It’s not often I get to see Saints’ Under 21’s in action, so I was delighted to see that they were playing Leicester City in nearby Nuneaton tonight.
It was bitterly cold at Nuneaton Town’s Liberty Way stadium as the likes of Town manager Liam Daish, Coventry City boss Stephen Pressley, Houston Dynamo forward Giles Barnes (brother of Saints sub Marcus), some important looking chaps from Hull City, a plethora of serious looking men with notepads and pencils and what looked like Vincent Pericard, or maybe Lennox Lewis took their seats for this Under 21 Premier League encounter.
It was a bright start by both sides, with the styles of both immediately recognisable. Saints named a side lacking in first team experience and were clearly focused on team play, while their hosts side included Nick Powell, Marc Albrighton and Anthony Knockaert who all have plenty of games at the highest level under their belt. Powell and Knockaert were the focus of all their play and clearly the dangermen from the word go.
Saints took the lead though, through a brilliant individual effort from Josh Sims, weaving his way through the Foxes defence before hitting a fine curling finish. Powell then showed his influence, bigger in both reputation and physical stature he imposed himself on the much smaller Saints midfield and was pulling the strings, scoring twice along the way to give the home side a deserved lead.
Had it not been for some impressive stops from Paolo Gazzaniga the scoreline could have been less comfortable for the visitors, and they came out for the second half with a new impetus. Ryan Seager looked sharp every time he got into the box and it was his he that got Saints back in it.
Anthony Knockaert was causing all sorts of problems on the left, and showed just how ready he is for the Premier League by going down under minimal to no contact, and crying to the referee every time something didn’t go his way. If that was annoying me enough, his celebration after putting the Foxes back in front, more suited to a Wembley cup final than in front of 100 people in the reserves upped it somewhat before his horror challenge on Bevis Mugabi put it at peak level.
It was nice to see some refereeing consistency though as the man in the middle consistently didn’t punish some hefty over the top tackles from both sides, Knockaert perhaps helped by Mugabi’s lack of fuss.
Saints pushed for a second equaliser and went close several times, before Seager again showed why his name is being suggested for first team football with a tidy finish to snatch a point at the death.
All in all an enjoyable evening, and a great end to end game. Powell was the difference for much of the game, and Leicester undoubtedly created more chances, but Saints play was slicker than their opponents at times and they deserved to get back in it.
I was particularly impressed by Jason McCarthy who showed why he is captain with his constant talking and organising, Josh Debayo who marshalled the Leicester right winger expertly, and with an air of calm that almost made it look nonchalant, Josh Sims, whose skill was clear but sadly had to be replaced early on, Omar Rowe who has unbelievable pace and was a constant menace to the Foxes defence (and the referee who booked him for dissent after several tirades) and Ryan Seager who is a goalscorer, simple as that!
Leicester U21s: Adam Smith, Alie Sesay, Kieran Kennedy, Callum Elder, Jack Barmby, Jak McCourt, Nick Powell, Anthony Knockaert, Marc Albrighton, Joe Dodoo (Joe Davis 77), Tom Hopper (c).
Unused substitutes: John Maddison (GK), Kris Scott, Harry Panayiotou, Simonas Stankevicius.
Goals: Powell (33, 38), Knockaert (75)
Saints U21s: Paulo Gazzaniga, Jake Flannigan, Bevis Mugabi, Jason McCarthy (c), Josh Debayo, Dominic Gape, Armani Little (Niall Mason 46), Josh Sims (Harley Willard 27), Omar Rowe, Sam McQueen, Ryan Seager.
Unused substitutes: Will Britt (GK), Marcus Barnes, Ollie Cook
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?
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.
So that is the end of another topsy turvey season in the life of being a Saints fan, but no season would be complete 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 as a vote for runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.
Scored points:- Adam Lallana (0.0013%), Jason Puncheon (0.0013%), Steven Davis (0.4%), Jay Rodriguez (0.94%), Maya Yoshida (1.34%), Artur Boruc (2.42%), Luke Shaw (5.24%), Nathaniel Clyne (8.2%)
3rd Place:- Jack Cork (15.8%)
2nd Place:- Rickie Lambert (17.9%)
And the winner, making it a clean sweep in Player of the Season Awards, well deserved after an amazing system, with a whopping 47.37% of the points…..Morgan Schneiderlin!
