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?
Seeing as though it was Southampton Football Club that effectively introduced the beautiful game to Brazil (Ref: Charles William Miller) it would be fitting that at this summer’s World Cup in the country, if the Saints were well represented.
Speculation is already rife as to who will and won’t make it to the finals, and here at georgeweahscousin.com we are no different!
So which of the Saints talented squad will be on the proverbial plane?
It seems fitting to start with our own nation, burdened with the usual over expectant feeling of entitlement, England could well be the squad with the most Saints in it.
Let’s put it this way, if Lallana isn’t in the twenty three man squad then he will either be injured or the victim of the most ridiculous tragedy in English footballing history up there with Matthew Le Tissier’s lack of caps and not building a team around Paul Scholes (confounded by playing him on the left wing).
Lallana is skilful, technically gifted and creative. He shouldn’t be English really, as he has defied the poor coaching standards here and become a talent worthy of Spain or Brazil.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5
England at the World Cup will need different options if they are to succeed, and in Lambert they could well have that. Good with the ball at his feet and an ability to hold the ball up, Lambert has proven his critics wrong time and time again, scoring and creating goals at every level he’s played at.
The worry is that Roy Hodgson may revert to type and turn to Andy Carroll.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 3.5
Didn’t enjoy the best of debuts, but Rodriguez grows with confidence game by game and has emerged as Saints top scorer this season. ‘JRod’ is another one who has the technical ability to try something different. It feels like this might not be his year England wise though with the media turning on him after the game against Chile.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2
Uncapped so far, but with his stock rising and his mature performances both defensively and going forward for Saints, coupled with the recent decline of Ashley Cole, Luke will surely get the chance to show what he can do in the friendlies prior to the tournament.
With rumours that Man City want to make him the most expensive full back in the world, it is only a matter of time before his country calls. Undoubtedly the natural and long term successor to Cole.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 3.5
In what is distinctly England’s weakest area it is surprising to me that Clyne hasn’t already been given a chance by Roy Hodgson. While the distinctly mediocre Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker both look unimpressive in an England shirt, Clyne has gone about his business at Saints with great success, consistently performing to a high standard.
Deserves a chance.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2.5
Probably the longest shot, and almost certainly this World Cup has come too soon for the Saints midfielder. With his ability to deliver a ball now being likened to David Beckham though, England honours will surely follow at some point….
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1
It seems right to follow the potential England players with their Group D opponents. England v Italy at the World Cup will always be a special occasion and it might just be laden with Saints players.
Argentinian born Osvaldo opted to play for Italy, and recently has been a regular for the Azzuri. Although he has taken his time to adapt to the Premier League the skill he has shown for Italy was replicated with his amazing strike against Manchester City.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4
Sporter of awful barnet’s, splitter of fan opinion and creator of occasional magic, Ramirez has been in and out of the Saints first team, but is a regular in the Uruguay squad.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5
The Croatian has been an absolute steal for Saints and has made his way into many ‘top players in the Premier League this season’ lists. A regular for his country, he should be on his way to Brazil.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5
Perhaps the biggest crime in international football from a Saints perspective is the lack of recognition for Morgan Schneiderlin. Having had a brilliant first season and a half in the Premier League, Schneiderlin would walk into any other top flight side and most international teams. Come on Didier. You know it makes sense.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2
Having fallen down the pecking order at Saints, Yoshida is having to take what he can, and it has led to talk of a move back to Japan. He will undoubtedly be in Brazil though, barring an injury as a stalwart of their defence.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.75
Forward Lee is well and truly out of the picture as far as the Saints first team is concerned, and perhaps his move to England two years ago has killed any chance of a World Cup place. A loan move back to Japan might revive his hopes though.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1
A long shot, but Jose Fonte has really come into his own for Saints this season and has been part of the formidable back five that was at the top of the European defensive charts. Sadly, when I met Joao Pinto (Now a high level official in the Portuguese FA) in the summer he had never heard of Jose.
Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1.5
So there we have it. Do you agree with their chances? Is there anyone else in the Saints squad who might sneak in somewhere? As ever let us know!
Stephen Crainey Danny Higginbotham Calum Davenport Olivier Bernard
Ryan Smith David Prutton Nigel Quashie Lee Molyneux
Jonathan Forte Dany N’Guessan
The bad, the very bad, and the ugly.
Not a great team is it? What do they have in common? They are all master strokes by Saints in the fabled January transfer window. I challenge any club to come up with a worse lineup from January signings than that?
If you look at our entire signing history since the January window came about, it is ridiculously unimpressive.
Bartosz Bialkowski, Alexander Ostlund, Jim Brennan.
