A Summer Of Change: Part One

 

It was around 5:30 on the 11th of May 2014. Southampton Football Club had just written the final chapter to their most successful ever season, a 1-1 draw with Manchester United. The players deservedly basked in their glory with the customary end of season “Lap of  Honour”. Fans cheered and players waved, all seemed rosy and well. Little did we know that in the cases of some of the clubs prize assists, their waves were waves goodbye.

At the time things looked bright Chairman Les Reed made a huge statement of intent by saying things like “No Firesale” and “All offers/enquires would be rejected” but old Les didn’t stick to his promise. Soon the face of our fine establishment would depart for Tottenham and how could we expect the key players to remain if the man they saw so wise didn’t see his future at the club, soon those who could do no wrong in our eyes were begging to leave for a “shortcut” to the Champions League as our management put it. Our heroes were simply discarding us for a bit more pay and lets face it, a bit of overtime on Tuesday nights. We were the future of the England football team. 3 departed for Rio with the lions on their shirts. None returned. to put it simply we lost 6 key figures, and replaced them with unproven Europeans and with the exit doors still spinning its strongly rumoured that both Schneiderlin and Cork will follow. This was a horrific summer for Southampton FC.

 

Why NOT finishing in the Europa League places is crucial for Southampton.

 

It happens every season. A team who usually tend to roam around the lower regions of the Premier League, find themselves much nearer to the top of the English football pyramid than they’re acclaimed to. They find themselves beating top teams, and gaining continental praise. The next step of this transition from being a lower mid-table club, to growing into an internationally renowned footballing powerhouse is an achievement, something that makes football fans everywhere sit up and take notice. Maybe a League Cup, or finishing in a European spot.  You are now in the Europa League.

The transition will now take one of two paths. Hopefully you will spend well in the summer, and end up doing impressively in Europe’s second-string cup competition, and maybe even gain a Champions League place for the following season.

This is sadly very rare and the most common product from Europa League football is a shallow squad, plagued with fatigue, leading to a poor league result way below expectations. Newcastle are the perfect example. The Toon produced a stunning 2011/12 campaign, finishing above both Liverpool and Chelsea. They just missed out on Champions League place but were delighted to end the season siting in fifth place and therefore in possession of a Europa League place. Boss Alan Pardew was rewarded with a mega eight-year deal, and 9 new players were brought in. The following season was a disaster. They finished just two places away from relegation.

This is what Southampton must avoid. Ideally they will spend big in the summer, Tie down Pochettino to a long term contract, keep hold of their young stars and bypass The Europa League for the Champions League, but is that really realistic? Will we see Bayern Munich and Barcelona at The St Mary’s stadium in just one year and a half? Both players and manager have spoken of the dream so who’s to say it’s impossible?

It definitely won’t be easy but if they perform to their maximum capabilities, then why not? They’ve shown they can beat anyone on their day.

 

 

The Next Saint To Fall?

Picture the scene, it’s 1-1, there’s 10 minutes to go and your team is looking the more likely to go on and win the game, but then one act of madness undoes all the good work put in place by the previous 80 minutes. It could be a dodgy back pass to the keeper, a flailing leg inside the area or even a needless two footed lunge leading to a red-card, it doesn’t matter in which form it comes, it leads to a undeserved loss or a unjustified draw. This is possibly the most infuriating thing that can happen on a football pitch, “a smash and grab” as Alan Hansen would say.

What am I getting at, you ask? Well It always comes from that same breed of player, That fourth choice centre back, that winger you’ve been trying to get rid of for years, we have plenty of those at Saints. Danny Fox, Guly Do Prado or Jos Hoovield. When the ball gets anywhere near any of the listed a sharp intake of breath can be heard around The SMS, which is normally followed by a very exaggerated groan due to one of the listed making an error, it will usually lead to nothing, but us fans are a fickle bunch and we remember that error and when discussing the game after the final whistle, will bring out the same cliches, about the offending player being the weak link and so on… However if someone like Morgan, Lallana  Luke Shaw had committed a similar mistake it would be swiftly forgotten, and we’d go on to say how reliable he was or how he will one day become one of the best in the world. Six months ago one of the members of the previous lists would have been replaced by a different name. That name? Rickie Lambert.

