Howdy Readers, this week I was approached by Spurs blog ‘SpursforLife’ for a crossover piece on this weekend’s coming fixture.
I asked Andy some questions and answered some in return. Enjoy!
GWC‘It’s almost 5 years since Mauricio Pochettino left St. Mary’s for White Hart Lane, has he lived up to expectations?’
SFL ‘He’s gone way past expectations. You never know what to expect with managers from lower teams but we have genuinely challenged for the title, we are now contenders in the Champions League. I’m not sure I’d ever seen that as a possibility as a Spurs fan.’
GWC‘Do you fear him running out of patience with a lack of squad investment, and jumping ship?’
SFL ‘Yes, every day. The difficulty isn’t spending money, it’s bringing in players that improve us. There aren’t many available and the ones that are can get double/triple the money elsewhere. I hope Poch sees that as a challenge.’
GWC‘What happened to Victor Wanyama? He was a star for us and seems a bit part player with Spurs?’
SFL ‘He’s a weird one, just had loads of injuries I guess and never cemented a place. He had Dembele in front of him when he first came in, then Dier arrived on the scene. Now Winks and Sissoko of all people are ahead of him. Whatever happens I’ll always love Wanyama for the absolute thunderbastard he scored at Anfield.’
GWC‘Do you look forward to playing Saints? We had a run of wins in the early 2000’s but since then we rarely even get a point against Spurs.’
SFL ‘I’m pretty neutral to be honest. Maybe the weirder thing of being a better team is that games mean less. We normally beat anyone outside the Top 6 home and away so it’s kind of expected and that brings a kind of weird nerves. Because the level at the top is so high you can’t drop points at all.
I do remember one rather depressing game at the end of the season where we were going for the title against Leicester and managed to lose to you guys at home where Steve Davis scored. I was in Brighton with the Mrs on a sunny day out and jumped in a pub to watch it. Ruined the day a bit. We ended up finishing third in a two horse race behind Arsenal!’
GWC ‘Do you look at anyone in the Saints squad as an option for Poch in the Summer?’
SFL ‘Having watched you play a few times this season. No. ; )’
GWC‘Do you remember that weird period Post-Hoddle moving clubs where we had a very minor rivalry?’
SFL ‘All seems very petty now. I have blanked out my childhood memory of Spurs because we were so annoyingly rubbish. That said the classic Saints game is the one where Ronny Rosenthal scored a hattrick at The Dell in an FA Cup replay. And yeah, not sure there’s much of a rivalry!’
In what was expected to be a close battle between Pardew and his successor there will be many surprised by this landslide victory! Pards will have to draw a blue line under this one, Adkins keeps smiling!
An early exit for Redknapp, and that can come as no shock. You have to ask yourself how bad your signings were though when the man that brought Ali Dia to the club knocks you out! Oh wait…. Calum Davenport.
As far as jumping on the bandwagon goes, this is as shameless as it gets….
Seemingly started by Richard Osman of Pointless fame with his ‘World Cup of Chocolate, using the new twitter poll feature as a way of deciding who or what is the best at something in a Knockout competition is a bit a of harmless fun that has now been replicated for all sorts of subjects.
I decided to start my own ‘World Cup’ (although in retrospect it should be FA Cup) of Saints Managers.
This is just for fun. It doesn’t really decide anything, and based on the demographic of Twitter I only went back to Lawrie McMenemy (one of the clear favourites). I also only included those who were permanent managers. Except I forgot Steve Wigley. Sorry Steve.
So it’s happened. Older fans will recognise the title of this blog as a nod to a brilliant Ugly Inside front page after Alan Ball left for Man City, and much like that situation it is difficult as a Saints fan to understand why this has happened.
As plenty have pointed out, why should we be surprised that a man who entered St. Mary’s in an underhand fashion should leave it in exactly the same way.
My problem is never with people showing ambition, but presumably Pochettino’s performances at Saints have given his own self confidence a boost. Can he meet the unrealistic expectations of Spurs fans and chairman? 5th place won’t be good enough and right now they don’t have the squad to get any higher. Who will he bring in? When given big money at Saints he signed Dani Osvaldo.
All will be revealed soon enough, but he might want to take a look at the immediate futures of the likes of Ball and Glenn Hoddle after they left Saints. The grass isn’t always greener.
Apologies for the brief hiatus! I have been working on other projects in both football and my real job. Hopefully this will be the return of regular posts!
As speculation increases as to the future of Nigel Adkins and the comparisons being made of him via social media and such I thought I would compare him to previous Saints Premier League managers the only fair way. Over their respective first 9 games in charge….
