Yesterday Saints beat Watford 1-0. Perhaps not the most inspiring or dominating victory, but a victory nonetheless, and passageway into the 5th round of the FA Cup.
I opened up Twitter this morning to see what the assembled masses had made of our performance, the manager’s tactical decisions, maybe even an honest appraisal of the striker that was promised and how he will save our season.
But no. The first so many tweets I saw were all melancholy teenage angst surrounding the performance of Jay Rodriguez for West Brom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it was an impressive showing from the former Saints forward, as he bagged a brace and duly put a van Dijk inspired (snigger) Liverpool defence to the sword and out of the cup, but should it be the primary focus of the Southampton support?
It’s an odd phenomenon amongst our fanbase, especially the social media wing of it that certain players are elevated to the status of deity when they move on.
If you read the words of our fans on twitter today, with no previous knowledge of Rodriguez and his time with Saints you would form the impression that he had left the club against it’s wishes on the back of a goalscoring season the likes of which could barely be believed. The reality of course is that he never looked the same after his horrific injury against Man City and scored just five league goals in the three and a bit years that followed it.
It’s called Jack Cork syndrome. Cork, like Rodriguez was a good player for Saints and a decent servant, but as the club moved on in terms of the quality of player it attracted his playing time reduced and at what was the right time for both him and the club he was moved on. Both Cork & Rodriguez went to clubs where they were more likely to play and neither pulled up any trees. Yet, every time they put in a decent shift for their new clubs, the Saints fans unite in their bemoaning of ‘the one that got away’ and how shortsighted the club were in letting them go.
The fact is the club have improved on both those players. Several times.
If you stop being blinkered and analysing one off games you will see that they aren’t actually being consistently brilliant for their new clubs either and there was a reason Saints let them go. Despite a considerably higher amount of game time for West Brom, Jay Rod has scored just four league goals for the Baggies, Austin has six for Saints in a third of the minutes on the pitch!
I don’t have an issue with still liking those players, or appreciating what they did in their time at the club, but do we need the constant outpouring of support every time they have a good game? We don’t put as much energy into supporting the players that are currently at the club!
I don’t know what it is about them that makes them so universally popular still, perhaps it is because they are clean cut young English lads? I don’t know. But the time for them to go was right.
I know what you did last summer. The title of a horror movie of questionable quality and perhaps a statement that may have seemed relevant for the horror that was the previous transfer window for Southampton fans.
If somebody had said to you then that Ronald Koeman would be cementing foundations in his squad during the January window in the hope that they can maintain their position in the top four and potentially qualify for the Champion’s League you would have shipped them off to the madhouse quicker than a dodgy Graeme Souness signed Liberian legend’s family member. But here we are.
Saints made two signings on deadline day, one that will give Koeman a further option in attack and another that won’t change the look of the squad, but will be a signal of their intentions to their challengers for the top four.
Serbian international Filip Djuricic is a skilful player…
Saints head to St. James’ Park for Saturday’s Premier League evening kick off knowing they will have to banish another poor stadium record to the annals of history, much like they did last weekend at Old Trafford.
Given the form of both teams, a Newcastle United victory seems as incomprehensible as the lyrics to Lindisfarne’s ‘Fog on the Tyne’ and as unlikely as Mike Ashley being given the freedom of the city. However, this is not a ground where Saints fare well and amongst the furore of recent results, a point would be an extremely positive result at the end of an arduous week travelling wise.
Ronald Koeman has a midfield dilemma to sort out, with Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama both injured this week, so it will be interesting to see if he throws the returning…
So here it is, the fourth and final part of my year in review of Saints, using only tweets. Hope you enjoyed it and I would like to wish everyone who has taken time to read any of the articles/calculated nonsense on this site in 2014 a Happy New Year!
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?
So that is the end of another fantastic season following Saints! No season would be officially over though 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 for a vote as runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.
