Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World Cup 2014 Part 12 - Supporting Germany is not Natural!

Outside the Box but Still a Red Card (but not against Brazil)


3rd/4th Place Playoff

Brazil 0 Netherlands 3

This is usually the game where no one gives a shite about the result and both teams play all the reserves and just want to get it out of the way and go home.  Brazil are already home which is why this game actually mattered to them and I guess it mattered to The Dutch as it was van Gaal’s last game in charge before taking charge of Manchester’s second club.  The question was if Brazil would be a train wreck after the 7-1 drubbing they got off the Germans and within 90 seconds we had our answer as Robben broke through and Thiago Silva grabbed him and wrestled him to the ground as he burst into the box.  It’s got to be a red card but the only question is whether it’s inside or outside the box.  Refeenho gives the penalty and books him and in doing so, manages to get both decisions wrong.  Anyway, up steps RVP and 1-0.  A repeat of the German dicking was on the cards after 10 minutes when a terrible clearing header from Luiz went straight to Daley Blind who was stood on the penalty spot on his own and he lashed it into the roof of the net.  Brazil showed no real signs of getting back into it, even without Hulk and Fred who had been dropped for being abysmal footballers.  Oscar was still playing though and he managed to get booked for a dive.  It’s an odd one as Daley Blind clearly fouled him but Oscar had dragged his feet and was already going down before contact.  If he’d kept running, it's a clear foul but I’m glad the ref booked him as he was looking to cheat.  The game chuntered on uneventfully until the last minute when Wijnaldum fired into the net for 3-0 to prove what we all expected – that Brazil are piss poor.

Five minutes later, an Argentinian clattered him


World Cup Final

Germany 1 Argentina 0 (aet)

For the biggest game in the World, you have your tactics and you know what you team is going to be and then someone gets injured in the warm up. So Khedira was out and Krammer was in.  The new guy was involved in the first major incident of the game as Garay came across to clear and nearly took Krammer’s head off with his shoulder as he ran past.  It didn’t look deliberate to be fair but Jesus, did he hit him hard.  You really want that to happen to someone like Pepe or Cristiano Ronaldo.  The game itself is exactly as predicted with the Germans dominating possession and Argentina sitting back, trying to get the ball to Messi and hoping that he does something.  They are creating the better chances when they do get the ball and an appalling back header by Kroos puts Higuain through on goal.  As he reached the edge of the box and took aim, time stood still and I wondered if he was going to prove me wrong as everytime I’ve seen him play he’s looked like a slow donkey who doesn’t deserve his massive reputation.  1-0 to me but not 1-0 to Argentina as he shanked it horribly wide.  Allegedly a world class striker with a 1v1 with the keeper from 18 yards?  Sorry – that was shit.

Ten minutes later and Argentina broke down the right through Lavezzi and his excellent cross was met by Higuain and this time he buried it, only this time he was a couple of yards offside.  Messi wasn't doing much but when he did, he burned past Hummels before seeing Schweinsteiger clear his cross.

Maybe this Argentina pressure is due to the fact that Germany are playing with 10 as Krammer still doesn’t know what day it is and he comes off and is replaced with Schurrle which on the face of it, is an attacking substitution.  The final two chances of the half fall to Germany with Schurrle blasting a shot striaight at Romero who parried it away and then right on half time, a corner was swung in and Howedes go up superbly and from 5 yards, smacked his header against the post.You have to score from there…. But 0-0.

The second half starts well for Argentina and Messi is through on left but he screws his shot past Neuer and past the far post.  The best German chance fell to Kroos but his sidefooted effort from an Ozil pull back was shocking in the extreme and just dribbled wide.  Palacio and his rat tail hair statement is on for Higuain who in addition to missing a sitter has got Neuer’s knee in the face as he came out and punched a ball.  With the 90 minute mark approaching, the clearly knackered Miroslav Klose is replace with Mario Gotze.