Don’t get me wrong Rickie Lambert is Southampton royalty, the deal that took him to Saints was undoubtedly the best piece of business Southampton have ever been involved in however slowly over the past 6 months it’s clear he’s lost a yard of pace, his passing (apart from a few beautiful moments) has been somewhat sloppy, and sometimes you look at him and he just looks… well, lost? don’t get me wrong, he has Stokes of genius (See what I did there?) and will never ever be forgotten, but I pray that this is just bad-form, something that the best of us suffer from, unfortunately though I think I’m wrong. With Fox, Guly and Hoovield looking like this season may be there last in Saints colours, I desperately appeal to Saints fans not to forget the good he’s done for us, and let him become the next “fail guy” It would be almost revolting If we greeted him with groans when he has the ball at his feet, and I’m as good as convinced that, it will never get to that, but as I said, us fans. We’re a fickle bunch.

The Soscars

It’s awards season, The BAFTA’s, The BRIT Awards and Crufts all take place in the space of a few short week’s. One award however, eclipses them all. Tonight the 86th academy awards will take place at The Dolby Theatre, on Hollywood Boulevard. Some of the worlds most well known face, will gather for around 210 minutes, of red carpet interviews, dodgy acceptance speeches and that really awkward moment when the losers applaud the winners.

Here at “Oh When The Saints.org” however we felt that that we’d do something for those who were more of the footballing persuasion rather than the film buff persuasion. So here come “The Soscars” awards for best original score (best goal), best supporting actress (best WAG), and  Best foreign language (Player)..

First up however is award for (Player with) Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The nominee’s are as follows:

Gaston Ramirez

Dani Osvaldo

Adam Lallana

And the SOSCA goes to… Dani Osvaldo. Although the Italian is currently on loan at European Giants Juventus, the panel unanimously agreed that it would be rude not to give the award to the Johnny Depp lookalike. Osvaldo would not look out of shape in “Pirates Of The Caribbean” With oodles of earrings and tattoos, along with his trade mark pony-tail and beard, One thing this self proclaimed “Striker” did bring to the Saints camp was style.Osvaldo1

Secondly comes the award for best original score (best goal). The nominees’s look like this:

Dani Osvaldo Vs Manchester City

Adam Lallana Vs Hull City

Rickie Lambert Vs Stoke City

And The SOSCA goes to… Dani Osvaldo! Osvaldo picks up his second award of the evening. Admittedly he only hit the back of the net 4 times during his short time at St Mary’s however who could forget this wonder striker. Osvaldo collected the ball brilliantly, then turned Vincent Kompany, various times leaving him sat on the floor, before chipping the keeper. Exquisite!

Next up is award for best supporting actress (Or best WAG). The nominees are:

Anita Lovren (Dejan Lovren’s wife)

Freya Wood (Jack Cork’s girlfriend)

Emily Jubb (Adam Lallana’s wife)

And The SOSCA goes to… Emily Jubb! Emily agreed to tie the knot early, So, if picked, Adam could play in the world cup, as there original date was the same as England’s World Cup opener against Italy in Manaus. The two were married in a secret location in Peele, Dorset.

adamlallana1

 

And finally the last award of the evening is for Best Foreign Language (Saint). The nominee’s are:

Dani Osvaldo

Mauricio Pochettino

Gaston Ramirez

And The SOSCA goes to.. Mauricio Pochettino! The gaffer has been the butt of countless jokes from football fans, when it comes round to after the Southampton game on MOTD, and Mauricio presents his post match thoughts via a translator.

That rounds up The first ever SOSCA’s. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. COYR

 

 

 

 


Sam Gallagher: Interview

sam

 

 

It’s no secret that Southampton have a rather special youth academy. In the last 30 years It’s produced more than a few England internationals, the Premier League’s all time top scorer and the worlds most expensive player. They have consistently produced fantastic footballers, something that isn’t easy, only a couple of teams across the globe can claim such a feat, and they certainly aren’t finished yet. The lot coming through now are rumoured to be just as good as any, if not even better! There are no less than 12 youth players at Southampton playing in international development squads to date. One of them is Sam Gallagher. The 6 foot-four striker has worked hard from day one at Saints and has got his reward, last weekend Sam scored his first goal in Saints colours. a superb solo run was followed by a finish that anyone would have been proud of, but the good news didn’t stop there for Saints new wonder kid, Gallagher was handed his first start against Arsenal on Tuesday night. He performed admirabley and was unlucky not hit the back of the net, if not once then maybe twice. The striker has pace to go along with his physical presence, a combination few footballers can boast.

