Friday, April 18, 2014

Southampton in INCOMING transfer shocker!!!

I read a Rumour on Twitter today.....

Having got sick to death of reading shite about players and managers leaving my football club, I am going to turn it on its head and write an article about who I would possibly like to join Saints as I believe, as a Top 10 Premier League club that we will be an attractive proposition for a few players and believe it or not, we might be signing some decent players.  It won’t be headline news I know as we’re not Man United, Chelsea or even that North London joke team that is Tottenham.

My assumptions are that Mauricio Pochettino will be here next season and so will .... wait for it.... Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers and despite scoring 15 goals in the World Cup including the winner in the final, so will Sir Rickie Lambert.  They’re all under contract for next year after all which while it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be here, it carries more weight than any bullshit rumour you might read on a website or in a chip-paper.  I read today that Luke Shaw was going to be a Man United legend.  Odd that... and a tad presumptuous.

Some more assumptions are as follows:  Guly do Prado is out of contract and won’t be renewed, Jos Hooiveld will be paid up and move on, Kelvin Davis will move into coaching or into a rest home for bewildered people and Dani Osvaldo will be back as no other team is going to want him unless we give him away so we’re going to have to have a go at rehabilitating the prick.

Here we go…

We need another keeper to put pressure on Artur Boruc for the No1 spot and not have the situation we have this year of an injured 1st choice, a Championship standard 2nd choice who is always injured and a League 1 standard 3rd choice who gets thrown in the deep end without armbands, before he can swim.  My choice is David Marshall from Cardiff who has been brilliant this year.  We’re probably the team who are going to finish highest this year who he’ll have a chance of being first choice at, so why not?  Cardiff are going down so why not?

We have two quality right backs in Clyne and Chambers and left back is covered by Shaw and Matt Targett who is well thought of and should be capable of being a capable back-up next season.  The assumption that I’ve made that is most likely to not be true is that Shaw will still be here.  If he does go then we would need to buy a first choice left back and Ryan Bertrand would be available from Chelsea and not cost the earth.  He has played for England before and is young enough.  Of course, Shaw may move to Chelsea so we may be able to pick up Chelsea players as makeweights in the deal, as they have about 40 that they don’t use but more on that later.

At centre back we have Dejan Lovren, Jose Fonte and Maya Yoshida and in my opinion, only the former is good enough to warrant being an automatic starter so we need to hit the market for a centre back and my choice would be Steven Caulker from Cardiff who won’t want to be playing in the Championship next season and like Bertrand, is only 23/24 and has played for England.  He’d cost a few quid (Cardiff paid £8m last summer) but would be worth it.  Also worth remembering is that Jack Stephens is well thought of and maybe his loan at Swindon this year is part of preparing him to step more into the first team picture next season.  If so then we could also see Maya Yoshida depart.  Whatever centre back we bring in will need to be comfortable on the ball and be able to pass it and not straight to the opposition like Jose Fonte has been doing recently.

We are well stocked in defensive midfield with Big Vic, Morgan and Corky competing for two positions and the right hand side sees Steve Davis and JWP in competition and there will also be Harrison Reed in the mix.  The left hand side is covered by …. no one really as J-Rod is injured so we need someone else – a pacy winger type to can score goals and stretch teams like Wilfried Zaha or Thomas Ince.  Like J-Rod, both are proven at Championship level and with the right coaching, belief in them and patience, they could do a very good job for us.  United will want shot of Zaha as the emergence of Januzaj has scuppered his chances and if they didn’t find a place for him this season when they were shit then they’re never going to.  If he did join us, expect David Moyes to be linked to us as his daughter was upset.  Ince hasn’t pulled up any trees on loan at Palace this season but could be available for a song in the summer, especially if his parent club Blackpool get relegated to league 1.  Signing him would probably mean that his Dad was linked with a coaching role here but there’s no worries there because of Ince Snr’s managerial track record of being shit.  The ‘unknown’ here is Gaston Ramirez.  He’s not really a winger but he would be picked at the moment if J-Rod or Adam Lallana were unavailable.  If I was him I’d be looking to leave though as he’s been selected to start about 5 games so far this season.  There is always an ‘if’ about Gaston.  If he sorts himself out and manages to stand up for 90 minutes then he could be one hell of an asset.  He certainly has the ability but how long do we want to wait and how long will he put up with being a fringe player.

Up front we have Sir Rickie who obviously, will be one year older. It’s not as if any other player is not going to be one year older but you know what I mean here.  We need to have a further option in addition to him as playing every game up front on your own when you’re 32/33 is not easy.  Osvaldo will still be around I’m sure, unless we loan him out again to another dumb foreign club.  Let’s hope he makes the Italian World Cup squad and does well, then there’s bound to be someone mug enough to take him off our hands.  I don’t think Sam Gallagher is quite ready yet so just for fun, lets make Shaw’s potential transfer to Chelsea contingent on Romelu Lukaku coming the other way.  I can’t imagine for a second he’d want too come to us but he might be happy to give us two years until Gallagher is ready to lead the line after Sir Rickie rides off into the sunset.  It’s probably not as far fetched as you might think.  Of course, if all else fails we can fall back on Emmanuel Mayuka, the little African bloke who has gone to Sochaux for the season and has been crap, so he’ll no doubt be rocking up back at Staplewood once the World Cup is over.

