Back in 2011, prior to Saints return to the top flight I was asked by Shoot magazine to compile my ‘Premier League Dream Team’.
I thought it would be good to look back at it now, 5 years later and with some impressive Premier League campaigns under our belt to see where I might now change that team.
Goalkeeper (2011) – Antti Niemi
Goalkeeper (2016) – No change. The flying Finn was and still is the best keeper I’ve ever seen in a Saints shirt.
Left Back (2011) – Wayne Bridge
Left Back (2016) – No change. I was a big fan of Bridge, and though I think Luke Shaw might have stolen this had he stayed a bit longer and Ryan Bertrand is consistently immaculate, Bridge still gets the nod. Just.
Right Back (2011) – Jason Dodd
Right Back (2016) – Nathaniel Clyne. It’s not easy to drop Dodd who was such a fantastic servant to the club but Clyne’s performances in a Saints shirt were superb.
Centre Half (2011) – Dean Richards R.I.P.
Centre Half (2016) – Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman will go on to be know as one of Saints most impressive and important signings of all time in my opinion. Oozes class and is almost unbeatable in the air.
Centre Half (2011) – Michael Svensson
Centre Half (2016) – Jose Fonte. Another difficult decision but Fonte’s impact in the Premier League as the constant amongst several partners and the defensive performances that have stemmed from them have to be rewarded.
Central Midfield (2011) – Chris Marsden
Central Midfield (2016) – Morgan Schneiderlin. An all round brilliant midfielder and arguably is yet to be replaced (though PEH looks a decent bet).
Left Midfield (2011) – Hassan Kachloul
Left Midifeld (2016) – Adam Lallana. The homegrown Lallana may have left a sour taste in the mouths of many when he left, but his performances for Saints were a joy to watch.
Right Midfield (2011) – Ronnie Ekelund
Right Midfield (2016) – No change. Ekelund was at the club for such a short space of time that I feel sorry for those fans who didn’t get to see how good he was.
Attacking Midfielder/Free Role (2011) – Matthew Le Tissier
Attacking Midfielder/Free Role (2016) – No change. Pretty sure I don’t have to justify this one.
Striker (2011) – Marian Pahars
Striker (2016) – No change. I can’t drop the little Latvian, I simply can’t. He provided too much joy to my younger Dell going self.
Striker (2011) – James Beattie
Striker (2016) – Rickie Lambert. Very difficult to remove Beattie, but Lambert was much more than a brilliant striker, he was a superb footballer and a talisman too.
Before the England squad was announced there were strong rumours Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand would be included for the first time since 2012.
This was no surprise to the regulars at St. Mary’s, as Bertrand has established himself as one of the most consistent performers in the best defence in the Premier League this season, playing a key role in his side’s chase for European football.
Neutrals were also suggesting the ex-Chelsea man should be there because, on form, this season he has arguably been the best left sided full-back in the league – English or otherwise.
But when the squad was announced last week, Bertrand was a notable absentee.
You might understand that were the competition in his position fierce, but Roy Hodgson called up Leighton Baines (part of an Everton team having a considerably…
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…
I honestly didn’t think I’d be writing about another new Saints manager this soon, but as the disappointment of Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to enter the Premier League sack race lingered like a bad smell today’s long awaited official announcement that Dutch legend Ronald Koeman has replaced him has brought a feel good factor back to St. Mary’s.
Mr. Koeman dashed my 14 year old dreams back in 1993 when his freekick (he’s going to flip one!) saw England fail to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but now he is the man that has the responsibility of continuing the progression of my beloved Saints.
As is customary on georgeweahscousin.com, rather than give my uninformed opinions on what we can expect from the former centre half I spoke to those who truly know.
Firstly, Koeman takes over on the back of Saints best ever Premier League season. Do you think he can have an immediate impact? Perhaps even improve on it?
JvK ‘Well, let me be honest on this one. When Koeman arrived at Feyenoord we were really sceptical. His name wasn’t that popular among the supporters. He was pretty much known as someone who was tactically poor, and as someone who would jump on a train to the next club as soon as he got the chance. We couldn’t have been more wrong, Koeman surprised us all.
Yes I do think he will have an impact. He has guts and isn’t afraid to try something completely new. As far as results go Saints were pretty good this year, and I do think Koeman needs some time to adapt, but I think he will do a good job, and that Saints have chosen a great manager.’
WB ‘With any manager coming into a new league, it is almost impossible to predict and Ronald Koeman has had previous bad experiences in other countries out of comfort zone of the Eredivisie. While managing Benfica and Valencia he failed to make an impact and even placed the latter in relegation trouble. However, Koeman will have more experience on the touchline now and will thrive on this challenge and will give it his all to make it a successful tenure.’
Mauricio Pochettino was a popular figure at St. Mary’s serving up fantastic football and decent results, how will Koeman’s style of play impress us?
JvK ‘Koeman has a lot of guts. He always tries to surprise the opposition. He will know how the opposition plays, and he is very good at picking a team to suit the style of the opposition. He has the help of his brother Erwin, who has also been manager at Feyenoord, with more limited player resources than Ronald. They both like an attractive style of play, and as long as they have the players for that, they will try to satisfy the support.’