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 voter for those who improved over the course of the season.
Received Votes:- Rickie Lambert, Jose Fonte, Steven Davis, Jos Hooiveld, Nathaniel Clyne, Artur Boruc, Jack Cork, Maya Yoshida, Morgan Schneiderlin.
3rd Place:- Luke Shaw (16%)
2nd Place:- Jason Puncheon (18%)
And the winner, a young man who started his career at Saints with a lot of doubters, but in the second half of the season was undoubtedly one of our top performers with 29% of the votes……Jay Rodriguez!
Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)
Received Votes:-Puncheon at Loftus Road, Second Half at Stamford Bridge (Team), Gaston Ramirez v Villa at home, Team v Villa at home, Team v Newcastle at home, Jay Rodriguez v Liverpool at home, Boruc at Villa Park, Team v Arsenal at home, Team v West Ham at home, Second Half at Old Trafford (Team), First half at home v Everton (Team), Lambert v Chelsea at home, Cork v Chelsea at home, Boruc at Carrow Road, Team at Loftus Road, Cortese v Le Tissier, Cortese sacking Adkins.
3rd Place:- Team v Chelsea at home in the league (13%).
2nd Place:- Team v Liverpool at home (20%).
And the winner, a memorable day as the champions were made to look extremely ordinary with 31% of the votes….Team v Man City at home.
Signing of the Season
Received Votes:- Maya Yoshida, Mauricio Pochettino, Gaston Ramirez, Steven Davis, Vegard Forren.
3rd Place:- Jay Rodriguez (7%).
2nd Place:- Artur Boruc (24%).
And the winner, forming a formidable partnership with Jason Puncheon on the right and proving as asset both in defence and going forward with 62% of the vote….Nathaniel Clyne!
Received Votes:- That Fat Bloke in the glasses who hangs around outside the dressing rooms, MoPo’s interpreter, The Travelling Sains Support, Jos Hooiveld, Guly, Emmanuel Mayuka, Nigel Adkins, Artur Boruc, Jason Puncheon Jay Rodriguez, Morgan Schneiderlin, Nicola Cortese, Nathaniel Clyne.
3rd Place:- Steven Davis (16%).
2nd Place:- Maya Yoshida (22%).
And the winner is, a man who we missed in our terrible start to the season and made a massive contribution when he returned. He retains this award from last season! With 36% of the votes…..Jack Cork!
The Ali Dia Award For Comedy Moment
It says a lot about Saints fans, that this is always the award that comes the most varied answers. Great effort from everyone again! Brace yourselves….
Received Votes:- Arry Houdini, Jos Hooiveld Own Goal and Penalty King, Guly miss v Stoke, Boruc Juggling at Reading, Arsenal Away, Guly Skills v Spurs, WBA Away, WBA Home, MoPo’s skinny jeans, Danny Fox Tackle v WBA, Gazzaniga v Norwich, WBA Mexican Wave, Kelvin Davis Keeping, Steve de Ridder cameo’s, Puncheon substitution v Reading, Half Time Relay miss from 2 yards, Danny Fox, Defending in opening 10 fixtures, Boruc first couple of games, John Terry slips, Andy Carroll ‘You look like a horse’, Artur Boruc: Bottlegate, WBA ‘You’re going down on your sister’, JRod dive v Villa, Danny Fox v Arsenal, Nigel Adkins substitutions v Man Utd, Grant Holt cheating to win a penalty then missing it, Taunting West Ham ‘HOOOOF’, Ref tackled by Rodriguez, Boruc pushing Fonte after penalty save, Gazzaniga doing his boots up at goal kicks, Richardson and Seabourne defending against Stevenage, Half Time Relay – Split Trousers, Gangnam Style Sammy Saint, The amount of big clubs who had ‘off days’ against Saints, Mark Lawrenson’s predictions, Portsmouth FC – The gift that keeps on giving.
3rd Place:- Jos Hooiveld and Danny Fox together is like ‘crossing the streams’, the own goal at Newcastle (7%).
2nd Place:- That Gareth Barry perfectly place side foot finish own goal (11%).
And the winner, it could only be, the unscheduled rest break at home against Everton. With 40% of the votes…….. Jason Puncheon, he shits when he wants.