The first half of extra time is quite cagey and Argentina have definitely settled for penalties.  They have a decent chance though as Palicio and his rat get through but when presented with Neuer flying out, he shites himself and lobs wide.  I’ve given Bastian Schweinsteiger some stick before, mainly for being the archetypal German with the most German name you could possibly have but fair’s fair – he’s some player.  His latest challenge is to not react as the Argentinians line up to kick the shit out of him.  The worst incident is Aguero going up for a header and just smashing him in the face.  The referee predictably doesn’t send Aguero off and the commentators predictably blather on about him “not being that type of player”.  The blood pouring out of Schweinsteiger’s cheek suggests otherwise.

On 113 minutes it happens as Schurrle gets away down the left and his cross curls to Gotze who controls and swivels and volleys into the net past Romero in one movement.  When he emerges from the pile of bodies, the look on his face is one of “what the fuck just happened” and is similar to the look on Krammer’s face when he got smashed in the head.  Argentina have got nothing but they do get a free kick in the 120th minute.  After a long wait, Messi launches the free kick miles over the bar.  It was the first time I’d noticed him for about an hour.

After the final whistle we had the interminable wait for the presentation.  First up was Manuel Neuer to collect the award for best keeper, then it was player of the tournament time and up went Muller, no Schweinsteiger, no Lahm, no Robben, no James Rodriguez…. MESSI – fuck off.  OK, he was decent in the group stages when they had an easy group but nothing since.  Is that award sponsored by his mum or something?  Ridiculous.

Anyway, up went the German team and then the party started.  With an average age of about 24, it’s quite scary for the future.

And so it came to pass that 32 teams turned up to play in the World Cup and the best team won and they totally deserved it.  They had an injury in the warm-up, an injury to his replacement, a change of tactics, some more substitutions and they still won.  The first European team to win the World Cup in South America – and beating  Brazil and Argentina on the way.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  The big sides who they beat on their way to lifting the World Cup were the South American giants and Portugal, three sides who are more or less, through Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo, one man teams.  The Germans are an 11 man team, 23 man squad.  That’s why they won it and deservedly so.  It felt odd supporting Gremany in a game but there’s so much to admire about them that you can’t help but be impressed…. And Beckham had his kids there in Argentina kits.  Probably some sort of symbolic gesture… a man of your profile should have some awareness ... you complete knob.

Usually I’d use that Beckham link to lead into writing about England here and how we can hope to compete but we’re not worthy of being on the same page as the Germans.  We are light years behind.  In 2000 when both teams got knocked out of the Euros in the group stages, both teams were shit but only one did anything about it – they reviewed, came up with a plan, the Bundesliga bought into it and 14 years later they win the World Cup.  We got Sven and basically did nothing whilst allowing the Premier League and Sky to dictate everything.  The truth hurts but at the end of the day, it’s the truth.  The Germans are travelling home with the World Cup and we are still shit.

Next up is the Euros in 2016 in FranceSpain & Italy will come again, Netherlands will be there or there abouts, Belgium will be a dark horses and England will be nowhere.  Germany will take some stopping.

Mario Gotze had a good day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

World Cup 2014 Part 11 - If Carlsberg did Opposition Centre Backs...

Scolari had 7 in the Sweepstake


Semi Finals

Brazil 1 Germany 7 (SEVEN)
All anyone was focussing on was how Brazil would replace Neymar and they all wore ‘Forca Neymar’ caps which made them look stupid.  A ‘Forca Thiago’ cap would have been a much better investment as the main man in the defence was always going to be more missed against the Germans.  David Luiz even held up Neymar’s shirt for the national anthem.  Knob.  I rarely listen to the TV pundits but Alan Hansen said before the game that Luiz “doesn’t have an ounce of communication in him”, clearly implying that he defence would be a shambles without their leader.  How right he was.  You also wondered where Brazil were going to find a goal from without Neymar and relying on Hulk and Fred or “Can’t Shoot” and “Won’t Move” as they should be known.