WB ‘Koeman likes attacking football, at Feyenoord, the last few seasons, some great young wingers emerged from the youth teams and Koeman played to their strengths. He placed a big Italian striker Graziano Pelle into the middle of the park and let the wingers bang crosses in for him. He likes using pace so look for him to bring through some speed to the Southampton attack.’
Saints pride themselves on their development of youth players and bringing them into the first team and eventually becoming international footballers, it seems in Koeman we may have the right man to continue this. How did he implement this at Feyenoord?
JvK ‘Well, he didn’t had a choice. Feyenoord weren’t able to bring new players in, so he had to take a look at the youth. He immediately put young players on the pitch and they had an incredible impact. Feyenoord have the best youth players in Holland. There were some youngsters who were already pretty close to the first team, and he just let them play. At first some of them had some adjustment problems, but most of them have become international players also. Just check out the dutch national team. Koeman is very good with young players and I certainly think he can continue to bring them into the first team for Southampton.’
WB ‘In the Netherlands, nearly every club brings through the youth which is what makes the Eredivisie one of the most exciting leagues in the world. The hungry attackers versus the inexperienced defenders, which provides lots of chances created. You don’t need me to tell you about the vast of talent that the Saints have brought through and Koeman will be a huge fan of this. The amount of players from Feyenoord over the past 12 months that made their debut for the Oranje national side is immense.
Stefan de Vrij (22), Daryl Janmaat (24), Terence Kongolo (20), Bruno Martins Indi (22) and Jordy Clasie (22) are all currently in the World Cup squad with Jean-Paul Boëtius (20) and Tonny Vilhena (19) just missing out. You can see from that list of the progression of those players under Koeman, so I can see that is one thing the Dutchman will be aspiring to do at Southampton.’
Many of Saints first team (Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren most prominently) are being linked with moves away from the club. How is Koeman as a leader, could he persuade them to stay?
JvK ‘Well, I don’t think he is going to do that. Koeman isn’t a manager who wants to convince players to stay, if they want to leave they can leave. He will give his opinion about the transfers though, and if I was a player I should listen to that. Koeman knows how to plan your career as a player, but he wont try to keep them at the club, that’s up to the players.’
WB ‘I think he could, he’s a great man manager and motivator and also a well respected figure in the world of football. Not only could keep players at the club, if he had the chance and some funds, he attract some of the world’s best. You have to remember, this guy is a winner. Across Holland as a player, he won domestic honours as well as starring in European Cup winning teams at PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona. On top of that, he was also major part of the Netherlands’ European Championship winning side in 1988. Anyone with those credentials should be enough to build a team.’
Are there any negative aspects of his management style that we should be prepared for?
JvK ‘He can be a bit harsh from time to time. We have seen him talk negative about his own players several times. Also he can get into disagreements with players, especially when those players think they are larger than the club.’
WB ‘The style of possession play and attacking football that he likes to instruct his team to do could leave gaps at the back in the Premier League. Other than that, nothing really springs to mind, I guess time will tell.’
And finally, we are already being linked with the likes of Graziano Pelle, Lex Immers and Virgil van Dijk. Do you see Koeman going back to Feyenoord and who do you see as decent acquisitions for Saints?
JvK ‘We at Feyenoord have a love/hate relationship with Lex Immers. I personally think he is a great player with amazing stamina, but he is very bad in front of the goal. He needs 100 chances to score a goal. Graziano Pelle has been fantastic for Feyenoord. We didnt expect that, because he was terrible at his previous clubs. As long as the players around him know what to do, he will score. But he also has a bad temper. Further, Feyenoord have several young players who have been linked with several clubs already. But for now I think Lex Immers would be a decent signing.’
WB ‘Pellè has had disciplinary problems through the last 12 months at Feyenoord in which the club actually banned the player from selection for four games. The big Italian booted a window after losing to vital match in the title race earlier this year, then insulted a Fox Sports interviewer the week after. This is a big no-no in the world of Dutch football, where the philosophy over there is all about respect. Koeman will not have liked this, even though the player was slotting in around 25-30 goals per season. I cannot see him coming over to England due to that, even though he’s a big strong guy with good feet, great in the air and would be a perfect fit for replacing Rickie Lambert. Another downside is that he is 29 years old now and not someone that could be progressed at the club.
I personally do not think Lex Immers would be good enough for the Premier League but big Virgil would. He’s never played under Koeman as of yet but I’m sure Ronald would love him there.’
7th July 2012. Saints sign David McGoldrick from Nottingham Forest for £775k
9th July 2012 .David Connolly and Radhi Jaidi are released.
18th July 2012. Ryan Dickson is sold to Swindon Town for £375k
Saints open their first campaign back in the Championship with a trip to title favourites Cardiff City, they lose 1-0, but put in an impressive performance. They lineup:- Davis, Butterfield, Seaborne, Martin, Shaw, Ward-Prowse, Hammond (c), Ritchie, Chaplow, Barnett, McGoldrick.
