Throughout the summer my excitement levels were slowly rising each day, The Euros passed, The fixture list came out, the Olympics and then the headliner of the summer sports festival for any football fan, the opening day of the Premier League season. Southampton were given the Super Sunday slot which had nothing to do with the fact that the opposition were the reigning English Champions. It has to be said that no Saints fan was particularly optimistic, however we all knew anything could happen.
As 3:00 approached the teams were released and I’m not going to lie, I was just as shocked as any Saint to see that Southampton’s adopted Liverpudlian frontman Ricky Lambert was placed amongst the subs with debutant Jay Rod being handed the number 9 jersey.
The game began and immediately Saints showed they weren’t going to roll over. on 16 minutes though City were awarded a penalty when Hooiveld clipped Tevez inside the area, as the forward cleverly got the better of the Big Jos. Spaniard David Silva stepped up, but Kelvin Davis was equal to it for his tenth penalty save as a Saints keeper by producing a brilliant low save down to his left to keep the game goalless, which was no less than the visitors deserved for their start to the match.
The game continued and it looked as if it was going to be goaless at the break but Tevez hit the back of the net on 40 minutes with a long driving shot.
On 55 minutes Ricky Lambert came on and boy did he make an impact. After neat passing between him JWP and Lallana, Ricky did what he does best and blasted his low shot past a helpless Joe Hart levelling up the score at 1-1. If that made the fans cheer what happened next sent them into dreamland. Also sub Steven Davis came on and from a similar position to SRL hit the back of the net on his league debut.
Sadly though City went on to score two more goals meaning The Saints left empt handed.
After that encounter, understandably I was suddenly very confident about the season ahead. “We can definitely challenge for top 10” was suddenly not as ludicrous as it was 90 minutes previously, I genuinely believed that if we played like that all season why couldn’t we finish top six? annoyingly though my theories were rubished 6 days later as we slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Wigan.
Southampton Vs Manchester United, one of the classic fixtures in English Football. We beat them to win the FA cup in 1976, in arguably the greatest underdog win ever. We beat them again in 1997, 6-3 famous for Fergies decision to change shirts at half time. 8 years later they relegated us leading to a awful chain of events ultimately almost sending us out of existence, however that hot May afternoon also lead to us being bought by Markus so basically it was a favour… Cheers United.
So fast forward to present and day Saints sit third from bottom, three games into the campaign. the whistle goes and Saints once again show there no pushovers. Both sides trade chances but its Saints who draw first blood when HRH Richard Lambert goes up and converts his far post header. Typically Man U level up before half time, and everyone in the stadium expected them to go on and win the football match, however Morgan Schniderlin disagreed, He hit the back of the net from the far post similar to Rickie’s goal, but still most people believed Man United would come from behind like they have done so many times previously, but it didn’t come, well it didn’t come until the 87th minute anyway, RVP scored crushing the dreams of a Southampton win, and he did it again 4 minutes later to crush the dreams of a Saints draw. Once again, a heroic display went unrewarded.
To cap of our ridiculously hard start we faced Arsenal. I’m not going to bother explaining it, we played crap, we lost 6-1.
Next were Aston Villa an established Premier League team. They were 1-0 up at half time, however I could tell from the off that this day was our day. A brace from Rickie and goals from Clyne and Punch set up a 4-1 trouncing of in our opinion a good football team, shame they turned out to be rubbish.
A loss away at Goodison Park and a draw with Fulham thanks to a late goal from Jose Fonte followed. Then came a torrid run for The Saints, between the 22nd of September and the 17th of November Southampton Football club failed to win a game. The defence was leaking goals with Yoshida’s lack of ability under pressure and Fonte’s unpredictability the centre was championship level and with Foxy at left back anything could happen. Another huge weak point was the Keeper. Kelvin was a Legend for us in the Championship and League One but to be honest that was were he belonged. We all saw what happened to him when he was made first choice at Sunderland and it wasn’t pretty to say the least, However to be fair he did save 2 penalties. We signed two keepers in the transfer window, Paulo Gazzaniga a relatively unproven teenager and Artur Boruc a former Champions League player with Celtic and then Fiorentina. Boruc threw his water bottle at a Fan in his first game, and was subsequently dropped, Gazza was an impressive shot-stopper but seriously lacked experience and In my opinion should have been loaned out in January with the option to be recalled if injures took place.
On the 17th of November on a cold afternoon in West London though The Saints finally turned the corner. The contest was dubbed “El Sackico” Mark Hughes’s QPR sat at the foot of the table whilst Nigel and Southampton sat in 18th. Rickie got it going when he scored a thumping header injuring himself in the process, followed by a good goal from just outside the area by bad boy come good Jason Puncheon. The 3-1 win was happily capped of by an OG by Anton Ferdinand. One win was followed by another as Saints beat Alan Pardews injury ridden Newcastle comfortably in one of the best performances of the season thanks to goals from Gaston and Lallana.
A acceptable 1-0 loss at Anfield kicked off December followed by a Win against fellow strugglers Reading. Then came possibly the worst game of the season, a dull 1-0 loss to Sunderland, Yawn.
Christmas, My favourite part of the football season, Games every couple of days, Fun away trips and good atmosphere’s. we played three games we got three draws; Fulham 1-1, Stoke 3-3 and Arsenal 1-1. At New Year, Saints were playing decent Football but that didn’t reflect the league table, we were sitting in 18th place but looking dangerous.
Check Oh When The Saints Regularly throughout the summer for the final part of the Season review