After 10 fairly even minutes, Germany won a corner and swung it into the box.  Germany’s best player Thomas Muller was totally unmarked about 8 yards out, right in the middle of the goal and just cushioned a volley into the net.  David Luiz was supposed to be marking him but was nowhere to be seen.  I went to the pub at this point and was at the bar, just as Klose had a free shot from 10 yards which Cesar parried out and then another free shot which he rolled into the net. 2-0 and the camera pans to aghast looking Brazilian people in the crowd.

By the time I’d finished getting served and sat down, it was 4-0.  At 2-0, what you should do is say “we’re going to get to half time at 2-0 down, chat from the manager and come out firing, get an early goal back and who knows”.  You’re still in the game at 2-0 but you’re not if you do what Brazil did next.  Marcelo went wandering off up the wing and no defensive cover was forthcoming from the pathetic Bernard.  Lahm’s cross was missed by Fernandinho and Kroos steamed in and smashed it past Cesar for 3-0.  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse / funnier / humiliating / shocking – Brazil kicked off, passed it back through Luiz to Dante who fed it into Fernandinho who lost the ball to Khedira, Khedira to Kroos, Kroos to Khedira and back again, sidefoot, 4-0.  I can’t remember ever seeing something more ridiculous on a football pitch anywhere, let alone from the home team in a World Cup Semi Final.  What you need now if for your main central defender and captain to turn his back on a 50/50 challenge like a complete fucking pussy and allow Khedira to win it, play a 1-2 with Ozil and pass another on into the net for 5-0.  Half time... what the fuck.  Luiz is great with the snidey elbow in the face on the blindside of the ref but when it comes to actually doing his job and making a tackle in plain sight – forget it.

All Scolari could do was damage limitation and maybe take some of his shit players off so that meant the end of Hulk and Fernandinho for Ramires and Paulinho respectively.  Go and score 6 lads...  The second half was a bit half paced as Germany just passed it around.  No one was going to risk getting booked or copping a bad tackle so it was all a bit stand-offish until Germany brought on Schurrle for Klose.  Schurrle obviously wants to play in the final and with 10 minutes of coming on he got himself on the end of another right wing move around Marcelo and put it past Cesar for 6-0.  7 up wasn’t long in coming and this was possibly the best goal of the lot in terms of the finish as Schurrle crashed it first time, off the underside of the bar from the near post

It should have been 8-0 as Ozil was clean through with just Cesar to beat but he rolled it wide and he was made to pay, sort of, as Brazil went straight up the other end and Oscar got to blast one past Neuer from point blank range to make it 7-1. 

Make no mistake, Germany were excellent and back to their ruthlessly efficient best but Brazil were fucking terrible.  It was like watching the worst school kids team when their manager is just yelling at them for being shit.  There was no plan and no discipline and it was basically just a fucking shambles which has to go down to Scolari.  David Luiz proved Alan Hansen correct with quite possibly the worst captains’ performance ever.  I guess as a captain you can lead by word or deed or preferably both but leading by ‘none of the above’ really isn’t going to cut it in a World Cup Semi Final when your team is struggling.  Lots of tears all round from all the players but to be honest, 7-1 flattered BrazilGermany eased off in the second half and regardless of this, Ozil missing a sitter was all that stopped it being 8-0 anyway.  The biggest shame was the way that Brazil played in the tournament as a whole.  Too many piss-poor players – how does Bernard and Hulk get picked ahead of Coutinho -  and their strong arm tactics combined with Refereenho mean that not many tears will have been shed outside of Brazil itself.  They’ve managed to go from the team everybody love to the opposite.

