Well yesterday was great. No sooner had I written this for ESPN:- ‘In the Know? Off you go…’ the greatest thing since the beginning of Twitter happened.
Somebody posted this picture (taken at Ocean Village) and posted it to twitter:-
Cue Hysteria. Andrea Pirlo was coming to Southampton. Such was the frenzy that the fact that it was a GB registered plate was ignored, the fact that it was a right hand drive dismissed, one of the greatest players in world football was heading to St. Mary’s. What a coup. A signal of intent and the best transfer in British football since European Footballer of the Year Kevin Keegan made the same move.
Soon a search on the hashtag #saintsfc came with the handy ‘related search’ options of ‘Pochettino’, ‘Rickie Lambert’ and….. ‘Pirlo’.
Even Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri got in on the act.
Sadly a spoilsport was quick to tell us that the car belonged to a local namesake who owned a chain of hairdressers, and soon our dreams of Pirlo joined those about Bierhoff, De Pedro, Del Piero, Owen, Korneev and Lineker in the great Saints fantasy team in the sky.
What is great about such moments is the reaction of the fans, some believe, some mock and some (like me) go into pisstake overdrive!
All in all it was a fantastic day for all those that dare to dream! I don’t mind admitting that were Saints ever to sign Andrea Pirlo, I would weep uncontrollably for weeks.
14th August 2012. Saints are linked with an audacious move for Uruguay wonderkid and London 2012 star Gaston Ramirez. I updated my facebook status accordingly and it took a matter of seconds before the move was labelled as “ridiculous” and “no chance” by friends who support other clubs, particularly Liverpool.
And I have to say, I didn’t necessarily disagree with them, it seemed a little unreal, and as the days passed, it seemed more and more unlikely. I have said before that Twitter is such a good medium for info, and in this case it certainly seemed so, as the updates both positive and negative came from numerous sources. Liverpool fans seemed convinced that Ramirez’ only destination was Anfield, but as other Scouse transfer saga’s unfolded it looks like Liverpool simply didn’t have the financial muscle to sign the playmaker.
Last night at around 18:54 it was finally announced. Gaston is a Saint.
The star of the Uruguayan olympic team, Ramirez really is a coup for Saints, and as Nigel Adkins so succinctly put it “What we have got is one of the most exciting prospects in world football coming to St Mary’s.”
One of the best sources for info on the protracted deal was Italian journalist Daniele Labanti of the Corriere di Bologna, the Corriere della Sera local issue. I was delighted when he agreed to answer some questions on Ramirez.
After a long drawn out transfer, Saints fans will be hoping Ramirez is worth the wait. What did you make of the transfer?
DL:- “It was a very difficult deal because too many parts were involved. Saints, Bologna, Penarol and agents all tried to get the best from the deal. Bologna needed the money and when the club understood Ramirez wanted to go, the Italian club decided to sell him. The first trouble was a interview Ramirez did with Gazzetta dello Sport, talking as a ‘Saint’, just after the agreement with Southampton: Bologna were still in talks with the Saints and the Chairman was very upset with that interview. But then all details were managed and the deal was completed.”
Many Saints fans will have only seen him at the Olympics, what are his strengths and weaknesses?
DL:- “Ramirez is a great young player. As a comparison, he had more impact in Italy than Pastore had in Palermo before they sold him to PSG for €43 million. So we can say Southampton completed a good deal for ‘just’ €14 million. Ramirez can dribble, kick with both feet, is quite speedy and has good stamina. He has to improve his mentality, stop (trash) talking with opponents and referee first.”
He was a big hit at Bologna, do you think he can translate his play to the English game?
DL:- “I definitely believe he could be a star in the Premier League. The English game has more ‘spacing’ than the Italian one and Gaston is quite unstoppable if he can run.”
What other players would you liken him to?
DL:- “I don’t want to be irreverent, but the best case is a sort of Zinedine Zidane.”
Were you surprised to see him end up at a club like Southampton?
