Tag Archives: Sam McQueen

The League Cup is alive and well at St. Mary’s!

The lack of respect afforded to the League Cup over the more recent seasons has led to a decline in interest in what was once England’s secondary cup competition.

Sadly, the rise of the Champion’s League and it’s inclusion of four teams from the Premier League each season has seen league positioning overshadow it’s priority status in the eyes of the much maligned, much pressured first team manager. Even the ‘smaller’ clubs have followed their bigger colleagues in treating the competition with little more than a passing annoyance, with league survival and the lucrative financial benefits that come with it, to important to gamble with.

Many have suggested that the League Cup is dead.

Try telling that to some of the young faces at St. Mary’s on Wednesday night. Try telling that to Harrison Reed, who asserted himself in the middle of the park with the tenacity of somebody who knows he is working under a manager who will give him further opportunities. Try telling that to Jack Stephens who has patiently waited for a chance to shine in a seemingly impregnable back four. Try telling that to Lloyd Isgrove who will be fully aware he is suited to Claude Puel’s formation in a forward role. Try telling that to Olufela Olomola who greeted his 26th minute introduction by charging down a Sunderland defender like he only had seconds to have an influence.

Try telling that to the many young faces I saw in the St. Mary’s crowd who were there for the first time. The beneficiaries of the low pricing initiative that meant their parents could introduce them to the club in an affordable manner.

Try telling that to Sofiane Boufal.

For me personally it was nice just to be in the stadium. Given my residential location, being there in the flesh is a rare treat and despite it not being the most exciting game in the world it was a good way to assess the changes at the club under Puel.

Having had the pleasure of a fantastic time in Milan with my fellow Dubai Saints, catching up with friends and feeling very much part of a truly historic occasion it felt like a return to reality. The best part of 8,000 Saints fans blasting out ‘Oh when the Saints’ in the San Siro is one of those ‘I was there’ moments and the Inter fans after the game were truly in awe.

Sunderland at home was an altogether different prospect. The manager has faith in his squad, and the extended one he has at his disposal from the Academy. Right now that faith is paying off. I was apprehensive of course when I saw the lineup, but as a Southampton fan it is difficult to feel anything but pride when a team containing six Academy graduates (Jamess Ward-Prowse and Sam McQueen joining the aforementioned four) for the majority of the game looks comfortable against a Premier League opponent.

The crowd was better than most, including a certain tabloid rag and even the club were expecting and that showed by the fact people were queuing to get in once the game had kicked off, but it still felt that at £12 a ticket it could have been better. The 21k that did attend certainly got their money’s worth in the 66th minute. Sofiane Boufal has carried his price tag and the fact he arrived at the club injured with him since he joined, and there has been much hype and expectation of a player who was linked with the world’s best clubs in the Summer. His winning goal did not disappoint.

If Matt Le Tissier tweets to say that the other 89 minutes were worth siting through to see that goal,  then you know it was something special. The finish was ‘Le Tiss-esque’, the first touch ridiculous. A goal fitting of winning any game.

In contrast to most foreign managers, Claude Puel is far from bemoaning the amount of fixtures his squad is up against, in fact he is the complete opposite. In a recent interview with french newspaper L’Equipe, he states how playing one game a week in France ‘dragged’ and how he dreamed of playing three times in quick succession.

Puel trusts his squad, and the fans are starting to trust him. While many are trying to read the League Cup it’s last rites, they aren’t about to give up on it yet at St. Mary’s.

We march on.

Future Stars play out thriller in Nuneaton!

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.

Expert photographers on hand as usual....
Expert photographers on hand as usual….

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
Goals: Sims (14), Seager (61, 90)

 

What If? (Part Two)

…continued from Part One.

2012/13 The Championship

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.

Young left back Luke Shaw impressed in the new season...
Young left back Luke Shaw impressed in the new season…

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.

Jason Dodd couldn't do enough to keep his job.
Jason Dodd couldn’t do enough to keep his job.

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.

Calum Chambers looks to be the next young star out of St. Mary's.
Calum Chambers looks to be the next young star out of St. Mary’s.

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…

Chris

 

 

5 Year Plan. Done.

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?

5 Year Plan Players

Chris