Best Opposition Team
Received Votes:- Officials v West Ham, Norwich City, Swansea City, QPR, Liverpool, Everton, Wigan Athletic, Spurs, Man City, Chelsea.
3rd Place:- Arsenal (11%).
2nd Place:- Manchester United (21%).
And the winner, deservedly so after dismantling Saints both home and away, with 51% of the votes……West Bromwich Albion.
Best Opposition Player
Received votes:- Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Paul Scholes, Demba Ba, Santi Cazorla, Jos Hooiveld, Danny Fox, Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Robert Green, Marouane Fellaini, Sandro, Stephen Peinaar, Youssouf Mulumbu, Michu, Chris Samba, Antonio Di Natale.
3rd Place:- Gareth Bale (14%).
2nd Place:- Robin Van Persie (27%).
And the winner, after an immaculate performance in the Baggies’ demolition of Saints at St. Mary’s. with 39% of the votes…..Romelu Lukaku!
Best Opposition Fans
Received Votes:- Sunderland, Reading, Newcastle, Liverpool, Man City, West Ham, Wigan, Swansea, Villa, Spurs, All Shit, QPR, Everton, Arsenal, Norwich, Ajax, Stoke. (The sharp eyed amongst you will notice that only Fulham didn’t register a single vote!).
3rd Place:- Chelsea (11%).
2nd Place:- Manchester United (12%).
And the winner, a clean sweep for the team from the Midlands, boinging there way to three awards, with 42% of the votes……West Bromwich Albion!
Best Saints Related Tweeter
A lot of people voting for themselves here I suspect…..
Received Votes:- Connor Armstrong, Ollie Johnston, anthonydjames, Joner07, MatthewLeGod, stevegrant1983, Richard Chaplow, Radhi Jaidi, macdoodle, danbsfc, shaunthecabbie, pilchards, Not Nigel Adkins, DutchTom, colinjb84, Official Club Account, kellymauger, Anyone but aap3saints, aap3saints, Matt Le Tissier, S13SFC, Iwan Thomas, Jos Hooiveld, I Hate Twitter, MoPo parody account, talksaints, Luke Shaw’s mum, SamDobson1, megan_snedden, SaintsRumours, dubaisaints, Nicola Cortese, Billy Sharp, LewisTull, Wattyspics, Anyone but sridout92, jayrodfan2, GGalpin95, Sam Hoskins, Sean Gonzalez-Lambert, OnlyWayisSO14, crespino10.
3rd Place:- Luke Shaw (14%).
And in joint first place, the imaginary trophy will have to spend 6 months in each users mind, with 16% of the votes each, errrr, this is a little embarrassing…..Simon Peach and I!
So that concludes this year’s ‘Ali’s’, some truly deserving winners there I’m sure you will agree. Thank you to everybody who voted, and thank you all for a fantastic season. I actually think the atmosphere at St. Mary’s this season was the best it has ever been, and one of the best in the Premier League. As the club goes through some interesting times progress wise our support is more important than ever.
Seeing as Saints cleverly thought ahead, and knowing that Mauricio Pochettino’s impending high pressing game was going to require some serious energy, rolled over for Chelsea and got themselves a rest this weekend, I thought I would tackle some general Saints worries and get the feelings of the other great Saints bloggers out there.
No matter how well things are going for Saints we can always find something to worry about, it’s in our nature, so this is a mixture of positives and negatives…
AI – ‘2 years.’ GdlC – ‘3 and a half years.’ SGL – ‘1 year.’ WT – ‘3 years.’ BS – ‘5 years.’ SD – ’18 months.’ EK – ‘7 months.’
How has the season been so far by your standards and expectations?
AI – ‘Not quite as well as I’d expected.’
GdlC – ‘It’s about how I expected in terms of league position. We are playing better football than I expected though.’
SGL – ‘I think this season has been a pretty decent showing in our return to the Premier League. Our first 10 fixtures didn’t help us. However, the players have coped with the demands of the top flight and we have shown everyone that we can compete against England’s elite. I would have expected us to have a few more points though.’
WT – ‘I’d say as expected. Expected us to be battling relegation and we are.’