Netherlands 0 Argentina 0 (Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)
It was always gong to be a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show and within 5 minutes you could see that this was going to be a tactical battle between two teams who were reluctant to open out and go for it.  Argentina rely solely on Messi doing something whereas the Dutch just want to use Robben’s pace.  I think I fell asleep in the first half.  There were that few incidents of note and one shot from free kick which Messi put straight at Cillessen.  The second half was different in that it was even worse.  Extra time was a little bit better with Robben actually having a shot and Cillessen made a coupe of routine saves but it was always going to go to penalties.  Van Gaal, praised for the keeper substitution in the last round, had made all 3 subs including taking off van Persie who took the first penalty for them in the last round penalty win against Costa Rica

The first penalty is so important and really needs your best penalty taker.  The Dutch sent up Ron Vlaar and the Argies sent up Messi.  Vlaar’s kick was crap and straight down the middle and an easy save for Romero and by the time Romero had pulled off a decent save from Sneijder’s kick and then Aguero scored, it was 3-1 to the Argies and the game was nearly up.  Kuyt scored, Rodriguez scored and game over.  The Netherlands best penalty taker, Huntelaar, never even got to take one.  Maybe van Gaal isn’t so much of a genius after all.  More evidence is in that the Dutch haven’t scored for 240 minutes in open play.   You could see why he put Krul in goal for the penalties in the last round – it turns out that Cillesen has never saved one ever and you could see why as he kind of collapsed in on himself with every penalty.  It turned out later that two Dutch players bottled taking the first kick which is why Vlaar ended up taking one so he can be excused but they should have got Huntelaar on the first one and worried about the 5th if they were still in it.

So – we have Europe against South America in the final and I’ll be hoping Europe win through Germany.  I remember sitting down to watch the final in 1986 when it was these two teams and as it was post-Hand of Bastard, it was an easy decision to make as to who to support…. Not the mention the Falklands thing.  In the 1990 final, Germany had just knocked England out and Klinsmann was at his diving bastard worst and the Argies were a piss-boring team of thugs with a fading Maradona who was public enemy number 1.  In 1990 I wanted both to lose.

What we really need in the 2014 final is an early German goal or else I can see it being another bore-fest as the Germans mark Messi out of the game and Argentina play 9 at the back.  Before that though there is the 3rd place playoff or the ‘Not Give a Shit’ match which will see all the squad players from the Netherlands play against the strongest team Brazil can possibly put out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

World Cup 2014 Part 10 - Brazilian Hacking Enquiry

David Luiz points out who Brazil kicked the shit out of


Quarter Finals

France 0 Germany 1

 Before this game, my humble opinion was that France were a really good bet to win the World Cup as they don’t have any obvious weaknesses but first they have to get past Ze Germans and with Ze Germans it is psychological as they always reach the semi final.   France have the first half chance as Benzema sidefooted wastefully wide and on 12 minutes he was made to pay as Kroos curled in a free kick and Hummels got up and flicked it in giving Lloris no chance.  You sensed that France would ned a quick response and Neuer had to save well from Valbuena and then comfortably from Benzema who looked like he was having one of those games which makes you wonder why the hell he’s so highly rated.  The second half saw half chances come and go for France without ever really testing Neuer and Germany should have wrapped it up on the break as Ozil got down the let and put in on a plate for Schurrle who passed it straight to the keeper in really piss-poor fashion.   With time running but, Benzema got through again but was too wide and his shot was easily beaten away by Neuer.  The four players screming for a pass in the middle were not impressed.  A poor game, a poor performance from France and a professional job done by ze Germans.  “Professional” means much rolling around and timewasting, by the way.

Brazil 2 Colombia 1
Thin Brazil and you think of the beautiful game.  There has always been a harder edge to their game but now it’s almost tat he exclusion of anything beautiful.  The tactics they emplyed in this game was to basically target James Rodriguez and kick the hell out of him.  Of course, this should be allowed to work because the referee will stamp it out but there’s a new concept in this tournament – it’s called Refereenho who basically allows Brazil to get away with murder.  Paulinho should have been booked after five minutes and Fernandinho after 10.  Off the ball blocks were ignored and Rodriguez in particular spent the first half sitting on the ground wondering what had just hit him.  Brazil went 1-0 up on 8 minutes as Sanchez completely dozed off at the back post and a flick on was easily converted by Thiago Silva.  The kicking continued, not only on Rodriguez but on Cuadrado and still the cards stayed in the pocket, except for when Silva got booked for stopping the keeper rolling it out quickly.  He should have drop kicked him in the chest as that would be allowed.  Colombia offered little up front as it had been kicked out of them. 

