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Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption
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  1. Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption

    MY ANNUS HORRIBILIS

    Everything was going brilliantly for Southampton Football Club up until Friday 25th March, 2022:

    We had banked the Capital One Cup for the fourth consecutive season, with a 2-1 win against Stoke City; as the reigning Premier League champions, we were leading the table again by 5 points with 8 games to go, with a game in-hand over our nearest challenger, Manchester United; we were going well in the FA Cup, with bottom-of-the-table Wolves awaiting our attention in the semi-final; and a very winnable Champions League Quarter-Final also lay in-store, against a Manchester City side that we'd already beaten 6-0 earlier in the season.

    Then it all went wrong. Dreadfully, terribly, unexpectedly, horribly, some-would-even-say-maliciously wrong. And I don't know why. The screenshots tell the story in short-form. If you've got the stomach for it, I've already posted more gorey details in the Frustrations thread, but make sure you come back here when you've read it:

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    Post Your Frustations Thread (scroll down to view the post by rocheyb)



    So what was behind this late-season collapse?

    Was it the tactics? My trusty 4-4-1-1 all the way until I switched to 4-5-1 Assymetric for the final league game at Newcastle United? in which, it turned out, their late, late equaliser ultimately cost me the title. Am I guilty of ignoring my own earlier advice about using more than one tactic?


    Was it the players? There was no Morgan Schneiderlin this season after his departure to Genoa, with Diego Reyes (primarily a DM) and the comparatively inexperienced academy graduate, Shane Westley, rotating into that Ball-Winning Midfielder role, alongside new captain James Ward-Prowse as the Deep-Lying Playmaker. Erik Gomez?s 70-million departure to Man United had fired them along all season, but it didn't stop us from being well ahead of them in March, with his replacement, Yvo Lucas, helping himself to a respectful 15 goals in his first season with The Saints, and the more established Christoffer Jorgensen hitting a personal record 26 - contributing to a Premier League record total of 100 goals by season's end.

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    Giammarco Stangoni, the World Player of the Year, had been excellent up to early March, with 21 goals and a whole bunch of assists - but why did his performances suddenly deteriorate? Had other teams sussed him (me, us) out, and found a way to nullify Stangoni, in particular, to limit his impact on matches?

    Had the squad rotation policy become stale? Perhaps I had inadvertently stopped rotating players effectively, so when called upon to inject new momentum into our floundering season, too many of them were not sufficiently match fit or tactically attuned to do so, leaving first-choice players to labour-on despite failing stamina and accumulated bumps and bruises.

    Or, had that run of often high-scoring victories during the first three-quarters of the season bred an over-confidence throughout the squad - or the club - so intense, that even I failed to recognise the early signs of our imminent downfall during a one-goal-in-four-matches glitch prior to an unprecedented three consecutive defeats, that included an embarrassing 1-2 home reverse against that very same bottom-of-the-table Wolverhampton Wanderers, despite being 1-0 up until the 85th minute?

    We had been uncharacteristically free from injury during April and into May - our previously annual centre-back crisis not materialising this year, meaning that Diego Reyes played virtually all of his minutes in midfield, while my four designated central defenders were in constant rotation as they had been all season.

    Whatever it was: IT. MUST. NOT. HAPPEN. AGAIN... EVER.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 12:53 PM.
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  2. THE STORY CONCEPT

    I need to fix whatever the problem was; make my team better and more resilient and improve year-on-year, to achieve my ambition of winning the European Champions League - something I have never done in FM - with The Saints. I definitely don’t want a repeat of what happened last season, and I’m going to be getting all Louis van Gaal over the arse of any player who even thinks about letting the side down for a minute!

    Three of the best football books I have ever read were in the ‘Diary of a Season’ format. One was from the early 80s, by the former Saints manager, and forever legend, Lawrie McMenemy, and two by Sir Alex Ferguson from the mid-to-late 90s. So in this thread, I will adopt that same format to post a warts-and-all expose of everything that happens at my version of Southampton Football Club in the 2022/23 season - from the kick-off on 13th August to the final day on 14th May (and, who knows, maybe even the Champions League Final on 27th May, 2023) as I seek to reclaim the Premier League title and launch our latest assault on the Big One.

