Tag Archives: Gordon Strachan

World Cup of Saints Managers: The Winner!

For those of you that have been following, we started with 20 Saints managers past and present (ok, only one present) and now we have our winner!

To see the results of the Preliminary Round see here.

To see the results of the First Round Proper see here.

To see the results of the Quarter Finals see here.

To see the results of the Semi Finals see here.

In 4th Place:-

Gordon Strachan

WA2075270

In 3rd Place:-

Nigel Adkins

Plymouth4029A.JPG-pwrt3

Gordon Strachan’s FA Cup final, European football and 8th place finish surprisingly well beaten by the feel good factor of Nigel’s back to back to back promotions.

Runner Up:-

Ronald Koeman

ronald-koeman-qpr-home148-1973706_478x359

World Cup of Saints Managers Champion:-

Lawrie McMenemy

hqdefault

With an FA Cup win, League Cup final, Promotions, Highest ever league finish  and Kevin Keegan, it couldn’t possibly have been any one else! Congratulations Lawrie Mac!

World Cup of Saints Managers: The Final!

For those of you that have been following, we started with 20 Saints managers past and present (ok, only one present) and now we are down to just four!

To see the results of the Preliminary Round see here.

To see the results of the First Round Proper see here.

To see the results of the Quarter Final see here.

The results of the Semi Finals are in:-

Match 1:-

Big Lawrie, ousts wee Gordon, and (rightly so, lets face it) makes the final.

Match 2:-

The most intriguing contest of the tournament, that was neck and neck from the word to go, all the way until the death. The current man in the dugout takes it.

So that concludes the Semi Finals. Who will be victorious?

3rd/4th Play-off:-

3pl

Vote Here:-

The Final:-

final

Vote Here:-

Who will be your winner? Voting ends at 1400 tomorrow.

World Cup of Saints Managers: Semi Finals

For those of you that have been following, we started with 20 Saints managers past and present (ok, only one present) and now we are down to just four!

To see the results of the Preliminary Round see here.

To see the results of the First Round Proper see here.

The results of the Quarter Finals are in:-

Match 1:-

The current boss sends Glenn Hoddle back to Eileen Drewery to assess what went wrong! Koeman is in the last four!

Match 2:-

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!

Match 3:-

Never in doubt really, the man who took Saints to their first FA Cup final in 27 years batters Pearson’s Championship survival efforts!

Match 4:-

No banana skins here for the most successful Saints manager, will he be the most popular and go all the way?

So that concludes the Quarter Finals. Koeman, Adkins, Strachan and McMenemy represent a very strong final four. Semi Final draw below.

Semi-Final Match 1:-

sf1

Vote Here:-

Semi-Final Match 2:-

sf2

Vote Here:-

So that concludes the Semi-Final Draw.

Who will make the final? Voting lasts 24 hours.

 

World Cup of Saints Managers: Quarter Finals

For those of you that have been following, we started with 20 Saints managers past and present (ok, only one present) and now we are down to just eight!

To see the results of the Preliminary Round see here.

The results of the First Round Proper are in:-

Match 1:-

The last man to win a trophy for Saints ousting ex-player Chris Nicholl to progress to the last eight!

Match 2:-

The closest contest of the tournament so far, the ex-England boss claims victory over the ex-Scotland boss!

Match 3:-

It’s the end of the road for Souey, comfortably beaten by the man in the glass and his back to back promotions.

Match 4:-

The current boss and his highest ever Premier League finish is no match for the hapless Stuart Gray. Koeman marches on.

Match 5:-

Pochettino exits faster than you can say ‘translator’ as Lawrie Mac takes the tie of the round!

Match 6:-

What Luggy didn’t want to do here was concede an early sacking….

Match 7:-

Almost a whitewash for Strachan, we contacted him for comment, but he said he had more important things to do. Something about a yoghurt.

Match 8:-

Both men just happy to be involved. Except Pearson he remained angry despite comprehensive win.

So that concludes the First Round Proper. Pardew, Hoddle, Adkins, Koeman, McMenemy, Merrington, Strachan and Pearson will contest the Quarter Finals. Draw Below.

Quarter Final Match 1:-

combine_images

Vote Here:-

Quarter Final Match 2:-

combine_images

Vote Here:-

Quarter Final Match 3:-

combine_images

Vote Here:-

Quarter Final Match 4:-

ci1

Vote Here:-

So that concludes the draw for the Quarter Finals! Who will make the last four? Voting concludes tomorrow at 1400.