Youngsters Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse make their league débuts and suitably impress.
The team take confidence from their decent start and go on a six game unbeaten run, ending September in 6th place and prompting talk of successive promotions.
A couple of injuries to key players take their toll and Saints form dips, culminating in a dreadful run of 12 games without a win, leaving them 18th as the end of the January transfer window neared. Saints fans were hoping that the board would strengthen the squad so as to prevent a relegation battle.
21st January 2013. Luke Shaw is sold to Arsenal for £4 million.
Saints form is erratic for the rest of the season as they struggle to cope with the rigours of the Championship with a young inexperienced squad. They find themselves in the relegation zone with three games to go but rally enough to win the first two. They go into the final game of the season knowing that a point will save them, but could go down with a defeat due to their poor goal difference. They draw 2-2 with Barnsley at St. Mary’s and finish 19th.
1st June 2013. Jason Dodd is relieved of his duties as Southampton manager. Assistant Paul Williams also leaves.
18th June 2013. James Ward-Prowse is sold to newly promoted Cardiff City for £1.2 million.
20th June 2013. Kelvin Davis announces his retirement.
30th June 2013. Saints sign Newcastle United goalkeeper Rob Elliot on a season long loan.
14th July 2013. The Saints board make a statement saying that the past seasons have taken a toll on the club financially and it is now up for sale.
16th July 2013. Martin Hunter is promoted from U21’s coach to first team manager.
2013/14 The Championship
Saints open the season with defeat at Nottingham Forest, lining up Elliot, Chambers, Seaborne, Martin, Targett, Chaplow, Hammond (c), Ritchie, McQueen, Barnett, McGoldrick. Despite the poor feeling around the club and the coming season, Saints start well and are 9th by the start of October.
A run of defeats sees them drop to 15th and with strong rumours that the board are looking to cash in on the performances of youngsters Calum Chambers and Sam McQueen, relegation seems a very real possibility.
As the club hit January they sit in 13th and the board reiterate their stance that the club is for sale.
4th January 2014. Calum Chambers is sold to Liverpool for £2.8 million.
16th January 2014. Saints announce that the club has been sold to an American investor.
28th January 2014. Saints sign Danny Ings from Burnley as the first player under the new regime for £1.8 million.
Saints see out the remainder of the season in indifferent form that quickly turns to poor form culminating in a 10 game streak without a win, but with the goals from Ings and a unified more confident squad under the new owners, they find themselves safe from relegation with two games to play and would spend the summer preparing for a third season in the Championship.
It’s worth remembering that in reality the last four seasons have been pretty good…
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!
If anyone was still doubting the credentials of the potential England World Cup players at Saints, surely they were put to bed in Saturday’s emphatic victory over Newcastle United?
Saints put in an immaculate attacking performance, mainly due to the superb play of the attacking three, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez.
Adam Lallana is a shoe-in for the squad, I’m sure of that, and people are just starting to believe that not only should he be guaranteed his place on the proverbial plane, but that Roy Hodgson should be finding a place for him in the starting eleven. If there is an English player around at the moment playing as well as Lallana in the support role, ripping defences to shreds with intricate skill and footballing brain, then I haven’t seen them.
I’m fed up of bigging up Luke Shaw. He is the best left back in the Premier League right now, coupling immaculate defensive performances with attacking runs that scare defences to death. He is consistently superb and England have already seen a 45 minute glimpse of how good he is. I have a feeling he will make the final squad, and it will be a surprise to everybody but Saints fans.
In terms of the two Saints forwards I’m not quite so confident that they will make the cut, though it will be criminal if they don’t.
Despite his excellent all round play, ability on the ball, superb passing, team focus and a Premier League assist record this season that is only bettered by Luis Suarez, Rickie Lambert still can’t shake the constant comparison with Andy Carroll, and some, particularly the English press believe it is a 50/50 shout between the two. What planet are these people on? If all those qualities I’ve listed aren’t enough, you can throw in the added bonus of goals. Lambert is twice the footballer Carroll is, and if the West Ham forward is preferred it will say everything about the progression, or lack thereof in English football.
Jay Rodriguez, has had a superb season, infinitely better than Danny Welbeck’s, sadly though I think he will always find himself behind the Man Utd forward in the pecking order. Rodriguez can do all the things that Welbeck can do, with the added bonus of goals. Surely the England manager will go with form?
If Roy Hodgson doesn’t see the individual qualities of the Saints players perhaps their team dynamic might attract him. I’ve long been an advocate of using successful club partnerships to the advantage of the national team. An England team with John Terry and Gary Cahill at centre half with Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson in the middle of the park and Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert playing a support three to Daniel Sturridge in his rightful position up top doesn’t sound bad does it? We could do a lot worse, and so often do.
Hopefully the England manager will see sense and utilise players from clubs like Liverpool and Southampton as much as he can. These are the clubs playing football in the way we should be aiming to as a national team, so it makes sense to bring them in. Surely we won’t go to Brazil, the home of ‘sexy football’ and lump it up to Andy Carroll?
Keep the Faith.
The Southampton Football Club Blog that doesn't like to take itself too seriously!