Scored points:- Rickie Lambert (< 1%), Victor Wanyama (<1%), Jose Fonte (<1%), Artur Boruc (<1%), Nathaniel Clyne (<1%), Morgan Schneiderlin (2%), Jack Cork (5%), Steven Davis (6%), Luke Shaw (7%).
3rd Place:- Dejan Lovren (13%)
2nd Place:- Jay Rodriguez (18%)
And the winner, making it a clean sweep in all Player of the Season awards, and about to find out for certain that he is off to Brazil! With a whopping 46% of the points……Adam Lallana!
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 voted for those who improved over the course of the campaign.
Received Votes:- Whole Squad, Victor Wanyama. Sam Gallagher, Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Jack Cork, Dejan Lovren, Steven Davis, Luke Shaw.
3rd Place:- Calum Chambers (11%)
2nd Place:- Jose Fonte (31%)
And the winner, retaining the same award that he one last season, after a fantastic season in which he finished top scorer. With 37% of the votes…..Jay Rodriguez!
Young Player of the Year
A new award this season, though why, considering how good this club’s youth system is, I haven’t done it before is beyond me!
Received Votes:- Harrison Reed
3rd Place:- James Ward-Prowse & Sam Gallagher (2% each)
2nd Place:- Calum Chambers (15%)
And the winner, having broken into the England squad in time for the World Cup and turning the heads of the big clubs, it could only be. With 80% of the votes….Luke Shaw!
Received Votes:- Mauricio Pochettino, Guly, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Morhan Schniederlin, Victor Wanyama.
3rd Place:- Jose Fonte (7%)
2nd Place:- Jack Cork (17%)
And the winner is, after a season in which he has proved crucial to the way Saints play. With 60% of the votes…..Steven Davis!
Signing of the Season
2nd Place:- Victor Wanyama (8%)
And the winner with a ridiculous 92% of the votes is the ever dependable centre half and absolute bargain ant £8.5 million….Dejan Lovren!
Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)
Received Votes:- Team v Everton (h), Team v Man City (h), Team v Arsenal (h), Team v Fulham (a), Team v Hull (h), Pochettino’s season, Wanyama v WBA (a), Lovren v Liverpool (a), Back Four all season, Clyne v Everton (h), Schneiderlin v Arsenal (h), Team v Man Utd (a), Lallana v Newcastle (h), Team v Palace (a), Team v Fulham (h), Guly v Yeovil, The Groundsmen, Chambers v Man City (h).
3rd Place:- Lallana v Hull (h) (9%)
2nd Place:- Team v Newcastle (h) (22%)
And the winner is, a memorable day early in the season in which a team that hammered plenty this season were made to look very ordinary. With 29% of the votes……Team v Liverpool at Anfield!
The Ali Dia Award for Comedy Moment
It says everything about the gallows humour of being a Saints fan that this award always comes with most varied answers. Brace yourselves….
Received Votes:- #Scarfgate, Boruc’s headstand against Arsenal, Linesman missing David Silva offside at Man City, Jason Puncheon’s poo break (last season but still funny to someone), Pochettino’s interview after Man City, #lovrenlive tweets, Hooiveld & Fox v Spurs, Boat capsizing in the Thames at HT v Fulham, Pochettino’s interview after Everton game, Newcastle fans video after St. Mary’s mauling, Jack Wilshire bouncing off Wanyama, MELTDOWN, Asimir Begovic Goal at Stoke, Dani Osvaldo, Dani Osvaldo on the touchline at Newcastle, Training nutmeg videos, Ref getting slapped in the face at Newcastle, Lovren’s injured testicles, Rodriguez scoring on his arse at Palace, Boruc and the waterbottle (again last season), Lambert’s goal v Swansea, Paul Lambert claiming Villa deserved their victory at St. Mary’s, Fulham, Mark Clattenburg (take your pick), Lovren’s tweet about Peter Crouch, Americans watching Saints because of Jozy Altidore, Villa fans ‘We pay your benefits’, Toni Jiminez kicking off, Lambert’s miss at Sunderland, Team selection for FA Cup at Sunderland, Masks at Swansea, Schneiderlin dumping Yaya Toure on his arse, Lovren getting spanked.