The second half started better for Colombia and the old man of the side, Yepes, had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for an earlier offside.  Up the park went Brazil and disbelief all around as Rodriguez clipped Paulinho and the yellow card came out.  David Luiz sidefooted an incredible free kick over the wall and in from 35 yards and it was party time.  With nothing now to lose, Colombia piled forward and Bacca was put through only to be hammered by Cesar – penalty and a red card surely.  No, just a yellow – fuck off!!!!  Up steps Rodriguez to score his 6th of the tournament as the lucky Cesar went the wrong way.  The one notable incident before the end was Zuniga steaming into Neymar from behind and with a knee n the back, put Brazil’s only flair player out of the tournament with a fractured vertebra.  Nasty.  Phil Scolari may want to reflect on the fact that you quite often reap what you sow.  He had the balls to complain that Neymar had been hunted down in all their matches and he still decided to appeal Silva’s yellow card on the basis of nothing whatsoever but you know, I’d have done the same if I was him.  Brazil are getting away with murder at this tournament.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I hope the Germans beat them.

".... and then the complete c**t took me off"


Argentina 1 Belgium 0
Having looked better in the USA game, it was a case of which Belgium turned up today.  On paper they look a better all round side than Argentina but Argentina have the magic man in Messi who is streets ahead of Hazard who is Belgium’s most talented player.  The Argies took the lead on 8 minutes as Messi picked out di Maria and his pass infield was deflected up in the air but in front of Higuain who without breaking stride, lashed it first time past Courtois and into the corner of the net for 1-0.  The sides traded chances without ever looking like adding to the scoreline with Messi putting a free kick over the bar and Mirallas heading a decent chance wide from a Vertonghen cross.  Fellaini was doing his usual in midfield in that he finds it impossible to go near an opposition player without fouling them.  If football had a basketball style disciplinary code whereby you have 5 fouls and then you’re off, then Fellaini woudn’t get past half tie in any game he plays.  Into the second half and Higuain set off on a run from halfway and goes straight for goal, megging Kompany on the way who has bottled it and when presented with just Courtois to beat, Higuain loses composure and hits the bar.  There was little urgency from Belgoim and they only created a couple of chances.  Vertonghen again put in a cross which Fellaini headed over and and when it did eventually get a bit frantic in the last 5 minutes, Lukaku’s pull back was half cleared and Witsel smashed it over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.  In between those two chances, Messi had been put clean through against Courtois but had surprising made a balls of it.  So, 1-0 to Argentina it finished and you can’t help but feel that Belgium flattered to deceive.  Didn’t Januzaj do a lot as well – no, he did sod all.  Overrated perchance. 

Netherlands 0 Costa Rica 0 (Netherlands win 4-2 on pens)
I expect the Dutch were expecting to play Uruguay, Italy, or maybe dear old useless England when the draw was made.  Actually, they were expecting to be knocked out by Spain but here they are playing Costa Rica.  The Costa Rica boys have been superb so far and desperately deserve to be where they are but I had a feeling gong into this that this was one game too far.  The first half though was pretty boring with the best chances falling to the Dutch with Navas pulling off a decent save from van Persie and then being ready to save the rebound from Sneijder.  Sneijder pinged a free kick off the post and with Costa Rica offering so little up front, Van Persie had two great chances in the 2nd half to score what would surely be the winning goal when first he saw navas again block is near post drive and then the contrived to completely miss a superb cross from Sneijder when it looked easier to score than play the airshot that he did.  It certainly wasn’t RVP’s day as Blind gets down the left, crosses low and RVP at back post, shoots and sees it hit Tejeda who is back on the line and deflect up onto the bar and out.  Extra time is more cagey but Costa Rica have a decent shout for a penalty as Vlaar clumsily fouls Bolanos and though he went down like a sack of shit, there was contact there.  Something has happened to Costa Rica at half time and they have their best chance to score as Umana goes on a mazy and ends up with a clear shot at Cilessen which the keeper superbly keeps out.  There is just enough time for the Dutch to have their head int heir hands again as Sneijder curls in a shot from the left of the penalty area which beats Navas and comes back off the bar.  There are 120 minutes up and Van Gaal brings on Tim Krul in place of Cilessen and he hasn’t touched the ball before it goes to penalties. 

