Howdy Readers, this week I was approached by Spurs blog ‘SpursforLife’ for a crossover piece on this weekend’s coming fixture.
I asked Andy some questions and answered some in return. Enjoy!
GWC ‘It’s almost 5 years since Mauricio Pochettino left St. Mary’s for White Hart Lane, has he lived up to expectations?’
SFL ‘He’s gone way past expectations. You never know what to expect with managers from lower teams but we have genuinely challenged for the title, we are now contenders in the Champions League. I’m not sure I’d ever seen that as a possibility as a Spurs fan.’
GWC ‘Do you fear him running out of patience with a lack of squad investment, and jumping ship?’
SFL ‘Yes, every day. The difficulty isn’t spending money, it’s bringing in players that improve us. There aren’t many available and the ones that are can get double/triple the money elsewhere. I hope Poch sees that as a challenge.’
GWC ‘What happened to Victor Wanyama? He was a star for us and seems a bit part player with Spurs?’
SFL ‘He’s a weird one, just had loads of injuries I guess and never cemented a place. He had Dembele in front of him when he first came in, then Dier arrived on the scene. Now Winks and Sissoko of all people are ahead of him. Whatever happens I’ll always love Wanyama for the absolute thunderbastard he scored at Anfield.’
GWC ‘Do you look forward to playing Saints? We had a run of wins in the early 2000’s but since then we rarely even get a point against Spurs.’
SFL ‘I’m pretty neutral to be honest. Maybe the weirder thing of being a better team is that games mean less. We normally beat anyone outside the Top 6 home and away so it’s kind of expected and that brings a kind of weird nerves. Because the level at the top is so high you can’t drop points at all.
I do remember one rather depressing game at the end of the season where we were going for the title against Leicester and managed to lose to you guys at home where Steve Davis scored. I was in Brighton with the Mrs on a sunny day out and jumped in a pub to watch it. Ruined the day a bit. We ended up finishing third in a two horse race behind Arsenal!’
GWC ‘Do you look at anyone in the Saints squad as an option for Poch in the Summer?’
SFL ‘Having watched you play a few times this season. No. ; )’
GWC ‘Do you remember that weird period Post-Hoddle moving clubs where we had a very minor rivalry?’
SFL ‘All seems very petty now. I have blanked out my childhood memory of Spurs because we were so annoyingly rubbish. That said the classic Saints game is the one where Ronny Rosenthal scored a hattrick at The Dell in an FA Cup replay. And yeah, not sure there’s much of a rivalry!’
Thanks to Andy for answering the questions, make sure you check out my answers in return at http://spursforlife.com/saints-v-spurs-the-oppositions-view/
Keep the Faith
Recently I had the pleasure (opportunity) to watch the Blockbuster movie ‘A Star is Born’. It wasn’t my choice so to speak, so much as a demand from she who must be obeyed.
The most interesting thing I found about this movie, was that it acts as a really good metaphor for the Premier League exploits of one Southampton Football Club, If you squint a bit, and not take this blog too seriously, not get bogged down in ‘facts’ and take a monumental leap of faith.
The movie starts well, and tells the tale of a talented but unfancied singer getting plucked from obscurity and into the limelight, doing so with a style and grace that brings the attention of the world upon them. Much like the arrival of Saints in the Premier League back in 2012. It’s fair to say that the initial exploits of our beloved club in the top flight were thrilling, unexpected and downright rude to the established elite. Under Pochettino and then Koeman, we made unprecedented leaps of improvement, propelling us into the limelight, and we did so with an exciting mix of youthful enthusiasm, a disregard for the establishment and an exciting style of in your face attack minded football.
Many stars were born, and like in the movie their heads were soon turned for ‘better’ things, while the creator refused to move on.
The middle of the movie, and frankly the part where it lost me. When I wasn’t close to sleep, I was witnessing the mediocre section of the story, the bit where not a lot happens, where they have decided the story doesn’t need to excite anymore, it just needs to be there.
Very much what it feels like to be a Saints fan at the moment. For every star that went, the ability to replace them for better/as good as seems to have gone, a string of drab characters have come in and made no improvement on the man before them. It’s dull to watch and expectation weakens week by week, Saints are less challenging in the Premier League, they are merely existing (just).
Our identity as a club has gone. We used to be giant slayers, fantastic recruiters and promoters of youth. We are none of those things anymore. When was the last time we beat one of the big teams? When was the last time we brought in a player with the star quality of a Mane or a Pelle? When was the last time an Academy player got an extended run in the first team?
