It was once declared that Henry Winter had the most informed opinion on ‘The Beautiful Game’ in Britain. On first hearing, that may have surprised some, however when you see his multiple `Football Journalist Of The Year’ awards, the huge amount of caps he’s racked up on football topic shows and his mass twitter following (Now well over a million) you begin to realize what an important cog in the football machine, he is.
Winter has come from begging the Independent for a column to being one of the biggest signings of the transfer window. I sat down with Henry to discuss Southampton, The Liebherr’s and Fraser Forster, discover all below.
OWTS: What are your thoughts on Southampton’s season so far? Has it been a successful one?
HW: I think it can be viewed as a success. Southampton have again defied expectation, are improving all the time and look to at least match last seasons 7th place finish.
OWTS: Ronald Koeman: Should he sign a new deal at Southampton/Will he sign a new deal at Southampton?
HW: Koeman is ambitious. His stock is high after what he’s done at Saints so its inevitable that he’ll be linked with bigger clubs. Saints would be wise to extend his current deal. Especially if the owner decides to sell the club because the buyer will want certainty in the dugout.
OWTS: Is he a realistic candidate for the Man Utd/ Chelsea/ Arsenal jobs?
HW: He won’t be anyones first choice. It really depends if Simeone, Allegri, etc. decide to stay on the Continent. It’s a possibility.
OWTS: Can Forster rival Hart, for a starting place at The Euros?
HW: No, I don’t think so. He’s not in Hart’s class. Realistically he will vie with Butland as Hart’s number two. Great to see so many English keepers playing well though.
OWTS: Was Charlie Austin the best signing in January?
HW: Yes. For one touch against United alone. Austin proved himself as PL striker, in a QPR side that seriously struggled. At £4 Million, that’s a terrific signing.
OWTS: Can Southampton get a CL spot in the coming season, or is ‘high mid-table’ as good as it gets?
HW: Unlikely for me. Competition will be even more tough next season. 6th/7th/8th should still be viewed as successful though.
OWTS: What are your thoughts on the forever-rising ticket prices? Should they be capped? Is it a realistic proposition or are fans wasting their time?
HW: Fans are everything to football. Without them, Atmospheres down, broadcasters concerned so makes sense for Premier League to tell clubs to cut away prices to £20. Protests work. Look at Liverpool over new home prices.
OWTS: As a journalist, how are Saints viewed?
HW: Good place to visit. I liked The Dell. Giggs told me it was one of his favorite away grounds because fans are on top of a winger. They’re a helpful club. Jordan (Sibley) is excellent.
OWTS: What’s Southampton’s biggest weakness?
HW: Southamptons future worries me. Will Liebherr sell? Probably. So uncertainty. Famously a very well run football club though, so a change in owner could be just what the club needs to break into the Champions League.
OWTS: What’s your fondest memory Saints?
HW: The 2003 FA Cup final at Cardiff (although Strachan picked the wrong team) when I met a couple of Saints fans in all the gear, face-paint, flags, etc. and asked them where their seats were. They replied ‘we could only get one ticket which we gave to our son but we didn’t want to miss the occasion’. Devotion.