Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Premier League Game 2 - Southampton 0 West Brom 0


The week leading up to the first home game of the season against West Brom was reasonably quiet.  No one had tried to fuck us over in the transfer market and there had been no one incoming.  Ronald Koeman played a blinder in his press conference when asked about “the speculation regarding Schneiderlin which won’t go away” by replying “it has gone away, he’s not going.  You brought it up”.  I like the fact that Ronald has good English but not good enough to speak in football managerspeak bollocks.  Honesty is the name of the game.  Mind you, it was more amusing with our last Dutch manager as Jan Poortvliet made me want to kick the TV screen in every time he opened his mouth.

West Brom have had a bit of a shocker recently.  They only survived relegation due to other teams being more shit than they were and Pepe Mel was predictably sacked after less than half a season in charge.  They found themselves without a manager at the same time as us and whilst we got a unanimously well-received appointment, they got Alan Irvine which is one of those appointments that is a master stroke or a complete disaster.  My money is on the former.  They’ve made a couple of decent looking signings in Joleon Lescott and Brown Ideye but their squad is certainly on paper one of the weakest in the division and we really need to be winning this one today.  Hopefully, the decent performance at Anfield will fire us to a decent win today but I’m a bit concerned that the Baggies will park the bus and we’ll not be slick enough to break them down.

To the teams and we have the same starting XI as last week which is a bit of a surprise.  Shane Long is on the bench against one of his former employers and is joined by Florin Gardos for the first time.  Gaston Ramirez is again missing in keeping with his Saints career to date.  Every time there’s an opportunity for him to maybe make a mark, he gets injured.

Away we go and by the 4th minute there was a clear indication that this was a new West Brom as by the 3rd minute last year, they’d started time wasting.  The first incident of any note in the opposition penalty area came from Saints as Tadic burned the full back on the left and swung over a cross towards Pelle but though the big man got his head to it, it was a bit high and he couldn’t get it goalwards.

That was more or less it until the half hour mark when Steve Davis cushioned a good header down for Tadic in a crowded penalty area and his first time left footed strike was well kept out by Foster who got down well.  Foster was put into difficulty by Mulumbu who took time off from his usual pursuit of chasing round moaning at the referee to knock it past his own goalkeeper in the right back position, allowing Tadic to swing over a cross which was comfortably over Pelle’s head.  If ever there was an indicator of how shit the first half was, the fact that I’m talking about a cross over someone’s head is it.  Half time, 0-0 and boring shite.

Koeman sent on Shane Long for Steve Davis and just after half time, West Brom sent on Ideye for Anichebe which at least meant that they had 11 players on the pitch.  Tadic was still however proving to be our only bright spark and he did superbly to make a yard and dig out another cross from the left was this time headed over by Long.  The Baggies then had a chance as the Belgian full back with the unpronounceable name cross picked out Ideye at the back stick but he headed into the side netting as 26000 Saints fans mouthed swear words as it looked like it was in.  Well played Ryan Bertrand for giving him a nudge.  Ideye was in action again as he started his dive before Jose actually got to him but luckily the ref didn’t buy it.

Mulumbu can always be relied upon to give you a free kick or two and we can also be relied upon to go chasing the referee about it.  I guess he did play the ball, after first clearing Pelle’s leg out of the way as he tried to shield it.  Up stepped JWP and curled it over the wall and saw it ping off the out side of the post and away.

With 20 minutes to go, West Brom had the best chance to win it as Ideye turned Fonte inside out and created a great chance for himself but the big man in goal came flying out to block it with his foot.

You know that thing that always happens in games?  The big chance for one team or the other.  Well, not a chance today, it was that bad.  Dull and boring.  West Brom were happy with a point and by the end, we probably were too.  27,000 plus fans in theground were just pleased that it was finished.

Fucking hell that was dull.  People always talk about 0-0’s that were really entertaining but this wasn’t one of them.  It was shit.  We were one paced and lethargic in the first half and the same in the second which meant that it didn’t improve at all.  Therefore – shit.  Attack wise we are not getting enough players forward.  Pelle is still adapting but we need to get players round him.  The one bright spark is Tadic coming in from the left but in my opinion, in home games against average teams, we can’t afford to have a non-goal threat in the front three so Davis has to be in midfield three or nowhere.  The second half team should have started but in truth, we were no better after half time.  We are crying out for a winger on the right hand side as we are not going to get the best out of Pelle unless we get crosses in for him to attack.

