Many things split the opinions of Saints fans, and Gaston Ramirez is certainly one of them.
The Uruguayan arrived with much promise, but for many he has flattered to deceive, while others think he’s been misused or not given the right amount of chances to show what he can do.
The latter argument has been fuelled most recently due to Gaston’s form for loan club Middlesbrough.
Ramirez has scored six goals in eleven appearances for the Teesiders and looks to be pulling the strings in their push for promotion, but should Saints be utilising him better, or is this a flash in the pan and the club would be better off moving him on in the Summer?
I put it to the masses on twitter to decide.
KANGAROO COURT:- Gaston Ramirez is on fire at Boro. Found his level? Or wasted by #saintsfc?
@saint_al1976 ‘We all wanted Gaston to succeed – he was the face of a new era at Saints that washed away the memory of Record signing Rory Delap. We had beaten Liverpool to his signature – we had arrived in the big time. But something didn’t sit quite right with me from the start.
Signed on the back of a decent display in the 2012 Olympics “the Championship” equivalent of international football, he immediately looked sublimely gifted – but massively light-weight. Once the early season killer passes and the odd goal wore away with his confidence it was clear that opportunities would be limited in a bottom 5 team.
Pochettino should have been the perfect manager to get the best from Ramirez – unlocking his natural ability and adding that layer of intensity that had been so lacking. But it just never happened – and with willing runners like Steven Davis his chances again became limited. I truly believe that if Gaston had really had it in him, Mauricio would have persevered – but he didn’t.
And finally we came to Ronald – a man who has worked with the very best in world football. Do you not think that if he felt Gaston was a world class player he would have made it happen at Saints? As it turned out he was allowed to leave for Hull on loan and was duly relegated playing a bit part role.
A string of goals in the Championship has now raised the question of whether Saints missed something, wasted an opportunity? But don’t kid yourselves, it’s still the part of you that wanted to believe. Fact is, the championship although tough, is slower. And in a top of the table team he will be afforded the time and space that would never be available in the top flight. Should he be promoted with Middlesbrough and get a second crack I wish him all the best. But I expect normal service to quickly resume.’
The case for the Defence:-
@TacoAli‘Cast your mind back to 22 September 2012. Saints were yet to win on their return to the Premier League but Aston Villa were in town and that would soon change. With Gastón pulling the strings in a number ten role, Saints won 4-1, and today the game is a remainder of what might have been.
To say Gastón hasn’t been given chances isn’t true; under Nigel Adkins, who clearly loved him as a player, and Mauricio Pochettino, who didn’t seem quite so keen, he was given chances. To say he didn’t take those chances is also untrue. Injuries and international duty hampered his development, especially under Pochettino, but when he played he always gave Saints something a bit different and invariable made things happen. He’s strong on the ball, capable of going past players with ease, has great vision and isn’t afraid to shoot from distance. Now he’s getting the chance to play regularly, it’s no surprise to see him tearing things up.
Since Ronald Koeman’s been in charge, and perhaps more importantly Ralph Krueger chairman, Gastón’s been ostracized; shipped out on loan or left to rot not even getting on the bench. He’s been used as a stick to hit Nicola Cortese with, a symbol of the Italian’s apparent avarice and arrogance, rather than being utilised. When he came on against Liverpool at Anfield earlier this season he added some dynamism to Saints’ play and set up Sadio Mané’s equaliser. In those eleven minutes he did more than Jaunmi’s done all season, yet it was he who’s been deemed surplus to requirements, and the latter who remains at St. Mary’s, a bench-warmer in whom Koeman evidently has no confidence.
Gastón’s showed what he can do, but under Koeman he’s never had a chance to do it. When you consider some of the dire football we’ve played this season, that really is a shame.’
Certainly one that was perhaps closer than I personally expected. Sometimes a player simply doesn’t fit at a club and does for whatever reason perform better elsewhere. It would probably best for all parties if Gaston gets a move away in the Summer. We’ll always have the corn rows.
Blow me readers! georgeweahscousin.com is 5 years old!
What a five years it has been. Truly one of the greatest periods supporting Saints, and as this site has grown, so has the team (coincidence? Probably).
Much like the club, I set out with a ‘five year plan’, and that was to become the best and most popular Southampton blog on the internet and to sell the site for Millions, leading to eventual early retirement. Bugger. Better make it a ‘ten year plan’.