The players I’ve mentioned as potential incoming are already in the English Leagues and I’m sure that there are a multitude of European and South American players that I’ve never heard of who would make exciting signings for us.  Yes, I’d heard of Dejan Lovren before we signed him but had no appreciation of how good he was and I’d heard of Osvaldo but didn’t know just what a psychopath he was.

So, we will be bringing players in during the summer and they will be decent and hopefully, like with the signings of Lovren, Wanyama and Osvaldo last summer, fans of rival clubs will sit up and take notice.

So, a final message to the agents of Marshall, Bertrand, Caulker, Zaha and Lukaku - We are Southampton – we are a top 10 Premier League Club on he up and we are a desirable club to come and play for….. and your client gets the bonus of reading about themselves every day getting linked with all the big clubs…. and Tottenham.  Whether you agree with the players on my list is irrelevant really - the big news is that some will be coming in - let's start talking about that!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Premier League Match 34 - Southampton 0 Cardiff 1

The new range of Saints 'End of Season' seats were proving popular.

When we played Cardiff at the City of Cardiff Stadium, we won 3-0 and the fact that Gazza kept a clean sheet was much more surprising than the news that Malky MacKay got sacked straight afterwards.  Vincent Tan, Football Administrator Genius, then flexed his muscles and appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the back of some success in the Norwegian League which is about the same standard as the Skill league where Pompey will hopefully be next year.  The Tan masterstroke has seen Cardiff go from ‘above the relegation zone’ to well and truly ‘in the relegation zone’ and now looking odds on to return to the Championship that they had spent so many years trying to get out of.

Talking of football administrators, it was leaked accidentally on purpose by the club that The Don was paid nearly £2 million quid a year as CEO which was higher than nearly all CEO’s of football clubs.  Ok, so we went up two divisions under his stewardship but another facet of CEO work is bringing in commercial revenue and it was leaked accidentally on purpose that ours was lower than all other Premier League clubs and .... wait for it.... Brighton and Watford.  What?  How is that possible?  The inference is of course that The Don alienated a lot of people in the business world and they wouldn’t deal with him which maybe goes partway to explaining Katharina’s desire to act and sort things out and now of course, the new board is on a charm offensive.  Maybe you’ll finally be able to buy a Saints shirt from somewhere else other than the club shop.

To the charm offensive and the club have heavily subsided the upcoming Swansea away trip so tickets and travel are a fiver each and also, they’ve secured a £10 a head refund from Newcastle who overcharged us in relation to their own fans in identical seats.  Top work from the board.  The next win will be the return to stripes for next season and let’s hope the spirit of generosity extends to Season Ticket prices being pegged where they are at the very least.  Living in a country where we have politicians who promise much and deliver nothing or who give something and then take something much better away, it makes it hard not to be cynical sometimes so let’s hope all these things continue and Ralph Krueger and the new board can really make a mark.

The new more open and approachable nature of the current board of course means more information is out there for the media to cut and paste and twist.  We have to publish accounts so the fact that we own £27million in transfer fees in the coming year was there for all to see but the media probably would have been too lazy to look for it.  However, Hans Hofstetter mentioned that figure as a headline so now that gets quoted as the figure that we’re selling Luke Shaw to Man United for.  The other headline he gave about ‘no need to sell any of our players’ was of course ignored.  It really is laughable..... and annoying. I try and ignore it but it still seeps in.

Back to the team on the pitch and the worst fears were confirmed regarding J-Rod’s injury being a ruptured cruciate.  Life just isn’t fair sometimes and he misses the World Cup and the start of next season.  These days of course, this isn’t a career threatening injury so he should make a full recovery and be a good as before.  It does however mean that we are more likely to have to suffer Danny Welbeck at the World Cup.  Who’ll replace him in the Saints side for the rest of this season is the question – it should really be Gaston Ramirez but the rumours are that he’s injured so who knows.

The team news is in and Gaston is fit and is the only change in the 18 as he starts.  Cardiff have picked a very tight looking 4-5-1 formation so they’re obviously here to soak it up and try and nick it so it will either be 0-0 for ages or we’ll score early and end up winning easily.

Cardiff have obviously won the toss and decided to swap things around and we’re kicking the wrong way towards the Chapel.  You can see how the pattern of play is going to be immediately as Cardiff retreat behind the ball and leave Campbell on his own up front about 40 yards from the nearest Cardiff midfielder as Saints pass the ball around.  The first ball into the box by Shaw is not dealt with convincingly and to be honest, Cardiff look there for the taking.

The first laugh of the day comes when we get given our first free kick and the Cardiff fans sing ‘same old English, always cheating’.  To be fair, they don’t have many English players in their side but there are certainly more English than there are Welsh.  We continue to create opportunities but can’t get past the last ditch tackle or block which inevitably comes in, this time from Cala as Sir Rickie expertly tees up Lallana.  It is looking like it will be a matter of time though but it’ll have to wait for now as Steven Davis actually has a shot but it’s rubbish and going sideways.