BS – ‘I think, as expected by most, Saints are in a relegation battle with 17th being the minimum target for the end of the season. They have however shown throughout the season (except Arsenal away) that they can compete with anyone in the league, home or away, but the amount of points thrown away from winning positions has been both regular and disappointing.’
SD – ‘We’re about where I thought we’d be. I did think we’d pick up a few more points at the start, even with that awful run of fixtures, but our recent form has made up for that somewhat. I didn’t expect anything other than a struggle to be honest, so as long as we stay up this season I’ll be satisfied. I think the teams at the bottom of the table are slightly stronger than they have been in recent Premier League seasons, so it was always going to be difficult to establish ourselves at first.’
EK – ‘I would put us on course of exactly where I thought we would be, although the last four games under Pochettino has been a wake up call and there is a real optimism that we can progress well and challenge the teams above us.’
Who has been your player of the season so far?
AI – ‘Nathaniel Clyne. Consistently excellent at right-back, contributing in defence and attack. Should be in the England squad.’
GdlC – ‘Morgan Schneiderlin, honourable mentions to Jack Cork, Sir Rickie and Luke Shaw. By the end of the season it will be Artur Boruc.’
SGL – ‘For me, either Rickie Lambert or Morgan Schneiderlin.’
WT – ‘Morgan Schneiderlin’
BS – ‘No doubt about it for me – Morgan Schneiderlin! Lambert’s goals have been important but Morgan’s energy, commitment, tackling and even his goals this season have been very consistent. As a young player who has been with the Club nearly 10 years now its great to see how far he has come and he must be one of the first names on the team sheet each week!’
SD – ‘Nathaniel Clyne has been unbelievably consistent at right-back, while Jason Puncheon has done better than anyone could have imagined, but for me you can’t look beyond Morgan Schneiderlin. I’ve always been a fan, but for me he’s improved immeasurably every year. He’s pretty much the total package now. His reading of the game is top class, as is his tackling and passing. He’s even added goals to his repertoire this season.’
EK – ‘Morgan Schneiderlin by an absolute mile, we all knew he had it in him. But he’s excelled in every area and it’s great to see him enjoying his football with Saints, not to mention he’s the top tackler in the Premier League!’
Will Saints stay up?
AI – ‘Yes.’
GdlC – ‘Yes – 3 from Wigan, Reading, QPR and Villa will go.’
SGL – ‘Absolutely! Before the season started, I stated that Saints would finish between 12th and 15th in the table. It is still possible to achieve this!’
WT – ‘Yes. Well they should do.’
BS – ‘Yes – just! Saints have lacked the ability to close off games this season and its already cost them 24 points! They can’t keep doing it! Performances have been good but Saints need to be more clinical at both ends or they will be in trouble! Luckily for us it seems that there may be 3 ‘worse’ teams than us.’
SD – ‘I’m cautiously optimistic that we will. I’m pretty satisfied with the squad we’ve got, and I’m confident that there are at least three teams worse than us. Having said that, I’m concerned about us throwing away so many points in games we really should have won. We could really be in trouble if a few key players come down with injuries, but that could be said of any team. I predict we’ll be in the mix until near the end, but survive with a late rally. ‘
EK – ‘Yes, I’ve always had faith in this team and I believe with Pochettino leading us we will be a Premier League team next year.’
Adkins/Pochettino. Still hurting or looking forwards?
AI – ‘Looking forward to a bright future- no point dwelling on the past.’
GdlC – ‘Looking forwards – no point doing anything else. Nigel’s done well out of us and he’ll move on to good things.’
SGL – ‘Hmmm. I was disgusted with the circumstances of Adkins’ sacking and thoroughly deserved more time. I will never forget the job he has done for the club though. I wasn’t sure about Pochettino at first. However, his style of football was really appealed to me.’
WT – ‘Still can’t watch/listen to ‘The Man in the Glass’ but Pochettino is an exciting appointment.’
BS – ‘I was thoroughly disappointed about Saints treatment of Nigel. Disgusted! To have never thanked him for his achievements at Saints was not in the spirit of the Club I love! He was a great character at Saints and we will always owe him a lot BUT I will always support Saints whoever is stood on the touch line – so for me it’s a case of the king is dead, long live the king!’