World Cup of Saints Managers: 1st Round Proper

Yesterday saw the start of the ‘World Cup of Saints Managers’!

The results of the Preliminary Round are in:-

Match 1:-

Just goes to show that the draw can often do you no favours, as two of the bookies front runners faced off, and one of the fans favourites had to go. Ronald Koeman advances to the first round proper.

Match 2:-

No major surprise for me here, with the last man to bring silverware to St. Mary’s progressing.

Match 3:-

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.

Match 4:-

Another landslide, and you have to concede that the only chance Ian Branfoot had of progressing was if he had drawn Redknapp!

So that concludes the Preliminary Round. Ronald Koeman, Alan Pardew, Graeme Souness and Mauricio Pochettino join the remaining 12 ex-Saints bosses in the first round proper. Draw below.

1st Round Proper Match 1:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

1st Round Proper Match 2:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

1st Round Proper Match 3:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

1st Round Proper Match 4:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

1st Round Proper Match 5:-

combine_images

A HUMDINGER of a first round tie!

Vote here:-

1st Round Proper Match 6:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

1st Round Proper Match 7:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

1st Round Proper Match 8:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

 

So that concludes the draw for the First Round Proper! Who will progress to tomorrow night’s quarter finals?

 

World Cup of Saints Managers

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.

Here is the Entry List and their draw number:-

  1. Alan Ball
  2. Alan Pardew
  3. Chris Nicholl
  4. Dave Jones
  5. Dave Merrington
  6. George Burley
  7. Glenn Hoddle
  8. Gordon Strachan
  9. Graeme Souness
  10. Harry Redknapp
  11. Ian Branfoot
  12. Jan Poortvliet
  13. Lawrie McMenemy
  14. Mark Wotte
  15. Mauricio Pochettino
  16. Nigel Adkins
  17. Nigel Pearson
  18. Paul Sturrock
  19. Ronald Koeman
  20. Stuart Gray

I entered the numbers into an online random draw generator https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-cup-fixture-generator.htm and the fixtures were set.

As there were 20, this meant a preliminary round for eight of the managers. Here are the fixtures:-

Preliminary Round Match 1:-

combine_images

A MASSIVE first tie out of the hat!

Vote here:-

Preliminary Round Match 2:-

combine_images

Vote Here:-

Preliminary Round Match 3:-

combine_images

Vote here:-

Preliminary Round Match 4:-

combine_images

Vote Here:-

So that concludes the draw for the Preliminary round. Who will make it to the First Round Proper?

Voting closes at 1400 today (27/01/2016).

 

Played For Both: Saints & Devils

Another ‘Played for Both’ team, another serious lack of defenders (or for that matter a complete team). You will have to excuse some poetic license in this one, with regards peoples positions and err.. questionable playing history. But believe me, no one would want to lineup with one at back, especially if that one was Danny Higginbotham….

Here goes:-

Team

Goalkeeper

Harry Moger

Local Southampton boy Harry Moger signed for his hometown club in 1900 but was never first choice at the Dell, Saints loss was Manchester United’s gain when they took him in 1903. He played over 240 times for the Red Devils and was a league winner twice and FA Cup winner once. He was also part of the United team that won the first ever Charity Shield in 1908. Passed away in Manchester in 1927. R.I.P.

Harry Moger
Harry Moger

Defender

Oshor Williams

Technically a midfielder, Teesider Williams played for local club Middlesbrough as a youth before signing a professional contract with United in 1976, he didn’t kick a ball in anger for the club though and was promptly released a year later. After a couple of seasons in non-league football he was given a second chance by Lawrie McMenemy, he was quickly loaned to Exeter City for experience before coming back to Saints. He made just 6 appearances at the Dell before leaving for Stockport County in 1979. Has the dubious honour of making one of the worst Saints XI’s in our previous feature:- ‘Saints in our Lives’. Now works for the PFA and is a youth coach for Wigan Athletic.

Oshor Williams
Oshor Williams

Defender

Danny Higginbotham

Manc Higginbotham realised his dreams when he signed a professional contract at Old Trafford in 1997 having been a youth player with the club. After being farmed out to Royal Antwerp and being involved in a controversial incident with a referee he returned to Manchester and played four times for the first team. It was clear he was never going to be a regular though and was sold to Derby County for £2 million in 2000. Having impressed with the Rams in both the Premier League and the Championship Saints made their move in January 2003. He was an unused sub in the 2003 cup final, unable to displace the duo of Lundekvam and Svensson, but played more regularly in the subsequent seasons. With Saints dropping to the championship in 2005, Higginbotham let his contract expire and left the club for Stoke City in the summer of 2006. Has since had a spell at Sunderland, a second at Stoke and brief stints with Forest and Ipswich before signing for Sheffield United this month.