Lee Molyneux, Ryan Smith.
Jose Fonte, John Otsemobor, Dan Seaborne, Lee Barnard
Jonathan Forte, Richard Chaplow, Dany N’Guessan
Tadanari Lee, Billy Sharp
There are some clear exceptions, Jose Fonte, Dan Seaborne, Lee Barnard, Richard Chaplow and Billy Sharp have all made big contributions, and Tadanari Lee hasn’t had much of a chance to show us what he’s got, but when John Otsemobor isn’t making that eleven it shows just how poor it is.
January is the time when managers might panic buy, and looking at some of those names (Anyone seen a worse professional defender than Calum Davenport?) that must have been the case.
Undoubtedly we will strengthen again this season (though Nigel Adkins has surprised a few by saying there won’t be another keeper coming in), but let’s hope they are more the calibre of the last few seasons than the early 00’s!
More Jose Fonte’s, less Olivier Bernard’s please.
The players brought in in the summer look to have been pretty solid so far, so let’s hope the transfer policy continues in the same vein over the next 30 days. You can make or break your season with the acquisitions you make in this window. More quality needs to come in, but not at the expense of the team spirit and unity. Not an easy job.
No doubt we are in for some of the usual bonkers rumours, but we should remember to be patient.
p.s. If this hasn’t depressed you enough, have a butchers at the players that have LEFT us in January transfer windows….. Chris Marsden, Antti Niemi, James Beattie, Theo Walcott…
Saints fans were clambering for some defensive strengthening and despite the continuous links with Premier League journeymen and relegation specialists like Scott Dann and Curtis Davies, Nicola Cortese and Nigel Adkins went further afield again.
As ever the these English players seem drastically over priced for what they are and the signing of Japanese Olympic captain Maya Yoshida for a fee believed to be around £2 million seems to be a bargain in comparison.
Highly rated Yoshida signed from Ducth club VVV-Venlo on Thursday and will join up with the squad after the international break.
He will join countryman Tadanari Lee at the club as Nigel Adkins creates a United Nations in Southampton. When Lee signed georgeweahscousin.com hooked up with French Eurosport J-League commentator and Japanese football expert Clément Delestrade and Clément was happy to give us the lowdown on Yoshida too.
“Yoshida is a Nagoya Grampus product and he’s been expected to shine for a long time due to an unusual, in Japanese football, combination of size and talent. We lack big guys at the back and he’s been filling that hole. But let’s come back to the roots, he started in 2007 as a defensive midfielder but was quickly moved to the defense where he was more comfortable.
His good performances led to a selection for the Olympics in 2008 and as you can see on Wikipedia, the team really disappointed despite a generation which, afterwards, revealed itself to be really strong. He cemented a starting position in Nagoya, which was quite a feat considering he was only 20, and never stopped growing until he got a call from VVV-Venlo, looking for another japanese player after Keisuke Honda’s departure. He signed for them in 2010 but unfortunately, he picked up a big injury during his first training sesssion that delayed his inclusion to the team. He needed 8 months to recover but once healthy, he came back almost straight into the starting eleven. Let’s be honest, VVV are a terrible, horrendous team and even your dog could start there. He’s never looked incredible there, probably because his teammates were really poor, but has still managed to contribute to their survival in the Eredivisie (the last two years they needed a playoff to stay in the top division)
I can say that he’s worth better than that because there’s the national team player Maya Yoshida who has been excellent since his inclusion in 2011. Alberto Zaccheroni trusted him from the get-go. He had already been capped once in 2010 but it was for a match in Yemen, for which the JFA didn’t want to send the senior team due to the military conflict, and I don’t consider it as a real selection. For his first match, he was placed straight into the starting eleven in the Asia Cup, the equivalent of the Euro’s. He scored an unlucky own goal (a deflection) that put Japan behind against Jordan but he had the guts to equalise in the very last minute, a crucial goal that paved the way for Japan to become Champions. Since then he’s an absolute starter and he has added another moment of glory, a goal late into injury time that gave Japan the 1-0 win over North Korea.
Because he’s a young player, a great one, with the stature of a leader who needed to showcase himself in order to get a transfer, the U23 coach Sekizuka decided to select him for his second Olympics despite the fact he was just coming back from an ankle injury he had picked up against Oman. And that’s when he blew our minds, I wasn’t really amused by Yoshida’s goofy character (his blog has a huge following and he does TV shows and stuff) because I thought that was harmful for his football career but I saw a new Yoshida, composed, a leader far from the clown we’re used to seeing, who played at a very high level throughout the competition. He completely fulfilled the role that was given to him by the coach and he was one of the main reasons why Japan kept 4 clean sheets until the semi-final against Mexico.
