Tag Archives: Holland

The three signings that make Saints Summer business a success!

There has been much made of whether or not Saints have had a ‘successful’ Summer transfer window or not, and on the face of it, losing Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne was always going to make it difficult to convince a lot of the fanbase that it could be anything other than a failure.

Lots of people have raised concerns recently about the clubs policy of replacing the outgoing players with cheaper alternatives, and this coinciding with a poor start on the pitch meant people’s worries were seriously heightened.  I don’t pretend to be completely comfortable with it myself but talk of relegation and impending doom is way too early. With the confirmation on deadline day that Saints had ended the window as the  Premier League’s ‘net spend’ winners you have to say that if Ronald Koeman can get his team back to form and have another decent showing come the end of the campaign, then we perhaps have the shrewdest owners in football.

It is still too early to tell just how good or bad the incoming players are, but for me these three signings give Saints fans good reason to be optimistic.

  1. Jordy Clasie

I was a little put out by the lack of fuss the English media made of this signing, and in my opinion it was somewhat of a coup. Let’s be honest, if Koeman wasn’t in charge, Saints are never signing this player. You can’t take too much notice of supporter born superlatives, but the ‘Dutch Xavi’ is highly regarded in Holland and was long the subject of interest from Manchester United. Many people have said that they don’t see him as an adequate replacement for Schneiderlin, well let me put it to you that he isn’t here to be that. I think he is seen as a replacement for Steven Davis, sitting in front of the defensive midfield two and dictating play. Davis has done little wrong in a Saints shirt, but I see Clasie as a step up and it was gutting to see him pick up an injury so early into the campaign.

Clasie operator.
Clasie operator.

 

2. Oriol Romeu

If we are talking about Schneiderlin replacements, Spaniard Romeu is the man with that huge task on his hands in my opinion. The former Barcelona youth/B teammate of Messi, Fabregas et al looked to have made his breakthrough at Chelsea under Andre Villas-Boas but proved less popular with subsequent managers in West London and found himself one of the many victims of the Stamford Bridge Footballer borrowing library. Romeu has already proved to be a competent and combatant competitor in defensive midfield and could prove to be a steal at just £5 million. If Victor Wanyama can get over himself and forge a partnership with Romeu it will likely be one of the toughest in the division.

Loves a tackle...
Loves a tackle…

 

3. Virgil van Dijk

When the fallout of the farce involving Toby Alderweireld was that the Belgian had proved himself to be just another of football’s snakes, Saints fans were rightly worried about the lack of options at centre half. With many still untrusting of Maya Yoshida (though in my opinion he has been outstanding of late) and Florin Gardos both untested and then joining the long term injury list there was a clear gap in the squad. With all due respect to him, the loaning of Steven Caulker did little to appease that feeling, so the drawn out abut ultimately successful pursuit of Dutchman van Dijk was a nice way to round off the Summer window. I have high hopes for this transfer.van Dijk is a classy ball playing centre half and although there are no guarantees in football I think he will successfully make the step up. The lure of the Premier League has already improved his international prospects, having been called into the Dutch squad on Thursday and the incentive for him to stay there is to prove a hit in a better league.

Two Saints looking for more regular appearances in Orange!
Two Saints looking for more regular appearances in Orange!

Chris

Desperately Seeking Someone….

Sometimes I scroll through the #saintsfc twitter feed and wonder how some of our fanbase might have coped with the mid-90’s.

With only newspapers to go on and the odd snippet of a rumour (taken from that day’s papers) coming round approximately once every 100 seconds on the ceefax ‘other transfer news’ page the need for updates on new signings was fulfilled on fairly irregular basis. The fans of the 70’s of course would scoff at that as a ‘luxury’ .

The twitter era has given anyone with a voice a public platform to speak, even if they’ve got nothing worthwhile to say. So called ‘in the know’ accounts are getting the attention they crave and the tabloids are finding their oh so gullible audience even faster than ever before. The journalists have an instant echo too and some of them only use it when they know they are right, and it gives them an exclusive in every meaning of the word. Others feed off the scraps of their peers regurgitating what they have already seen elsewhere, piecing together nonsense in the hope of looking knowledgeable and taking a ‘scattergun’ approach to hitting the nail on the head. It’s a risky game, and while they lap up the praise when they blindly hit a bullseye (usually with someone else’s dart) they become incredibly precious when there is nowhere to hide when they get it wrong.

All of this just fuels the need for transfer news that the modern fan requires. The medium is instant, so therefore the business should be too right? Wrong.

It’s the panicking I find so frustrating, like whether or not a new world class player is brought in is a matter of life or death. To read some tweets you would think that this was the most important thing in some people’s lives. The period between Toby Alderweireld’s big ‘F*%k You’ and the signing of Jordy Clasie was almost unbearable. Constant whinging about how the club was ‘missing out on it’s top targets’. The evidence for this? Crystal Palace had signed Yohan Cabaye and Aston Villa had signed Idrissa Gueye, two players that the tabloids had linked with a move to St. Mary’s. There is no evidence whatsoever that the club were ever in for the players and arrogantly I would suggest had they been, they would have got them. The club’s main target in midfield was unsurprisingly Koeman’s former protege at Feyenoord and despite the need for about 23 medicals over the course of about 5 days, Les Reed got his man.

You’d think that the signing of a highly rated midfielder, in addition to the Portuguese and Spanish internationals that had already been brought in, oh and the World Cup finalist goalkeeper would mean we would get some respite from the bed wetting and for a few days we did. Football (remember that?) was a timely distraction with Saints looking impressive on their tour of Holland, but then the unfortunate news of an injury to Florin Gardos came to pass. With the club having already confirmed they were looking for a centre half that need suddenly became the focus of the gathered digital masses. Our friends in the media played their part with the use of the words ‘frantic’ in their description of Saints search for a defender and ‘crisis’ to describe the situation.