    My posts will include:
    - Detailed accounts of my tactical thinking, including concise descriptions of my preferred formations and tactics (detailed versions already exist in the Tactics thread)
    - My reasons for selecting certain players, from match-to-match (where significant, not just part of general rotation), and for promoting or demoting them as the season progresses
    - Explanations of the decisions and changes I make in-game, and an evaluation of the success or failure of the choices I make
    - Detailed coverage of my approaches to training and scouting
    - How I deal with dissenting players or other problems that may occur throughout the season
    - Descriptions of how I modify various in-game features to suit my own approach to FM
    - Profiles of targeted players and explanations of why I think they will improve my squad - possibly even including my own personal go-and-watch-them-play-myself scouting reports (which I have done in the past, but not normally)
    - Justifications for any further player sales or outgoing loans and how they fit into, or affect, my long-term plan.

    This is going to be so detailed that it can probably only work for one season, being so labour-intensive both for me as the writer and for you as the reader. But, by examining and relaying my in-game actions so closely, and hopefully receiving engaging feedback from my fellow FMers as I go, I can strive to take the next major steps toward that European ambition - while hopefully also providing an FM resource that others can refer to for inspiration in their own ongoing saves. So feel free to follow along and post suggestions, praise, recriminations, general abuse and even predictions, if you like, to make this a better read for everyone.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 08:01 PM.
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  3. SOUTHAMPTON FOOTBALL CLUB: THE ROCHEYB YEARS - Part 1

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    The shock departure of Mauricio Pochettino in the summer of 2013, under mysterious circumstances, opened the door for former England international footballer rocheyb (pronounced ‘Rocky B’) to begin his managerial career - despite protestations from some fans about the appointment of such an inexperienced football manager. But a 6th place finish, the club’s second highest ever in the top flight, and a trip to Wembley for the Capital One Cup Final (a 0-3 defeat to Manchester United) allayed such concerns, and the subsequent 3rd place in 2014/15 sparked genuine excitement in and around the South Coast club.

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    Working with a core of players he had inherited, but with the significant addition of Tom Ince on the left-wing, rocheyb consolidated The Saints as a top-half outfit over the next few seasons, picking up the first major honour of his tenure in 2016, when two second-half goals by substitute Adam Lallana won the FA Cup against Manchester United. Two consecutive 6th place finishes, followed by an 8th in 2017/18 - when the club appeared in both major domestic finals, losing to Arsenal in the Capital One Cup, but beating Stoke City 1-0 to lift the FA Cup again, thanks to a late Kostas Kabastanakis goal - and regular participation in the latter stages of the Europa League, were signs of improvement while the squad was integrating several younger players.

    A clear-out in the summer of 2018 that saw Gaston Ramirez go to Newcastle United, Dutch full-back Daley Blind depart for Fenerbahce, Paulo Dybala sign for VfB Stuttgart and free signing Alberto Masi move to Granada for 15-million - in addition to the release of several academy players who had not made the grade - signalled the beginning of a new era at St. Mary’s. Record transfer fees were broken and broken again to bring Dragan Hrustic, Erik Gomez, Sercan Calik, Elias Migliorini and Philip Kaminski to the club, where they were joined by the Belgian centre-back Roel Rutten, whose season long loan back to Genk had run its course following his 16-million transfer, and previous season signings Kabastanakis and the England goalkeeper, Jack Butland.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 01:43 PM.

  4. SOUTHAMPTON FOOTBALL CLUB: THE ROCHEYB YEARS - Part 2

    PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS

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    By employing a range of tactics that made it difficult for opposition managers and players to pin them down or plan for, ahead of matches, ‘The New Saints’ as they were (sometimes derogatorily) labelled, lost only 3 matches in the first-half of the 2018/19 season to top the table at the turn of the year, before winning 15, drawing 3 and losing only 1 of their back 19 fixtures to claim, by 11 points, the most prestigious prize in English football for the first time in the club’s history. And we didn't have to wait too long for the second title, in 2020/21.

    TACTICS

    I will write about my tactics and specific decisions that I make during the 2022/23 season, but I have already posted extensive descriptions of the systems I have used and developed over time in the Tactics section of this forum:

    You Need More Than One Tactic!

    4-4-1-1: The REAL 4-4-2 (or How I Learned to Play the Triangle)

    4-5-1 Assymetric Saints
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 02:20 PM.

  5. SOUTHAMPTON FOOTBALL CLUB: THE ROCHEYB YEARS - Part 3

    PROGRESS IN EUROPE

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    Premier League celebrations had to be put on-hold, though, while The Saints, who had earlier beaten Arsenal 3-1 at Wembley to add another Capital One Cup to their haul, prepared for the completion of an unlikely treble and a showdown with the Serie A runners-up, Genoa, in the Europa League Final at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Despite a close first-half, a Christoffer Jorgensen hat-trick eventually inspired an emphatic 5-1 victory, on a day that many fans still regard as their favourite memory from decades of supporting The Saints.