The End, and a pretty harrowing one at that. As one star moves on and shines, the ones left behind stagnate and rot, and ultimately burn out.
For Saints, you wonder what the future is? Last season was a disaster and one you would have hoped the club would do all in their power to prevent happening again, but here we are, worse off points wise than this time last year. It feels like the club is stagnating, and being left to die. Is it the manager’s fault? Perhaps, but perhaps not, he can only work with what he is given. In Danny Ings, we have improved in one area that was poor last year, but defensively we look as bad as we have been in our Premier League history. What are Armstrong, Elyanoussi and Vestegaard bringing to the table? I’m of the opinion this is our weakest Premier League squad so far, and the interest level of fans is waning. Where has the excitement gone?
Something needs to change at executive level for me, the support for the manager no longer exists, though of course, they are an easy target for blame.
If Saints don’t heed the warnings of previous experiences, the only way is down, and the most frustrating thing, like the movie, it’s a remake. We’ve been here before.
A Star is Born/Southampton Football Club 2/5 stars. Not worth the popcorn.
p.s. Bugger. I’ve just realised this works better with ‘A Christmas Carol’, so just read it again, with the Ghost of Christmas Past, Future etc. You get the idea.
We are one week away from the new Premier League season, the 27th of it’s kind since the financial revolution surrounding the ‘people’s’ game changed football forever.
It also happens to be the 20th Premier League campaign for Southampton Football Club. An achievement to be proud of for a club that has never been level in terms of resources with the giants of the era. Even more so when you realise that of the previous 19 campaigns, 7 have resulted in top 10 finishes. A club once synonymous with relegation battles actually has more mid to top half Premier League league finishes. Our average league position in the Premier League is 12.8th which given the restrictions placed on us by the Dell, the perennial harvesting of our best talent, the infliction of messrs Branfoot, Wigley, Gray, Redknapp, Pellegrino and Puel, a financial meltdown and a self inflicted long term hiatus can truly be seen as a decent return.
In that time we’ve provided one of the most entertaining players ever to grace the modern game who dominated the goal of the season competition, continuously produced exciting young British talent who have become mainstays in the best league in the world, masterminded accumulator busting shocks, pulled off breathtaking great escapes in the face of impossible odds, won 8-0, consistently taken advantage of Liverpool’s desperation for a title, gambled on players and managers others wouldn’t, #greykitgate, and of course, gave the world the Ali Dia affair and mocked ourselves ever since.
Say what you like about Saints, but the Premier League is always richer with us in it than without. Always a conundrum, constantly written off, proudly representing South of London in the top flight.
The ‘Premier’ club on the South Coast in name and stature. How will the 20th Premier League campaign go? Who knows? With Saints we could easily be pushing for 7th or praying for 17th. The one thing that can be guaranteed, is that with the exception of 2016/17, it will never be boring.
Strap in & keep the faith!
“I think people should recognise that I am also one of the best bloggers in the world and not just talk nonsense.”
For Southampton fans, this World Cup maybe best remembered as the time our Dejan Lovren schadenfreude went global. After the calamitous Croat made the ridiculous claim of being one of the best defenders in the world, you just kind of knew it would be followed by a 4th defeat in 4 finals for the hapless head wanderer.
I mean, the best defenders in the world don’t say in interviews ‘I’m one of the best defenders in the world. It’s the same as when a bloke in the pub says they used to be in the SAS. By the very nature of the fact that they are telling you… They weren’t.
We should have moved on from this Lovren hate to be honest, but the bloke doesn’t make it easy. The arrogance and delusion mixed with his prolific record of losing makes him a sitting duck for mockery.
Credit where it’s due though, he achieved something I didn’t think he could. He managed to have me cheering against a rather likeable Croatia team in favour of France. FRANCE. I wanted drastically overrated walking meme Paul Pogba to walkaway with a World Cup winners medal, trophy dab and all, more than I wanted to see glee on the face of little Luka Modric. Remarkable.
But what was better than one of the best defender’s in the world conceding four goals in the final?
The ‘It’s Coming Home’ Movement.
I, like many others lost faith in the England team a long time ago, and it’s difficult to describe what actually happened, but Harry Kane’s last minute winner against Tunisia seemingly turned everything on it’s head. I haven’t experienced English support like this since France ’98. Pubs in full swing, singing and a real sense of unison. The type of support was even different, less ‘Ten German Bombers’ and more Atomic Kitten.
On the pitch, we had players we could believe in again, and off it we had one of the greatest meme takeovers the internet has ever seen. The ‘It’s coming home’ memes were fantastic, and obviously only ever a subtle dig at ourselves, yet of course it was construed as arrogance by the ‘Anyone but England’ brigade. Divs.