After the Olympics I thought he was easily going to find a club, loads of average European players are moving for incredible transfer fees these days, but I was really surprised this was dragged for so long. In the end I’m very happy he signed for Southampton.”
Thanks Clément for his input. Sounds like we have a real character in Yoshida and more importantly a player with fantastic potential.
Check out Clément’s website on Japanese Football here:- Ganbare Nippon and his thoughts on Tadanari Lee here.
After much anticipation Saints revealed their new Premier League kits last night.
The home kit is a Red shirt with white pinstripes, red shorts and red socks. The away kit is exactly the same with the colours reversed. I love them. They are simple yet smart.
So, imagine my surprise when I saw some of the outrage aimed at the new uniforms. Comparisons to Cardiff, talk of our identity being ruined and words like “disgrace”. Wow.
It is actually none of those things.
We have, on the whole, played in Red with White stripes, and essentially that is what we have got. To compare it to Cardiff whose, entire home colour has been changed from blue to red is ludicrous. Don’t get me wrong, I am not naive enough to think that some Asian marketing thought might have gone into the design process, hence why Tadanari Lee has been used in the marketing gumph, but we are still going to lineup in a kit that matches our identity.
People seem to have forgotten that we have played in kits without stripes before.In fact the clubs first kit wasn’t striped at all, as reflected in the 125th anniversary kit in 2010/11.
Starting with the 1980/81 season Saints lined up without striped shirts for a period of seven years, starting with a kit of “thirds” (white middle, red outer) before changing to solid red with white shoulders in 85/86.
Even when Saints went back to stripes in 87/88, only one half of the shirt was striped (pinstriped in fact like the new kit), the the other half was solid red.
Saints didn’t go back to “proper” stripes until 1989/90. It would stay that way until 1999/2000 when we reverted to “thirds” again, although it was the reverse to the previous stint. It was back to stripes in 2001/02 and it stayed that way until the recent 125th anniversary kit, though for a two year period between 1993-95 it was blotted by the abomination that was the Pony tick!
It strikes me that people accept the “thirds” style kits as stripes, at least I don’t remember there being outrage about them (there probably was), but not the pinstripes. Which I find odd. The thickness of the stripes is irrelevant isn’t it?
Essentially it doesn’t matter what the design is of the kit, what matters is how the team performs on the pitch. If Saints start the new season well, the lack or perceived lack of stripes will soon be forgotten. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on the kit of course, but please everyone calm down.
Our identity isn’t being stolen, it isn’t an outrage and it is no way comparable to the situation at Cardiff. It’s a football strip, and one we will only wear for a year.
Incidentally, of the major English trophies, you have to go back to 1991 for the last striped winner (Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup), the last striped FA Cup winners were Coventry City in 1987, and the last striped League champions were Sunderland in 1936!
Saints won the FA Cup in yellow and had their best league finish in “thirds”….
Back in February, I was approached by Ashley Greb on twitter as he was intending to go to St. Mary’s for the FA Cup 4th round replay against Millwall and wanted some advice on parking etc.
Four months later and I received an e-mail from Ashley informing me of the release of his book ‘A Long Way’, a football diary of sorts that chronicles his FA Cup adventure.
Inspired by his grandfather, Ashley inadvertently set off on an FA Cup crusade when he attended the Cobham v Badshot Lea game of an August evening in the Extra Preliminary Round. His journey started there at the ‘Leg o’Mutton Field’ and would end at Wembley for the final.
In a true tale of endurance and dedication Ashley, even assigned a set of rules (with assigned points) to his task, which on the whole he sticks to. based on sustainability, time and repetition of teams. In all he attended 26 games (a game and a replay in every round) at 22 grounds, watched 46 teams, saw 97 goals and travelled 1,768 miles.
Saints are privileged enough to have a chapter dedicated to them, describing Ashley’s trip to the Millwall defeat. He has good things to say about Saints (having cheered for them from the stands of the 1979 League Cup final) and their fans.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I like many have felt with bigger sponsorship deals, more emphasis on Champions League qualification and removal of traditions (this years final being played at 17:15 on the same day as league fixtures particularly riled me), the FA Cup has gradually lost it’s magic over the last twenty years, but by reading this book you soon learn that it hasn’t.
Ashley’s journey documents, the highs, lows and drama of the oldest cup competition in the world. If you grew up in a time when the FA Cup final was a massive deal (I still smile when I think about 1988!) or simply love the beautiful game and it’s roots in England then this book is for you!
p.s. If you have enjoyed reading the blog over the past year, why not vote for us in the “Club Specific” category at the Football Blogging Awards? Either via Facebook here. Or, tweet the following:- @TheFBAs @crstig #Club
The phone lines are closed, the votes are in and a team of highly dedicated professionals have been counting them round the clock. georgeweahscousin.com is proud to announce the winners of the inaugural 2011/2012 end of season awards!