DL:- “Yes I was. Rumours told of interest from Liverpool and Tottenham and it was supposed he would join a Champions League/Europa League team. But the Saints offer was so rich and Gaston decided to not wait for a ‘big club’ anymore.”
Many thanks to Daniele for answering these questions and getting me even more excited than I already was!
It is fouteen months since Guilherme Do Prado joined Saints on loan from Cesena and the Brazilian still seems to split opinion amongst the St. Mary’s faithful.
After a slow start to life in English football (not uncommon amongst new imports) many were questioning the reasoning behind signing him. He was even cited as part of the reason that Alan Pardew and Nicola Cortese had fallen out, many suggesting that Guly had been brought in by the chairman against the wishes of the manager and that he had to play whether Pardew liked it or not. Pardew’s decision to put Guly on the bench, in what proved to be his last game in charge at Bristol Rovers many suggested had been the final straw.
This of course turned out to be nonsense, Guly was again on the bench for the five games following Pardew’s departure as Saints went on a disastrous run of form, and it was Guly as much as anyone that became a scapegoat amongst supporters.
As Saints form turned around under new boss Nigel Adkins, so did Guly’s. He netted his first goal for the club in a scrappy affair away at Yeovil Town before really showing what he could do in a man of the match performance at home to Tranmere Rovers as the Saints fans started to see glimpses of why he had been brought to the club.
Guly ended the season with eleven goals and six assists in twenty seven starts and twelve sub appearances (most of them fleeting). A pretty good return for a player settling in to the English game and being employed mainly on the wing, occasionally partnering Rickie Lambert up front. But the supporters were still split, some suggesting Guly to be lazy, or sometimes drifting in and out of games away from home.
I was always surprised by this, Guly’s creativity and ability to change a game were plain to see, he may not be the kind of player to chase the ball all day long and track back (I actually think he does do this), but every team needs a good mix of water carriers and show ponies.
Guly has started this season as well as he ended the last, still playing some games on the wing and some up top, he has weighed in with six goals and is joint top assist maker for the club creating six goals for his teammates, all of this has come in seventeen starts and one substitute appearance, and this is perhaps the most important statistic as it highlights how important he is in Adkins eyes as the Brazilian is Saints most used player so far this term.
So why do some fans question his place in the team? Well perhaps the trip to Reading highlights that better than most. Guly has been known to be quiet on away games, but with some footballers you need to focus on what he does do rather than highlighting what you perceive that he should be doing. The Brazilian, having been selected in midfield seemingly didn’t have a massive impact on a game that Saints trailed 1-0 with eighty minutes gone. Cue a deft volleyed flick over the top to set Steve de Ridder free on the right, and a point rescued. Still some were more intent on discussing what he didn’t do. Creating something from nothing is a skill that most footballers don’t have, and often eighty nine minutes of anonymity can be forgiven for one of genius and a certain number seven sporting Guernseyman could be often guilty of that.
It is worth remembering that foreign footballers aren’t coached the same way as they are here and sometimes we might be guilty of expecting English tenacity from players that simply weren’t taught that way.
In fact I think Saints have uncovered a gem in do Prado. A maverick and with a touch that is perhaps stereotypically expected of his countrymen, we miss his creativity when he isn’t there. Much is made, in fact a certain amount of panic ensues when Lallana is out injured, but Guly’s attacking contribution has been as prominent this season and at times so evidently lacking once he is off the pitch.
For me, he is far more effective when he plays off of Lambert up front, and although he isn’t a bad winger, he is somewhat restricted there, but he is a must for the starting lineup in my opinion.
We may have signed Guly at just the right time, somewhat of a journeyman in the Italian game, we are already the club where he has played his most football and as he enters his thirties he is likely to be hungry to make his mark before it is too late. His last big chance came in 2005 with Seria A giants Fiorentina, but a serious injury meant he spent along time on the sidelines and the moment passed. He could have stayed with Cesena in 2010 and made it to the Italian top flight having helped them to promotion but for whatever reason, he chose St. Mary’s to ply his trade, and I for one am very glad he did.