    Since then, the club have been perennial participants in the European Champions League, qualifying from the group stage every season. While additional domestic trophies and a second Premier League title (2020/21) have been secured, and intelligent player recruitment continues to strengthen and develop the squad, two semi-final eliminations remain the closest that Southampton have come to winning the Champions League. The second occasion was particularly hard to take, having led Bayern Munich 3-0 after just 24 minutes of the 1st leg match at St. Mary's Stadium.

    BOARDROOM TAKEOVER

    rocheyb’s reign has also coincided with a period of upheaval in the boardroom. After the failure of two rival bids, early in 2020, a consortium led by the former Oldham Athletic chairman, Simon Blitz, successfully secured a controlling interest in the club from the previous owner, Katerina Liebherr. A large injection of funds cleared some long-standing debts and made Southampton Football Club a force to be reckoned with in the transfer market, as well as on the pitch. The takeover occurred at the end of a period of squad building, enabling rocheyb to commit larger fees to the pursuit and capture of a selected few transfer targets.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 04/06/2014 at 07:11 AM.

  6. SOUTHAMPTON FOOTBALL CLUB: ROLL OF HONOUR
    - Up to and including season 2021/22

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    (Seasons/years highlighted in bold type indicate trophies won under rocheyb's management)

    Europa League
    Winners: 2019

    European Super Cup
    Runners-up: 2019

    Premier League
    Champions: 2018/19, 2020/21
    Runners-up: 1983/84, 2019/20, 2021/22
    3rd place: 2014/15

    FA Cup
    Winners: 1974, 2016, 2018, 2020
    Runners-up: 1900, 1902, 2003, 2022

    Capital One Cup
    Winners: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
    Runners-up: 1979, 2014, 2018

    Community Shield
    Winners: 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021
    Runners-up: 1976, 2018

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    Johnstone's Paint Trophy
    Winners: 2010
    Last edited by rocheyb; 17/07/2014 at 02:27 AM.
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  7. SUMMER TRANSFERS - 2022

    Several of my players - particularly the English contingent - were growing old together. So during the summer transfer window, a bit of surgery was required to produce a younger, leaner Southampton first-team squad.

    OUT go:

    - Jonjo Shelvey to Arsenal for a cut-price 5-million. No real reflection on him - he has been one of my most reliable players since I signed him in 2015 - but he had become a rotation player and, at the age of 30, I needed to move him on to make space in the squad for new talent.

    - Nathaniel Clyne (aged 31) to Norwich City for 2.4-million. Brilliant at right-back ever since I walked through the door, but younger players of greater potential need first team football.

    - Guido Vadala (to Parma for 8.25-million), Bentley Gouano (to Tottenham Hotspur for 14.5-million) and Vitaly Koviazo (to Juventus for 9-million) - three free transfers who had not established themselves in my line-up or my future-planning; 32-million is a lot of money to pass-up for players you don’t use.

    - And Will Beautyman, an academy goalkeeper who performed heroics during a six-match goalkeeping injury crises during the run-in to the 2019/20 season as a 16 year-old (won 5; lost 1), found himself behind three excellent ‘keepers this season so joins Swansea City to progress his career, with my best wishes.

    I will introduce my whole squad over a series of posts, so screenshots for these players will be included there. But for now…

    IN come:

    - Jose Pinho, a world-class potential attacker and Portugal U21 international from Porto, for 15-million.

    - Rodrigao, a Brazilian starlet right-back who played 30 matches during Osasuna’s 3rd place finish in La Liga last season, for 12-million.

    - Andrew Powell, a 22 year-old Welsh international striker from Swansea City, who I’ve been scouting for several seasons and have now acquired for 16-million, plus up to 4-million of add-ons.

    - Marc Smulders, a 17 year-old left-winger from Ajax, who will hopefully improve here and out on-loan over the next couple of years, with a view to incorporating him into the first team squad when Tom Ince finally slows down.

    And for Saints Academy graduates Mark Ardean-Webb (midfielder, 18 years-old) and Kingsley Idris (striker, 19), this is going to be a make-or-break season - while their peers Jorginho (striker, 20), Carl Storrie (striker, 20) and Billy Roberts (striker, 20) might struggle to set themselves apart in the U21s and out on-loan, with even higher rated talent waiting in the U18s squad.

    With this squad, I shall be aiming to reclaim the Premier League crown that we won in 2018/19 and 2020/21 and reach at least the semi-finals of the Champions League, for the third time, this season. Winning the Capital One Cup for a fifth consecutive season would break Liverpool’s record from the early-80s; the FA Cup is a nice-to-have, rather than a must win, but I’ll prioritise other competitions to protect my players from injury and exhaustion, if I have to.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 05:06 PM.