As we all saw, Krul went the right way on every penalty and saved the 2nd and 4th and was allowed by the ref to get away with so much gamesmanship that it was all anyone spoke about afterwards.  I wonder if there are any rules as to what happens if the referee red cards a keeper in the shootout?  Unlikely I guess but the Dutch are through to play Argentina.  Many a time I've seen a striker put on in the last minute because he's taken a penalty so why is the substitution such a big deal.  I guess it's a bigger deal for keepers as you live for these moments.  I can't believe Cillesen didn't know it was happening before the game and he'll be back in goal in the semi final.

So, Brazil v Germany and Argentina v Holland.  An all South American Final and you have 2 teams that don’t like each other much – an all European Final and you have 2 teams who don’t like each other much – Voller v Rijkaard 2 perhaps and Dutch banners about Germans nicking their bike.  I’ll stick my neck out and predict an all European final.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

So - What's Been Going On Then?

Some People Who Want to Be Here

So, while the World Cup has been going on, what’s been happening at Saints?  All quiet, nothing much... yeah, right!

I went into the World Cup with massive anticipation.  This was because 3 of our players were in the England squad and we also had players with Croatia, Uruguay, France and Japan.  Before it had all started, Rickie Lambert had left for Liverpool and Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Dejan Lovren had all been linked to quitting the club.  The anticipation of the World Cup and the extra bonus of so many Saints players being involved had been killed stone dead.  Cheers lads.

While the shitstorm of player departures was brewing from over Brazil way, Saints announced that we were getting bright new shiny floodlights and a bright new shiny manager in Ronald Koeman.  Those old enough to remember will picture him playing in midfield or at centre back for the Dutch national team in the 80s and 90s and scoring lots of goals from open play and dead balls.  I remember him most for the ‘Do I Not Like That’ game with Graham Taylor in the England hotseat where Koeman famously dragged down David Platt when he was last man and wasn’t red carded and 10 minutes later he flipped a free kick over the static David Seaman to confirm England not qualifying for USA ’94.  I hated him... but really should have hated the referee.  His record as a player is staggering and littered with trophies and international caps.  His managerial record is a bit more mixed but he’s managed all of the 3 big Dutch clubs and had experience in Italy and Spain as well as playing under some of the very best managers ever so it couldn’t be better really.  He’s got a much better pedigree than the last manger we had here so that’s a start.  He’s a massive name so will instantly command the respect of the players – if they can be bothered to actually talk to him before they decide to leave.  His first interview was conducted in near perfect English and he vowed that he was going to school to improve it before he joined us – compare and contrast! Hopefully he will be nothing like our last Dutch manager Jan Poortvliet, who talked in a language that no one understood.

We got a 2nd Koeman as part of the deal with elder brother Erwin joining as assistant manager along with fitness coach Jan Kuitenberg.  They all seem genuinely pleased to be here which sounds like a minimum requirement but it’s nice to know that some people still believe in Southampton FC.