Ian Branfoot – 1992/93 season.
P9 W 1 D 4 L 4 F 7 A 11 P 7
Branfoot, like Adkins took until his fifth game to register a win, but had a relatively good start to his first Premier League campaign, picking up points in more games than not.
End result – Finished 18th of 22 in the Premier League, just one point from safety, Sacked in January 1994.
Alan Ball – 1993/94 season.
P9 W 4 D 3 L 2 F 10 A 12 P 15
Ball proved an instant hit at The Dell resotring Matt Le Tissier to the team and going on a great run.
End result – Finished 18th of 22 in the Premier League, just one point from safety (they were 21st when Ball took over). Left the club in the summer of 1995 after a great season finishing 10th.
Dave Merrington – 1995/96 season.
P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5 F 8 A 16 P 6
Whispering Dave was seemingly the players choice when he was appointed in 1995. He took four games to notch his first victory and it was a sign of things to come.
End result – Finished 17th of 20 in the Premier League on goal difference. Sacked that summer.
Graeme Souness – 1996/97 season.
P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5 F 11 A 13 P 6
The fiery Scot promised to be a polar opposite change in management style from Merrington, but had a similar opening to the season. It took Souness until hi 8th game in charge to get 3 points, and despite some flamboyant foreign signings Saints struggled.
End result – Finished 16th of 20 in the Premier League, just one point from safety. Resigned that summer.
Dave Jones – 1997/98 season.
P 9 W 1 D 1 L 7 F 5 A 17 P 4
Dave Jones came to the club from the lower leagues and it was his first taste of management in the top flight. He struggled to put his stamp on the team at the start and people wondered if he had been a poor choice.
End result – Finished 12th of 20 teams, eight points from safety. Followed it with a season finishing 17th (though five points from safety) before being replaced in January 2000 after (unfounded) allegations of child abuse.
Glenn Hoddle – 2000/01 season.
P 9 W 5 D 1 L 3 F 6 A 6 P 16
Former England boss Hoddle came in while Jones was on “leave of absence” to prepare his defence. He had a fantastic start, winning his first five games in charge. In terms of a combination of results and style of play, Hoddle is still for me the best manager of my time supporting Saints.
End result Saints finished 10th of 20 teams (they were 12th when he took over), and consolidated that the following season though Hoddle left for Spurs in March 2001.
Stuart Gray – 2001/02 season.
* – Only judged on games in full charge.
P 9 W 2 D 0 L 7 F 5 A 17 P 6
Stuat Gray was promoted from the backroom staff to caretaker manager when Hoddle left and was given the job permanently in the summer. Despite breaking the club’s transfer record Gray struggled for results.
End result. Gray was sacked on the 21st October with the club lying in 19th of 20 of the Premier League.
Gordon Strachan – 2001/02 season.
P 9 W 3 D 1 L 5 F 13 A 16 P 10
Serious question marks were raised when Strachan was appointed after he had eventually relegated Coventry City, but Saints immediately started to look more resilient.
End result. Saints finished 12th of 20 (they were 19th when he took over) and followed it in 2002/03 by finishing 8th and reaching the FA Cup final. He resigned in February 2004 with the club sitting 11th in the table.
Paul Sturrock – 2003/04 season.
P 9 W 4 D 1 L 4 F13 A 13 P 13
Luggy came in to replace his fellow Scot, but never seemed to fit in at the club.
End result. Saints finished 12th of 20, the same position as when he took over. He was sacked in the summer after rumours of player unrest.
Steve Wigley – 2004/05 season.
* – Only judged on games in full charge.
P 9 W 1 D 2 L 6 F 6 A 12 P 5
Steve Wigley was a highly unambitious appointment from within for the club who were possible already struggling financially behind the scenes. Fans were right to doubt him.
End result. Sacked in December 2004 with Saints in 18th place of 20.
Harry Redknapp – 2004/05 season.
P 9 W 1 D 3 L 5 F 11 A 17 P 6
Redknapp came in controversial circumstances having just left Portsmouth, but fans can be forgiven for thinking he was the man to turn the team around. Sadly they were mistaken, poor signings, inept tactics and the demeanour of a man who wasn’t really interested was what they got.
End result. Saints finished 20th of 20 and were out of the top flight for the first time in 27 years. Returned to Portsmouth in December 2005 with Saints 12th in the Championship.
Nigel Adkins – 2012/13 season.
