Let me take you back if you will to the heady summer of 2014.
Some bands I’ve never heard of were producing some mediocre dreary dross that may as well all be by Ed Sheeran and Southampton Football Club were clearing out their deadwood.
Embarking on an exciting new journey under Ronald Koeman, chairman Ralph Kreuger and director of football Les Reed were slowly but surely ridding the squad of those without the desire to work hard for their dreams, those in search of short-cuts
One of those identified as not being surplus to requirements was French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. With his heart set on following departed Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino to White Hart Lane, Schneiderlin did what every level headed professional does in a situation of vocational disappointment; had a twitter tantrum.
‘6 years of an amazing journey #saintsfc DESTROYED in 1 hour!!’ read the public outburst, proving that when they…
In what has been a turbulent few weeks, especially since England limped out of the World Cup without so much as a fight, some incoming transfer news at St. Mary’s has been a long time coming…
…but it’s finally here and Serbian international Dušan Tadić becomes the first new face of the Ronald Koeman era.
Joining from FC Twente for a fee believed to be in the region of €13 million. Saints have seemingly shaken off competition from Everton, Sevilla and Shalke 04 to secure a player that some have labelled ‘the best in the Eredivisie.’
It’s dragged for a few days, but Dušan Tadić is now a Southampton player. Is this a good move for Saints?
WB ‘100% yes! In my opinion Tadić was the best player in the Eredivisie last year and Ronald Koeman obviously thinks the same to part with such a hefty fee.’
EdG ‘I would say it is, yes. He’s been the best player in the Eredivisie for the last two years. Tadić is a model professional, rarely missing a game and a role model for the youngsters with his positive attitude.’
Many have touted him as a potential Adam Lallana replacement. What type of player is he?
WB ‘A very handy left winger but also at home in the number 10 role. He’s intelligent, hard working, an assist machine and a goal scorer. Potential Lallana replacement? Maybe… he has all the credentials to pull it off.’
EdG ‘He’s been the creative spark for Twente in the past two seasons. Always an eye for his teammates. Gifted with the insight to play killer balls and key passes. His assist tally is impressive, but it could’ve been much, much higher. The FC Twente strikers tend to miss a lot of chances.’
What would you say are his main strengths and weaknesses?
WB ‘As I am such an admirer of Tadić, no real weaknesses spring to mind. He is a great crosser with exceptional passing. Throughout his career in the Eredivisie, his deliveries from corners and free-kicks have resulted in goals after goals. Combine this with the capability to cut inside and carve up any defence with a killer ball, provides you the main reasons for his many assists. Great movement, great speed and a great penalty taker.’
EdG ‘Main strengths: Key pass, through balls, very strong left foot. 100% conversion rate of penalties, free kicks, crosses, work rate, influence, attitude and one of his biggest strengths: Opponents can’t get him off the ball when he’s in possession.
Weaknesses: The Twente coaching staff told him he has to go for his own chance a bit more, rather than laying the ball off. Defensively he’s not very strong.’
Do you think he will be able to convert his Eredivisie form to the Premier League?
WB ‘Like I say about every player coming over here from a different league – it may take time. However, he has the speed and strength to harass any full-back so he may adapt quickly to the hustle and bustle of going to the Brittania on a rainy Monday night.’
EdG ‘He’ll be ok. As long as you keep playing your attacking football, that’s where he’s best. I’ve no doubt he will fit in. It’s a big step, but if one player can do it, it’s Tadic.’
This is hopefully the first of many players coming into Saints, perhaps mainly from Holland, how is that perceived over there?
WB ‘Unsure how it’s perceived but imagine Southampton will be a club they will follow with a Dutch legend like Ronald Koeman at the helm.’
EdG ‘Good question. I don’t think it matters too much to fans in the Netherlands. It’s our faith to lose players to the bigger leagues like the Premier League, so we’re kind of used to it. We’ll always have bright new talents in the Netherlands.’
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like we have signed a pretty exciting player to me! Thanks to Will and Erwin for their time. Make sure you checkout TotalDutchFootball.com for future features on Koeman and his targets!
I get the feeling this is the first signing of many…..
Wow. What a day. I was expecting to publish this interview and welcome one person to the club. Instead I am welcoming two people and with a very heavy heart I am saying goodbye to another. Thank you Nigel Adkins, a proper tribute will be up soon. Welcome to the club Mauricio Pochettino. More about the new manager in another piece too, but back to the original plan.