On the subject of Graziano – I see the idiots are out in force and he’s getting slaughtered.  I think this season will prove to be a season where most fans who have half a brain and a memory which goes back pre-Markus will want to avoid Twitter and message boards.  We’ve been on a constant rise for the past 5 years so if you take the average Saints supporting 13 year old in 2009; he’s never known us have a season of transition or one where we basically haven’t improved.  He’s now 18 and a fully fledged Twitter warrior.  He’s like the fish in Finding Nemo who doesn’t have a memory.  If you can remember back to the start of this blog entry, you’ll see I mentioned Jan Poortvliet.  Have a look at that season’s record in 2008/2009, look at who our Chairman was, look at some of the players we had.

If you only have one of those short term memories then try and remember back to the start of last season when we couldn’t buy a goal from open play and our first home game was against Paolo Mussolini’s Sunderland who got twatted by everyone else but we scraped a draw with a last minute set piece goal from Fonte which should have been disallowed.  Whilst it’s undoubtedly a disappointing result today, 1-1 with Sunderland last year was also a disappointing result.  Let’s wait and see shall we.

We have the makings of a very decent side.  The full backs are excellent and the central defence of Jose and Maya is solid if not spectacular.  We still have Gardos to come in there and I reckon there’ll be another signing in that area as well.  The midfield 3 of Big Vic, Morgan and JWP looks strong.  JWP needs to produce more in the final third and I’ve every confidence that he will.  The front 3 is where the issues are.  Pelle of course needs to adapt and start scoring but Tadic already looks the real deal to me.  I’m not too sure where Shane Long fits into things unless we play 4-4-2 but he may well settle into that right sided attacking role.  He’s never going to be a prolific striker wherever he plays though which is why we need Pelle to start firing.  Somehow of course though, we need some pace in the side which has been the case since J-Rod got injured at the tail end of last season. 

Next up we have a League Cup game away at Millwall and in my opinion, Ronald needs to use the game to get the team to gel and maybe try few different combinations.  As a result, I expect to see Kelvin in goal, Florin Gardos in defence and Shane Long up front with Pelle and Tadic.  We really need to win that game to kickstart the league campaign.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Premier League Game 1 - Liverpool 2 Southampton 1

Behold, a Smug Tosser

As the Sky Gods decreed, Saints begin our season at Anfield to play a grudge match, not for the players but for the fans.  In increasing degrees of being a wanker – Lambert, Lovren and Billy Bigtime who used to be our captain are Liverpool players now and Brendan Rodgers is their manager.  I hate Brendon.  He’s a smug, smarmy tosser and he confirmed this with his pre-match interview where he basically said that he didn’t feel sorry for Saints and that the players want to better themselves.  Oddly enough he didn’t mention telling Gerrard to get in the ear of Lambert and Bigtime whilst on England duty and any mention of drip feeding news to the media, designed to unsettle other clubs players.  Enough of all that though.  Liverpool had a fantastic season last season before Gerrard slipped on his arse but of course have lost the main man in Luis Suarez who has chewed his last player in a Liverpool shirt.  They have to replace the goals he scored last season and my dream scenario for Brendon is that a proper big club, with a record of regular Champions League qualification comes and buys Daniel Sturridge before the window shuts, preferably by unsettling him through the media first.  With all these ice bucket challenges doing the rounds at the moment, I’d like to nominate Lovren and Lallana for a challenge with a difference.  Every Saints fan at Anfield to piss in a big bucket and then you tip it over your head.  Do that and we might forgive you.

To be honest I’m not really expecting too much from this game as we are a new side but you never know.  Ronald Koeman seems confident and it would be very nice to shat on Sky’s TV Dinner.  Of course, the powers that be who chose this fixture to televise, expect and want us to be hammered.  To the team and Ronald has declared that Morgan Schneiderlin is mentally ready to play which is good news and of the new players, only Florin Gardos is unavailable as he is a couple of weeks away with a hamstring injury.  The question of Morgan was answered when he took his place in the midfield alongside Big Vic and JWP with Steve Davis pushed forward to replace Lloyd Isgrove who dropped to the bench.   The subs bench contained Jack Stephens and it contained neither of Gaston Ramirez or King Artur.  Only Wanker Lovren of our ex-players has made the team with Lambert on the bench and the other wanker who used to be our captain in the stands injured.  I’m actually amazed he’s has the bottle to turn up to be honest.  It’s ironic that we were one of only two teams to beat them at Anfield last season and Brendon Rodgers must have sat through that game with a hard-on as he watched our players.

The summer of shite is officially over, Season 2014/15 is about to start – let’s fucking do it.

Liverpool produced their traditional fast start but all that came our way were long shots from Sturridge and the utterly shit Glen Johnson which flew miles over the bar.  Everyone’s favourite referee Twattenburg, who know what Adam Lallana is, was on the whistle and he didn’t give us a free kick when Bertrand got binned and then Maya left a leg out and fuled Sturridge and he didn’t give that one either.