P 9 W 1 D 1 L 7 F 14 A 26 P 4
Nigel has obviously had a damaging start to life in the top flight, but has a very similar results record to Dave Jones who turned it around and got a decent league finish. He has had a worse start than Branfoot, Gray, Sturrock, Wigley and Redknapp, but I wonder how many Saints fans would want them back?
It is still too early to tell just what sort of Premier League manager Adkins will turn out to be, as these openings of other managers prove.
End result. Who knows, but while Adkins is in charge we must back him.
“I was surprised how fierce the rivalry was when I first came down to Hampshire in the late 1970s. I’ve been involved in three other local rivalries – the Merseyside and north London derbies as a player and in Manchester as a manager – and the feeling is as high here as anywhere.” – Alan Ball 2004
With the next chapter in the South Coast saga just twenty four days away, I thought I would take a look at the men who have braved the wrath of the supporters of both clubs by crossing the Hampshire divide. Surprisingly, many have done it, and many have done it without becoming hate figures, notable twitching cockney managers apart.
Much will be made of the passion and sadly the hatred that encompasses the clash between Hampshire’s finest in the lead up to the Fratton Park fixture, but hopefully these profiles will stir nice memories for the supporters of both clubs.
First up is a man who captured the true spirit of what a rivalry is all about and managed to see the lighter side of it.
14th May 2002, Matthew Le Tissier’s Testimonial at St. Mary’s. Le Tissier’s former Saints teammate Dave Beasant is in goal for the England XI in the second half, having recently completed a season playing for Pompey.
The crowd at St. Mary’s are deep into a rendition of a Saints terrace classic “When I was just a little boy, I asked my mother, what should I be, Should I be Pompey, Should I be Saints, Here’s what she said to me, Wash your mouth out son, Go get your fathers gun, and shoot the Pompey scum and support the Saints…..”
Beasant turns to the crowd behind his goal, holds his heart like he has been shot and then dramatically falls to the ground and plays dead.
Lurch, as he is affectionately known has always been a character, and perhaps it takes that level of humour to play for both these fierce rivals, and Beasant had experienced the nastier side of the derby first hand. Beasant was Saints keeper in two derby games, firstly in May 1994 when Saints went to Fratton Park for Alan Knight’s testimonial and then in January 1996 at the Dell for an FA cup tie.
Beasant commented on the 1994 visit to Fratton afterwards ‘The intensity of the fans was something else. It just wasn’t like a testimonial. All sorts of things were going on outside. It was like a mini-riot.”
Beasant joined Saints in November 1993 after Tim Flowers had departed for high flying Blackburn Rovers. Coming armed with a calamitous reputation from his time at Chelsea, and a career very much on the decline after his 1988 FA Cup final high, which had peaked with two England caps in 1989 and travelling to the 1990 world cup to replace David Seaman.
His move to Saints proved to be a good one though, despite a shaky start Beasant became a reliable first team keeper for a Saints side that became rejuvenated under Alan Ball. Still liable to the odd concentration lapse, Beasant was soon forgiven due to his likeable nature and the odd camera save.
Beasant made eighty eight appearances for Saints before dropping down the pecking order behind Paul Jones and Maik Taylor. In the summer of 1997 the veteran keeper headed to Nottingham Forest on loan before making the move permanent.
After four seasons with Forest it was under difficult circumstances that Beasant found himself Hampshire bound again.
Pompey had tragically lost keeper and former Saints youth player Aaron Flahavan in a car crash in the summer of 2001 and Beasant was brought in to take his place.
In a difficult season for the blues, Beasant was a steady and reliable performer under Graham Rix, but the Redknapp revolution was just around the corner and Beasant was surplus to requirements, oddly heading to Spurs and back to the Premier League aged 39.
Pompey fan @BileysMullet gave me his thoughts on Beasant’s time at Fratton:-
“Beasant was one of the few ex-scummers accepted, as a result of some age defying performances and the fact he took the banter so well..”
Beasant would go on to further play for Wigan Athletic, Bradford City, Brighton and Fulham before retiring in 2004, he is now a senior coach at the Glenn Hoddle academy.
The other night, I decided to run a little competition to get myself to 500 followers on twitter, the reward for being my 500th follower (other than a daily intake of my wittiest and fascinating 140 character world insights) was that I would write a piece on here that would revolve around the supported club of the new follower.
Unfortunately, rather like Chris Iwelumo on an international debut, I took my eye off the ball. This meant I wasn’t sure if Brighton fan @Mareschappie or Southend fan @CallumReavelll was number 500, so I sensibly did, the only thing I could do, I bravely declared that I would write a piece that involved both clubs. Now, I wanted this piece to have a positive spin for both clubs, otherwise, what kind of prize is that?