Campbell has already fallen over three times but the next time he gets the ball he is trashed by Lovren and Cardiff get a free kick on the edge of the box.  Whittingham has a go but Gazza is across to punch it clear.  Up the other end we create a chance for Adam Lallana who hits it as well as he hit that one against Newcastle a couple of weeks back but this time it flies straight down Marshall’s throat.  Marshall should really have been worked a few minutes later as a Davis cross was met by Sir Rickie but he couldn’t quite climb high enough above the midget Fabio and so the header flew over the bar.

Cardiff were beginning to live dangerously and a harmless looking ball was left by Marshall and both his centre backs inviting Sir Rickie to stick it in the empty net but Marshall took responsibility in time and hacked it clear.  Then Lallana played Gaston in on the left and his shot took a deflection off of Caulker and up onto the bar and away.  Bollocks!

Lallana was involved again for the next chance when he was taken out by Cala on the edge of the box and up stepped Sir Rickie to curl it over the wall and towards the bottom corner but Marshall had read it and got across quite easily to save.  The ball went across to Shaw on the left but his cross was shite and straight to Marshall. Another chance came and went as Lallana fed Sir Rickie on the left but he ended up poking a shot at Marshall which he clawed away at the near post.

Shaw is away down the left again and past the hopeless Theophile-Catherine at tight back and crosses it.  The ball is passing in front of Caulker and towards Steve Davis but Caulker sticks his left arm out in front of him, controls it with his arm and clears it.  Jon Moss is the referee and I tell you, he’d have been better off staying as the drummer in Culture Club and hanging around with Boy George.  How the fuck can this not be given.  Does he move his arm towards the ball... yes, does he do it on purpose... yes,  can I fucking see it from where I am... yes.  No penalty, fuck off.  It’s not as bad as the Bradley Johnson one at Norwich earlier in the season when he spiked it like a volleyball player but it’s pretty bad.

Every time Cardiff come forward, their attack is halted by Frazier Campbell who invariably falls on his arse under no challenge whatsoever.  It doesn’t stop them winning a succession of corners and on all of them, Gazza is decisive and punches the danger clear.  Cardiff actually committing bodies into our half allows us a break which ends with six players in the Cardiff penalty area but the ball is with Corky and he tries a shot.  Corky really shouldn’t be allowed to shoot if there are women and children behind the goal.

The half draws to a close and we go in at 0-0.  We’ve played ok to be honest with Gaston looking lively aside from a couple of loose passes as half time approached.  The lack of goal is a slight worry and I’m still shaking my head over the non-penalty which was ridiculous.

The first 10 minutes of the 2nd half were scrappy with no change in the outlook of the two sides.  Saints attacked, Cardiff parked the bus and tried to get something going on the break.  Shaw lashed one into the side netting and then from a rare Cardiff attack , Mutch fired one in from 20 yards which Gazza punched clear in slightly unorthodox fashion.  I don’t care how Gazza saves them as long as he just gets something in the way.   Chambers got free down the right and fired over a rare good cross which was just too high for Sir Rickie who headed it over the bar.

Wilfried Zaha came on for Medel and had nothing to do with Cardiff taking the lead.  It all started with Jose Fonte who played a shocker of a pass when under no pressure to Chambers which was picked off by Daehli.  Chambers decided to wrestle down the Cardiff player who was going nowhere and give away a free kick.  Whittingham curled it into our box and it bounced around before Chambers produced a weak header to knock it out to Cala on the edge of the box.  He knocked it past two half-arsed challenges from Morgan and Davis before swinging a boot and giving Gazza no chance as it flew past him.  To be fair it’s a brilliant goal by the centre back but yet again – we’ve given it to them.

Having fallen on his face with no one near him, Gaston hobbles off to be replaced with Big Sam which gives us another goal threat and I assume means Sir Rickie dropping back a bit.  Also on is Nathaniel Clyne in a like for like swap with Calum Chambers.

Time seemed to fly by as we produced absolutely nothing aside from a lot of passing about in front of 10 Cardiff players.  Opportunities to shoot came and went as both Morgan and Davis elected to pass when they really should have just lashed it.  Morgan did produce a superbly weighted chipped pass which was met by Gallagher and Marshall spread himself to block really well.

With just the one sub left and some urgency being required, Corky is replaced with Guly, a player who wouldn’t add any spark or energy if he had 240 volts put up his arse.  I don’t mind him as a player but he’s really not an impact substitute.  We have another decent chance as an attack is cleared out as far as Clyne who takes it infield and shoots with his left foot, only to see Marshall fly across and beat it away again.

86, 87 and here comes the timewasting substitution as the little blonde Norwegian lad goes off to be replaced with Craig Bellamy which at least gives us a hate figure for the last few minutes.  The bombardment of the Cardiff goal consists of a corner which no one can get on the end of and that’s about it and the feeling that I’d had from 70 minutes onwards that we were never going to score is going to come true.

It nearly got worse as Zaha broke away on the left and managed to bundle past Jose and then evade Lovren’s lunge bofore seeing Gazza produce a very good save to deny him a goal.  The loan system is a continual bugbear of mine but I wish he played for us as he’s just what we need - maybe David Moyes will flog him to us to get him away from his daughter. The final couple of minutes saw us produce absolutely nothing and so the game limped to a conclusion.