Danny Higginbotham
Danny Higginbotham

Defender

Jim McCalliog

Another who isn’t really a defender, glaswegian McCalliog was a youth at Leeds United before signing for Chelsea in 1963. After highly successful periods with Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves, United paid £60,000 to take him to Old Trafford. He was part of the United side that were both relegated to the 2nd division, but also bounced straight back up again at the first attempt, but was sold to Saints for £45,000 in 1975. McCalliog came back to haunt United manager Tommy Docherty, playing a perfectly timed through ball for the onside Bobby Stokes to score the only goal of the ’76 cup final. McCalliog headed to the States in 1977 and had a brief stint as a manager with Halifax Town in 1990.

Jim_McCalliog
Midfield

Gordon Strachan

Errr…. Ok, I was struggling at this point, but he did play for Saints in Matthew Le Tissier’s 2001 testimonial. It counts. It’s my rules.

See....
See….

Midfield

Mark Hughes

Seeing as Hughes made the Everton side too, I will keep this brief. Illustrious career as a striker with United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, United again, Chelsea. Hideous spell as a midfielder for Saints.

Frank Sinclair having a vision of the future...
Eddie Newton having a vision of the future…

Winger

Andrei Kanchelskis

Kanchelskis left his Ukranian home to join United in 1991 for the princely sum of £650,000. It was money well spent as he terrorised Premier League full backs for four seasons, but after a rumoured fall out with Sir Alex Ferguson he was moved on to Everton in 1995. Via a spell at Fiorentina he ensured he would be the answer to the most asked football trivia question of all time by signing for Rangers in 1998. After a highly successful period at Ibrox and a brief loan at Manchester City he signed for Saints in 2002. It was an odd signing and a once great Premier League player was a shadow of his former self, making just two brief substitute appearances. Now the manager of FC Ufa in the Russian second division.

Andrei Kanchelskis
Andrei Kanchelskis

Winger

Danny Wallace

Londoner Wallace joined Saints as a youth player in 1977 and turned pro in 1980. Made his debut at Old Trafford aged just 16, coming off the bench to replace Kevin Keegan. This was a record broken since by only Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale. Wallace was a fans favourite at the Dell, his pace and skill complimented with some fantastic goals. He was joined in the Saints team for the 1988/89 season by brothers Ray and Rodney but was attracted to the Ferguson revolution at United and headed for Old Trafford in the summer of 1989. He had played over 300 times for Saints. Although he didn’t quite live up to his reputation at United he did rack up a few medals and played for the club 47 times before moving to Birmingham City. Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996, Wallace has embarked on many charity ventures including the London Marathon. Makes the small list of players to have played just once for England, but scoring in that appearance.

Danny Wallace
Danny Wallace

Forward

Ron Davies

Welshman Davies is a legend at St. Mary’s, scoring 134 goals in 240 games after joining the club from Norwich City in 1965. He was considered the best striker around by Sir Matt Busby in 1967, a high accolade indeed. Unfortunately injures started to hamper Davies, the result of his physical combatant style and he lost his place in the Saints team. He crossed the South Coast divide in 1973 and signed for Portsmouth before heading to Old Trafford the following season. He made little impact at United and went on loan to Millwall before retiring in 1975.

Ron Davies
Ron Davies

Forward

Joe Jordan

After establishing himself as part of the fantastic Leeds team of the mid-70’s the Scotsman made the jump to Old Trafford in 1978. Scoring 37 goals in 109 games for United, Jordan was another physical striker and made the move from top English league player to top export when he moved AC Milan in 1981. He stayed at the San Siro for two seasons, and was highly regarded despite the club being relegated to Serie B in his second and last campaign. He moved to Verona that summer but the goals dried up and he headed back to Blighty and Southampton in 1984. Back on form Jordan scored 12 goals in 48 games for Saints before moving to Bristol City in 1987. After some questionable management periods he has become a mainstay of Harry Redknapp’s coaching team with Portsmouth, Spurs and now QPR. Oddly he didn’t follow Redknapp to Saints in 2004/05 and stayed at Portsmouth (perhaps he saw what was coming).