Player of the Year
Received Votes:- Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork, Frazer Richardson, Danny Fox, Kelvin Davis, Aaron Martin.
3rd:- Jos Hooiveld.
2nd:- Adam Lallana.
And the winner, capping off an amazing season, the Championship top goalscorer Rickie Lambert!
Most Improved Player
Received Votes:- Adam Lallana, Jos Hooiveld, Billy Sharp, Rickie Lambert, Danny Fox, Kelvin Davis, Danny Butterfield, Guly Do Prado, Dean Hammond, Aaron Martin, Jose Fonte, Richard Chaplow.
3rd Place:- Jack Cork.
2nd Place:- Frazer Richardson.
And the winner, whose importance to the side was shown when he was out injured for a while Morgan Schneiderlin!
Received Votes:- Jos Hooiveld, Billy Sharp, Frazer Richardson, Andy Crosby, Kelvin Davis, Danny Butterfield, Tadanari Lee, Guly Do Prado, Dean Hammond, Richard Chaplow, Jose Fonte, Nigel Adkins, Radhi Jaidi.
3rd Place:- Danny Fox.
2nd Place:- Morgan Schneiderlin.
And the winner, filling in all over the middle of the park and back four Jack Cork!
Signing of the Season
Received Votes:- Danny Fox, Tadanari Lee.
3rd Place:- Jack Cork.
2nd Place:- Billy Sharp.
And the winner is, the man who instantly became a cult hero on and off the pitch, with battling defensive displays and some midweek winners Jos Hooiveld!
Performance of the Season
Received Votes:- Leeds Away (Team), Fonte v Coventry (Home), Birmingham Home (Team), P’Boro Away (Team), Millwall Away (Team), Coventry Home (Team), Forest Away (Team), West Ham Away (Team), West Ham Home (Team), Guly Do Prado v Coventry (Away), Rickie Lambert v Watford.
3rd Place:- Ipswich Town Away (Team).
2nd Place (Joint):- Leeds Home (Team), Middlesbrough Home (Team).
And the winner, one of the most ridiculous clean sheets in football history, making save after save Kelvin Davis v Leeds (Away)!
The Ali Dia Award for Comedy Moment
Received Votes:- Performance against Leicester at home, Fonte Penalty v Brighton, Guly tripping over on TV, Dean Hammond F-Bomb on BBC, Lallana dive v Pompey, Billy Sharp Open Goal v West Ham, Jos Injuring himself celebrating, Leeds Attack v Davis, Billy Sharp celebrating v Pompey, Jos Boxhead campaign, Defending v Pompey, STEEEEEVE, Matt Taylor sending off v West Ham, Nigel’s Arousal Speech, Tadanari Lee goal celebration, Aaron Martin Open Goal v Forest, John Pantsil falling over trying to defend against Lallana, Jos Celebration v Coventry, Fat Sam Allardyce.
3rd Place:- Pompey’s Season/Relegation.
2nd Place:- Nigel Adkins tripping over the water bottles v Blackpool.
And the winner, something I’m sure he won’t be happy about, doing his best Massimo Taibi impression v Blackpool Bartosz Bialkowski!
Best Opposition Player at St. Mary’s
Recieved Votes:- Kevin Nolan, Billy Sharp, Ricardo Vaz Te, Robert Koren, Kevin Phillips, Stephan Dobbie, Nicky Maynard, Kasper Schmeichal, David Nugent, Chris Maguire, Robert Snodgrass, Scott Allen, Jamie Ashdown, Neill Danns, Liam Trotter, Wilfred Zaha, Darius Henderson, Joshua King, Jason Scotland, Peter Whittingham, Robert Green, Ian Harte.
3rd Place (Joint):- Adam Le Fondre, Adam Federici, Albert Adomah.
2nd Place:- Matt Phillips.
And the winner, very much part of Reading’s relentless pursuit of the Championship summit, and at his devastating best at St. Mary’s Jason Roberts!
Best Opposition Team at St. Mary’s
Received Votes:- Bristol City, Hull City, West Ham, Forest, Cardiff.
3rd Place:- Blackpool.
2nd Place:- Leicester City.
And the winners, taking all three points with a ruthless lesson for Saints in taking chances Reading!
Best Opposition Fans at St. Mary’s
Received Votes:- Leeds, Reading, Hull City, Millwall, Ipswich Town, Bristol City, Cardiff, Forest.