We survived comfortably enough though and then Sterling got played in, the assembled media all began stiffening at the crotch but he leathered his shot straight at Fraser.   Tadic produced a really testing curling cross from the left and that Croatian wanker sliced it out of play as “wanker, wanker, wanker” rang out.  From the resulting corner, Mignolet had a flap and managed to claim the ball as it dropped when Big Vic really should have taken his head off with a big lash of his right boot.
Whilst we got away with Sterling’s last effort; full media climax was reached three minutes later.  Tadic lost the ball in the tackle to Henderson and Morgan should have picked up the loose ball but he was too powderpuff and Henderson went through him and threaded a beautiful ball between Fonte and Clyne and Sterling ran on to stroke it past Fraser who in truth, didn’t do much to prevent it.

The goal seemed to wake us up a bit and we suddenly attacked with more purpose.  JWP was finding space in his advanced midfield position and curled a right footed shot at the far post which had to be right in the corner to beat Mignolet and it unfortunately wasn’t.  Saints were now knocking Liverpool out of any stride they might have been in and Morgan very nearly had every sin he’d ever committed forgiven when he tried an identical shot to the one JWP had just attempted and this time it really was a decent save from Mignolet as we went in 1-0 down at half time but in truth, it had not been a bad performance.  Liverpool weren’t creating much due in the main to Big Vic and Morgan in the middle of the park.

It was an even opening to the second half but Saints were looking the more likely to score and 10 minutes in it happened.  Clyne burst forward from the back and fed Dusan Tadic who held it up before beautifully back-heeling it through that Croatian wanker, back to Clyne who lashed it past Mignolet at the near post.  Fucking brilliant goal… toss yourself off to that one Brendon you smug twat.

Liverpool are screaming for a penalty a few minutes later but it’s a fucking disgraceful dive by Coutinho but it’s all Saints now and a glorious chance comes to take the lead as JWP picks it up on the left, plays a wonderful unselfish ball across to Steve Davis and the one weakness in his game is demonstrated with a shitey half arsed finish which is straight at the keeper when he should have broken the fucking net and not given him an earthly.

Tadic and Clyne combined again but Skrtel read the 1-2 this time and blocked Clyne and the rebound went to Pelle who was also smothered by a Liverpool defender.  Shane Long came on for Tadic when in my opinion it really should have been Pelle who came off and Rodgers sent on Rickie Lambert for Coutinho and the big man got a deserved ovation from the Saints fans when he came on.  It looked for a horrible moment like he was to score with his first touch but Clyne got across to block.

With 10 minutes to go, Liverpool took an undeserved lead as a cross was half cleared up in the air, Sterling got up to head down and the markers had failed to go with Sturridge who flicked it into the net. Fuck.

Saints threw the sink at it for the last 10 with Isgrove on for Steve Davis.  JWP had a shot easily saved before Morgan Schneiderlin come very close to securing a deserved point as he lashed a Pelle knockdown goalwards but Mignolet threw up an arm to flick it up onto the bar. The rebound bounced down and Long, under pressure from flying Liverpool defenders, headed the rebound wide when he really should have scored.

You lucky bastard Brendon.  I would love to have seen you having to explain on TV how you signed 3 of our players and still couldn’t beat us but alas it was not to be.  I’m proud of our boys today.  You obviously never accept a defeat before the game but before the game, I’d have settled for a good performance and we got that and more.  We really should have got something out of the game and were very unlucky not to do so. 

As was predicted following the Leverkusen game, our problems are going to be up front.  Graziano Pelle will take a while to adapt to the English game and needs to sharpen up his movement if he’s going too get some goals for himself.  Dusan Tadic looks like a decent player going forward but we need more goal threat on the pitch than we had today with Steve Davis playing basically as a forward.  It was great to see JWP making a great start on delivering on his promise that this was going to be his season and it was of course, great to see Morgan Schneiderlin in a Saints shirt.  Those two and Big Vic are going to be huge for us this season.  Of the other new boys, Ryan Bertrand and Fraser Forster were solid enough and they will only improve.  Ronald Koeman was pleased with the performance but frustrated with the result.  He said we should have got something out of the game and he’s right and pointed to a lack of clinical finishing when compared to Liverpool.  Despite it being a defeat; it is a promising start.  I wonder if Robbie Savage and Phil Neville would care to revise their predictions about Saints getting relegated.

Next up we have the visit of West Brom.  Two years ago we had Man City as the opening game and the second game was a more winnable one against Wigan.  We were shit in that match and lost 2-0 and we cannot afford a repeat.  Shane Long will be up for the visit of one of his former clubs and I expect him to start and I expect us to win.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's the Opposite of a Meltdown?