As has become as traditional as Saints not beating Tottenham or a Portsmouth family playing ‘Guess who’s in ya’ at Christmas, we celebrate our birthdays by awarding the ‘Ali Dia award for services to Southampton’ this year proudly sponsored by Forster Extra Strength Condoms.
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, Marco Almeida & Stig Johansen) found it extremely difficult. Amongst those nominated were Juanmi for arriving at the club as a Spanish international, having a tiny dog and struggling to make any impact whatsoever, Gaston Ramirez for his dreadful contribution to cost ratio and Liverpool Football Club for continuously contributing to our yearly improvement. 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 fifth winner of the ‘Ali Dia award for services to Southampton’ sponsored by Forster Extra Strength Condoms, for selflessly realising that his ‘Jonah’ reputation had coincided with some terrible form for Saints, and sacrificing himself and heading to the place where Saints players go to die:- It’s Steven Caulker!
Saints form Post-Caulker:- P 5 W 4 D 1 L 0 F 7 A 0 PTS 13
I’m not sure I ever expected it to go this quick, but we really have reached the end of the ‘Five Year Plan’. It hardly seems fathomable that the club that lined up on the 8th August 2009 to play out a 1-1 draw with Millwall in League One, would mark the end of the ‘plan’ with a 1-1 draw with Champions of England Manchester United in the same stadium.
What a five years it’s been. Considering the original plan was to get Southampton into the Premier League, the fact that that has clearly been achieved (a year early), a trophy has been won along the way and the final season saw us break into the top eight, I would say we can consider it a complete success.
Three managers, Two promotions, One trophy and Seventy Seven Players! Can the next five years really live up to it?
Seeing as though it was Southampton Football Club that effectively introduced the beautiful game to Brazil (Ref: Charles William Miller) it would be fitting that at this summer’s World Cup in the country, if the Saints were well represented.
Speculation is already rife as to who will and won’t make it to the finals, and here at georgeweahscousin.com we are no different!
So which of the Saints talented squad will be on the proverbial plane?
It seems fitting to start with our own nation, burdened with the usual over expectant feeling of entitlement, England could well be the squad with the most Saints in it.
Let’s put it this way, if Lallana isn’t in the twenty three man squad then he will either be injured or the victim of the most ridiculous tragedy in English footballing history up there with Matthew Le Tissier’s lack of caps and not building a team around Paul Scholes (confounded by playing him on the left wing).
Lallana is skilful, technically gifted and creative. He shouldn’t be English really, as he has defied the poor coaching standards here and become a talent worthy of Spain or Brazil.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5
England at the World Cup will need different options if they are to succeed, and in Lambert they could well have that. Good with the ball at his feet and an ability to hold the ball up, Lambert has proven his critics wrong time and time again, scoring and creating goals at every level he’s played at.
The worry is that Roy Hodgson may revert to type and turn to Andy Carroll.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 3.5
Didn’t enjoy the best of debuts, but Rodriguez grows with confidence game by game and has emerged as Saints top scorer this season. ‘JRod’ is another one who has the technical ability to try something different. It feels like this might not be his year England wise though with the media turning on him after the game against Chile.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2
Uncapped so far, but with his stock rising and his mature performances both defensively and going forward for Saints, coupled with the recent decline of Ashley Cole, Luke will surely get the chance to show what he can do in the friendlies prior to the tournament.
With rumours that Man City want to make him the most expensive full back in the world, it is only a matter of time before his country calls. Undoubtedly the natural and long term successor to Cole.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 3.5
In what is distinctly England’s weakest area it is surprising to me that Clyne hasn’t already been given a chance by Roy Hodgson. While the distinctly mediocre Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker both look unimpressive in an England shirt, Clyne has gone about his business at Saints with great success, consistently performing to a high standard.
Deserves a chance.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2.5
Probably the longest shot, and almost certainly this World Cup has come too soon for the Saints midfielder. With his ability to deliver a ball now being likened to David Beckham though, England honours will surely follow at some point….
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1
It seems right to follow the potential England players with their Group D opponents. England v Italy at the World Cup will always be a special occasion and it might just be laden with Saints players.