One thing I am certain of, is that if he helps Saints to the Premier League, he is one of our squad that will definitely be ready. So I leave you with this, especially those that have questioned his place in the side. If we want Saints to carry on winning and doing so in some style, we could do a lot worse than a bit of Samba magic in the Red & White stripes….
I love watching the MLS. The American pro “soccer” league is blossoming. A renaissance that started with the signing of David Beckham and continues to build with a somewhat rare mix. It is a league that gives opportunity to those who may be struggling in the more established professional leagues while at the same time attracts big name stars at the end of their careers.
This can lead to some interesting and somewhat unlikely team lineups. I was first fascinated by the LA Galaxy elevens containing both Beckham and former English lower league winger Chris Birchall, but this season the New York Red Bulls have produced an even unlikelier pairing.
Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau were the original odd couple, where the differing lifestyles of two friends are at constant loggerheads. In footballing terms, the contrasting lifestyles of the Red Bulls forward line is as drastic.
Thierry Henry is football royalty. The Frenchman is as popular a man as he is revered as a player, highly decorated and having played for some of the worlds biggest clubs, he can boast Lionel Messi as a former teammate and is a World Cup winner.
Luke Rodgers is football proletariat. The Englishman has earned a reputation as a troublemaker and a bad boy while plying his trade in the lower echelons of the English professional game. He can boast the likes of Lee Hughes as a former teammate and is a League Two winner.
There is a saying when something extraordinary happens Stateside “Only in America”, and only in the MLS could these two form a successful partnership.
Henry’s career began in Monaco and the glamourous setting of the French Riviera in 1994. By 1997, it was already clear that his future lay away from Ligue 1, having already secured a league title and a French Young Footballer of the Year award. By January 1999, Henry was a World Cup winner with his country and a £10 million man, on his way to the Stadio Delle Alpi and Italy’s “Old Lady” Juventus. The summer before, Luke Rodgers was starting his career, with Shrewsbury Town in the English Third Division. His spell at the Shrews was successful on a personal front, goals coming with relative ease, but as a club the Gay Meadow side dropped into the conference and non-league football.
It wasn’t all rosy for Henry either. His spell in Italy lasted just seven months, unsuited to the Italian style of play he made an £11 million move to Arsenal and the English Premier League that summer. Henry’s eight seasons for the Gunners are well documented. Premier League titles and FA Cups were joined by unbeaten seasons and being named the PFA player of the year. Twice. Not to mention a European Championship title with his country. In the same time, Rodgers had a achieved a Conference play-off win and a move to League One with Crewe Alexandra.
In the summer of 2007, with heavy heart, Thierry left Arsenal and headed for the Nou Camp in a £20 million deal, in the previous January Port Vale had splashed out £30k for Rodgers services. Henry added the Champions League to his collection of honours in 2009, surrounded by two La Liga titles. While he celebrated the the second of those titles, Rodgers was celebrating his only career trophy, having won League Two with Notts County(the only club where the two shared a former teammate in Sol Campbell, all be it for only one game).
Henry headed to the MLS in July 2010, and was joined by Rodgers in January of this year, their careers couldn’t be more different, but actually in the land of opportunity, Rodgers is taking his. The pair have struck up a potent partnership, and the New York Red Bulls are currently top of the Eastern Conference. Rodgers career may not be glamourous, but he has always been a goalscorer, and one that gives the teams he plays for a good return. He already has five this term for the Red Bull arena side and several assists for his more cultured partner. Henry has seven himself and the New York side look like they will be certain play-off challengers with the combination of the traditional aggressive striker in Rodgers and the tricky ball player up front.
This doesn’t happen anywhere else, perhaps the AFL to a lesser extent, but just think what we could see from the MLS in years to come? Messi & Dean Bowditch? Long may it continue.
The Southampton Football Club Blog that doesn't like to take itself too seriously!