£10 million for Schneiderlin.... let me think!

Good news was forthcoming with the signing of Ryan Bertrand who has reached 24, the age at which most English Chelsea youngsters realise that they are never going to get near the first team.  He’s signed on a ‘try before you buy’ loan deal which sounds like good news to me.  It means that Matt Targett can develop at his own pace, rather than being thrust straight into the team and be expected to be the next Luke Shaw.  Bertrand has always looked decent without being outstanding at every club he’s been loaned to but will be first choice here and get a run of games.  I expect him to do well and he was straight into the starting line up for the game against Brighton at The Amex.

Like the Bournemouth friendly, there could have been grudges held over from previous meetings but not a bit of it as we played well and beat a desperately poor Albion side 3-1 as we dominated possession and attempts on goal from start to finish.  Dusan Tadic made it 1-0 on 20 minutes with a smart turn and shot which caught the keeper out and Steve Davis made it two on half time as Pelle’s shot was blocked and the Irishman knocked in the rebound.  The 3rd goal was the pick of the bunch as JWP dispossessed a Brighton midfielder and advanced a bit before lashing on with the outside of his right boot which curled away from the keeper and into the top corner.  The starting line-up had an element of what the starting line-up would be if the season started tomorrow.  King Artur in goal, a back four of Clyne, Captain Fonte, Yoshida and Bertrand, a midfield three of Big Vic, Steve Davis and JWP with Tadic, Pelle and Lloyd Isgrove up front.  Fair play to Isgrove as he’s taken his chance in pre-season and even if he doesn’t make the starting line-up when the cavalry arrives, he’ll be a lot closer than last year,

Talking of the cavalry, Ronald Koeman hinted and 3 or so signings being nearly done and it looks like two of these are Saphir Taider and Eziquiel Schelotto from Inter as part of the deal taking Rock ‘n’ Roll pirate headcase nutjob Dani Osvaldo to Inter for a season on loan.  Taider is a promising Algerian midfielder who played in the World Cup.  As usual I have done some You Tube scouting and he looks like a decent all-round midfielder who can ut a foot in and can also pick a pass. Schelotto is another Argentinean-Italian long haired pirate looking chap who plays on the wing and has one cap for Italy at present.  His highlights reel includes lots of running beyond the left back and then crossing the ball in a hit and hope fashion.  One assumes that the signings of Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk moved a step further forward as Celtic got humped 4-1 by Legia Warsaw in the Champions League qualifiers.  They might rescue that in the home leg but I’d say the chances are against it and then manager Ronnie Delia certainly expects the players to move on.  

UPDATE: Taider joined, Schelotto didn't and Celtic were shite in the second leg, lost 2-0 and then got reinstated as Legia played an ineligible played for 2 minutes.

The media are having a rest from endless stories of who will leave and they’re now linking us with every player under the sun.  We are of course going to be active and numerous stories will be made up about us and agents will throw our name into the ring for their client.  Consequently, we are going to get linked with a lot of shockers.  I definitely think the best policy is to sit back and let it happen.  We are where we are and two weeks before the season starts is not the ideal time to sign 5 or 6 players but other teams will be doing the same so I’m quite ok with it at the moment.

The karma police have been out in force as well with Luke Shaw being declared unfit by van Gaal, Lallana being injured, Lovren not having a visa to having to train on his own and Rickie Lambert missing his first penalty since he played for Bristol Rovers.  The highlight though has been #asklovrenpart2.  This was a Twitter Q&A session whereby an egotistical twat sets himself up to get absolutely slaughtered by the fans of the club he disrespected and deserted.  It’s wrong and it’s childish and I should know better... but it was fun.

After the Brighton game there were a few quiet days when the only noise you could hear was impatient fans hammering the F5 refresh key on their keyboards.  Eventually the Osvaldo-Taider deal was done with a loan swap for a year with both teams having an option to buy.  If Saphir does well then I'm sure we'll buy him but I'd say that the chances of Osvaldo playing well and not being a cock are pretty small so I'm expecting us to to be in the same boat this time next year.  Still, it's another exit for Ben Smith to add to his next 'Meltdown' article.

He always has the Schneiderlin issue to fall back on and as the Leverkusen friendly arrived it was announced in Ronald's pre-match interview that Morgan was not in the right physical or mental shape to play. 'Mental' was highlighted which says to me that he's on strike.  One of my earliest childhood memories is not being able to get home from a holiday in France as the ports were blockaded by Frenchmen with a grudge and I'm pondering that here because the bastard is basically refusing to play.  It's absolutely beyond pathetic and despite Hockey Ralph's assertion that we don't over-react to situations, I hope we fine him two weels wages.  It's remarkable how the PFA always say absolutlely nothing in this situation.  The irony is that if Morgan had played for 45 minutes then he would probably have been forgiven but each perceived refusal to accept the situation is just going to make things worse for him.  Perhaps he's unlucky to be wanted by a club whose Chairman won't pay over the top for players or perhaps he's unlucky to be wanted by a club who are managed by a complete rat.  Rumour has it that they’ve only offered £10 million for Morgan.  Good luck with that.