Now call me crazy, but with a proven proficient Premier League centre back in Maya Yoshida to partner Jose Fonte and the emergence of Jason McCarthy, Jack Stephens and Jordan Turnbull (Swindon rave about the performances of the latter two after their loan last season) I’m not sure ‘crisis’ is the right word. Do I think we should bring another experienced player in that position in? Yes, but only if they are better than we already have, and I do not see the point in panic buying the first one that becomes available.

Bizarrely the press insist on continuously throwing Ron Vlaar’s name into the hat despite his announcement that he has a long term injury and the fact that he is pants, something we saw first hand in our demolition of Villa at the end of last season. Other names that have appeared are Virgil van Dijk from Celtic and James Chester from Hull City (feels good that they are still City doesn’t it?) but they come with varying reviews from the online experts.

The interest level of the average supporter can be measured over the length of time the club has been without a late night announcement. This week for instance many met the news of apparent interest in James Chester with veritable disdain. ‘Not good enough’ and ‘You’ve got to be joking’ to ‘We need someone world class’ and ‘Les needs to get his arse into gear’ could be seen in black and white alongside the numerous complaints about tickets. Give it a week or so though and when Chester is pictured holding the famous shirt aloft the same people will be tweeting ‘Great signing #WeMarchOn’ and ‘Welcome to the club #SaintChester’ and the like. You see the perceived level of the player is completely irrelevant, this is the age of the instant and the signing isn’t the issue, it’s the furore that surrounds it that is important.

I’m as guilty as anyone. It’s easy to get dragged along in the excitement and the package of photographs and videos that come with it from the excellent club media team mean that even the most modest of signings #WelcomeVegard #SaintBignall etc. come with an air of romance.

I’m not asking people to not be excited about transfers, I’m just asking that people show a little restraint. If Saints don’t sign a centre half (I’m pretty sure they will) or they don’t sign one who is world renowned (I’m pretty sure they won’t) perhaps have some faith in the people running the club. They’ve very rarely let us down in the past *cough* OSVALDO *cough* and they know what they are doing.

Bill Shankly famously once said ‘Some people believe football is a matter of life or death. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.’ He was wrong. Saints will be fine this season, they might not finish as high in the table again, they might not challenge for honours but they will be there or thereabouts and it will be another cracking season. Try to enjoy it.

p.s. If your season ticket hasn’t arrived yet. It will. I promise.

COMPETITION: Win a Retro Saints or Koeman Shirt with Campo Retro!

georgeweahscousin and Campo Retro have come together to offer all our fans around the world a fantastic opportunity to win a unique Southampton or Holland retro shirt and free delivery. You can also use the code ‘GWC20’ to get 20% off any order.

Campo Retro have a wide range of retro shirts available and this competition is open to entrances from all over the world, so whether you live in St Mary’s or Sydney, you still have a great chance to win this fantastic prize. It couldn’t be simpler to enter this competition, all you have to do is go to this Tweet and RT and Follow @CampoRetro

It’s that simple. The competition closes Wednesday 15th October and the winner will be announced soon after. The winner will receive a notification from Campo Retro to request information on shirt, size and delivery address.

Take your pick from one of the retro style Saints shirts:-

Southampton

Or a classic Ronald Koeman Holland shirt from 1994:-

Koeman 94 F+B

If you cannot wait until then, use the discount code GWC20 to get 20% off any order now!

GOOD LUCK!

Chris

p.s. please remember to sponsor me:- http://georgeweahscousin.com/2014/10/09/great-south-run-sponsor-me-and-it-could-be-you/

Soka Afrika: The Story Many Europeans Won’t Want To Hear

African players in the Premier League have been commonplace now for many years, wowing crowds with their often combatant style with great technique and skill, they have established themselves as household names in Europe’s top leagues, earning riches they could only ever have dreamed of. But for every Drogba and Eto’o there are hundreds that don’t make the grade. There is nothing strange about that, it is the same for all players, no matter where in the world they are from. But ‘Soka Afrika‘ explores the seedy side of African football, that us European fans are naive to.

1soka title

A documentary set in the build up to the 2009 FIFA World U20 Cup, focuses on two young African footballers, Kermit Erasmus from South Africa and Ndomo Julian Sabo from Cameroon. Both our chasing their dream, but take very different paths.

Soka Afrika follows Kermit as he establishes himself at Excelsior in Holland and with his national team, and Ndomo whose family is conned by an ‘agent’ to sell their possessions and send him to Europe with promise of trials and contracts. Ndomo ends up homeless and starving on the streets of Paris, miles from home and in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Soccer Trafficking is sadly commonplace, with would be agents exploiting the dreams of young African footballers (often as young as 15) living in poverty with promises of fortunes to be earned. For every one that makes it, hundreds are cast aside, alone in a foreign country.

The documentary, also follows Jean Claude Mbvoumin, a former Cameroon international who plied his trade in France as a pro. He and other fellow former African players setup ‘Culture Foot Solidaire’ to raise awareness and offer help to those like Ndomo who find themselves stranded.

Soka Afrika is a fantastic documentary, and is a real eye opener to those of us who have often bemoaned ‘pampered footballers’, it is hard hitting and tragic in places, but also leaves you feeling buoyant at the attitude and smiles of the young players wronged but still fighting to live their dream.

As an aside there is a also a quick look at the legacy of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and it isn’t pretty….

A must watch for anyone who has watched African stars in European Leagues, and never given a second thought to how they might have got here!

Chris

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