  8. Friday 8th July, 2022

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    St. Mary’s Stadium has been under renovation since 15th May, so I took some time out this morning to go and take a look at how they are getting on. This is the second ground expansion project that we have undergone, having had the capacity increased to just above the 42,000 mark a few seasons ago. The foreman assures me that everything is on schedule for completion by 3rd November, as planned. The capacity will be restricted to just under 39,000 until then, but will be over the 50,000 mark when it is finished.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 02:29 PM.

  9. Saturday 9th July, 2022

    I meet with my backroom staff for some final preparations before the beginning of our pre-season campaign - which kicks-off tomorrow with a 10-hour flight to Beijing.
    The 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which featured more than half of our first team squad, means a truncated pre-season programme lies ahead, against relatively easy opposition. Having benefitted financially from a previous tour of the USA, I have decided to take the bulk of the squad to China this summer, to play exhibition matches against Beijing Guo’an, Guizhou Renhe and Hangzhou Lucheng. Even against such low quality opposition, there will be opportunities to learn about my players and how they operate within my tactical systems. The Belgian, German, Danish and Argentine players in my squad are excused from the tour of China, while they take extended leave to recover from their involvement in the latter stages of the World Cup.

    THE BACKROOM STAFF (selected)

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    Rene Meulensteen
    is my trusted right-hand man, having joined the club as a coach in 2016 and accepting promotion to Assistant Manager a year later. He had been coaching at Valencia for three years, after the collapse of the Anji Makhachkala project.

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    My goalkeeper coaches include Toni Jimenez - who I inherited from Mauricio Pochettino’s aborted tenure at St. Mary’s - and the former Chelsea keeper Kevin Hitchcock. The ex-Everton and Tottenham keeper Bobby Mimms takes the U21s, while the former Southampton and Bournemouth goalie Neil Moss has recently joined from the Cherries to train our U18s.

    The other famous names in my backroom are:

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    Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch Master and star of Arsenal's Invincibles, drills the first team squad on Ball Control; Sylvain Distin is a defensive coach who used to play for Everton, but was inexplicably never capped by France; Ade Mafe is a former Team GB Olympic athlete who became a fitness coach upon retirement from track-and-field, working for Chelsea, Millwall, MK Dons and West Brom before I signed him at the beginning of my Saints career, in July 2013; Kit Symons is a former Wales international, who made his name as a player at Portsmouth and was coaching at Fulham when I signed him in 2017, as my U18s defensive coach; Dejan Stankovic was a junior member of the Red Star Belgrade squad that won the European Champions Cup in 1991, who came to international attention during long and successful spells with Lazio and Internazionale. Now works as a member of Southampton’s 15-strong scouting team.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 30/05/2014 at 05:09 AM.

  10. Our pre-season campaign consists of 8 matches. I will now alternate between posting short descriptions of each of those matches with introductions to my squad of players for the 2022/23 season...

  11. Wednesday 13th July, 2022

    Pre-season Friendly
    BEIJING GOU'AN vs SOUTHAMPTON
    Worker’s Stadium, Beijing; Att: 41,060


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    (I will devize a more expansive Match Report format for competitive games, but for pre-season friendlies I will go with this short-form version)

    For the opening match of our pre-season campaign, the team lined-up in the 4-4-1-1 formation. Jose Pinho looked comfortable in the Shadow Striker role, from the No.10 position, getting forward often and scoring two goals from close range. Shane Westley had license to roam as the Deep-Lying Playmaker and Mark Ardean-Webb, the teenager, impressed in the Ball-Winning Midfielder role. Rodrigao, new to the club this season, was also impressive at right-back. The team did well to penetrate Beijing’s densely packed 5-3-2 formation - their lack of wide midfielders granting the freedom of South East Asia to my full-backs and wingers.


    Best goal: Kostas Kabastanakis, 31 minutes (to make the score: 1-3)
    Left-wing progression by Tom Ince (ML_A) and Dragan Hrustic (DL_S) ran into rare resistance from the Beijing midfield. So a short infield pass to Shane Westley (DLP_S - detailed to play More Direct Passes) allowed the skipper for the day to switch the play to the open expanse of the right flank. KABASTANAKIS sprinted in from the touchline to meet the ball, took one touch to control it 30 yards from goal, quickly advanced into the inside-right channel, beating two defenders in the process, before cutting into the angle of the six-yard box to place a left-footed, side-foot shot inside the far post.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 05:12 PM.