Joe_Jordan

Forward

Ted MacDougall

Journeyman MacDougall can name 18 clubs that he represented in his career including both United and Saints. Having started his career with Liverpool, he made a name for himself scoring plenty of goals for both York City and Bournemouth which led United to pay £200,000 for him in 1972. Despite scoring on his debut MacDougall didn’t last the season and was sold to West Ham. After not quite finding his feet at the Hammers either he found his scoring boots again at Norwich City, but soon found himself on the move again joining Saints for £50,000 in 1976. He helped Saints retain their place in the top division but MacDougall favoured staying in the lower leagues and returned to Bournemouth in 1978. Now a coach in the United States.

Ted_Macdougall

So there it is, I know I really pushed the acceptable boundaries this time, but amazing how few players there were post-war era. As usual, would love to hear of any other suggestions!

Chris

As featured on NewsNow: Southampton FC news

Be Careful What You Wish For…

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.

What I’d like to see Adam, is Saints to score more goals than the opposition..

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.

Moving to Spurs was a poor choice…

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.

And the award for best ‘Dressing room loser’ goes to…

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.

Time to grit teeth and dig in?

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.

Chris

A Saint Amongst Them: Blackpool

Saints host the Seasiders this Saturday and will be looking for a repeat of last season’s FA cup tie. While Saints home form has been the definition of consistency, the Tangerines have struggled on the road, with only a notable 0-5 victory over Leeds at Elland Road and an opening day defeat of Hull City in the win column.

With a few changes of personnel from their Premier League adventure last season, Blackpool will come to St. Mary’s with some familiar faces on board…

Stephen Crainey

Scottish international Crainey had a brief and unspectacular spell at St. Mary’s in 2004. Signed from Celtic by countryman Gordon Strachan shortly before the manager departed, the full back struggled to adapt to the Premier League. The full back made just five first team appearances in his time at St. Mary’s and left for Leeds on loan the following August which soon became a permanent arrangement.

Sadly, the lasting memory of Crainey for Saints fans will be his surprise selection (after Michael Svensson was injured during the warm up) and subsequent poor performance at Fratton Park in the March 2004 defeat.

Crainey joined Blackpool in the summer of 2007 and has been a regular at Bloomfield Road ever since.

Crainey at Saints.

Kevin Phillips

Evergreen striker Phillips’ association with Saints goes as far back as the early nineties when he was a youth player with the club and cleaned future England strike partner Alan Shearer’s boots!

Phillips didn’t make the grade at the Dell though and was released by the club where he had been used as a right back in 1992. Eleven years later, it cost Saints £3.5 million for Gordon Strachan to bring him back to the club after impressive goalscoring spells at Watford and Sunderland respectively.

Despite not quite hitting the same form as he did with his previous clubs Phillips still weighed in with an impressive amount of goals, especially considering the unrest at the club during a turbulent period in Southampton’s history. As Saints headed for the relegation trapdoor in 2004/05 Phillips still managed ten league goals, but never quite won the St. Mary’s fans over. Alleged comments in the media about the club and city following his departure to Aston Villa that summer make him an unpopular figure with the Saints crowd.

Phillips signed for Blackpool in July this year via West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City and now aged thirty eight already has five league goals this term.

Brett Ormerod

“They’ve got Brett Ormerod, They’ve got Brett Ormerod…”

In stark contrast to fellow striker Phillips, Lancashire born Ormerod was never heavily amongst the goals in a Saints shirt, but was very much loved by the fans.

After an impressive goalscoring record in his first spell at Bloomfield Road, Gordon Strachan bought the energetic forward for £1.75 million in December 2001. After taking a little while to establish himself Ormerod started to form a lethal partnership with James Beattie, his tenacity and energy complimenting Beattie’s ability to be in the right place at the right time.

It was this partnership that was tantamount to the 2003  FA Cup run that saw Saints reach the final. Ormerod’s man of the match performance in the Semi Final against Watford was a memorable highlight for both player and fans.

The arrival of Phillips the following summer saw Ormerod’s chances with the first team limited and he ended up going to Leeds on loan in 2004, and seven months later had another loan spell, this time with Wigan Athletic. The club’s relegation to the Championship saw Ormerod back in favour, but with goals hard to come by he eventually left the club for Preston North End in January 2006.

The scruffy but uncomplicated striker names his time at Southampton as the best of his career and left the club with as many fond memories as he left the fans.

Ormerod returned to Bloomfield Road in 2009 and back to the Premier League with them last season.