Well that was shit wasn’t it?  You can divide the game into thirds – we were decent in the first, average in the second and downright shite in the third.  It should have been the Alamo after Cardiff had scored but we managed the grand total of two shots, one from Big Sam and one from Clyne.  Two shots in half an hour when 1-0 down at home to a team as limited as Cardiff. – that’s shite whatever way you look at it.   We all know however that we’d have won if we’d got a goal in that first half an hour and we would have done if it wasn’t for a fucking blind referee again.  How obvious a handball does it have to be?  A goal then would have meant Cardiff had to come out and attack and left us with more space.  As it was however they could sit back and let us pass it about in front of them.

J-Rod missing was huge for us, not because Gaston was poor (far from it) but we didn’t have any pace to get in behind them and we didn’t seem to have anyone who wanted to shoot.  Everyone wanted to pass the ball and we were always trying to thread a killer ball past masses of defenders.  Steven Davis drives me nuts with this – if he had an open fucking goal from 5 yards to roll a ball into, he’d pass it to someone else if he could.  The pace and width was all to be provided by the full backs and they both had shockers regarding crossing the ball.  Things improved when Nathaniel Clyne came on but it was too little too late.

It’s hard to criticize Mauricio regarding the non-use of young players but today really could have done with some pace on the bench in the form of Omar Rowe or Sam McQueen.  What was the point of Guly being on the bench?  He’s not an impact player and he’s not going to be here next year so why not give someone a game who may light up the place.  These games are hardly meaningful are they regarding our overall finishing position.

It was good to hear Mauricio in his post match interview that possession without end product was useless.  It’s good to hear him say that as there have been times when it seems like we value possession over everything.  Gaston played well for half an hour and then a few mistakes started creeping in as half time approached and in the second half he did nothing and got injured, again.  I have to mention Gazza in goal who had no chance with the goal he conceded but dealt with everything else with the minimum of fuss and made a very good save from Zaha at the end after he’d turned Jose Fonte inside out.  Fonte’s shite pass to Chambers led to the free kick which led to the goal so the Portuguese Man of War’s form is not improving.

It’s hard to begrudge Cardiff the win as they were comfortable in the last half an hour but it still probably won’t save them from the drop.   If they do go down, I’d definitely add Marshall to Caulker on the list of players who I’d be quite happy to see at St.Mary’s next season.

Next up we have Aston Villa away who robbed us at SMS earlier on in the season.  It would be nice to beat them next week, especially as they are getting that squeaky arsehole feeling that you get when you’re near the bottom, losing most weeks and teams are catching you.  Would I like to see Villa go down?  Oh yes.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Premier League Match 33 - Manchester City 4 Southampton 1

Textbook Defensive Line.  Well played Linesman you blind fucker.

Manchester City away is not a very appetizing fixture when you look at their list of results at home this season. Five, Six, Five, Six etc.  There is something about Saints this season though that gives you a bit of optimism that teams don’t like playing against us and we might get something from the game.  In truth though, this game is a free hit and anything we get is a massive surprise and a bonus.  City dispensed of Mancini in the summer when he finally went insane and appointed Manuel Pellegrini who has made them mush more open and free flowing.  They are the favourites to win the league and have done this without Sergio Aguero who has been injured for the best part of 4 months.  It’s a bit like expecting Liverpool to still be up there without Suarez or Chelsea without Torres… sorry, couldn’t do that last one with a straight face.

We’re on the lunchtime shift for BT Sport and the build up for the game is provided by a panel of 3 ex-pros who are David James (ex-City…. and an ex-Skate), Owen Hargreaves (ex-City) and Steve McManaman (ex-Saints… only kidding, ex-City).  Totally impartial analysis coming our way then.   In addition to that we have commentary from Ian Darke who is a Skate.

The team news is in and….. oh fuck, King Artur is out and Gazza is in goal. Jesus Christ.  We’re playing the most free-scoring team in the country, away from home and we have a League 1 standard keeper in goal.  Elsewhere the team is bolstered with Morgan returning in place of JWP and there is a place on the bench for Big Vic but Gaston is injured and not available.

Away we go and we go bombing forward like we usually do and lose the ball.  Suddenly City are away down our right in the big space where Chambers should be and Dzeko is cutting into the box.  Jose Fonte blocks him off but when Dzeko tries to beat him, Jose inexplicably lifts his leg up to waist level and Dzeko runs into it, dives on the floor and the ref buys it and gives it.  There are many ways to look at this… the first and most glaringly obvious thing is that Jose was fucking ridiculous in sticking his leg up like that as it was just asking for it.  Michael Owen who of course, famously dived over Mauricio Pochettino’s outstretched leg for England in 2002, says on the commentary that as Fonte has left a leg there, Dzeko is entitled to fall over it.  Utter bollocks.  There is a rule covers this and it’s called ‘obstruction’.  If you put something in the way and a player can’t get past then it’s obstruction, not a fucking foul.  I can understand why the ref gave it and it’s a fine line between obstruction and a foul but I can’t understand anyone saying that Dzeko didn’t dive because he fucking did.  He ran through the leg Jose left dangling out, took a step and then threw himself.  So, 2 minutes in and a penalty, Yaya against Gazza and 1-0 to City as easy as you like.