  12. MEET THE SQUAD - GOALKEEPERS

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    ABDEL AZIZ IBRAHIM
    Age: 24 - Nationality: Egyptian - Caps: 76
    A world-class goalkeeper signed on a free transfer from Barcelona in the summer of 2020. Spent time on-loan at Anderlecht during his time under contract to the Nou Camp club. Rotated with Louis Cruse since coming to St. Mary’s - partly due to international commitments and injury - but expected to assert himself as the No.1 choice this season. Will likely travel to South Africa with the Egypt squad in January, though, to take part in the African Nations’ Cup 2023.

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    LOUIS CRUSE
    Age: 24 - Nationality: English - Caps: 0
    Saints Academy graduate who has made 118 first-team appearances to date and has been called-up to the senior England squad, although he awaits his full international debut, despite 28 caps at U21 level. Faces stiff competition for his place from Abdel Aziz Ibrahim, so rotating him into the starting line-up often enough to keep him settled at the club will be a major task for the manager, this season, although Ibrahim’s anticipated absence for the African Nations’ Cup should provide some first-team chances for Cruse.

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    ALES DANICEK
    Age: 17 - Nationality: Czech - Caps: 0
    Promising goalkeeping prospect who joined Southampton from Sparta Prague for 125,000 in January 2022 and was immediately loaned-out to Coventry City, where he managed six clean sheets in 16 matches to help the Sky Blues to promotion from the Championship. Will spend the 2022/23 season on-loan at the Dutch club, FC Utrecht.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 03:53 PM.

  13. Saturday 16th July, 2022

    Pre-Season Friendly
    GUIZHOU RENHE vs SOUTHAMPTON
    Guiyang City Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Guiyang; Att: 34,038



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    We tested out a new 3-5-2 formation, and despite the weakness of the opposition, there were signs that close possession between defenders and midfielders is prone to the “too many cooks” syndrome. The goal we conceded came from Reyes pushing forward at the wrong moment to leave a hole between the other two centre-backs - that HONG YUBO ran from the centre-circle to take full advantage of. The second Saints goal, on 32 minutes, was a fine example of how a False9 can drop into the No.10 position to control a pass from midfield, before slipping a short pass to his strike partner for a straight-forward finish. Renhe didn’t have enough possession to test the absence of our full-backs.



    Best goal: Kingsley Idris, 26 minutes (1-2)
    Tom Ince (WML_S) crosses from the left touchline, about 20 yards from the goal-line. Meanwhile, IDRIS sprints from deep to meet the ball on the full, above the penalty spot, to crash an unstoppable, jumping left-footed volley past the ‘keeper. I don’t care who you are, you don’t stop them!
    Last edited by rocheyb; 25/05/2014 at 05:27 PM.

  14. MEET THE SQUAD - CENTRAL DEFENDERS

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    ROEL RUTTEN
    Age: 25 - Nationality: Belgian - Caps: 67; Goals: 6
    World-class centre-back signed from Genk for 16-million in the summer of 2017, spending the following season on-loan to them to continue his development while the Mexican international Hector Moreno saw out the last year of his contract at St. Mary’s. Won the Premier League in his first season with The Saints and was a vital member of the Belgium squad that won the European Championships in 2020 and the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, this past summer.

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    TIN JEDVAJ
    Age: 26 - Nationality: Croatian - Caps: 87; Goals: 2
    A former recognised starlet whose poor form while on-loan with Ajax in 2015 convinced Roma to transfer-list him, facilitating a 2.4-million move to Southampton, where the presence of his Croatian international colleague Dejan Lovren, helped him to settle-in and learn to speak English relatively quickly. A consistent performer who will be wanting to make amends for his mistake against Newcastle United in the final league match of last season, that led to the goal that denied Southampton a third Premier League coronation.

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    SERGEY RADIMOV
    Age: 25 - Nationality: Russian - Caps: 50; Goals: 1
    A product of Zenit St Petersburg, who joined Anzi Makhachkala prior to a 24-million move to Paris St.Germain in January 2019. Joined Southampton for 20-million in January 2021 and, despite poor initial performances, has settled into consistent form. Can play anywhere across the back four, but usually deployed at centre-back.

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    PHILLIP KAMINSKI
    Age: 27 - Nationality: German - Caps: 19; Goals: 2
    A 6ft6in former Borussia Dortmund centre-back who joined Southampton for 2.5-million in 2018. A lack of pace requires him to be paired with a quicker defensive partner, so rotates in and out of the team, and is often named among the substitutes. Was expected to leave this summer, before the long-term injury to Bayern Munich’s Alexander Slaatsveen scuppered a potential big-money raid on Pep Guardiola’s squad.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 05:21 PM.