Ormerod the Saint.

Chris

You’ve got to And it to Anders…

The other night I was thinking about that most contentious of issues. The underrated player.

Mainly because, somebody who I have been hailing for some time now is seemingly getting the recognition that he deserves. That man is Richard Chaplow whose performances of late have showed why his £50k price tag and place in Preston’s reserves seems even more ludicrous now than it did at the time when we signed him.

I am a sucker for an underrated player. Those that some just don’t seem to get. I recently wrote a piece on Guly along the same lines, who has since put in a match winning performance at Coventry, yet I still saw comments from fans that other than score and have a hand in the other three goals, didn’t really do a lot…

I put the question to the Saints Twitter faithful on who was Saints most underrated player, and of course the opinions were varied. Suggestions ranged from Perry Groves to Agustin Delgado to Franny Benali to Jo Tessem and current players Ryan Dickson and Danny Butterfield also got mentions. The player that got the most votes was Chris Marsden, but as Sam Dobson pointed out and I am inclined to agree, Marsden is actually pretty highly regarded amongst Saints fans.

One player that didn’t register a single mention, but one that I always felt was sometimes misjudged by fans is likely to line up at Wembley against England on Tuesday for his 122nd or 123rd international cap.

Anders Svensson joined Saints in the summer of 2001 from Elfsborg for a fee of £750k by then caretaker manager Stuart Gray, the 24 year old Swede came in as a relative unknown to the fans, but already had sixteen international caps to his name.

Initially signed as an attacking midfielder to replace the outgoing Hassan Kachloul, Gray expected big things of the Swede “Anders can play off the front man or in midfield. He’s not an out-and-out striker but is certainly a forward-thinking midfield player who pops up in that area.”

Anders Svensson. Turning his opponents inside out.

Svensson was brought in to liven up a goal-shy Saints midfield that had netted just three goals between them in the previous season, and he provided that outlet with some success. Svensson got six goals in his first season, but more notably provided some much needed creativity that saw Marian Pahars race to fourteen goals for the season. As Saints turned their early season poor form around under new boss Gordon Strachan, Svensson was rapidly becoming a key player in the side. Mostly used in central midfield but sometimes on the left Svensson was never really used in his favoured position playing off of a front man, but nonetheless his contributions were notable.

He starred at that summers world cup, famously scoring the free kick that knocked Argentina out!

The 2002/03 season is one that will be forever engrained on every Saints fans mind. Anders played a key role in the side that finished 8th in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final. Although he started less games than he had the previous season, his starring role and brilliant individual goal against Spurs in the 3rd round of the cup was his stand out performance in a Saints shirt.

Often accused of inconsistency, he was regularly accused of not trying, and the 2003/04 season proved to be the beginning of the end for Anders in a Saints shirt. Gordon Strachan left in February 2004, and Paul Sturrock came in March. If anyone in the squad wasn’t a Sturrock type of player it was Svensson and he ended the season having played almost as many games from the bench as he had started. He didn’t find the net once.

2004/05 was another season that will never be forgotten, but for very different reasons. Under messrs Wigley and Redknapp, Svensson was used more frequently but as Saints bimbled to a sorry end to the season and relegation it was clear that the Swede’s future lie elsewhere.

Svensson battles the dutch to secure Euro 2012 qualification.

It was strongly rumoured that Svensson was offered a new contract by Saints, but he was a better player than the Championship, so it was no surprise to me that he decided to move on.  What did shock me was his destination, returning to his former club Elfsborg on a free transfer.

That move hasn’t hindered him at all from an international point of view, though I can’t help thinking there is a certain amount of wasted potential in Svensson. His move to Saints started promisingly but perhaps we, or at least the managers and coaches of the club are as guilty for that as anybody. I think that perhaps we had a very talented footballer at our disposal but weren’t prepared to change our formation or style to maximise his impact.

Now aged 35, he is still with Elfsborg and still playing a key role for his country. He is the Swedish vice-captain to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and second only to the great Thomas Ravelli in caps, ahead of such notable players as Olof Mellberg and Henrik Larsson.

He was part of the Sweden side that secured qualification for Euro 2012 with a 3-2 victory over the Netherlands last month and can hopefully look forward to appearing at a fifth major championship.

So look out for Anders at Wembley on Tueday night and wonder what might have been. Perhaps his time to arrive in the English game was a little too soon, and with the wrong managers…

Chris

p.s. Saints fans, don’t forget to check out our competition!