2nd Place:- Wanyama’s disallowed goal celebration against Swansea & Everton’s double O.G. at St. Mary’s (Both 12%).
And the winner, with 24% of the votes, not so funny at the time but hard not see the amusing die now…..Artur Boruc’s ‘Cruyff turns’ at Arsenal!
Best Opposition Team
Received Votes:- Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton, Sunderland.
3rd Place:- Arsenal (5%)
2nd Place:- Liverpool (31%)
And the winner is, the only team that outplayed Saints twice this season. With 57% of the votes……Chelsea!
Best Opposition Player
Received Votes:- Christian Eriksen (Spurs), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), Oscar (Chelsea), David Marshall (Cardiff City), Willian (Chelsea), David Elliott (Newcastle United), Officials, Emmanuel Adebayor (Spurs), David Silva (Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jussi Jaskeleinan (West Ham United), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Nathan Dyer (Swansea City), Kolo Toure (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Fabio Borini (Sunderland), Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham), Yaya Toure (Manchester City).
3rd Place:- Fernando Torres (Chelsea) (6%)
2nd Place:- Eden Hazard (Chelsea) (20%)
And the winner is, the man everybody loves to hate but is simply an unbelievable footballer. With 22% of the votes…Luis Suarez!
Best Opposition Fans
Received Votes:- Newcastle United, Swansea City, Hull City, Manchester City, Portsmouth (?), Fulham, Arsenal, Sunderland, None stood out, Everton, Yeovil Town, Manchester United, Don’t Care, Spurs, Norwich City, Burnley, West Ham.
3rd Place:- Cardiff City & Chelsea (6% each)
2nd Place:- Liverpool (16%)
And the runaway winners and certainly my choice after their constant and varied noise at St. Mary’s. With 42% of the votes…Crystal Palace!
Best Saints related Tweeter
As always this award is just a bit of fun and plenty of people vote for themselves!
Received votes:- crstig, James Price, Sridout92, Jim Lucas, mgnsnddn_, Dejan Lovren, dictateplay, danbsfc, Luke Shaw, Artur Boruc, Max_Sopel, Radhi Jaidi, TalkSaints,Matthew Le Tissier, TractorSaint, jamie_benjamin1, Saints Media Team, BigAdamSport, TacoAli, Kelly Mauger, Saints News&Views, L1minus10, uglyinside, gulydopradonaat, Mike1617, SamDobson1, saintsfc, Not going to blow smoke up your arse, Sirvoodoo, SaintsArg, Me, SaintsRelated, MatthewLeGod, Most are mongs, You’re all miserable, Glasgow_Saints, Victor Wanyama, Rich Robertson, markreeves999, Anyone but Chris Rann.
3rd Place:- Club’s Official Account (7%)
2nd Place:- Simon Peach (8%)
And the winner is with 9% of the votes the Peter Crouch of the Saints micro-blogging fraternity….@ConnorArmstrong!
S0 that concludes this season’s Ali’s! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who voted. A big thank you to Dan Tiller for the Photoshop wizardry! It’s been a great season! Here’s to a great summer watching more Saints boys than ever competing at a major tournament and then it will be time to look forward to another campaign following the South Coast’s top club!
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.
Saints continued their pre-season preparations with a 0-2 defeat to Champions League side Schalke 04 last night, in what was a decent performance if not a great result. For large spells of the game Saints were dominant, particularly in the first half, but didn’t look sharp enough up front in comparison to their German opponents who were further into their pre-season.
Youngsters Lloyd Isgrove and Callum Chambers were given starts and held their own admirably, while new boys Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama also started, Wanyama in particular looking already to be a shrewd acquisition.
I was lucky enough to have a photographer Cristoph Pfeiler from Inscouts at the game and he took these great shots. Enjoy the gallery.