum Chambers all follow Mauricio Pochettino out of the club, citing a ‘change in ambition’ as part of their reasoning many were left wondering if this was the beginning of the end of a long period of progress.

Thankfully we can look back on that now and laugh. The team, rather than crumble under the removal of it’s foundations has grown under Ronald Koeman and looks likely to surpass last season’s achievements. So isn’t it time we let bygones be bygones?

I talk of course of the impending return to St. Mary’s this weekend of three of the departed.

Rickie Lambert, conducted himself impeccably in the process of sealing his ‘dream’ move to Anfield and though we might not…

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I know what you did last Summer….

I know what you did last summer. The title of a horror movie of questionable quality and perhaps a statement that may have seemed relevant for the horror that was the previous transfer window for Southampton fans.

If somebody had said to you then that Ronald Koeman would be cementing foundations in his squad during the January window in the hope that they can maintain their position in the top four and potentially qualify for the Champion’s League you would have shipped them off to the madhouse quicker than a dodgy Graeme Souness signed Liberian legend’s family member. But here we are.

Saints made two signings on deadline day, one that will give Koeman a further option in attack and another that won’t change the look of the squad, but will be a signal of their intentions to their challengers for the top four.

Serbian international Filip Djuricic is a skilful player…

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Saints: A Year in Review Part Three

Following on from yesterday’s Parts One & Two here is the Saints review of the year using only tweets from July to September. Be warned, it get’s bumpy for a while!

July

August

Aug14

September

Sep14

To be continued….

Saints: A Year in Review Part Two

Following on from Part One we continue our review of 2014 carrying on from April!

April

Apr14

May

May14

June

To be continued…..

Way to Ro: Florin Gardos the lowdown

With echoes of the signing of Dejan Lovren last summer, Saints have moved to bring in his replacement now the Croatian’s body has been reunited with his head in Liverpool and it comes in the form of Romanian international Florin Gardos.

As painful as it was to hear Lovren’s desire to head to Anfield it was equally as nice to hear that Gardos is rumoured to have acted a bit Lovren-like in his desire to join Saints. One journalist even suggested the centre half had made his first trip to Southampton without the permission of his club Steaua Bucherest.

As is customary at georgeweahscousin.com we like to seek the advice of an expert, someone who has seen a new player play far more than us. In this case it would be someone who has seen Gardos play at all, as I will hold my hands up and say that I had never heard of him until the links last week.

I caught up with Radu Baicu from Scouting Romania to get the lowdown on Gardos.

Many Saints fans will know little of Gardos other than he is a central defender, what type of player is he?

RB ‘Well, you should all be familiar enough by now with Tottenham’s Chiriches, so I’ll relate to that: when Chiriches was still at Steaua, it was a bad period for Gardos, as he rarely managed to play ahead of him, having to settle for a place on the bench. And this is something that might not do him good in a competitive place/team – he might give up the fight… On the bright side, when Chiriches was sold he stepped up and filled his shoes without any effort-he was physically and mentally ready and he’s been doing very well ever since.
He’s somewhat similar to Chiriches in style – ball playing central defender, who’s comfortable in possession, steps up from the back, takes part in the build up. But from a physical point of view, he’s more equipped for the role/Premier League, as I don’t expect him to suffer in the air and in a more physical game.’

Does he have any specific strengths and weaknesses?

RB ‘So you’re getting a tall centre back who is reliable on the ball, but who seems to need the confidence / support of the manager. And who will also need to adjust quickly to the superior pace of the game!

Gardos in Champion's League action for Steaua! (NB, in this picture he has my 14 year old face - Chris)
Gardos in Champion’s League action for Steaua! (NB, in this picture he has my 14 year old face, but slightly better looking – Chris)

The first thing we were told was of a ban for breaking another players leg, is he hot headed or simply passionate and over excited?

RB ‘It’s an incident dated a few years back, whoever mentioned this must have a good, but selective memory. Yes, it was a nasty challenge from behind for which he had no excuse. He can toy with the accepted limit of aggression on the pitch, which is not a bad thing for a central defender, especially if episodes like the above mentioned don’t appear. His disciplinary record for Steaua, in 4 seasons, is 1 red and 27 yellow cards.’

Gardos (in yellow) in action for Romania! (NB - In this picture he has none of my faces - Chris)
Gardos (in yellow) in action for Romania! (NB – In this picture he has none of my faces – Chris)

Do you think he is ready for the Premier League?

RB ‘I think he has the quality to play there, but as mentioned before I also think he needs time to settle in a different game, let alone culture. I’d be surprised to see him step in right away, while I also fear for his habit of waiting too quietly for his turn on the bench, if the manager will not offer him quickly chances to start.’

Do you remember the games between Steaua and Saints in 2003?

RB ‘I had to refresh my memory and found the line-ups and results in the both legs. What can I say, Southampton fell to goals scored by Claudiu Raducanu, an ex-striker famous for his wisdom (interesting fact: Raducanu now plays for FC Romania, a team in the Essex Senior Premier League in England – Chris), who was once asked if he’d accept living in a bloc-notes (a notebook) and he was more than happy to give it a shot!’

So there we have it, it looks like Saints have signed a player from under the radar, something that could prove to be a huge benefit! All eyes on the next one now. The ‘Ronald Revolution’ is underway!

Chris