This proved to not be easy. The two clubs, while both rich with individual history don’t seem to have any mutual heroes, neither do they share any years where both achieved something of note. Then I hit upon somebody who achieved something with both clubs, and what’s more, a man who is well known throughout English football and in my opinion, the worst manager England never had….
You often hear Brian Clough described as “The greatest manager England never had”, his achievements in club football are as well known as they are remarkable, and the decision not to employ him as the boss of the national team after interviewing him in 1977 is one that often makes people wonder what might have been. Clough’s assistant Peter Taylor was also revered for the job he did with Derby County and could have followed “Ol big head” to Lancaster Gate had the FA seen differently. Another Peter Taylor came even closer to the three lions dugout, in fact he was in it once, but what now seems implausible, he was also interviewed for the England job full time in 2006, and not just as assistant.
Peter John Taylor started his career at Southend United, near to his home town of Rochford, Essex. A winger by trade, Taylor was a pivotal part of the Shrimpers side that won promotion from the fourth division in 1971/2, and was soon catching the eye of bigger clubs. Taylor went on to play for Crystal Palace and Spurs at the peak of his career and gained four England caps, the first of which he gained while still playing in the third division at Selhurst Park, but it is as a manager that Taylor is mainly remembered.
Taylor did his managerial apprenticeship in non-league football with Dartford, where he spent four years with much success. Southern cup winners twice (denied a third in the 1990 final) and two Southern league championships saw Taylor sought after by his former club Southend. Taylor took the reigns at Roots Hall in 1993 and would last just sixty six games. He suffered that unfortunate turn of fortunes, going from fans favourite for his exploits on the pitch to hate figure for his fortunes off it. For further examples see Souness, Graeme and Gunn, Bryan. Taylor’s Southend tenure was described in the clubs own history records as “disastrous” and he was soon on his way back to the non-league with Dover Athletic.
In what must have been a bizarre turn of events for the Southend fans, Taylor was only with the Kent club for two months, before being appointed as manager of the England U21’s as part of Glenn Hoddle’s new staff. It was the subsequent period with Englands “young lions” that for me, Taylor’s reputation and all future job offers were based on. He carved a persona as good man manager who the players liked and had a decent record, losing just twice in nineteen competitive games during his time at the helm. The likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey were brought into the setup by Taylor, and became four of the eleven to make the step up to the full squad under his guidance. Actually his replacement by Howard Wilkinson in June 1999 was controversial at best, and for seemingly no reason other than moving Hoddle’s men out.
In what was now becoming a commonplace feature of Taylor’s managerial career he yo-yo’d all the way down to the second division with Gillingham, proving his England U21 succeses were no fluke, taking the Gills to playoff glory at the first attempt. Leicester City, hot from several years of success under Martin O’Neill, including a League Cup win and european football decided to appoint Taylor in 2000. For many people this is where he got found out. He started well, but soon the performances tailed off. Dressing room unrest amongst senior players Steve Walsh and Tony Cottee coupled with a poor start to the 2001/02 season and gaining a reputation with the Filbert Street faithful for poor transfer dealings (Taylor spent £23 million in his time at Leicester, including £5 million for Ade Akinbiyi, £3 million for James Scowcroft and £1.5 million for Trevor Benjamin) saw Taylor sacked and destined never to manage in the top flight again (to date).
During his spell at Leicester, Taylor did however have perhaps his finest hour. After the resignation of Kevin Keegan as England manager in October 2000, the FA needed someone to take the reigns for a friendly against Italy in Turin. Taylor didn’t mess around and decided to use his opportunity to put his own stamp on proceedings, turning to many of his U21 stalwarts, Rio Ferdinand, Gareth Barry, Jamie Carragher, Seth Johnson, Emile Heskey and Keiron Dyer. He also handed David Beckham the England captaincy for the first time. England lost the tie 1-0, but it would be the start of a long international career for many of those players and notably a renaissance for the newly crowned skipper.
Taylor, wounded from his experiences at Leicester, but also strangely bouyed by his chance with the national team, ended up on the South Coast with Brighton & Hove Albion. Here he proved again, that getting a club promoted from one of the lower divisions was not difficult for him, as he guided the Seagulls to top spot in the second division. This may have been the start of something special for Taylor, but he left at the end of the season, claiming “lack of financial resources” as his reason. He was soon back in football though, back in the basement division with Hull City. An attractive prospect for Taylor, soon to be moving into their new stadium and serious financial backing meant he could soon work his promotion magic, getting the Tigers from Division three to Division one in three seasons.