  15. Tuesday 19th July, 2022

    Pre-Season Friendly
    HANGZHOU LUCHENG vs SOUTHAMPTON
    Hangzhou Sports Centre, Hangzhou; Att: 15,742


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    For the final match of our China tour, I switched back to 4-4-1-1 against Hangzhou’s traditional 4-4-2. A routine win against poor opposition. Clever, short passing moves through the middle constantly opened up the home side’s defence, and the majority of goals were from close range. Switching the play from flank to flank, via the central midfielders, pulled Hangzhou’s defence out of position and created space to attack.

    Best goal: Kingsley Idris, 81 minutes (0-4)
    As the team’s attacking unit moved forward in unison, Elias Migliorini’s path down the left-wing was blocked off, so he played a short diagonal pass inside to Marc Ardean-Webb. Finding his own forward momentum halted by retreating defenders, he lay the ball back to Migliorini, whose first team diagonal cross from 35 yards out was met by the run from deep of Kingsley IDRIS, taking one touch to control the ball in the inside-left channel, and one touch to finish in the bottom, far corner.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 06:04 PM.

  16. MEET THE SQUAD - FULL-BACKS

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    JOHN STONES
    Age: 28 - Nationality: English - Caps: 11
    A solid, former Everton defender, signed for 6.5-million in 2014, who has made more than 250 appearances for The Saints, despite never being the first-choice right-back with Nathaniel Clyne ahead of him. Can also cover at centre-back. Finally broke into the England squad in the run-up to this summer’s World Cup, and quickly amassed 11 caps.

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    BUTI NDOU
    Age: 21 - Nationality: South African - Caps: 44; Goals: 5
    Very highly-rated attacking right-back who represented Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns in his native South Africa, before a move to Serie A with Juve Stabia. Joined The Saints in 2020 for 10.5-million and after two seasons of development in the U21s with occasional first-team outings, will feature in the first-team a lot more this season now that Nathaniel Clyne has departed for Norwich City. Can play anywhere on the right-hand side of the pitch and is expected to be trained to play at left-back, too. Quick, and an accomplished crosser of the ball, who is expected to feature for the host nation in the African Nations’ Cup 2023.

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    RODRIGAO
    Age: 20 - Nationality: Brazilian - Caps: 2
    Former Atletico Mineiro and Cruz Azul right-back, who starred in 30 matches for Osasuna during their 3rd place finish in La Liga last season. Southampton took advantage of a 12-million minimum fee release clause to bring him to the Premier League, where he will compete with Buti Ndou and John Stones for a starting spot. An excellent passer of the ball.

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    NICOLAS CRUZ
    Age: 17 - Nationality: Spanish - Caps: 0
    Another exciting prospect at right-back, brought to the club from Sevilla in the summer of 2021. Expected to be loaned out to a Championship club, with learning English among his objectives for this season. Very determined, but his career history to date is limited to a solitary appearance for Sevilla, during a season-long loan to his former club - causing arguments between his manager and Roberto Donadoni - and one game for Spain U21s.

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    LUKE SHAW
    Age: 27 - Nationality: English - Caps: 53; Goals: 1
    26.5-million rated veteran left-back who has made more than 264 league appearances to date. An attack minded full-back with excellent crossing ability who broke his goal-duck two seasons ago and has gone on to score a total of 6 goals, since, including some outstanding free-kicks. Has remained loyal to The Saints despite constant speculation linking him with a move to Manchester City. A member of the England squad that reached the World Cup Final in Russia, in 2018.

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    DRAGAN HRUSTIC
    Age: 26 - Nationality: Bosnian - Caps: 53; Goals: 1
    Started out with Zeljeznicar but was scouted while playing for Rapid Wien, in Austria, prior to a 7.75-million move to Southampton. Rotates with Luke Shaw and has the necessary defensive and attacking attributes to perform the role in a similar manner. Unusually tall for a full-back, strong in the tackle with an excellent first touch. Has been the subject of rejected bids from rival teams, but remains an integral part of the manager’s plans.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 06:03 PM.

  17. Saturday 23rd July, 2022

    Pre-Season Friendly
    SAINT-ETIENNE vs SOUTHAMPTON
    Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne; Att: 21,119


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    Billed nowhere as The Battle of The Saints, this France-based friendly brought us into contact with our former Mexican centre-back, Hector Moreno, who played for us between 2014 and 2018. He’d obviously missed us, because our 3-0 half-time lead included two own goals from the man himself. Yvo Lucas helped himself to the other two. The home side were surprisingly lacklustre and offered little to learn from. Their goal was due to some poor defending by John Stones.