As widely reported over the last few days, Saints today confirmed the signing of Norweigan international Vegard Forren on a three and a half year deal from Molde FK.
The 24 year old comes highly rated and is considered a great young prospect across Europe. He is twice a Norwegian league champion and has 5 caps for his national team. Welcome to Saints Vegard Forren.
As usual at georgeweahscousin.com we like to get the lowdown on all new people at the club from those that know them best so we caught up with Norwegian sports journalist Vegard Flemmen Vaagbø to get all the inside info on Saints new man.
It seems a lot of Premier League clubs were paying an interest in Forren, but then Southampton came from nowhere to win the race. Was this expected in Norway?
VFV:- ‘Everton were for a long time seen as favourites to sign Forren, but also Fulham – amongst others– were tracking him. He also declined an offer from Club Brugge. The Southampton-interest came as a bit of surprise when it was known late Monday night, but from that point they seemed to be in pole position.’
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer obviously rates him quite highly, as do the Norwegian fans. Is it a surprise that it has taken this long to get a move abroad?
VFV:- ‘Maybe a little, but Forren has had his opportunities early – he turned down Hoffenheim 3-4 years ago – and has never had a rush to leave Molde. He has matured as a player, especially the last year, and it seems like the perfect timing for him to leave now.’
Scandinavian players have a rich history with the Premier League, do you think that it is always a preferable destination based on the style of play?
VFV:- ‘I think that was more the case a few years ago. England will always be a very special place to play for Norwegian footballers, but it seems that the players leaving Norway now is as likely to go to Germany (as an example) as England.Yet, for Vegard Forren Premier League was the big dream.’
How will Forren fit into the Southampton lineup. Straight away or will he need time?
VFV:- ‘I think he will play quite a lot from the start, but he hasn’t played a competitive match since early December (against Stuttgart in the Europa League), so I would imagine he could need a few games to regain full fitness.’
What sort of defender is Forren, what can the fans expect?
VFV:- ‘He is a “modern” defender. He is very, very relaxed, confident with the ball, he’s good in the air and strong in the challenge. He’s weakness might be his tempo, but he disguises it well by clever positioning. He did some costly mistakes last season, but it seems like that’s in the past.’
Saints have had a good relationship with Norweigan players over the years. Jo Tessem and Egil Ostenstad were very good, and Claus Lundekvam is a club legend. (We won’t talk about Stig Johansen). Do you think Forren is a player who can be a success with the club too?
VFV:- ‘I think Forren has the ability to be a success, and what fascinates me the most about him is how he always seems to master every new level. He came to Molde from Norwegian third division (fourth tier) and very quickly was a regular, he did well for the Norwegian U21 straight away, he performed well in the Europa League and he was excellent in the World Qualifiers last season when coming on from the bench. He rarely gets nervous, and if he gets a good start I think he can be a valuable asset for many years for Southampton.’
Many thanks to Vegard for answering these questions, I for one am pretty excited about this signing!
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.
For me, as someone who was never his biggest fan, having Rory Delap as our record signing felt like a monkey on our back. How could we ever be taken seriously with a player of Delap’s quality holding such a prestigious title?
Finally, on Sunday that record was broken. In what was seemingly a long drawn out process, and after much journalist/supporter speculation Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez signed for the club for a fee believed to be in the region of £6-7 millon. Whether or not the club intended to announce it on that day is questionable, but after an eagle eyed hotel guest/member of staff took the snap below, the cat was out of the bag!
Nigel Adkins has clearly been a long time admirer of “JRod” with the club being continuously linked with the England U21 international, and both staff and supporters alike will be glad to have got their man.
Having scored 15 goals in the Championship last season, 21 in all competitions, the 22 year old proved to be hot property last season, with the likes of Everton, Sunderland and Fulham also believed to be interested.
Immediately, to me it looks like we have bought a player who would be ideal playing off Rickie Lambert, and certainly one who has bags of potential. Many have scoffed at the nature of the transfer fee, but effectively we have gone to Turf Moor and taken their Adam Lallana. How much would you want for him?
To know what we can really expect I sought out those who know him best, and got the opinions of Jamie Smith of Burnley blog NoNayNever and Tony Scholes, editor of Clarets Mad.
