Filed: Friday, 12th April 2013
By: Preview Percy
Next we return to the sacred and holy time of 3pm on a Saturday where we are on the road once more down the M3 or, if you prefer, the London & South Western Railway (they're still going right?) to visit Southampton at St Mary’s.
Strangely, I can’t find any mention of engineering works on any of the appropriate routes between East London/Essex to Waterloo and thence to Southampton, which means that you’ll have to be delayed by a broken down train or something else for a change.
Our hosts for the weekend currently lie one place above us in 11th spot having gained 37 points from their 32 matches played thus far. We are level on points with us having a goal difference inferior to the tune of two goals, though we do have a game in hand.
They’re in a decent run of form at the moment having won their last three (2-0 at Reading, 2-1 at home to Chelsea and 3-1 at home to Liverpool). Their previous three gathered them a goalless draw at Norwich and defeats at home to QPR (1-2) and away at Newcastle (4-2). The recent run has lifted them out of the drop zone and, like us, they’re just about safe barring something daft occurring. Of course this good news to them has been tempered by the news that Portsmouth now appear to have been saved by a Supporters Trust-backed deal.
The big news of the last few months was the dismissal of the rather annoying Nigel Adkins who found a marriage made in heaven when taking the job at the even more annoying Reading. The timing of the move raised as few eyebrows, coming as it did after a spell in which they had gotten themselves out of the drop zone. Adkins’ last game in charge was a creditable 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, in which they had come back from 2-0 down.
In came former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino, whose arrival had clearly been pre-arranged by owner Nocola Cortese. Pochinetto had left Espanyol “by mutual agreement” a couple of months previously during a spell that had seen “Barcelona’s other club” struggling in the basement areas of La Liga. Despite gaining one point from their opening six matches, the Espanyol fans directed their ire at the board for a perceived lack of investment, rather than Ponchinetto, who benefitted from an added store of goodwill arising from a decent playing career at the club. It’ll be interesting to see if Southampton sign anyone from Espanyol in the close season, especially with them being short of dosh over there at the brilliantly-monikered Estadi Cornella-El Prat. Adkins’ fans would point out that the recent improvement in form has been merely a continuation of the process started by the former manager, though I don’t suppose the locals will be all that bothered about the fate of their former boss assuming they stay up.
Three players have played ‘twixt the sticks this season. 20-year old Argentinian Paulo Gazzaniga came in from, of all places, Gillingham in the close season. The most interesting thing about Gazzaniga is possibly his birthplace which was Murphy, Argentina.
At the other end of the age scale Kelvin Davis – who is nearly old enough to join us here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered – has also had spells in goal though his run as first choice ended after a 6-1 tonking at the library. They also picked up ex-Celtic custodian of the onion bag Artur Boruc on an unattached free after the window has shut and, it is Boruc who has had the shirt since the turn of the year.
At the other end of the pitch much has been made of the front pairing of Lambert and Rodriguez who have been at the forefront of their climb to safety. There have even been calls for England selection for the pair, though I suspect even the most ardent of Southampton fans will secretly admit to that prospect being a tad optimistic. They’ll both need watching though. Lambert, as well as being a decent goalscorer, not least from dead ball situations, has in the past displayed that rather depressing habit amongst footballers of diving or, as referees call it in a bid to give a fancy name to something they tend to ignore, “simulation”. During last season’s match at the Boleyn his antics were a pretty poor show as were those of his partner in crime Billy Sharp who is away on loan at Forest. We’ll need a decent ref to keep an eye on things but having just seen the appointments for the weekend we haven’t got one I’m afraid.
Rodriguez, who has scored in his last three, tends to play just behind Lambert with additional midfield attacking support coming from skipper Adam Lallana. Lallana has actually made it into an England squad, being called up last Autumn for the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine but he didn’t make the pitch. It was he who hit what proved to be their consolation goal in the return fixture at the Boleyn where we gave them a 4-1 revenge spanking. He’s just signed a deal to keep him at St Mary’s for another five years.