    Best goal: Yvo Lucas, 59 minutes (0-4)
    A patient build-up that began with our own goal-kick, moved across the midfield and involved most of our outfield players, culminated in a low cross from Kabastanakis on the right hand side, which LUCAS sprinted from the blind-side of two static defenders to control, before firing in at the near post.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 06:27 PM.

  18. MEET THE SQUAD - CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS

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    DIEGO REYES
    Age: 29 - Nationality: Mexican - Caps: 99; Goals: 3
    The captain of the Mexican national team who became a target for Southampton while playing for Porto, but was unobtainable until a 34-million release clause in his contract with CSKA Moscow facilitated a move in 2019. An expert penalty-taker who has often skippered The Saints, and was one of the most impressive performers in the squad last season. Usually plays in midfield for Southampton, but his role in a back-three for Mexico has prompted some tactical experimentation during pre-season, in which he operates as a Ball-Playing Defender in a 3-5-2 formation.

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    SHANE WESTLEY
    Age: 23 - Nationality: English - Caps 7
    A 16-million rated product of the Saints Academy who had loan spells at Bury and Hull City before becoming a rotation player at St. Mary’s in the 2017/18 season. Took a half-season loan to Manchester City in 2020, but came to greater prominence during the last 12 months following the departure of Morgan Schneiderlin to Genoa, making 37 appearances and scoring 5 goals last season - including an outstanding long-range winner against Stoke City in the Capital One Cup Final. Made his international debut in a friendly against USA in March 2022, and played in all three matches during England’s disastrous showing at World Cup 2022, in Qatar. A determined and composed midfielder; a potential future captain.

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    JAMES WARD-PROWSE
    Age: 27 - Nationality: English - Caps: 60; Goals: 7
    Highly creative central midfielder whose 21 assists last season is a new club record. Operates as a Deep-Lying Playmaker, delivers set-pieces and captained The Saints throughout last season. He was disappointed to give-up the armband this season, but will now deputise for Stangoni. Poses a goal threat from outside the penalty area, including dead-ball situations. Achieved his highest match ratings to date last season and continues to be integral for club and country.

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    MARK ARDEAN-WEBB
    Age: 18 - Nationality: English - Caps: 0
    Macclesfield-born Saints Academy product who impressed in the Southampton first-team during the first half of last season, before being loaned out to bolster Coventry City’s successful promotion push with 2 goals in 16 appearances. A similar type of player to Shane Westley, who can operate as a Ball-Winning Midfielder or a Deep-Lying Playmaker. Has impressed during pre-season and is expected to feature regularly for the first team this season. An England U19 international.

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    GRANT KINGSMILL
    Age: 18 - Nationality: English
    Central midfielder who hasn’t lived up to early promise. Spending the first half of the season in League Two, with Fleetwood Town. Was at Tranmere Rovers last season.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 05:22 PM.

  19. Wednesday 27th July, 2022

    Pre-Season Friendly
    VVV VENLO vs SOUTHAMPTON
    Seacon Stadion - De Koel, Venlo; Att: 7,884


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    I expected better opposition from Venlo, who are in Eredivisie, but we may have been far ahead of them in terms of our pre-season training. The constant triangles through midfield and into the attacking third, which are a feature of the possession based 4-4-1-1, confused them from the very start and our wingers and strikers capitalised on the gaps between their bemused defenders. It was 6-0 at half-time. A useful exercise in fitness and morale, but I would have preferred to see our defence tested a bit more.

    Best goal: Kingsley Idris, 11 minutes (0-2)
    A header by Westley from Venlo’s goal-kick, went to Migliorini who headed back into the middle for Stangoni, shortly advanced and left of the centre-circle. The No.10 chipped the ball over three defenders and into the path of the on-running IDRIS, who chested it down before placing a shot inside the right-hand post.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 06:28 PM.

  20. MEET THE SQUAD - ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

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    GIAMMARCO STANGONI
    Age: 24 - Nationality: Italian - Caps: 48; Goals: 12
    The reigning World Player of the Year and holder of the World Golden Ball Award. Southampton set a new club transfer record when they paid 39-million to Granada, in 2020. 10 goals and 19 assists during his first season were followed by 22 goals and 9 assists last term, but his drop in form during the run-in remains one of the mysteries of last season. An exceptionally creative passer, and a fast, direct dribbler who operates as a No.10 Trequartista, committing defenders left-right-and-centre to engineer openings for himself and teammates. Has an excellent on-field rapport with Christoffer Jorgensen and a knack of striking unstoppable left-foot volleys. Handed the captain’s armband for the new season. Very much the new Francesco Totti. Began his career with Milan.