Saints start to play and we’re working the ball up to the front men and looking decent whilst City chase shadows.  J-Rod picks it up on the left and curls in a right footed cross which is a fraction over Sir Rickie’s head as he made a run behind the centre backs.  The big man is once again showing what a good player he is by dropping deep and pinging passes around and he chips a good one over the defence to Lallana and it’s a major surprise when he doesn’t kill it cleanly, even though it was a difficult ball to take and away it runs for a goal kick.  There’s more passing and more decent play and another chipped pass forward and J-Rod leaps high to bring it down and then disaster.  As he’s landed, his face has creased up in pain and something is very obviously wrong with his right knee which bent at a nasty angle as he came down.  It’s one of those ‘look away now’ moments.  Fellow pros know when it’s bad and the fact that there is no one near him when he falls makes everyone know it’s really bad and after a few minutes, he’s off on a stretcher, the rest of the season and a place in the England World Cup Squad probably going up in smoke at the same time.  Shit.

JWP comes on in his place and it looks like Steve Davis has been pushed forward a bit but the rest of the game suddenly seems a lot less important and then something comes along to piss you off again.  City build up down our left and the ball is worked into Toure on the right hand edge of the box and he’s challenged by Dejan and has a good old dive which once again, Chris Foy completely buys and gives them a free kick.  Toure curls it in, Dzeko is totally free at the back post and it takes something really shit for a 6 foot plus striker to hit the bar from that close in with a free header.  I’m surprised he didn’t appeal for a penalty.

Did someone say penalty?  Corky picks up the ball in midfield and just sets off.  He slaloms past a couple of half-arsed challenges and gets into the box before Zabaleta turfs him up in the air.  Lovely.  Zabaleta’s appeal that it was outside the box is laughable and Sir Rickie has the ball.  Bang… Hart goes the right way but he’s got no chance and 1-1.

As the first half ticks on, Morgan dinks the ball over Toure and leaves him on his arse and Fernandinho decides to stop a Saints break by playing basketball and getting booked.  Saints are undoubtedly the better side with City not making much of an impression at all as we go into the added on minutes for the J-Rod injury.  Toure feeds a ball into to Dzeko who flicks it on the Silva who is five yards offside.  He squares it to Nasri who smashes it past Gazza.  No flag.  Oh fuck off, it’s fucking miles off.  I thought Silva was offside from the original pass but it turn out he was level but by the time Dzeko has flicked it, he’s five yards offside and the lino has a clear view.  It’s a fucking scandal and it’s so far offside that the referee should really overrule him.  Needless to say he doesn’t.  Mauricio is going absolutely nuts on the line and who can blame him.  ‘Great passing move’ says Ian Darke, ‘level’ says Michael Owen, ‘wankers’ says I.

So, City have created three chances.  Two from dives and one which was offside and they’ve scored two goals… oh look they’ve scored again as they work it down our right, Chambers gets pulled horribly out of position and Kolarov crosses.  Gazza is about five yards too far forward and comes flying out like a twat and doesn’t get there leaving Dzeko with a free header from 5 yards which even he’s not shit enough to miss.  He nearly misses mind but it slides off his head and goes in off a post.  Half time, 3-1, fuck off.

Half time gives us all the chance to ponder how shit it is.  Again we’ve had the most possession and passed it around better than they have yet we’re 3-1 down thanks to a dive, a horrific mistake by an official and a goalkeeping error.  In addition, our top scorer and hope for the World Cup is on his way to hospital.  It all evens out over the season does it?  Fuck off.

The only change at half time is that Fernandinho has been subbed and replaced with Garcia.  If that’s to stop him getting a second yellow then why bother, with this ref?  The opening action of the second half was positive from Saints and we’d reverted almost to a 4-4-2 with Lallana up with Sir Rickie and Steve Davis on the left.  City were still dangerous though and Toure galloped into the box and fell to ground like a sack of shit again under a Fonte challenge.  Dzeko showed how shit he is on the hour mark by blasting at Gazza who made a decent block but with an open goal to aim at and a keeper on the ground, Dzeko managed to put his shout out for a throw in.

Dzeko went off and Negredo came on and he managed to look even worse but it took until 75 minutes for us to create another chance as Lallana put Sir Rickie through but from a tight angle, he lashed it just wide of the far post.  Big Sam got 10 minutes instead of the usual 1 in place of Davis abd City sent on Jevetic in place of Silval who wasn’t offside this time.

Toure has another run at our defence and gets into the penalty area as the cover comes across so instead of trying to score he has another fucking dive and flops to the floor like the massive wanker that he is.  This time the dive is so horrible that even Chris Foy spots it and books him.  Big Vic comes on for Corky to hopefully give Yaya something to fall over about.

The fourth goal that City were always going to get duly arrives and it’s another horror show from Gazzaniga. Navas fires in an early low cross from the right, Gazza gets caught in three minds and just flops on the ground whilst the ball continues to Jovetic who can practically walk it into an empty net.

The game is done and the only notable incidents were JWP leaving a foot in on Toure who over reacts like the big pussy that he is and Gazza made a couple of good saves to deny Negredo who was clean through and Toure whose bobbler he tipped onto the post.