Jamie – “Burnley fans have known for at least a year that Jay Rodriguez would be a Premier League player. I think it’s fair to say – with no disrespect intended to Southampton – that many of us hoped he would get a move to an established side in the top division, but at least a move to the south coast means he’ll have his mate Jack Cork around and the chances are he’ll start most games.”
Tony –“I’m sorry to see Jay Rod go because we are, without doubt, losing our key player. But Southampton are now in the Premier League and Jay needs to go and play there to take his career onto the next step. I watched him come through the youth team via the reserves to the first team and even in our promotion season of 2008/09 he scored some vital and some stunning goals coming on as a substitute.”
Value for Money
Jamie – “A lot has been made of the fee Southampton have paid for Jay and from an outsider’s point of view, this is understandable. £6-7m is a lot of money. But there aren’t many young English strikers out there as good as Jay. I firmly believe it will look like a bargain in a couple of years.”
Tony – “You are getting a player who, in my view, will prove to be very good value for the money you’ve paid, I believe it to be £7 million. He’s a young player who has just got better and better since getting a place in the first team in September 2010.
I don’t think you’ve paid too much for him. It might seem that way right now with him having such little experience but more than one Championship manager last season described him as the best forward in the division.”
Type of Player
Jamie – “It’s hard to describe exactly what sort of player he is. When he first came through into the squad he was seen as a bit of a specialist finisher, coming on to score the winner a few times in our Carling Cup run helped. But he had a bad injury at the start of our season in the Premier League and barely got a look in.
His appearances/goals ratio isn’t really fair to judge him on as he played a lot from the bench in his early days. But the last two seasons saw him secure a place in the side. Brian Laws put his faith in him and Jay repaid him well and last season he was even better, breaking 20 goals for the first time, even though he didn’t play after mid-March because of injury. His goal record in the last two years in the Championship is as good as anyone’s.
Jay can score all sorts of goals. He’s not afraid to have a pop from distance, but he’s far from the sort of player who just shoots whenever the ball comes. He’s intelligent and confident enough to play with his head up – and that’s rare. He’ll drop deep and link the play, his touch is excellent. He’ll run the channels, look to go in behind, get on the end of flick-ons. He’s not great with his back to goal against a big, strong defender, but should provide a good foil for Rickie Lambert. He’s very good in the air for his size, despite not looking like the sort of striker who’ll score headers.”
Tony – “In looking at his strengths and weaknesses I think it is fair to say he has a lot of attributes. He’s a player who doesn’t necessarily do all his work inside the penalty box although he definitely has an ability to get more than his fair share of goals. He scores different kinds of goals too. He’ll get the close range centre forward type goals, he’ll score with headers, he’s a clinical penalty taker (one spot kick apart) and has the ability to hit shots from distance. He’ll say he’s a central striker but I think he offers most when playing that bit deeper enabling him to pick up balls from deep and make runs. He’s strong, and getting stronger, he’s quick although we are not talking Theo Walcott type pace here.”
Jamie – “It’s anyone’s guess how Jay will adapt to the top league and his first few games will shape that to some extent. If he gets off to a flier like Shane Long did last season, he could be in the England squad by Christmas. A slow start will test him. He is a player of huge, vast potential, but the fear for Burnley fans is that he doesn’t get enough service to impress and Southampton come straight back down. I’m sure the Saints survival next year is worth a few quid for us.
The recent transfers of Danny Fox and to a lesser extent Jack Cork haven’t endeared Southampton to Burnley fans, but we’ll certainly be looking out for you on Match of the Day next season to see how Jay gets on.”
Tony – “I personally think he can go all the way and play for England, although we’ll need to be quick because he does qualify for Spain through his dad. He’s English through and through though, a local lad who has lived his entire life to date in Burnley. During his time in the first team he’s become hugely popular with the Turf Moor crowd and there is no doubt he’ll be missed. Because he’s so highly thought of the reaction has been, in the main, one of wishing him the very best of luck. Nothing would please us more than to see Jay Rod become a top Premier League player and pull on an England shirt. You might just have got yourselves a bargain.”
It is great to see the confidence in him from the fans of his former club, and my reference to Lallana at the start of this article was no coincidence, he is “one of their own” and they are rightly proud of him and confident in his abilities, like we are with Adam. I for one am delighted with this signing.
Welcome to Southampton Jay Rodriguez.
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
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.