SD – ‘Like everyone else I was very shocked when it all happened, but the more I read and see about Pochettino, the more optimistic I feel about the future. Time will tell if it was the right decision, but the early signs are good. The players seem to genuinely like him and already look to be buying into his ideas. I will never have a bad word said about Adkins, but if Pochettino delivers I will be glad we made the change.’
EK – ‘Still hurts the way Adkins was treated at the end, but these last few games we have played some quite outstanding football and the future looks to be a bright one under Pochettino.’
Will Redknapp keep QPR up?
AI – ‘No.’
GdlC – ‘No. Will he take any responsibility? No.’
SGL – ‘I don’t think he will. QPR’s problem is that they have too many individual players instead of team players.’
WT – ‘The million pound question if the contract rumours are true. Think it’s too steep a challenge even for Mr Houdini.’
BS – ‘Nope! They’ve been the worst team in the Premier League all season, bought in far too many players in the summer and prayed that they all ‘gelled’ but they haven’t! They also have failed to get another striker in in January to cover Loic Remy, who is injured – again! Whilst they’ve tightened up at the back I simply can’t see them scoring the goals they need to to stay up!’
SD – ‘I don’t think so. Granted they have improved recently, but if you stick eleven men behind the ball, you’re always going to pick a few 0-0 draws. It’s still a hell of a gap they have to make up. Sooner or later they are going to have to start attacking teams. I’m just not sure where the goals are going to come from. You’d think they’ll need a minimum of six wins from their remaining thirteen games, and even that might not be enough. It’s a big ask for a team who have only won twice all season.’
EK – ‘No.’
Le Tiss/Cortese. Damaging the club or irrelevant squabbling?
AI – ‘Pretty irrelevant, but certainly can’t help the club.’
GdlC – ‘Gives the media a negative stick to hit us with. For me it’s very, very boring.’
SGL – ‘It is depressing to see the pair as it doesn’t help whatsoever. Without Liebherr and Cortese, there would be no Southampton Football Club. It seems to me they’re out to score points as if they’re on the Jeremy Kyle Show! Le Tiss hasn’t helped by going to the media about it all but, on the other hand, the fans might know what is actually going on.’
WT – ‘Petty but not irrelevant. I find it quite sad.’
BS – ‘A bit of both! Cortese runs the Club and Le Tiss needs to appreciate that! It’s his rules now! I don’t agree with Cortese’s ‘dictator style’ rule setting all the time but whilst Matt is, and probably always will be, the greatest player I’ve ever seen in the beloved red and white, he isn’t the smartest when it comes to speaking his mind publicly re Cortese!’
SD – ‘It is what it is. In an ideal world they would get on, but they don’t. Not a big deal, at the moment at least. I love Matt as much as the next fan, but sometimes I don’t think he helps himself by constantly sniping at Cortese so publicly. The meeting thing was a bit of a farce. I doubt either man had any intention of ever going through with it, both we’re playing a childish game. It was so predictable how it turned out. Matt has made his point countless times, and while he may be justified in some of the things he says, most fans have already decided which side of the fence they are on. There is very little he could say now to make people change their minds. Fans will only turn on Cortese if the team stop delivering on the pitch. Rightly or wrongly most supporters will turn a blind eye to pretty much everything as long as the team is winning. If things turn sour then people will be ready to attack, and Cortese might wish he hadn’t made so many enemies. Personally I think he’s a very shrewd guy, and I’m confident we will continue to be successful under his guidance.’
EK – ‘Damaging their reputations with the fans more than the club, but I personally think it’s pretty irrelevant.’
Pompey. Sympathy or Satisfaction?
AI – ‘Sympathy. The majority of their fans don’t deserve it.’
GdlC – ‘Bit of both. I have kids in the U9 team I help run who wear Skates shirts to training cos Dad supports them and that’s fine. I’d rather that than Man U/Chelsea to be honest. Would hate to explain to my lad that his team had gone. However, they are a cess-pit and should have been thrown out of the league 2 years ago. There are some special people on Twitter who deserve the worst to happen.’
SGL – ‘I have never seen a club in such a worse state than Pompey in my lifetime as yet. I have sympathy for the fans as we all know how they feel as we were in administration four years ago. There is some satisfaction as they simply used money that they didn’t have and the previous owners have ruined the club completely.’