Full time and time to listen to some even handed analysis from 3 ex-Manchester City players.  In the post match interviews, Pellegrini correctly points out that Saints had no shots on target aside from the penalty and Mauricio goes nuts about the 2nd goal which changed the game.  I would say that if the 2nd doesn’t go in then the 3rd doesn’t either and we reach half time at 1-1 and all to play for.  Mauricio was so angry that he spoke in English whilst the interpreter just stood there and wondered about his job prospects.  His assertion that the offside goal killed the game was of course, picked up on by the 3 City pundits who slaughtered it.  The fact is though that it’s hard enough to win at these places when you get a fair shake of the stick but when you get shite officials making decisions in the favour of the big boys then it becomes all but impossible.  I knew we were fucked once the 2nd goal went in and the 3rd arriving straight after it just proved it.

However, you can’t blame anyone but ourselves for the fact we have a League 1 standard goalkeeper in goal who is worth 2 goals a game to any opposition.  We have a Number 2 goalkeeper who is hardly ever fit and a No 3 who is not good enough in a million years and the thing with Gazzaniga is that he’s not improving.  He’s flapping around with poor positioning and no idea on crosses in exactly the same way as he was when he arrived nearly two years ago.  After two years of coaching you’d think he’d know where to stand when a cross comes in so either the coaching is poor (which I doubt) or he just hasn’t got what it takes.   He made some decent blocks later in the game but that’s minimum requirement for a keeper.  There are two positions in a team where you can’t have a kid making mistakes and they’re centre back and goalkeeper.  I know he’s 3rd choice so this shouldn’t be an issue but the real problem is the fitness levels of Kelvin Davis.   It is one thing we certainly need to sort out in the summer with a reliable back up for King Artur.

Not far behind Gazza in the liability stakes at the moment is Jose Fonte who has really hit the buffers regarding good form.  We’ve had the backpasses in the last two home games and the stupid penalty he gave away today which was straight out of the Hooiveld book of clumsy defending.  However, Maya Yoshida’s injury leaved Big Jos as the only alternative to Jose at the moment so hopefully Jose can sort himself out.  Calum Chambers had his arse handed to him today by City and defensively he was all over the place.  This is always going to happen occasionally with the full backs with the way we play but today was a particularly tough one for him.

The bottom line is that we went to City and lost and so what really.  As I write, we wait to hear the news on Jay Rodriguez and fingers crossed that he’s just jarred his knee or strained ligaments and he’ll be back soon.  Next up we have Cardiff at home who are all but down following a pathetic home defeat to Crystal Palace today so they will be going for it as they have no other choice.  They have a centre back that I like in Steven Caulker who I think would make an excellent signing for us as he’s only about 23 and already an England international.  It’d be nice to read a rumour about an incoming player, rather than our entire first team being linked with other clubs.  Hopefully Gaston will be fit to take J-Rod’s place against Cardiff but if not, then we need to have some pace up front which may open the door for Sam Gallagher or even Sam McQueen or another academy prospect.

Get well soon Jay.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Premier League Match 32 - Southampton 4 Newcastle 0

I know it's a cliche, but....

Some games you look forward to more than others and the visit of Newcastle is one of those for a number of reasons.  I don’t necessarily agree with the concept of having a second team but they are certainly one of the teams I look out for due to my Grandfather being from that neck of the woods.  It’s also a decent game more often than not and of course, usually we win at home and get humped away.  Since their promotion back to the Premier League, Newcastle have been a bit of a circus to the casual observer with a cast of characters who all seem to bring something negative to the party, led by Mike Ashley, who has made his millions from the health and leisure industry and then spends a fair chunk of it on pies and beer.  Nothing wrong with that in itself I hear you cry.  They have done something right and binned Joe Kinnear whose “world class” skills and contacts had brought Newcastle two loan signings.  Call me old fashioned or call me Little Englander or whatever but I find it amazing that a community with such a strong identity like the Geordies, is represented almost exclusively by Frenchmen .  Fair play to the Toon Army in managing to maintain their passion for the black and white shirt with that on the pitch and the farce off of it.

Considering the never ending soap opera off the pitch, Newcastle have done quite well on it and are in the cringingly titled ‘Race for 8th’ with our good selves.  What bollocks!  Newcastle have struggled of late though as they sold their best player (Cabaye) in January and their main goalscorer (Remy) hasn’t been on the pitch but on the plus side, he's not a rapist.  His goals have been vital for them so I’m sure Kinnear will have that on his CV as he was one of Kinnear’s two loan signings.  The manager of course is our old gaffer Alan Pardew who hilariously dropped his nut on a Hull player a few weeks back for which he got a 7 game touchline ban and 3 game ban from the ground.  Today is his first game back in the stand.  Personally I have no axe to grind with Pards who did the job he was brought in to do in the 2 years he was here and of course, we won the JPT which was 4 years ago this week.

This week was a quiet one for Saints with the only real news being Andy Robinson moving to Bolton in a try before you buy deal as he’ll be out of contract at the end of the season and he won’t be getting another one here.  There was of course lots of other “news” but it was of course all bollocks of the ‘Shaw signing for 4 different clubs’ variety.   I mentioned last week on how well we’d done considering that out of our big 3 signings, only Dejan Lovren has really delivered due to Big Vic’s injury problems and Osvaldo being a cock.  It was proof that Mauricio Pochettino reads this blog because he said the same thing in his pre-match press conference.  He didn’t call Osvaldo a cock but that was only because he didn’t want me to sue him for copyright infringement.