On the right of that trio is usually last summer’s big money signing Gaston Ramirez. The Uruguayan from Fray Bentos (another place name that raises a smile to those of us of a certain age) came in for a reported £12m from Bologna at the close of the summer window, having played in the Olympic tournament. He took a while to find his feet with injuries punctuating his first few months with the club, missing the Boleyn match amongst others with a dead leg but now he’s had a run in the side is looking to be an important part of their set up, to the extent that there has been reported interest from Inter, Juventus and Fiorentina.
Their injury news is that there’s a bit of a bug running through the camp with the aforementioned Rodriguez, teenage defender Luke Shaw and midfielder Jason Puncheon all having been laid low during the week. If it’s anything like the bug that’s been running about the Rest Home this week it won’t have been pleasant.
Us? Well that was a good point up at the Merseyside Library. They’ve been worried all week about the whereabouts of Luis Suarez and were about to file a missing persons report with the local plod when they got a phonecall from James Collins asking where to post the player that he found in his pocket when he got home. It was disappointing to see Glen Johnson diving in the first half though. I thought he’d been brought up better than that.
Funniest piece of commentary ever had to be the idiot on BBC 2’s MOTD2 who, presumably with a straight face, said something like “Steve Gerrard isn’t the sort of player to go to ground unnecessarily.” Twelve of us spat out our light and bitters when we heard that gem and we will be deducting the cost of cleaning the Brian Moore Memorial TV Room here at the rest home from our next tv licence, assuming that Matron ever bought one in the first place.
We still have some injury problems. Reid, Cole (J), McCartney and Noble are all still hors de combat. James Tomkins, who also had a decent match at Anfield, should be available after his calf injury turned out to be just cramp. Andy Carroll should also be back from his loan-enforced absence, though some sources say he’s been “ill” this week. Mr Allardyce was being coy as to whether Carroll would replace the “hard working in a thankless role” Carlton Cole but assuming both are fit one would expect Carroll to get the nod.
Prediction? Well confidence will be good in both camps after recent results. Having said that, I probably rate Southampton as a better side than Liverpool at the moment (despite the unbelievable BBC bias in favour of all things scouse) so I think this will be a tougher match than last week. I’ll therefore plump for a draw and will be putting the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered TV licence fund (£2.50) on a 1-1 draw leaving both sides two points from the so-called magic 40 point mark.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At St Mary’s: Lost 0-1 October 2011. A Hooiveld header on half-time gave them all three points though we had our chances to take what would have been a deserved point from the match.
Referee: Mike Dean. Precisely the sort of person who oughtn’t be allowed to referee a football match. Dreadful. End of.
Danger Man:Jay Rodruiguez. The exotically-named Lancastrian is in the middle of a good run at the moment. (Pun intentional if he has that bug!)
Daft Fact Of The Week:Possibly the strangest person ever to come out of Southampton (apart from Ken Russell) was John Stonehouse, who was born in the city and also died there. A Labour MP, he was accused of being a communist spy, something that wasn’t actually confirmed until after his death. Facing financial ruin as a number of business interests started to fail, he decided to leg it abroad with his mistress. This he did in 1974 by faking his own death by leaving a pile of clothes on a beach, thus inspiring the “Reggie Perrin” tv series. He ended up in Melbourne and was arrested by Aussie police who were convinced they had picked up Lord Lucan. On his arrest Stonehouse was allegedly asked to drop his trousers so that Ozplod could check for certain scars that Lucan had. Bizarrely, on his return to the UK he continued to act as an MP for nearly a year before his trial, the Labour Party not sacking him after realising that they’d be the minority party in a hung Parliament as soon as he went. He got seven years for a variety of offences much of which he spent complaining that prison workshop radio played pop music
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
09:00PM 12th Apr 2013
''Good write up, just one correction (not that it's anything to shout about). It was Lallana who started to get a reputation for diving, not Lambert. I think most of us down on the SC will be content with a draw. All the best to you lot, but not on Saturday.''
by Saints Giffo
05:24PM 12th Apr 2013
''Very amusing article. I wasn't a fan of Mr Adkins' monotones myself, will be having a punt on your 1-1 tip although I hope we shake the bag twice!''
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