WT – ‘Can’t say I haven’t enjoyed sniggering at the results and numerous has beens they keep signing up. I have sympathy for some of the fans though.’
BS – ‘Unfortunately I have no sympathy for them! Forget their fans, the Club actively cheated the system by winning a Cup with a team they couldn’t afford to buy, achieved European football through this and therefore revenues that a more deserving Club should have had, left charities out of pocket through non-payments and mistreated local businesses as well – potentially the most important ‘fans’ to any Club! Compared to some other Clubs like Aldershot, Luton, Rotherham, who in similar positions suffered sever consequences, Pompey have managed to get off very lightly so far! No Club in British Football history has been so mismanaged by people clearly selfish in their desire to win! History will show that they achieved great things in a short space of time but the reality is that they did it dishonestly and their upcoming comeuppance will be very satisfying for many people!’
SD – ‘I’m pretty indifferent to the whole situation to be honest. Between 2005-2009 I was very bitter about their success. It hurt to see them doing do well, while we were struggling. I would have given anything to see them crash and burn, but now that natural order has been restored I’m content again. I don’t really take much notice of what they are doing anymore.’
EK – ‘Both, I know a lot of Pompey fans so anything to do with the performance on the field I can have a little laugh, but everything off it isn’t particularly nice.’
Any Niggling worries about Saints?
AI – ‘That we’re not clinical enough in front of goal.’
GdlC – ‘If we stay up we’ll be fine and push on. Relegated and we lose Boruc, Clyne, Shaw, Morgan, Cork, Ramirez, Lambert and have to virtually start again – oh, and I expect we’d need a new manager. On the pitch, an injury to Sir Rickie would still kill us and the central defence needs to sort itself out.’
SGL – ‘I’m slightly worried at the fact that we can’t hold onto leads in games. The statistic of losing 27 points from winning positions doesn’t look good. However, I’m sure we can get the points to stay up.’
WT – ‘Only with the way former players seem to be treated. Le Tiss and co paying for tickets is disgusting in my opinion.’
BS – ‘Just their inability to cut out the niggling defensive mistakes and close off games when they’re leading! They must be more ruthless when leading and get ‘wise’ to seeing out Premier League games.’
SD – ‘The obvious worry is that our star players will eventually be picked off by bigger clubs. Jason Puncheon is worthy of a new deal, but I’m concerned he may not be given one because of his history with Cortese. Schneiderlin’s contract is up in 2014, so that’s another issue that needs addressing soon. If he were to move it would leave a huge whole in the team. He seems very happy at Southampton, but I doubt his recent form has gone unnoticed. He wouldn’t look out of place at any Premier League club in my opinion.’
EK – ‘Relegation is always on my mind despite the confidence I have in the team, as well as potential injuries to big players.’
Guly. Got to go or does a job?
AI – ‘Does a job. The majority of the criticism he gets is totally unfair as people look for a scapegoat.’
GdlC – ‘Does a job when needed as a squad player. Not a starter and forgive the Brazilian stereotype but away from home on a freezing cold day – leave him at home.’
SGL – ‘Difficult as we don’t know which Guly will turn up! I have to be honest in that I wasn’t his biggest fan but I’d never boo him. At times, he does do a job. I don’t think he is Premier League quality. Although, he has put in some respectable performances recently. I have no idea whether he will move on in the summer though.’
WT – ‘Definitely does a job. The abuse he receives is ridiculous, we have far worse players than him.’
BS – ‘Any player who wears a Saints shirt should be cheered not booed! Guly is not one of my favourite players but he certainly does a job and, bearing in mind the continual abuse he gets from the uneducated section of the Saints fan base, I think he should be applauded for that!’
SD – ‘It annoys me how so many people ignore all the good things he does, and then barrack him every time he makes the slightest mistake. Sometimes he has bad games, but who doesn’t? Most other players can get away with the odd poor showing, but with Guly it’s always a massive scandal. I have no idea what the new coaching staff thinks of him, but I know for a fact he was very highly regarded by Adkins. I’ve heard from more than one player that his teammates think very highly of him too. Ultimately they are the people who really matter, and if Guly is good enough for them then he’s good enough for me. I wouldn’t start him every week, and I suspect he’ll be gradually phased out over the next 18 months, but for now he still has an important role to play.’