3rd Place:- West Ham United.
2nd Place:- Portsmouth.
And the winners, loudly supporting their team to the bitter end on final day and staying behind to enjoy the Saints celebrations Coventry City!
So that concludes the first gwc.com end of season awards! I shall look forward to compiling them again this time next season in what will be the first Premier League Edition!
Watch out on the site over the coming weeks for a Season review and a Premier League preparation special!
Saints have tonight confirmed the signing of Doncaster Rovers forward Billy Sharp for an undisclosed fee.
In what has been an ongoing saga for sometime, Saints have finally got their man, a move that shows that the club has in no way lost sight of their target of gaining promotion at the first attempt. The transfer window signings of Iago Falque, Tadanari Lee, the prodigal son style return of Jason Puncheon and now that of Sharp signal a clear attacking intent from an already fruitful side.
Yorkshireman Sharp has spent the majority of his career in his home region, starting at Rotherham United, before joining his beloved Sheffield United in 2004. Things didn’t work out at Bramall Lane and he spent his only previous spell outside Yorks with a loan move at Rushden & Diamonds.
It was with the now defunct Northamptonshire club that his goalscoring exploits were first seen, netting nine times in his sixteen appearances.
Scunthorpe United were the club that took a chance on him in the summer of 2005 and they weren’t to be disappointed as Sharp hit twenty four in his first season. In November 2006 the Iron appointed a certain bespectacled Scouser by the name of Adkins and Scunthorpe never looked back. Sharp hit the net thirty three times in all competitions as he fired them to the summit of League One.
“After much persistence by Brian Laws, a 19-year-old striker named Billy Sharp joined Scunthorpe from Sheffield United for £100,000 in August 2005.
Considered relatively anonymous then, that soon changed especially in a small part of Northern Lincolnshire.
He made himself an instant hero on his debut by scoring the winner against Nottingham Forest but that was just the sign of times to come as Sharp became one of the greatest signings in our history.
In his first season at Glanford Park, Sharp netted 23 times to ensure that the Iron comfortably survived in League One. Starring alongside young Irish forward Andy Keogh in a formidable partnership, he had soon established himself as one of the brightest young strikers in the game.
Despite a decent first campaign in League One, no-one quite foresaw the success on the horizon. However with Billy leading the line anything was possible as the next unforgettable year demonstrated.
After a slow start, the Iron exploded into life and a long unbeaten run took us straight to the summit with young Sharp scoring for fun.
Laws departed for Sheffield Wednesday but Nigel Adkins stepped up from his previous role as physio. He was a more than capable replacement, improving the football and certainly bringing the best out of Sharp.
Although Billy’s partner in crime Keogh also left, he was soon replaced by out of favour Leeds forward Jermaine Beckford who proved to be the catalyst for the Iron’s success.
He established a potent partnership with Billy as the Iron romped to the League One title, finishing six points clear of our closest rivals.
Finishing the season on 32 goals, the highest in all four divisions, Sharp had demonstrated his obvious ability and a £2 million pound move back to Bramall Lane followed but not before leaving a legacy at Glanford Park. With 56 goals in just 94 games it is easy to see why.
Seeing Adkins and Sharp together again today brought back some fantastic memories for Scunthorpe fans. If Sharp and Adkins can repeat history then the promised land of the Premier League should appear just that bit closer for Saints fans.”
Sharp’s exploits made him hot property and when his boyhood club came calling it wasn’t a difficult decision to make, but again things didn’t work out with the Blades as he might have liked, and after finding himself out of favour Sharp went on loan to Doncaster Rovers. Sharp again found his feet outside Sheffield and was soon amongst the goals, hitting fifteen and sixteen goals in his first two seasons respectively.
“Despite only having been at Doncaster Rovers for one full season, Billy Sharp is truly a Rovers’ legend. He is a fantastic player with one hell of a shot on him, it is hard to see Rovers score without him. He’s scored 25 goals since joining us permanently at the start of last season, where he has also had two long term injuries. Sharp came back to score against Middlesbrough for us in November, only days after the death of his son showing how much of a true professional he is. Billy Sharp is a player that should be a great addition to any team, and one we will be heartbroken to lose.
Doncaster Rovers supporters cannot praise Sharp enough, we wish him the very best in the future – he deserves it!”
Sharp has hit ten goals so far this season for Doncaster, an impressive feat in a side struggling at the foot of the Championship table, he captured the hearts of football fans everywhere when he took the field and scored for Rovers just days after the tragic death of his newborn son Luey and scored the only goal when Saints were defeated at the Keepmoat earlier in the season.