Sam signed for Saints from Plymouth Argyle in April 2012 and immediately made big impressions by hitting a hat-trick on his debut for the U16 team. Not long after came International interest, not from Sam’s from the logical choice of England, his country of birth, but Scotland who he registered for, due to the nationality of his grandmother, however in the future he feels he’d switch. “I will definitely consider switching if I feel the timing is right.” He said. “Who wouldn’t want to play for England!”

Something that will never be forgotten by Sam is the 7-0 demolition of our friends down the coast, in an FA Youth Cup game at The SMS. Saints were a different class that day and Sam was certainly no exception. A hat-trick capped of a sterling performance by the starlet. He said “it was amazing just to beat Pompey in the way that we did, let alone score a hat-trick”. However that simply wet the appetite of the forward who admitted “he was disappointed not to score even more!”

When asked about his run in the first team, he had this to say.

“Well I maybe didn’t expect at the start of the season that I would be in the position that I am at the moment. Which just goes to show how quickly things can change. There is a big difference between playing 5 or so minutes at the end of a game and being in the starting 11 so I know that I’ll need to keep working and trying to improve. I know I’ve got a lot to learn”

When I asked his opinions on why he felt the academy was so special he said “The main characteristics coaches look for throughout the club is for player’s is to have the right attitude on and off the pitch. That means working hard, wanting to learn and improve and obviously having the potential ability to be a first team player in the future.”

It’s clear whatever the future holds for Sam Gallagher, It’s at Southampton. Like Luke Shaw there’s no reason to move, he’s at the best place for him to be right now, for his development as a footballer. Staying a Saints can only mean progress, and to a serious extent.

Southampton 4-1 Hull City

 

Wow, sometimes weeks just go the way you want them to, they can’t go any better and that makes you very very happy. It’s definitely been one of those weeks for Southampton Football Club.

At the beginning of the week we were sat in a deserved fifth place, We’d taken a point off Stoke City, consisting of a fantastic team goal (The other probably shouldn’t be mentioned) And we were playing all round top football, such top football that I was dubbed a “Glory Supporter” at school! That made me laugh.

3 pieces of news made me especially happy last week, lets go in Chronological order, Firstly I have an excuse to visit Wembley, no we haven’t reached the FA Cup Final, however we could well have done by the way I’m feeling. Not one, not two but three Saints have been called up to play for the national team. Our England regular again retains his place. He’s joined by undoubtedly our best player this season Adam Lallana and in my opinion the most underrated player in The Prem, Jay Rodriguez. This is fantastic news, however it could have been five or six. It’s only a matter of time before Luke Shaw gets his first call up, Nathaniel Clyne as we all know is a fantastic attacking right back and If James Ward Prowse keeps performing so well in the first team, then who knows what could happen?

Amazing piece of news number two; In recognition of his fantastic work,  Mauricio, has been awarded the prestigious “Manager Of he Month” award. With Adam Lallana also, being shortlisted for “Player Of The Month”. Mauricio becomes the first South American manager to win the award and also the first Non-European manager. The last real Saints manager to win the award was Gordon Strachan in Christmas 2002. I say “Real Football Manager” because wheeler dealing conmen don’t count.

Amazing piece of news number three; It’s 2:30  on Saturday 9th of November and at The SMS, Saints are preparing to take on newly promoted side Hull City, or “The Hull Tigers” as their North African Owner, has decided he wants to rename them, Thank god we’ve got Nicola. The teams are in and Poch names an unchanged team to last weekend against Stoke City. However Dani Osvaldo returned from injury to make the bench along with academy star Sam Gallagher.

Before the game a minutes silence was observed by the crowd in recognition of Remembrance Sunday, or “All The Saints Day” as the club called it.

Hull kicked of in their noble blue kit, on a crisp clear south coast afternoon.

The England trio of Jay Rodriguez, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana were all keen to make an early impression, as the hosts made a strong start to the game. The latter brought the supporters  to their feet with a beautiful dummy to get past Maynor Figueroa in the fourth minute, and the resulting cross towards Lambert was narrowly missed by the frontman.

The visitors played with a narrow shape to defend, but pressed well in attack, forcing a chance for themselves in the 12th minute when Yannick Sagbo dispossessed Big Vic before taking a shot which Fonte threw himself in the way of to thwart the Hull frontman from recording a shot on target.