During his time at the KC stadium, the FA came calling again, and Taylor took on the U21’s as a part time role. It didn’t go quite as well in his second spell, though competitively results were good. James Milner was the young star, as England again came close in the European championships. Taylor’s achievements at Hull had been noted by his former club Crystal Palace and they took him on to lead them to promotion from the Championship and around the same time, Sven Goran Eriksson left his role as England manager. Taylor confirmed in an interview with the Independent that he had been interviewed for the vacant position and life must have seemed pretty rosy. Unfortunately for him, he did not get the job, and the shake up meant he was relieved of his duties with the young lions too. If that wasn’t a bad enough chain of events, form at Palace dipped dramatically and with the possibility of relegation a very real one, Taylor was sacked.
Unsuccessful spells at conference side Stevenage Borough and League Two Bradford City sandwiched another lower league promotion with Wycombe Wanderers.
So is Taylor the worst manager England never had? Despite being the one of the most qualified coaches in the country, his managerial record is up and down. Somewhat of an expert at getting sides promoted from the lower divisions, quite what the FA saw in him as a top level manager is beyond me. A man manager? His 96-99 U21 side would say yes, his 2000 Leicester side would beg to differ. A tactician? Supporters of his lower league promotion sides would say so, those of his higher level clubs would not.
Luckily for us, the FA chose not to employ the Englishman with no great success record behind him, and opted for Steve McClaren, and we all know how that turned out….
…..Messrs Taylor, Venables and Hoddle. You are hereby accused of crimes against English Football.
You are responsible for denying the greatest fans in the world the chance to get behind a talent so maverick and so inspiring that he could change a game in a second, for being so negative and “anti-football” that you would rather stick rigidly to your failing shape than accomodate a weaver, or if you will, a genius.
Graham Taylor. You have little to no excuse. Your England side will go down in history as one of the worst ever. Dare I even list the types of players that were capped under your regime? Yet no room for my man? During your tenure, he scored fifty six goals for his club, three for the Under 21’s and was named “PFA Young Player of the Year” yet no call from you?
Where might you have been in Rotterdam with your own free kick specialist? Do I not like that.
Terry Venables. People generally remember you as England manager rather fondly. But you and I know that your achievements at the helm are a bit of a myth. In fact statistically you are no better than Taylor and lost as many games as you won. Euro 96 was a celebration, but let’s face it. We shouldn’t have got past the Spanish. During your spell in the top job, our man scored a further sixty five goals for his club, several of which were “goal of the season winners”, yet you chose to cap him just six times, and give him a total of just 193 minutes on the pitch. Do you think that is a fair chance to impress? Ok, he might not have played for a big club, or be a cockney, or drink at China Whites, but still?
And where did it end Terry? That’s right, as it so often does with England, penalties. This lad wasn’t bad at those either.
Glenn Hoddle. The one that probably hurts the most. You were his hero. You had been in the same boat as him as a player. You should have understood. But just like all the others you overlooked him. You may have the best justification of the three, as your England team was pretty successful, you might have even had a longer run, I know, I know, “you never said them fings”.
During the Hoddle years at England, he scored another thirty goals at club level, some real scorchers, and even, like a good player(take note Chris Sutton) turned up for England B duty and banged in a hat trick. And still you found it necessary to cap him just twice, and give him just 70 minutes on the pitch. Your withdrawal of him at Wembley, 1-0 down against Italy in 1997 and seemingly making him a scapegoat for the defeat ended an International career that never really started, and like those before you, you watched your England team crash out on penalties. You chose to put the nation’s faith in an old lady named Eileen. What we wanted was a genius named Matt.
You could have had:- A freekick specialist, a penalty supremo(just one miss in his career) and a genius on the pitch minus a Gazza like path of self destruction off it. But each and everyone of you chose not to.
The Evidence for the prosecution:-
Exhibit A – “If Matthew Le Tissier was Brazilian he would be in the team every game, and get 100 caps” – Pele(Three time world cup winner)
Exhibit B – “The man I absolutely loved watching as a kid was Matt Le Tissier after seeing the highlights of his extraordinary goals. His talent was out of the norm. He could dribble past seven or eight players but without speed – he just walked past them. For me he was sensational.” – Xavi(Winner 2010 World Cup)
Exhibit C –
8 Caps? 263 minutes on the pitch?
What a disgrace. I was one of the lucky ones. I supported Southampton, and got to see him on a weekly basis, you denied that pleasure to the England fans and those around the world.
The case for the prosecution rests.
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