It's odd how football gets you sometimes.  I have a strict 'no friendlies' policy but in a moment of weakness I decided to go to the Leverkusen game and check out how the boys were shaping up.  The only real surprise in the starting line-up was Lloyd Isgrove being preferred to Gaston Ramirez.  Leverkusen were decent without being outstanding and played the ball about well and closed us down well meaning that we didn’t create a great deal in the first half.  Maya Yoshida should have scored when a corner dropped to him about 5 yards out but he managed to hit the post and a German defender produced a decent sliced effort at his own goal from 20 yards which the keeper had to shovel over the bar.  The only goal came early in the second half as a corner was swung over, Steve Davis missed what should have been a routine clearance at the near post and the ball hit Graziano Pelle and spooned past King Artur who had no chance.  Bollocks.  Taider and Gaston came on for JWP and Isgrove and things picked up with Taider keeping things simple and getting stuck right in and Gaston drifting in from the right wing which allowed Dusan Tadic to play on his preferred left hand side.  Our best chance to equalize fell to Gaston who cut inside the full back and curled a shot just over the angle of post and bar from the edge of the box.  Mayuka came on as we went 4-4-2 in the last 10 minutes and he gave more evidence to what I believed all along – that he hasn’t got a clue.

As you always get in friendlies, there was a raft of positives and negatives.  Some players looked right on it like King Artur, Clyney, Jose, Big Vic and Steve Davis.  Others like JWP, Ryan Bertrand, Tadic and Pelle hinted at better things to come and Yoshida and Isgrove hinted at where the squad and team needs strengthening.  Yoshida was the biggest worry as he was tentative with everything that he did and was certainly responsible for a majority of the long balls from the back which were aimed up to Graziano.  Balls aimed at someone are fine but the slice straight up the air is not and we definitely need a centre back as we all knew, even before Lovren deserted.  Regardless of who plays at the back though, I think we may have to get used to a bit less playing out from the back this year.  There were many long balls up from the defenders but once Pelle had flicked it on or controlled it - then the football started.  He is excellent at the hold up play though and will win a lot more in the air than Sir Rickie used to, as he gets off the ground.  I just hope we don’t look for that option every time though.

Post-match is hit the news that Fraser Forster had joined from Celtic for the best part of £10 million.  I admit that I had a bit of a problem getting my head round this at first as we have an excellent first choice keeper and I'd have thought that spending £2m on a capable back up would be the sensible way to go.  Now though, I'm thinking that it can only be a good thing. There's a link with Dave Watson who is now our goalkeeping coach, having been with the England party in the World Cup and at 26, he's considerably younger than King Artur.  Having two excellent keepers is a good thing but only as both think they have a fair shot at being No.1.  I would have hoped therfore that King Artur is in goal for the Liverpool game as he's done absolutely nothing to warrant being dropped and Fraser's presence would certainly make him up his game further.  Ronald Koeman has come out and said though that Fraser is the No.1 keeper which is not surprising. Given that we were never going to pay that much money for a reserve keeper.  Koeman’s interview gave the impression that King Artur was definitely leaving at the end of the year so maybe he’s indicated that he’s quitting competitive football and moving back to Scotland.  Mind you, Artur has been shouting Legia Warsaw’s cause on Twitter over their expulsion from the Champions League and winding up a fair few Celtic fans as a result.  The big man certainly wears his heart on his sleeve and I love characters like that.

As a write, news has hit that we’ve agreed a fe of around £12 million to buy Shane Long from Hull.  Wow, I never saw that one coming.  My initial horrified reaction has given way to acceptance that he would be an asset for us and £12 million is probably about the going rate for a Premier league striker.  He can play wide or up the middle and is one of those who never lets a defender rest.  Here are a few things I’ve written about him down the years.  I think the amount of entries shows what a pain he’s been for us.

  • They have Anelka up front who must be about 45 now along with Shane Long who I watch in the warm up just to see if he practices diving around and whingeing as part of his pre-match routine

  • Shane Long has been quiet due to a lack of possession but he gets away down the right and Dejan goes over and launches him.  It’s a foul but it’s not that bad but Long arches his back and makes a big squealy noise and so the book comes out.  He tries to stand up but falls to the floor again and writhes around a bit more.  The West Brom physio is ambling around the back of the goal either because he knows Long is a faker or because he’s trying to waste time but the ‘injured’ party if off the pitch so they have to get on with it.