The first goal of the game wasn’t far away though, A beautiful move from The Saints saw RB Clyne, drift in a lucrative cross that saw the ball fall at the back post to SRL who unselfishly knocked it across goal for Last year’s player of the season Morgan Schneiderlin to fire home with a perfect header into the top left corner, 1-0 Southampton after just 16 minutes.

This was Morgans first goal of the season which happened to come the day after his 24th birthday. How nice.

Then, as Clyne, Lallana and Rickie linked up with breath-taking ease again moments later, the home fans paid homage to the ‘England’ team with a few chants usually heard at Wembley Stadium, that were now ringing around The St Mary’s. This was made all the better due to the fact that Woy was in the attendance.

Saints continued to assert there dominance on Hull as Rickie played a bewitching ball through for Lallana to run onto. Harper rushed out and threw himself at the ball. Lallana acknowledged this and wittily knocked the ball away leaving the keeper to completely take him out. The ref didn’t hesitate and pointed straight to the penalty spot. Rickie Lambert and Penalty’s go together like a wink and a smile, and he didn’t let anyone down. Although the keeper went the right way he could do nothing about the powerful strike from the Southampton front man, supplying Rickie with his fourth goal of the season.

Again the next goal wasn’t far away, as Adam Lallana hit then back of the net with arguably the best individual effort this season. He picks the ball up from Lambert 30 yards from goal, goes on a mazy run down the left which sees him bamboozle two defenders, he cuts inside Ahmed Elmohamady and plants a shot across the keeper and into the corner, sending the Saints fans into dreamland. What a goal.

At half time Saints were comfortably in the lead, playing some delicious football, really showing what they were capable of.

After the restart Saints continued to dominate knocking the ball around neatly in the opposition half although to Hull’s credit they were much improved.

But with Saints there is never a perfect performance, and it was there own fault that Hull got a sniff back in the game. Boruc played the ball to Wanyama just outside the area but he failed to control the ball and it fell to Sagbo who fired it past King Artur with a lovely finish from 20 yards.

Hull’s goal definitely brought the Tigers to life and for a brief period they were on top, however Saints dealt with Brucie’s side well and soon normal service was resumed.

From the corner that followed, Fonte managed to draw the ball under control before smashing a volley into the Hull defenders, but the pressure continued as Saints sensed another opportunity.

A delicious one-two between Lallana and Lambert brought a smart save from Harper after the skipper travelled the width of the penalty area to cut inside for a shot aimed at the far corner that was just about pushed to safety.

From another corner, David Meyler cleared the ball off the line from Schneiderlin’s low drive back towards goal from the edge of the area, and Hull hung on further when Fonte headed Ward-Prowse’s free-kick over the bar.

Saints resored their 3 goal lead when Clyne again crossed the ball this time for sub, Steve Davis to take it down beautifully and slot the ball for a fourth time past Harper.

The final whistle sounded and Saints equalled their biggest win since returning to The Premier League, with an out of this world performance out against a decent Hull side, that should comfortably stay up this season. Southampton Football Club are third, and we are over a quarter of our way through the season, we’ve got one of the best defensive records in Europe. We are seriously going places.

So In brief, THREE Lions, One manager of the month and one dazzling win. Not bad eh?

 

Southampton 2-0 Crystal Palace

New-boys Crystal Palace visited The SMS on Saturday, giving us a golden opportunity to follow up our legendary win against Liverpool with our first home win of the season. Not only that, but we had the chance to get as high as fourth in the table, maybe Poch’s Champions League dream isn’t as ridiculous as it once was. The opposition simply were a team of veterans and misfits. Spearheaded by Arsenal prodigy turned reject was Marouane Chamakh, everyones favourite drink driving glaswegian Barry Bannan along with Kevin Phillips who I hasn’t sure whether to clap our boo when he came on.

There was one change from the Liverpool win, with J-Rod dropping to the bench for Steve Davis. Interestingly half our defence was made up of ex-Palace  players, with Jose and Clyne. We have a good chance to open the scoring early when Morgan headed over a lost Speroni unfortunately  though ex-Skate Joel Ward heads it of the line.

We almost score again after some neat play from Osvaldo, Lallana and Clyne ends with England’s new number nine  side footing over the bar. Steve Davis wins us a free kick after a handled cross by Jedinak. it’s not at all central but Sir Rickie hits it anyway. it’s not his finest effort, but Speroni makes a meal of it by making a bizarre volleyball style save. The ball ends up with Luke Shaw who embarrasses the full back, but nothing comes of it.