We got to the semi final. That was far beyond our expectations, yet at that point you have to start believing you have a chance of winning it right? Arrogance again apparently.
Ultimately, football didn’t come home, but a restored sense of national pride did. It really was a fantastic few weeks to be a football supporter, even an English one.
Now when does the Premier League start?
This is always one of the most fun and interesting times of the year for me. Reading through the voting forms is always a funny experience, and captures the melancholy/terrace humour of being a Saints fan perfectly.
Again, the response has been great, so thank you to everybody who took the time, especially after a torrid season.
Everyone associated with Saints covets one of these precious trophies*:-
And now we find out who has go their hands on one!
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 for a vote as runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.
Scored points:- Nobody, Sam McQueen, Mario Lemina, Olufela Olomola. Jan Bednerak, Shane Long, Cedric, Manolo Gabbiadini, Wesley Hoedt, Les Reed, Fraser Forster, Mauricio Pellegrino, U15’s kid & The Kitman (<1%), Oriol Romeu, Sofiane Boufal & Jeremy Pied (1%), Ryan Bertrand, Matt Targett, Charlie Austin & Jack Stephens (2%), James Ward-Prowse (5%), Dusan Tadic (6%)
3rd Place:- Maya Yoshida (7%)
2nd Place:- Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (18%)
And the winner is…..with a dominant 46% of the points with his impressive displays in the run in of the season….
Most Improved Player
Received Votes:- Nathan Redmond & Fraser Forster (1%), Matt Targett & Maya Yoshida (3%), James Ward-Prowse (5%), Jack Stephens (8%)
3rd Place:- Alex McCarthy (15%)
2nd Place:- Jan Bednarek (17%)
And the winner is…..
Young Player of the Year
Received Votes:- Enzo Robise, Stuart Taylor, Did we play any kids?, James Ward-Prowse, Sam McQueen & Jake Vokins (2%), Michael Obafemi (4%), Matt Targett (5%), Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (8%)
3rd Place:- Jan Bednarek (15%)
2nd Place:- Jack Stephens (21%)
And the winner is….
Received Votes:- Manolo Gabbiadini, David in Sweden, Whoever got rid of ‘My Way’, Jack Stephens, Jeremy Pied & Mauricio Pellegrino (1%), Nathan Redmond, Alex McCarthy, Dusan Tadic, Forbsey & Kelvin Davis (3%), Stuart Taylor, Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Jan Bednarek, Ryan Bertrand & Shane Long (4%), The Fans (7%)
3rd Place:- Cedric (9%)
2nd Place:- Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (14%)
And the winner is…..
Signing of the Season
Received Votes:- Sure for Men (2%), Wesley Hoedt, Guido Carrillo & All shit (3%), Quincy Promes (10%)
3rd Place:- Jan Bednarek (12%)
2nd Place:- Mark Hughes (30%)
And the winner is…..
Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)
Received Votes:- Gabbiadini v Swans (A), Boufal v WBA (H), van Dijk v Leicester (H), Team v Fulham (A), Team 1st 60 v Chelsea (H), Long v Swans (A) & Media Team Taylor Announcement (1%), McCarthy v Bournemouth (H) & Team v Bournemouth (H) (7%), Lemina v Palace (A) (10%)
3rd Place:- Tadic v Bournemouth (H) (12%)
2nd Place:- Team v Everton (H) (14%)
And the winner is…….Team v Swansea (A)
Goal of the Season
Received Votes:- Nathan Redmond & We scored? (1%), Boufal v West Ham (3%), Yoshida v Stoke (4%)
3rd Place:- Lemina v WBA (9%)
2nd Place:- Gabbiadini v Swansea (17%)
And the winner is…..for that ridiculous solo run and finish v WBA….