  • We are now in need of some Gaston magic more than ever and he sets off on a run from halfway with Shane Long in close attendance.  He’s clearly being held back which is not going to wash with anyone as an excuse if you elbow him in the face.  The only problem I have with the ref over this incident is that he was trying to play advantage but once Long has held onto him for a couple of seconds then there’s no advantage and he should have blown.  If he had, 2 players wouldn’t have got sent off.  He didn’t book Long for the holding either but I have no problem with the red cards.  They were both twats and deserved all they got.

  • Steve Bruce has defied my belief that he’s not a very good manager.  He does look like Mrs Doubtfire however but he’s managed his team well and in the recruitment of Nikica Jelavic and diving little moany cheat Shane Long, he’s shown that Hull are serious about survival. 

  • The ball is slipped to Shane Long on the left who cuts in and thankfully pulls it back behind everyone and we get away with it. 

  • Long then uses more conventional methods to hack down Luke Shaw.  There’s no booking from Webb though, just arm-waving childish petulance from Long who is just a wanker.  You’ve hacked him over, you’re nowhere near the ball, just get on with it.  Still smarting from having his tantrum, Long then lunged into Morgan and got the booking he deserved, just for being a complete knob really.

  • We were under pressure but not looking particularly threatened until the 89th minute when my mate Ridgewell got down the left and crossed it to Long (it must have been an accident) who was 6 yards out and all on his own.  His flicked and lazy sidefooted effort was kicked away by the large starfish shaped Polish legend in our Goal.  All Hail The King!

  • The Baggies have adapted to having 10 men better than us and straight away, a ball up the left results in Yoshida putting in a piss-weak challenge on Lukaku who turns him and plays in Long who fires underneath Artur to make it 3-0 and spark a fire-drill amongst the home sections because after all, supporting your team is just about when you’re winning.

  • Luke half clears it to Elmohamady who picks out Long with a cross who surprisingly, doesn’t dive on the floor and complain to the ref.  Time stands still as it flicks off his head, beats King Artur and pings off the post before it rebounds to Boyd who can’t get any power into his bouncing effort which King Artur just shovels over the bar.

  • The next highlight is Curtis Davies attempting a short pass and it went straight to a Saints player so the next time it gets launched into orbit and Long waits for Fonte to breathe on him before flopping down on the ground.  Fair play to the ref who on this occasion, is having none of it.  It’s so bloody predictable - on the ground or in the air, Long will receive the ball with his back to goal and just fall over.  He’s not a bad player but he is a horrible little shit.

  • Long makes the mistake of challenging King Artur in the air and it’s a bit like when a fly flies into an oncoming lorry on a motorway.

  • Easy as you like, Long turns onto his right foot and with Jose getting nowhere near him, booms over a ‘come and get me’ cross onto the head of Odemwingie who can’t miss and doesn’t to make it 2-0.  We’ll go home now then shall we.

The season starts on Sunday for us away at Anfield and I believe that this game is a free hit.  We are expected to get nothing so we therefore have nothing to lose.  If karma is smiling then we will pinch a 1-0 and Lovren can cry into his pile of money after the game and that smug tosser Rodgers will feel very uncomfortable in his post-match interview.  It’s unlikely but you never know.   Don’t be surprised though if we get beaten though and don’t be surprised if Lambert comes on and scores.  There are rumours of Romanian centre-back Florin Gardos joinging in time to play on Saturday so he may feature but Morgan Schneiderlin won’t as his head is wedged up his arse.   I hope we stand firm until he comes up for air.   I expect our team to be the same as against Leverkusen with Fraser in goal and Gaston in for Lloyd Isgrove.  Bring it on….

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Motivational Hockey Guy to The Rescue

Heeeeeeeeeeeere's Ralphy!!!!

If you write a blog about Saints and you wait for a quiet bit so you can catch up... it never arrives so here's where I've got to...

You would have been living under a rock not to know that Saints have been the main sory of the transfer window as Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers, Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin have all walked out the door.  I say ‘walked out the door’ – of course we’ve been paid a fortune for them but regardless of that, it’s been a complete shocker.  What’s that you say?  Jay and Morgan haven’t gone yet!  Give it time…

I’m going to try and line up some theories as to why this has happened

It’s easy of course to blame the Southampton FC Board but whilst they haven’t done themselves any favours, they’re not to blame.  The Premier League is a horrific place if you are not one of the Big 5 and as has been discussed earlier, is set up purely to maintain the status quo and for the same teams to finish in the top 5 every year.  If you have the temerity to be a small club who does well then you will be completely pillaged for every decent player you have. Can you blame the Liverpool’s or Arsenal’s of this world though.  They have so much money to slosh around it makes sense for them to just throw £20 million at something rather than spend 10 years developing a player. It’s a lot less effort and of course, £20 million is nothing to these Champions League clubs. 