We are dominating but out of the blue Palace come on the break and somehow that Arsenal reject gets through on goal. Whistle screams, I’m convinced its a pen but the ref (Who I must say is ring V.generous to us) strolls over to Chamakh and books him for diving. HA! No wonder no one wants him.

It’s half time and it has to be said, that its been pretty similar to all our first half’s this season, Dull.

The beginning of the second half is slightly more exciting though as Clyne comes racing down the wing, cuts inside loses it but responds by winning it back. He gives it to Davis who gives it to Lallana and then it’s rolled to Dani Osvaldo who fires it into the bottom left. YES! A goal from open play.

Then, having won the ball back from the Palace kick-off, as quickly as your dog might steal your pizza slice, that rounded thing found its way down to El Señor Dani Osvaldo, moving, steaming, streaming, motoring, down the left. Here he was, pursued by the five Palace furies, all like 70 year-old groupies trying to get near Mick Jagger. Osvaldo cut in, chopped down, scythe-like. Free kick to the right of centre, within pitching distance for that man, Lambert. Arise, Sir Rickie. Sometimes, things just work out. And boy, did it work out for Rickie today. Curl, dip, bend – leaving Speroni looking aghast as the ball comes through, licking the left stanchion. 2-nil, to the boys in Santa Claus colours.

For the next 40 minutes nothing really happened Rickie hit it wide, Kevin Phillips came on and then in stoppage time Cameron Jerome (who if you remember scored an absolute screamer against us in the dying seconds against Stoke to draw 3-3) was given the ball on plate by Moxey and he generously smashed the ball into orbit. Final whistle a loss for both Manchester clubs left us at the dizzy heights of fourth place. Great performance equipped with a great win.

Bring on the “Sheep-Shaggers” next Sunday.

 

Season Review; Part 2

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

Season Review 2012/2013

Season review

Pre-Season

The season for Saints never really started until a cold November afternoon in West London, however according to the OS it actually began on Saturday the 14th of July, in the one everyone wants to win……. Thats right “The Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup”. Saints impressively welcomed Arsenal, Belgian champions Anderlecht and The Olympic Torch (remember all that malarkey)  to Saint Mary’s to battle it out for a trophy in the shape of a polar bear (Don’t ask.) Saints opened the tournament against Anderlecht with a loss thanks to a goal from Tom De Sutter. Next Arsenal faced Anderlecht.  In the only non-saints game of the afternoon with Henri Lansbury scoring for The Gunners to give them the win. Then came a slightly disappointing piece of news saying neither The Ox nor Walcott would face there old sides, oh well. On the flip side we beat them on penalties with possibly the highlight of the afternoon, Tommy Forecast in goal! The cup was lifted by Arsenal in the end, with a huge over reaction.

For the pre-season tour it was off to The Alps to face the mighty Étoile Carouge and Évian Thonon Gaillard. In the first game Big-Jos scored his first of four own goals, however a superb second half hat-trick from Billy Sharp, helped saints recover to clinch a 4-1 win over a third division Swiss-side, wow we really must be going places. In the second game however we faced much sterner opposition, une deuxième équipe Française de division (A second division French team.) The change in difficulty showed and we could only manage a 1-0 win. Saints travelled back with a 100% record of games played outside England, which they retained throughout the season.

Back in the UK Saints still had 4 games to play before the season began. One thing that was notable in our opposition had been contrasts, for example one minute we were playing Dutch Champions Ajax, and the next we were playing Bristol or from Udinese to Wolves. Anyhow, So as I said, we had 4 friendlies left, We lost 1-0 to Ajax, beat Wolves 2-0, with Billy Sharp scoring yet another to add to his tally. We drew 1-1 away at Bristol City, and got ripped apart 4-0 by Italian Udinese.

Transfers.

Nigel made 8 additions to the first team squad in the summer, starting as early as 10th of June and finishing at 21:45 on August the 31st.

Jay Rodriguez:  J-Rod became our first signing of the summer, and our record signing. The Striker signed for £7 Million on the 10th of June after Saints held of Everton, Aston Villa and Wigan to land the Burnley hit-man.

Nathaniel Clyne: The 21 year old right back signed a four year deal.The defender was out of contract at Palace, who will be due compensation for the academy graduate as he is under the age of 24. If a fee cannot be agreed between the clubs, it would go to a tribunal.