Comedy Moment sponsored by Marriott Hotels
Received Votes:- Bournemouth getting stage fright at St. Mary’s. Again., Pompey Owner publicly praising Gareth Bale’s South Coast development, Lemina’s air shot, Mark Hughes saying how nice the stay in Cardiff was, Ralph Krueger’s five pledges, Champion’s League final schadenfreude, Carrillo calling Pellegrino ‘The Master’, Summer Scouse meltdown over van Dijk, Liverpool’s public apology, Scoring four against Everton, Alonso’s challenge on Long, Mark Hughes marching the team to the Liberty, WBA Taxi chants, Swansea Ball Boy, There were three teams worse than us, Tadic striptease, Ralph Krueger saying Pellegrino is the perfect coach, Boufal’s sulk & Austin accepting McCarthy’s man of the match award (1%), Ralph Krueger’s interviews, Tadic’s celebration at 5-2 down, All the injury time goals conceded, The Watford handball & Puel beating us 4-1 (2%), Hoedt’s defending, Pellegrino’s claim about playing attacking football, Bertrand time wasting v Bournemouth & Signing Carrillo (4%), WBA defending v Boufal (7%)
3rd Place:- Hiring Pellegrino (8%)
2nd Place:- Swansea’s failed sabotage attempts (13%)
And the winner is….Pierre Emile Høijbjerg kicking Jack Stephens in the groin during his goal celebration at Wigan!
Best Opposition Team
Received Voted:- West Ham, Referees & Southampton A (2%), Watford (3%), Leicester (4%), Chelsea (7%)
3rd Place:- Spurs (11%)
2nd Place (becoming a habit):- Liverpool (22%)
And the winners are…..The Champions.
Best Opposition Player
Received Votes:- John Moss, David de Gea, N’Golo Kante, Kenedy, Officials, Jack Cork & Mike Dean (1%), Raheem Sterling (3%), Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez & Harry Kane (4%), Eden Hazard (12%)
3rd Place:- Mo Salah (17%)
2nd Place:- Kevin de Bruyne (20%)
And the winner is…..
Best Opposition Fans
Received Votes:- Swansea & Liverpool (1%), Watford, WBA, Chelsea & Newcastle (3%), Wigan & Burnley (5%), Bournemouth (7%), Manchester United & Manchester City (8%)
3rd Place:- Leicester City (12%)
2nd Place:- Crystal Palace (16%)
And the winners are……Huddersfield Town!
Best Saints Related Tweeter
Received Votes:- Official Club Account, Shirley Mush, Nobody, Yershida, Lucy Highnett, TalkSaints, Swansea, ArchersRoadEnd, OilySailor, chrs00, Max Sopel, Rauschgiftsucht, benstanners, Liam Coward, Marriott Hotels, Billy Fingers (1%), DavidC00k, Tadic, Sam Dobson, Luke Osman, Simon Peach & SFC_Dellivery (3%) SaintsinFrance & crstig (6%)
3rd Place:- @mattletiss7 (12%)
2nd Place:- @AdamBlackmore (14%)
And the winner is……@L1minus10
Usually that would be the end of the Ali’s, but I realised today that i had forgotten to award the Ali Dia services to Southampton Award this year to mark the site’s 8th birthday. So to that end here is your winner (explanations not really necessary):-
The 2018 Ali Dia Services to Southampton Award goes to……
So that concludes this season’s Ali’s! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who voted and massive congratulations to all the winners!.A big thank you to Alistair Downs for the Photoshop wizardry! Keep the faith!
For previous years awards results see here:- http://georgeweahscousin.com/awards-history/
*- There is no actual physical trophy. Soz.
A difficult season for Saints, another decent cup run, but an undeniably disastrous league campaign that was almost fatal. But. It’s that time of year again and I have made the decision to do the awards anyway, if only due to the tough competition for comedy moment!
Forget the ‘official awards’ now it’s time for the only ones the real fans have any interest in! The Ali’s.
Who has stood out? Who will win one of these coveted trophies?
If you want to have your say on who should be honoured, just fill out the following form, all votes will be anonymous and collated with the winners revealed at the end of the season!
For the ‘Player of the Year’ award, a winner vote get’s the player 2 points. A runner up vote gets them 1 point. The player with the highest combined total will get the ‘Ali’.
For previous winners see here:- Awards History
* – There is no actual physical trophy.
Ever fancied living out your dreams? Walking out on to the hallowed turf at the home of football perhaps? Playing the killer pass that allows Brett Ormerod to steer home? Getting on the end of a Jason Dodd cross? Maybe you’d like to be on the receiving end of a Benali tackle? Or simply fancy the perfect view of Le Tissier’s grace?
Well now you can, and what’s more, with the help of this site you can get 5% off of the cost of doing so!
Play at St Mary’s with Saints legends!
Matt Le Tissier, Jason Dodd, Francis Benali and Brett Ormerod will be lacing up their boots once again to take to the St Mary’s pitch for a one-off four team tournament, and you could be playing alongside them!
Play With A Legend, the events company which brings you closer to your footballing heroes, is running the event for the third year at St Mary’s. The organisation was co-founded by Perry Groves, best known for his time at Arsenal (and Saints too of course!), who wanted to give fans the chance to play on pitch with their favourite ex-players.