Our players at the World Cup have on the whole not done a lot.  Adam Lallana was left out of the starting XI for the games that mattered in a last minute change as Roy Hodgson succumbed to media pressure to play Sterling and his own conservative desire to play Welbeck ahead of a player who can use both feet and create.  He eventually played as a sub in the first two and started the dead rubber against Costa Rica in which he goat hauled off after an hour.  Shaw just played the Costa Rica match which turned out to be their last acts as Saints players – more on that later.  Dejan Lovren played all 3 games for Croatia in which he gave away a controversial penalty against Brazil, kept a clean sheet against Cameroon who may or may not have been on the take and then was part of a defence that shipped 3 goals in 10 minutes against Mexico as Croatia were knocked out.  Gaston Ramirez came on as a sub for Uruguay against Italy, set up a goal with a corner straight onto Diego Godin’s head and got himself in lots of pictures trying to get Chiellini to cover his shoulder up after Suarez had bitten it.   In their 2nd Round game against Colombia, he came on as sub to try and save the game and just floated a couple of free kicks straight to the keeper. Maya Yoshida played every game for a very ordinary Japan side and his final act was to be done like a kipper and left on his arse as James Rodriguez beat him and chipped the keeper for the 4th Colombian goal in a 4-1 defeat for Samurai Blue.  Though he’s only played in a dead rubber game, Morgan Schneiderlin, was very good in it and his France team got further than any of the others so he could come back and have bragging rights in the changing room – well he could if any of the others were still there.

Here’s the rub… as I write, 3 of our original 7 World Cup players have left the club, 2 are strongly rumoured to be going, 1 is being touted about by his agent and 1 has not been in the news at all. 

Luke Shaw has left the building for approximately £30 million and signed for Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal.  He conducted himself in the right way and said nothing to anyone about a move until after he was home from the World Cup.  The only thing he’s done wrong really is to not speak to Ronald Koeman before he went to United but it’s hard to be angry with him really.  Personally I think this is a good deal all round – we gets loads of cash, United get a player who will be their left back for 10 years plus and Shaw gets a massive stage to play on and a huge amount of cash.  Whilst it would probably be better for his career to stay at Saints for another two years – this doesn’t happen these days.  It does make me laugh when United fans come out and say he isn’t worth it because last time I checked, it’s whoever owns the asset that sets the price and the buyer decides to pay it or not.  Paul Scholes says we’re killing English football by charging too much – oh really!  Much better to be a club that doesn’t develop its young English players and just buys in foreign kids.  Saints were good in their praise of Shaw in much the same way as they were for Lambert.  Sorry to see you go but all the best.  Next we have Adam Lallana, team captain.

Clattenburg Calls It Correctly

After the end of our first season back in the Premier League, Adam Lallana signed a 5 year deal and the quote he made was about finishing his career at Saints and not being able to imagine anything else.  He’d had a ropey old season in the Prem, scoring just 3 goals and repeatedly being substituted.  Nigel Adkins had made him captain and despite the repeated substitutions, Mauricio Pochettino kept him in that role.  Last season he was on fire and everything went well, scoring and creating goals and an England call up and being catapulted into the England starting XI as we clamoured for footballers who had skill and could use both feet.  We didn’t think so at the time but it obviously turned him into Billy Bigtime and it appears he soon forgot his words on signing his contract and soon forget how much the club had supported him.  The first person who noticed the change was of course Mark Clattenburg and I unreservedly apologise for any bile I spat his way after the Everton away game.  He’s still a shit referee but his comment of “you’ve changed since you got called up by England” was spot on.  Lallana obviously knows it as well which is why he got the hump.  It was reported at the time that the club complained and not Lallana – does anyone believe that now?  I can imagine him throwing his toys out and demanding the club did something on his behalf.

Fast forward to the last game of the season and the end of season lap of honour and obligatory badge kissing and then it appears that as soon as he got off the pitch he demanded to move to Liverpool who had obviously been tapping him up like they did with Lambert.  He stopped short of handing in a written transfer request though of course as you invalidate various payments if you do that.  Roy Hodgson had already stated that he wanted no club transfer business going on during the World Cup but there was Adam out in Brazil, signing a Liverpool shirt for a fan and getting caught on camera saying he hoped he would be joining.  I hope he got dropped because of this but I think it was more down to Hodgson not having a clue, rather than any strong management, to blame for that.

Les Reed made noises that he thought reconciliation could be reached upon Lallana’s return from the World Cup but then the stories emerged that Adam had said he’d never play for us again – basically going on strike.  No reconciliation and off he went to Liverpool with a terse 2 line statement on the Saints website which may as well have said “good riddance”.