The Premier League could divert funds to clubs who develop English kids and play them in the first team.  They could do this without breaking any EU Employment law (I guess) and they could make it worthwhile to develop and pick English players, thus helping the national team but they choose not to as the big clubs wouldn’t like it.  How about taking half the money that’s on offer in prize money and distributing it pro-rata to the clubs who gave the most minutes to English players that they’ve developed.

Anyway, enough of dreaming, back to SFC....  Pick your favourite theory out of this lot.

Theory 1 – Limit of our ambition
Without spending shedloads of cash, we’re not going to able to attack the top 4.  We could (pre-departures) have brought in about 3 new quality players and maybe at a push challenged Everton, Spurs and a Suarez-free Liverpool for 5th spot but we still would have been nowhere near the top 4.  Would the realisation that we weren’t going much higher cause all these players to independently walk out?

Theory 2 – Money & Tapping Up
Money talks as we all well know and despite there being rules against it – they’re unenforceable and it’s easy for a contracted player to get wind of what a new club would pay him per week.  On England duty for example – how hard would it be for Steven Gerrard to tell Adam Lallana that his salary would multiply by 5 if he signed for Liverpool.  How hard would it be to pass on a message that Brendan Rodgers was interested?  Could all the player have been tapped up and had their heads turned?  Ask yourself if you’d agitate for a move if you were told you would be offered five times your salary? 

Theory 3 - Club being sold
Are the Board under instruction from the Liebherr’s to sell as much as possible to recoup any losses so the club can be sold as a profit making concern?  The theory is that we sell all these players and replace them with cheaper players, stay up and look more attractive to an eternal investor as we’re debt free, relatively low wage bill and still in the Premier League.

Theory 4 – Cortese Booby Trap
There is no way that any Board would let 7 players leave without telling at least one of them that they weren’t going, no matter what they wanted or what was bid.  Having already raked in £90 million, the sale of Calum Chambers proved this.  Here’s a 19 year old who has played half a season, moving to Arsenal for £16 million quid.  We don’t need £16 million quid – we need the player.  He’s 19, he’s playing, he’s not going to play much for Arsenal, it doesn’t make sense.  Tell Arsenal to piss off, tell Chambers that he’s not moving and to get on with it.  He’s not going to go on strike so why not tell him to lump it.  So, we’re left with a pissed off player perhaps – so what.  It just seems that the Board have no choice in the matter whatsoever, that the white flag is raised.

When Luke Shaw was making headlines last year there was talk of him having a ‘Cortese’ clause in his contract.  It was assured that the clause wasn’t inserted but the details of it were that Shaw could walk away if Cortese wasn’t at the Club any more.  How odd.  How’s this for a theory that all of these players (except Lambert) had this clause in their contract.  If it is the case that there are these ‘Cortese’ clauses in the contracts then I wish they would come out and say so but it’s not the style of the Liebherr’s to do air the dirty laundry in public.  The players will know this so they can get away with throwing their toys out and know that they will get what they want.  The worse you behave just means that you only get a two line goodbye on the official club website but that’s it.  Do you think Lallana and Lovren care about that?  Probably not.

Theory 5 – Pochettino stirs the Pot
The players loved Pochettino – this much is beyond doubt.  What’s also beyond doubt is that he was always going to leave at the end of the season once Cortese had gone.  Is it possible that he told the players he was leaving as soon as he could and that they’d all be better off seeking pastures new?  I struggle to believe that all 7 players would independently decide that it was the right time for them to leave the club that had done so much for all of them.  It’s like there’s been some sort of pact. It’s fairly well known that Pochettino also did his fair share of stirring things up before he left and all the Board are guilty of is naivety in believing that he’d stay.  They fell for all his honourable man bullshit like I did.  He knew all the players were going to leave.

Theory 6 – The Saints Board thought the offers too Good to Turn Down
There is such a massive difference between the amount of money that the Champions League clubs have and the rest of the mere mortals.  Whatever amount we’ve spent developing a kid over 10 years is dwarfed by what the big boys can throw around. £20 or £30 million is nothing to them but purely as a business decision, it’s a fortune for clubs like us.  Also, it’s as plain as the nose on your face that you don’t have to spend £27million to replace Luke Shaw for example.  Looking at it purely as business decision – you have a commodity that you have spent a bit of money developing and someone offers you 50 times that to buy it.  You know you have more commodities coming along to replace it.

