Interview: Henry Winter

 

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Interview: Simon Peach.

We all know that feeling, you’ve seen all the papers reporting it and all the pundits are talking about it, but in a day an age, where anyone can have an opinion, who do you trust? Well as a Southampton fan, you can’t get much more reliable than a Simon Peach tweet.

I sat down with the Saints fan, turned Press Association journalist to discuss Arnhem, Koeman and Jason Dodd. Enjoy.

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Thinking Time

OWTS: How have you rated the season so far? Would you say it’s one foot backwards to take two forward?

SP: No, I wouldn’t. Unlike the previous summer, the change of key players was not particularly smooth. The new additions are starting to settle now, though, and as Ronald Koeman himself has said on a number of occasions – the squad depth is better now. Saints finished seventh last term – they are in the same position right now. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

OWTS:  Does it become as tedious being a journalist as it is a fan, when hearing constant gossip around our players/managers futures?

JP: Whether it is good or bad for the club, my job is to cover news impartially so it does not bother me at all.

OWTS: What are your thoughts on Koeman not signing a new deal as of yet? Do you think he will actually look at it at the end of the season, or is he just following the Pochettino route?  Will he eventually sign a new deal?

The Charming Man

The Charming Man

SP: Well, if he is following the Pochettino route he will be off soon! My gut instinct when Koeman arrived was, if successful, he will see out his contract and then leave. Unless Barcelona come knocking in the summer, I suspect this would still be the outcome.

OWTS: Where does Southampton’s future lie? Is this (Our high, mid table status) as good as it gets, or is the CL realistic?

SP: Judging by this season, Champions League is possible if the club uses the increased television money wisely. The temptation to splurge will be heightened this summer, but if Saints can continue their recent sensible purchases then it could work well.

OWTS: How disappointing was it, to get knocked out of all the cups so early this season, especially Europa League.

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“Not another one”

SP: Everyone at the club will have been disappointed by that. Saints were unlucky to face a Liverpool side at the top of their game in the Capital One Cup, but the FA Cup and Europa League exits could have been avoided.

OWTS: Was the Charlie Austin signing, the best deal of the transfer window?

SP: Yes, in my opinion. A proven top-flight goalscorer, with doubters to confound, priced at just £4million? In this market, that is a great deal.

SP: Can January be viewed as a success?

Magical Stuff

Magical Stuff

SP: I think January was successful for the club. Austin was a great acquisition, strengthening an important area, and the club held onto their key players.

OWTS:  Has this been the best/most exciting Premier League season ever?

SP: Best? Possibly. Most exciting? Yes. Leicester were tipped to go down by nearly everybody – myself included – and they are leading by five points with 13 matches remaining. It is remarkable.

OWTS: At any point during the club’s poor form, through Nov/Dec, did you think relegation was a realistic possibility?

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Happy Days

SP: There were a few concerning displays but there were always three worse teams in the Premier League.

OWTS: Finally Simon, What’s your best memory as a Saints fan?

 

SP: Tough one. I enjoyed Jason Dodd scoring directly from a corner against Portsmouth, but not as much as seeing Saints beat Watford to reach the FA Cup final earlier in the year. The trip to Arnhem was pretty memorable, too.