The shocking PR continued on his debut Liverpool press conference where he said he dreamt of playing for Liverpool last season (when he was Saints captain) and then there was a hamfisted attempt at damage limitation in the form of a full page advert in The Echo from a PR company just made things worse.  One big picture of Adam and a few words which looked like they were straight off a cheap greeting card from Clinton's Cards. Like Pochettino, he doesn’t care about what he left behind but unlike Pochettino, I think he’ll regret it later. There are ways of doing things and he did it wrong and he’s going to get slaughtered when he comes down to St Mary’s the disrespectful little twat.  If I could pick one player for Big Vic to steamroller over next season... it would be Billy Bigtime who has totally soured his legacy with a majority of Saints fans.  I could speculate on how well he’ll do for Liverpool and his England prospects as a result of the move but I can’t really be bothered.

Dejan Lovren apparently handed in a transfer request at the end of the season with the story being that he wants Champions League Football.  He had this at Lyon before he joined us and we’re not the kind of club you join if Champions League football is your thing.  Again there are rumours of him going on strike to get his move and rumours that we’ve turned down a £20 million bid from.... surprise surprise, Liverpool.  For me this is interesting because it said to me that Cortese was promising Champions League football within a certain timeframe which he was going to fund with money that wasn’t his and it also says that Lovren was stupid enough to believe it... or maybe it was because no one else wanted him at the time and he kept getting sent off for Lyon who thought he was a liability.  There’s more to play out on this one so watch this space.  His tweet to Luke Shaw which said ‘congratulations on your move’ rather than ‘sorry that you’re leaving us’.  To me, this was a bit of an indicator as to his state of mind, moreso than any speculation via the media.  He’d certainly be tougher to replace than the others.

Morgan Schneiderlin, after his one World Cup appearance for France, gave an interview in which he said that the Saints ‘directors know my intentions’.  This could mean anything but it’s probably bad news.  He’s a class act but it’s a strong area for Saints so I see players like Harrison Reed and James Ward-Prowse stepping up rather than a need to buy big to replace him if he goes.  We also have Big Vic and Corky in that part of the field.  As I write, Morgan is not back from the World Cup so again, there’s more to play out with this one.  Arsenal are hovering, like they always are.

Gaston Ramirez is as usual being linked with every Italian club under the sun and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes but with if he stays, with Lallana and to a lesser extent Lambert gone, he has the opportunity to step up and be the main man.  The main fulcrum of the attack, the main man on set pieces.  Time to see if you’re good enough and got the right attitude Gaston...

Meanwhile, Maya Yoshida will I’m sure still be with us next season, reprising his role as reserve centre back though Koeman has favoured playing with 3 centre backs before so he may get to play more.  Also, Koeman will know Maya from his Eredivisie days.  Maya isn’t high profile enough to attract bids that we can’t turn down and I can’t imagine him demanding a move anyhow as he seems, unlike the others to be an intelligent honourable sort of guy.

There has inevitably been some flak directed at Katharina Liebherr for not sharing Cortese’s commitment from people who forget whose money it is that bankrolls the club.  Would Lallana, Shaw and Lambert still be at Saints if Cortese was still here? Of course not.  Would we have got any more money for them? No.  Maybe Lallana’s “I get my own way or I’m throwing my toys out of the pram” attitude was a legacy of the former Chairman.

So, Day 1 of training arrived and the Koeman Brothers and Kuitenberg welcomed Sammy lee and Dave Watson (the ex-Barnsley keeper) to the staff.  All the non-World Cup players were there aside from Dani Osvaldo who was ‘ill’, presumed bullshit and Artur Boruc who was getting married.

There are rumours of incoming players like Pelle, Kangolo, Tadic and Van Dijk and it’s just been confirmed that we are going back to red and white stripes for next season.  Happy days.  Despite the unrest and players behaving like dicks, there is still a lot to look forward to, even if Morgan and Dejan are gone in the next few weeks.

For Adam Lallana:

We are Southampton, we don’t care about you.