Theory 7 – The players were on ridiculous contracts.
Were all the players who signed contracts in the post-Markus era, incentivised by ridiculous contracts that got bigger every year at a faster rate than the club could afford?  Cortese ran the club on his own, with no accountability to the owners and was in effect, playing with someone elses money.  Maybe the incoming accountant Hans Hofstetter uncovered a financial ticking timebomb that we had to diffuse?

Theory 8 – We’re getting what we deserve
As football fans we want the best for a our club, be it a better manager or better players.  Careful what you wish for.  Nigel Adkins got fired and you couldn’t help but like Nigel.  Lovely guy who got us promoted twice and was turning it round in the Premier League but we fired him. Initial fan outrage soon subsided when it turned out that his replacement was decent and then it turns out that he’s s complete shit who led everyone on, stirred up problems and buggered off as soon as he could.  Then there’s the players.  We had players a couple of years ago who would never have left the club unless kicked out like Dean Hammond, Guly do Proado, Richard Chaplow and Danny Fox.  Maybe not the greatest footballers but fantastic blokes of good character.  We go up to the Premier League and replace them with the likes of Dejan Lovren, Dani Osvaldo, the new Morgan Schneiderlin, the new Adam Lallana who are absolute shits.  Maybe it’s karma.

Theory 9 – People actually believe the Daily Mail and the Ben Smith of the BBC
No, that one’s ridiculous.

There are probably elements of all of these in the reasoning behind the exodus but if I had to pick a couple of favourites then I’d go with 2) Money, 4) Cortese bomb, 5) Poch.  Oh and 7) Contracts and fuck it, probably all of them except the Daily Mail one which is of course, ludicrous.

Meanwhile, having written all that down, I don’t really give a shit any more as to why they left.  In the real world the following went down.

Calum Chambers signed for Arsenal and no sooner was the ink dry on that one then Morgan Schneiderlin and J-Rod were off to Spurs.  Morgan I expected by J-Rod?  Are you seriously telling me that we can’t even keep a player who’s only got one fucking leg?  Accidentally lose his medical records or lock him in the gym.  He can’t run away.  There’s the additional problem of it being Spurs and Pochettino who in my opinion, we should not be dealing with because a) it’s Spurs and b) he’s a bastard.

To our rescue, riding over the hill on a white charger…. It can’t be!!! It is!!! It’s Ralph Motivational Hockey Guy Krueger who will be interviewed in an hour.  Oh shit.  Let’s go to the pub until this has all blown over and then we can pick over the bones of the statement that the Southampton Super Soccer Saints are in rude health and we’re not a selling club.

Things had obviously been addressed though as he came out and categorically stated that Morgan and Jay were not being sold, even if they wanted to be.  He also addressed the sales that had taken place by saying they only happened at (cringe) premium prices.  If Ralph though that was going to settle everything down then he was sadly mistaken as Morgan became the latest hero to zero in 140 characters with a tweet that basically said that 6 years at a great club were DESTROYED in an hour.  Oh fuck off!  Did you honestly think that the club weren’t going to draw a line in the sand at some point and say ‘no more’.  If he was previously verbally promised a move by someone in the past then I can understand him being pissed off but situations change.  I think he’s been a victim of being away at the World Cup and not getting his move sorted out quicker.  From a football point of view, he’s a great player but we have more cover in the existing squad than we do for Dejan Lovren for example.  The Club should have allowed certain players to go based on football criteria, rather than saying “we’re going to let so many go, we don’t care who…. and then no more” which is what they appear to have done. Also, fan irritation had reached a height with the Chambers deal so it’s didn’t surprise me when Ralph reappeared at that point.  I still would not be surprised to see Morgan sold but whatever happens, it’s amusing that the fightback started when Spurs got involved. 

The shitstorm of course made us media fodder as we have been all summer.  It’s much more important to the nation to read about Saints selling players as opposed to the fucking dismal performance by England in the World Cup.  Ben Smith managed to get his head out of Cortese’s arse for long enough to write another long rambling diatribe of negativity about us, the best bit being that some bloke had pulled his 15 year old kid out of our Academy due to uncertainty at first team level.  Just hilarious how he’d not want for his son to stay here for 3 years and then maybe get sold to Manchester United for £30 million.  Tell us who he is so we can see how his career pans out?  Ben Smith of the BBC – you are full of agenda driven shit and probably a complete fucking liar.  Oh yes… and he said Lallana was popular…. Really! The two line exit statement suggests otherwise.  A proper journalist would maybe do a little digging and maybe try and find out what Cortese promised the players either verbally or n contract clauses but that would involve biting the arse that he feeds on so don’t expect Ben Smith to do that.

Never dull is it…