To today and despite rumours of 7 players being injured, Mauricio named a side with just the only change in it with Chambers coming in for the injured Clyne.  J-Rod and Steve Davis were both fit and Morgan returned to the bench.  We still had the ‘soft’ centre of Corky and JWP from last week’s debacle at Spurs and that would probably be interesting against Cheik Tiote who is not a shrinking violet when it comes to getting stuck in.  Newcastle had a team of Frenchmen, about 8 of them.  There’s a little chap called Anita who might be from Holland but for the sake of argument, he’s French and all.  Santon is Italian but he has a very French sounding name and is on the bench.  Their two token Englishmen are Rob Elliot in goal (in for the injured Tim Krul) and Mike Williamson who has managed to forge a decent career despite being rejected by ourselves a few years back and runnign like he's towing a caravan.

To cut a very long traffic nightmare short, instead of parking the other side of the Itchen Bridge as usual, we’d ended up parking near the Royal South Hants Hospital so the walk to the ground involved walking down Derby Road.  Didn’t see any ladies touting for business which I was pleased about so I didn’t have to explain anything to my 9 year old.    Arriving in the ground just the two minutes after kick off, we pissed everyone off making them stand up to let us in.  No sooner had we taken our seats then Dejan pinged a ball over the top of the lumbering Yanga-Mbiwa at right back and J-Rod took it expertly but when confronted with Elliot rushing out, went for power with the outside of his right foot and hit the side netting.  Side netting was the order of the day a few minutes later as well as Chambers got down the right, totally unhindered by the bloke with the brush on his head at left back and crossed for J-Rod to climb and hit virtually the same spot as last time.

I was already sensing Newcastle weren’t up for this at all.  The midfield wasn’t closing down and making it difficult for us and the defence wasn’t picking players up.  They seemed to be playing a high line but the full backs were taking it in turns to have a kip about 10 yards behind the other three defenders.  Lallana easily found space in midfield and sent Sir Rickie away on the right and his cross was once again met by J-Rod but Elliot got across to make a decent save.

JWP managed to find enough space to casually wander forward and arrow in a shot which once again hit the side netting yet again before Steve Davis expertly slid Sir Rickie through and Elliot pulled off a top drawer reaction save as the big man attempted to chip it over him.  The thing to remember here is that there are only 15 minutes gone and we should already be out of sight and we are not even in front.

There is some great football being played though but we still find ways not to score.  Firstly Sir Rickie chips over the defenders to Chambers who heads across and Lallana dives in front of Coloccini and heads just wide.  Two minutes later we get a corner and JWP’s delivery is met by Lovren who has got himself free but he can’t keep it down.  Twenty minutes gone, 400 efforts on goal, 0-0.

What of our opponents as an attacking threat I hear you cry.  Well, nothing.  They basically bang it up to Cisse who is not strong enough to hold it up, has no support even if he does and if the punt goes over him, he hasn’t got the pace to do any damage.  Their most talented player is of course Ben Arfa who is tethered to the right wing with a clear detail to protect the hopeless Yanga-Mbiwank at right back.  This is the equivalent of telling Adam Lallana to play in defensive midfield and not cross the half way line and in short, it’s a massive waste but who am I to argue with it.  If it was my team though I'd be going fucking nuts.

It looked like we were going to get to half time without scoring and even more so when a cross came in, Sir Rickie rose majestically to head down to J-Rod and from right in front of Eliot, he connected but it was too close to the keeper and once again, Elliot got across to keep it out.  He’s turning into a bit of a bastard and no mistake.

I don’t know how it happened but King Artur has the ball in his hands.  This kind of suggest Newcastle has at attack but I don’t remember it.  Anyway, a bowl out and Steve Davis is away  and chips over defensive line to Sir Rickie on the right.  I call it a defensive line but it’s a dog leg.  Brush-head, Williamson and Coloccini are in a line and Yanga-Mbiwank is about 10 yards further back.  It looks like Sir Rickie is about to try and break the net but instead, rolls it across to J-Rod who is also onside and he can’t miss. 1-0, at last.

Half time and everyone in our end of the ground is happy.  It should be many more but we’ll take 1-0.  The woman who sits behind me with the radio permanently in her ear, talks for 10 minutes about Bournemouth’s game while my dad rolls his eyes into the top of his head and decides whether he should throttle her.

Half time saw the tea lady so into the Newcastle changing room and Pardew ask if she was married before head-butting her.  In amongst all that he decided to take off their most creative player and replace him with a striker who was signed by Joe Kinnear in Luuk de Jong who at least is Dutch and not French.  Davide Santon has a French name but is apparently Italian.  He also has a right foot and no left foot but is a left back who Pardew today plays on the right in place of Yanga-Mbiwank who has been our best player.