Argentinian born Osvaldo opted to play for Italy, and recently has been a regular for the Azzuri. Although he has taken his time to adapt to the Premier League the skill he has shown for Italy was replicated with his amazing strike against Manchester City.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4
Sporter of awful barnet’s, splitter of fan opinion and creator of occasional magic, Ramirez has been in and out of the Saints first team, but is a regular in the Uruguay squad.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5
The Croatian has been an absolute steal for Saints and has made his way into many ‘top players in the Premier League this season’ lists. A regular for his country, he should be on his way to Brazil.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5
Perhaps the biggest crime in international football from a Saints perspective is the lack of recognition for Morgan Schneiderlin. Having had a brilliant first season and a half in the Premier League, Schneiderlin would walk into any other top flight side and most international teams. Come on Didier. You know it makes sense.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2
Having fallen down the pecking order at Saints, Yoshida is having to take what he can, and it has led to talk of a move back to Japan. He will undoubtedly be in Brazil though, barring an injury as a stalwart of their defence.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.75
Forward Lee is well and truly out of the picture as far as the Saints first team is concerned, and perhaps his move to England two years ago has killed any chance of a World Cup place. A loan move back to Japan might revive his hopes though.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1
A long shot, but Jose Fonte has really come into his own for Saints this season and has been part of the formidable back five that was at the top of the European defensive charts. Sadly, when I met Joao Pinto (Now a high level official in the Portuguese FA) in the summer he had never heard of Jose.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1.5
So there we have it. Do you agree with their chances? Is there anyone else in the Saints squad who might sneak in somewhere? As ever let us know!
Over the summer I was privileged enough to be invited to be a beta tester for a new football scouting website Inscouts.com. The idea is that users having watched any game across the European Leagues & Champion’s League can login and rate the players out of six (six the highest) provoking discussion and opinion on the performances of individuals.
As part of the testing, I have been rating players in every game I watch which of course includes all of Saints Premier League games so I thought I would use the average scores to see just how well I (and the other Inscouts beta users) have thought Saints players have been doing…
Artur Boruc:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 4.10
Nathaniel Clyne:- Games – 8 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3.7 Average Rating – 4
Dejan Lovren:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.7 Lowest Rating – 3.7 Average Rating – 4.58
Jose Fonte:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.8
Luke Shaw:- Games – 8 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3.7 Average Rating – 4.4
Danny Fox:- Games – 2 Highest Rating – 4 Lowest Rating – 2.7 Average Rating – 3.35
Morgan Schneiderlin:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 4.1
Victor Wanyama:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 4.1
Steven Davis:- Games – 6 Highest Rating – 4.3 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.75
Adam Lallana:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.7 Lowest Rating – 4 Average Rating – 4.52
James Ward-Prowse:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3.5 Average Rating – 4.19
Jack Cork:- Games – 3 Highest Rating – 3.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.46
Gaston Ramirez:- Games – 5 Highest Rating – 4 Lowest Rating – 2.7 Average Rating – 3.42
Rickie Lambert:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.9
Jay Rodriguez:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.7 Lowest Rating – 2.7 Average Rating – 3.8
Dani Osvaldo:- Games – 7 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.9
Guly do Prado:- Games – 3 Highest Rating – 4 Lowest Rating – 3.3 Average Rating – 3.7
The thing that immediately jumps out with these ratings is that not a single Saints player thus far, has been seen to be playing below average. As far as I am aware I am the only Saints fan to be beta testing the site, and one of very few English supporters, so it gives a good reflection on what fans from Germany, France, Italy etc. are making of us.
I will update this again after 20 games and see who has improved or dropped off.
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!
A while ago I was approached by Nick Thompson about being the Saints contributor for his new project: ‘What a Corker’ magazine.
The premise of the magazine:-
‘The contributors vote to decide the goal of the month, which will be published on the front cover of the following issue and turned into a full animation. The winning goalscorer will be sent their goal on a t-shirt with their award. Merchandise, including the goal t-shirts, will be made available.
An open, honest publication trialling new features and commissioning thoughtful topical articles from guest writers. We’ll be listening to our readers, acting on their feedback and giving them a platform to share their views.’
These animations are based on the cult ‘Sensible Soccer’ games and look really good.
As an example, Nick asked me to pick Saints best goal so far this season, and I polled people on twitter, there were a few different choices, and then Puncheon scored his corker against Chelsea and I saw fit to go with that. As the last goal of the Adkins era it now seems fitting that the graphic is ready. And what a goal it was.