The four team tournament will take place on 14th May from 6pm, on the pitch at St. Mary’s where you can get either 45 or 90 minutes of action, plus your own personalised kit, enjoy post-match drinks with the legends and have your photo taken. Friends and family are invited to purchase audience tickets to cheer you on from the stands too.
So, the Saints board finally caught up with the rest of us and lost patience with the Argentine Branfoot and gave him his marching orders (#youmarchon) after the frankly diabolical display at Newcastle. Too little too late? Perhaps, but the last couple of days has felt like a fresh start, and for the first time in a long time there would appear to be hope.
Now he is gone, I wish Mr. Pellegrino no ill will, seems like a (too) nice bloke, just wildly out of his depth. I did ‘celebrate’ his sacking though, and I feel no guilt in doing so. This isn’t a bloke on £15k a year who has just been made redundant from the local factory as the result of some Tory inflicted austerity scheme, who now has to worry about how he pays his rent and feed his kids. This is a highly paid man (no doubt already comfortably off from his playing career) who showed incompetence from day one. Worse than that, he didn’t learn and was loyal to the end to his turgid style and failing system. What’s more he didn’t even have the decency to resign when it was plain to see he was taking us down. He will have received a handsome pay off for his trouble and will now be having a lovely holiday in a luxurious resort. With respect Mauricio, I wish you luck in your future endeavours, but I am glad you were fired, please don’t ever darken our door again.
This current Saints board had never been more under pressure. They left the sacking of el confundido far too late, he should have gone after the Leicester debacle and in not removing him sooner have left us staring into the abyss with a very difficult run in. This is self inflicted pressure, and meant the job of replacing him was not an easy one. You could argue the logic behind the appointments of both Pellegrino and Claude Puel, both were employed in pre-season, and both looked like long term options, sadly both failed. Employing someone with 8 games to save the season is a different kettle of fish altogether. Premier League experience is absolutely essential, we aren’t in a position to be letting someone learn as they go, and in Mark Hughes we got the best available.
While Pellegrino floundered on the touchline, it cannot escape attention that the players were not performing to their ability, and that may have been a question of motivation. What we have now in Hughes is someone who knows this league, knows how to organise a team and won’t accept dropping standards of his squad.
To those who I’ve seen complaining about the appointment, I always ask the same question? Who would you have brought in? You can rule out the currently employed. Why would they risk it, when they can wait until the end of the season and see if Saints are still interested, and more importantly what division they are in?
That leaves the unemployed, and risking someone without experience of the Premier League would be one risk too far. The current Saints board are 1 for 2 when it comes to appointing foreign first timers, 1 for 3 would be relegation and their own positions untenable.
Hughes’ record in the Premier League is decent, there is no doubt about that, and despite a poor spell at car crash club QPR and this season with Stoke he would firmly be considered a middle tier manager, and here’s a newsflash. We aren’t a middle tier club at the moment, we are lower tier and in danger of being out of the top flight. Lest we forget, that in removing Hughes, Stoke have ended up with Paul Lambert. A fate worse than death in my opinion. The point is right now we don’t have a ‘project’ to sell to a fashionable foreign manager like we have had in the past, we are in a desperate situation. We should be grateful Hughes has put his reputation (never having been relegated) on the line for us.
Yesterday’s press conference gave everyone a lift. A football man, talking a good game and not the riddle messr’s Puel and Pellegrino gave us. We need grit and we need fight from our squad, they have the talent. Hughes is the man to get it.
It’s time for the fans to stop the infighting and the ‘woe is me’ attitude to go. This is what being a Saints fan is all about. We had it far to easy for far too long and we got comfortable and we got entitled and we got lazy. On Sunday Mark Hughes will start his reign with a trip to league one Wigan and the potential to take us to an FA Cup Semi-Final and as we know from last season once you get a semi anything can happen. Then it is 8 cup finals.
Get behind the manager, get behind the team and as always keep the faith.
Steve Wigley and Poortvliet
Mark Wotte and Dave Bassett
Alan Pardew, Wilkins Dean
On the cover of a cheap fanzine.
Stuart Gray; Puel, Claude
Picture of a coaching fraud.
Paul Sturrock and Souness.
Pellegrino, what a mess.
They had no style, had no grace,
Harry Redknapp twitchy face.
Gorman, Wise, Sturrock too.
Ian Branfoot we hate you.
Manager’s without a clue.
Fellows that weren’t in the mood.
Don’t just stand there let’s get to it
Strike the pose there’s nothing to it.