Paulo Gazzaniga:The 20-year-old Argentinian keeper joined from Gillingham club for an undisclosed fee.

Maya Yoshida: Japanese international defender Maya Yoshida agreed to join the Club from Dutch side VVV-Venlo.

 Emmanuel Mayuka: Saints signed Zambia striker Emmanuel Mayuka from Young Boys Berne for an undisclosed fee. The 21-year-old has signed a five-year deal.

Gaston Ramirez: The star signing of the summer signed with little over an hour to spare. Saints shelled out £12 million for the midfielder.

Check “Oh When The Saints” regularly throughout the summer for the next part of The Season Review.

Tottenham Hotspurs 1-0 Southampton

So, another Saturday, another game and another Top four side. I’m not going to lie, at the start of the season, I had this down as loss, and even though we’ve proved we have the ability to beat top four sides with ease, I still had this down as a loss.

Anyway, today we face Spurs. A pontial top four team and definite “one-man team”. By that of course I mean by Gareth Bale. Yeah that’s right,bthe zippy welsh kid we used to play at left-back. It really has been impossible to mention Spurs and not Bale, and even more so after he took every main player award on offer. A feat only matched by Ronaldo. Another baffling thing, is AVB’s opinion of our youth set-up. As good as Barcelona were his words. Really? Can “The Ox” compare with “The Little Maestro”. He apparently thinks so.

The first talking point of the afternoon however was not about Bale nor was it about anyone else on the team sheet. It was about the traffic. “Ha” you think. “What’s this. Some bad joke about one-way traffic?”.  Well my answer to you is no, it was actually about the traffic. KO time was delayed by half an hour due to bad traffic around North London. Spurs Haven’t won a 3:30 KO all season, a good omen perhaps? Our team consists of three changes. Morgans got a dead leg, Yosh can only make the bench, Meaning we have last seasons defence. Shaw comes back from injury, replacing the suspend Foxy. Punch didn’t get any sleep due to the arrival of a baby, So Guly comes in. The Spurs team consists of Gareth Bale, enough said.

We kick off and the improvement from last week is incredible! We outplay them completely for the first few minutes, however Spurs have the first chance to open the scoring. Fonte’s header is a disaster and we can’t clear but luckily Defoe fires into the side netting. Clyne almost scores a cracker after Sir Rickie (Who hasn’t scored from open play in eight) plays a ball and a half through to a flying Clyne who volleys inches wide of Lloris’s right hand post.

In his final contribution of the match before a recurrence of a hamstring injury, Dembele fouled Jay Rod on the edge of the penalty area. SRL struck the resulting free-kick hard and low, thumping the post after a vital fingertip save by Lloris. Guly gathered the loose ball and immediately hooked it back into the penalty area where Steven Davis headed straight at the Tottenham goalkeeper with the goal at his mercy.

When Twattenberg blows his whistle for half time, Were all of them. they’ve only had one hal chance all half with us dominating everywhere. The second half begins with a Spurs attack and  Bale crashing the ball against King Arturs post, although he was flagged offside. Next Lallana creates a stunning chance for himself, by expertly chipping the ball over the head of clueless Dawson, but normal service is resumed when he hits it straight at Lloris.

Our first booking of the afternoon is one of those where you nod and smile as a break down Spurs right is crudely halted by Davis who takes one or the team.  With twenty minutes to go it’s now an even game but Spurs till don’t really look like scoring.  Dempsey lobs a presentable chance over the bar when set up by Adebayor and then the virtually unused King Artur makes a total bollocks of a Huddlestone corner and we get lucky as Vertonghen can’t force it in at the back post.

A tired Punch comes on for Lallana with 10 minutes to go, Then it happens. Bale, who’s done nothing for 85 minutes cuts across Luke and fires a powerful low shot past Boruc. Damn!

Too rub salt into our wounds Wigan won  and Villa had won at Norwich which means that Villa are a point ahead of us and Wigan are just 4 behind with a game in hand.  So much for Villa v Wigan on the last day being a relegation decider and so much for our 39 points being enough to stay up.  Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastle are all still below us so it’s not wrist-slashing time as yet but suddenly, our next game which is away at Sunderland is a relegation 6 pointer.  Win and we’ll be safe, lose and we will be needing something at home to Tony Pulis and his hoofball merchants on the final day.  Shite.  Why can’t we ever do things the easy way?