The new full back proves a capable replacement for the previous one after five minutes when he wanders forward as Sir Rickie wanders in behind him, take a touch to control Lallana’s chip across and buries it into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

It is becoming traditional that we at this time, 2-0 up and cruising, take our foot off the gas and try and give the opposition a way back into it.  There is a flicker from Newcastle with a couple of crosses being hammered over more in hope than expectation and a corner that amounts to nothing. Then comes the single moment that sums the game up.  Corky jigs past Anita in midfield and over-runs it slightly.  It’s a 70-30 ball in favour of hard-man Tiote but he just doesn’t fancy it.  Corky steams in and wins it - It’s a bit man-and-ball and Tiote is hopping around like it was a foul.  Corky also put his hand up as if to apologise.  Whilst all this is going on, not one Newcastle player reacts to the fact that no free-kick has been given and Lallana picks it up, goes forward unopposed and from 25 yards, spanks it left footed into the top corner. 3-0, game over and 3-0 to the Ing-ger-land.

We have a go at letting in a goal and Cisse gets through on the left only to see the flying Polish Starjump Goalkeeper do his thing and concede a corner.  Mauricio is obviously keen to make entirely sure of the win after las weeks fiasco and when the ever-excellent Steven Davis is removed, it’s Morgan Schneiderlin who comes on, rather than give Harrison Reed 20 minutes which is what you might normally expect at 3-0 up.

With JWP pushed further forward, he nearly gets his first league goal and it takes another fantastic stop to deny him.  Sir Rickie crosses from the right, J-Rod climbs and hits the post and JWP completely leathers the rebound goalwards from about 5 yards but yet again, bloody Elliot is there again to somehow keep it out.

Sissoko is limping off for Newcastle which is the most effort he’s put in all game and Dummett is on and Gaston is on for his obligatory 10 minutes in place of Sir Rickie who gets the standing ovation he deserves for a performance which at least guarantees a weekend of him not being criticized by a section of the Idiot Division of the SFC Keyboard Warriors.  Jose Fonte then pulls out his weekly 'have a goal' backpass which presents Cisse with a run on goal but given a 9 yard head start, Shaw still catches him in 10.

Gaston is looking much more purposeful these days and he find space in midfield, look up and pings a ball behind Santon for J-Rod to run on to.  He keeps it in, cuts back inside the half-arsed full back and smashes it though the unfortunate Elliot’s legs for 4-0 to the Ing-ger-land.  Unfortunate for the excellent keeper to let in one through his legs ut it was from very close range and Santon could not have done less to prevent it if he tried.

We reach the 90th minutes so it must be time for Big Sam to come on and it’s standing ovation time again as Lallana is replaced.  There is no time for us to throw away the clean sheet in the usual fashion and so The Race for 8th takes a turn in our favour.  On today’s show it’s unbelievable that there are only one place and 2 points between these two sides.

Well that was easy.  I didn’t think it would be possible to find a team who were as bad as Norwich but Newcastle managed it and then some.  At least Norwich managed to score when Jose Fonte gave them the ball but Newcastle couldn’t even do that.  They will say that they have nothing to play for but nor do we – “The Race for 8th” – No.  We were very good but make no mistake; they were incredibly bad with no one giving a shit and no organization anywhere in the team.  It’s the sort of performance that gets a manager the sack so Pards should be a bit concerned.  I wonder if anyone did background checks into all the French players characters before they signed them.  Somehow I doubt it as they couldn’t have cared less if they tried (and they wouldn't have tried).  Elliot in goal was brilliant and but for him, we would have won by 10 and that would have been deserved and J-Rod would have caught up the 5 goals he is behind Sturridge in the race to be the top English goalscorer.  The irony is that Elliot will get dropped next week if Krul is fit.  Maybe they should play him on the pitch as he’s put more in than the other buggers.

I can’t do justice to the ineptitude of Newcastle but if you have 10 minutes and are not at work or sitting with your kids, have a watch of this.  I don’t often link to other stuff but this is brilliant.  Not just for the humour but for the passion for his side and the anger at the gutless display.  Perhaps he should translate it into French so the Newcastle players can understand it. 

Not so long ago, I used to think J-Rod was a real outside bet for an England place but I’m beginning to wonder now how Hodgson could possibly take Welbeck and not take Jay.  I know that Welbeck has had some good games for England in the past but that’s the past and England have failed in every tournament when we’ve picked on reputation.  Wilshere and Townsend are two that have done well for England in the past but they both done nothing this season so why pick them.  Pick players who have had good seasons and give it a go.  If he does that then we’ll have 4 players on the plane and they all will deserve it.  Sir Rickie was magnificent today, unselfishly laying another on a plate for Jay as well as scoring himself and as for Adam Lallana... well, unplayable.  He has to start for England and there can be no argument.  Another week has gone by where Luke Shaw has played well and Ashley Cole has not played at all.

Mauricio was obviously quite chuffed with the display, dedicating it to the fans which is always nice.  He might not speak English to the press but he always remembered which side his bread is buttered on and that’s fine by me (Sunderland in the FA Cup aside).  Homeward bound via Derby Road - no one got laid but Newcastle got fucked.

Next up we are involved in the title race as we take on Manchester City at the Etihad.  No doubt there will be those of a Chelsea and those of a Liverpool persuasion wishing us well as well as wishing to sign all our players.  I can’t see us getting much myself but stranger things have happened.  Mauricio is undefeated in games against them in the two outings we’ve had so you never know. 

Anyway, let’s not worry about Manchester City and Newcastle United.  We were fucking brilliant today.