EK – ‘Does the job, I’ve never understood the hate towards him, he is the one who helps Saints retain possession of the ball and can on his day change the game with a little bit of his Brazilian magic…although that has been pretty limited so far this season.’
EK – ‘(4-2-3-1) Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Cork, Puncheon, Lallana, Ramirez and Lambert.’
Thanks again to those that took part! Some differing opinions, but credit to the players who have made some very consistent looking starting XI’s, and with recent performances, I think it would be fair to say that Jay Rodriguez is giving Mr. Pochettino some nice selection problems!
As the Premier League season approaches I have been asked by a few places to submit a preview for Saints. As I write them, there is a recurring theme that I can’t help but get excited about. How young our squad is.
Humour me if you will, it is unlikely that we will lineup in this respect against City on the 18th August, but still, this is a potential starting XI for Saints:-
Is it misplaced loyalty that I think that this is a pretty good Premier League team?
The future is bright and with Premier League experience the likes of Clyne, Lallana and Rodriguez are going to get better and better. I get the impression that both Ward-Prowse and Shaw will feature heavily this season, while Callum Chambers has had an efficient pre-season without being in the spotlight. In fact it has been the highlight of pre-season so far how well the youth players have performed. How comfortable these players are on the ball will be key to their future development, and their quest for international honours, which many of them will achieve.
In Nigel Adkins I think we have the man to nurture them too, his abundance of positivity enough to give any kid confidence.
If we can stay in the Premier League, and keep this team together, who knows what they will achieve? But remember, ‘You don’t win anything with kids…’
Last night, Saints beat Ligue 1 side Evian Thon Gaillard 1-0 with a Jason Puncheon strike, and as is customary with Saints early pre-season friendlies Nigel Adkins made 11 changes at half time.
This saw the introduction of the lastest new face at St. Mary’s. Goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga.
Argentinian Gazzaniga has signed for the club on a four year contract after impressing in League Two with Gillingham last season. The 20 year old started his career with Spanish giants Valencia before making the move to the Priestfield Stadium. Keeping 7 clean sheets in his 20 appearances for the Kent club last season, this may be both Saints most low profile summer signing, but also an important one. Tommy Forecast has headed to the Gills on loan for the season as part of the deal.
“With the news reaching us this morning that Southampton have completed the signing of Gillingham’s prized young asset Paulo Gazzaniga, I was asked as a Gills fan to give you the ‘lowdown’ on exactly what you’re getting for a reported 2.5 million.
Signed after a surprising release from European giants Valencia, Gillingham took the Argentinian initially on trial before ensuring he put pen to paper on a two year contract after some impressive displays. He had to wait for his debut however until October when he got his first taste of first team football in a 3-1 defeat to Barnet. Despite conceding three goals, the Gills hierarchy and supporters alike knew they had something special here in the form of an eccentric, yet very agile, confident young 20 year old goalkeeper.
But I won’t bore you with the background stuff. What you Saints fans really want to know is how good this kid really is and can be right? Well the truth is that many Gills fans regard him as the best young prospect to have played at Priestfield in recent years. Like every 20 year old keeper he is prone to mistakes and of course is far from the finished article, just look at Man United’s De Gea. But ‘Gazza’ does have an abundance of confidence paired with a maturity that see’s him perform years above his age. Like the modern day Goalkeeper should be, Paulo’s shot stopping ability is first class but what struck me the most is his distribution which was frighteningly impressive for a young lad playing on a cold, bleak tuesday evening in league 2.
It was reported that over 22 scouts watched Gazzaniga last season with a whole host of Premier League clubs declaring an interest. I can safely say that although he is still a raw talent who needs a lot of coaching if he is to be the player he should, what Southampton have is an extremely talented young goalkeeper who will fast become a fans favourite once he starts playing on a regular basis. His infectious personality twinned with his desire to win and keep on improving make him a gem.
By the way as a footnote, thanks for giving us Forecast, I hear the lads so bad in goal he couldn’t save a file on Microsoft Word.
Up the Gills”
Thanks to Liam for his input. With a forward, a central midfielder, a right back and now a goalkeeper on board, it seems Saints transfer business is taking shape. A winger and a centre half to come? Watch this space.