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    SERCAN CALIK
    Age: 24 - Nationality: Belgian - Caps: 49; Goals: 19
    A goal-packed, flying right-winger who has starred alongside Roel Rutten in the recent successes of Belgium and Southampton, alike. Started all 7 matches in Belgium’s successful World Cup 2022 campaign, scoring in the 3-0 win against Senegal in the 2nd round. Signed from Manchester United for 18.5-million, in 2018, since when he has accumulated 47 goals and 58 assists in all competitions. Can play as a winger or a wing-back. Fans' Player of the Year for each of the last two seasons. Born in Kocaeli, Turkey.

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    KOSTAS KABASTANAKIS
    Age: 26 - Nationality: Dutch - Caps: 44; Goals: 16
    Greek-born Dutch international who was plucked from FC Utrecht for 13.25-million in 2017. An excellent crosser of the ball who carries a significant goal threat when raiding the right-hand channel. Similar in style to the former Manchester United winger, Andrei Kanchelskis. Can use either foot but is not as effective defensively as Sercan Calik.

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    TOM INCE
    Age: 30 - Nationality: English - Caps: 76; Goals: 17
    The manager’s very first signing in 2013, for 3.2-million from Blackpool with Kelvin Davies and Guly do Prado going in the opposite direction. Has been consistently excellent on the left-wing, whether as an Advanced Winger or Midfielder Left_Attack. Very efficient at getting to the byline and crossing for the strikers; also skilled at shooting from tight angles on the left-hand side, with often unstoppably fierce strikes. A firm fan favourite, having won their Player of the Year Award on four occasions. One of the most experienced players in the squad who was among England’s leading performers in the run to the Final of the 2018 World Cup.

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    ELIAS MIGLIORINI
    Age: 24 - Nationality: Argentine - Caps: 28; Goals: 9
    A more than able deputy for Tom Ince on the left-wing, who can also operate as a wing-back. His 20-million transfer from Real Sociedad was a short-lived club record and his consistent performances and career-best 14 goals last season suggest that Ince’s advancing years should not pose a problem to the squad, this season. A flair player with stamina and determination in abundance, who will be expected to shine again this term.

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    MARC SMULDERS
    Age: 17 - Nationality: Dutch
    A summer acquisition from Ajax, for a nominal fee, who is a potential long-term successor to Tom Ince on the left-wing. Short, determined and quick with good crossing ability. May be loaned-out at some point, but begins the season in The Saints’ youth ranks.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 05:25 PM.

  21. Sunday 31st July, 2022

    Pre-Season Friendly
    YOUNG BOYS vs SOUTHAMPTON
    Stade de Suisse Wankdorf, Bern; Att: 27,274


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    A quick trip to Bern, Switzerland, for a narrow victory against Young Boys. Their 4-2-3-1 formation was effective in terms of keeping possession, but they created few chances, with their goalkeeper and left-back producing their best performances. The No.10 role in my 4-4-1-1 has often proved useful against that line-up, being able to exploit the gaps between the two holding midfielders and centre-backs. The version of that formation, and of 4-4-2, that employ two Defensive Midfielders have caused us more problems in the past - particularly when tall centre-backs also provide an effective deterrent to my wingers’ crosses. This was an uneventful game with average performances from our players.

    The goal: Jay Rodriguez, 59 minutes (0-1)
    After regaining possession in midfield, Ndou played a square pass to Ward-Prowse, who moved it forward to Rodriguez. With his back to goal near the centre-circle, he spread the play to Tom Ince on the left-wing. Ince raced past two defenders to get from the halfway line to the byline, before sending a low cross to the near post where Lucas and Rodriguez where loitering, but both closely marked. Lucas moved to the ball to control it on the left edge of the six-yard box, dragging the two defenders towards him, leaving RODRIGUEZ unmarked at the near post for a short pull-back and a close-range finish.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 25/05/2014 at 05:39 PM.

  22. MEET THE SQUAD - STRIKERS

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    JAY RODRIGUEZ
    Age: 33 - Nationality: English - Caps: 76; Goals: 45
    The quintessential Shadow Striker, whose ability to take part in build-up play and then hit the front to meet his wingers’ crosses have helped to garner 163 goals, since his signing for 7-million from Burnley in 2012, by Nigel Adkins. Four consecutive 20+ goal seasons included a total of 32 in all competitions in 2019/20. Won the Golden Boot at World Cup 2018, his 6 goals firing England into the Final before cruelly missing the vital spot-kick in the shoot-out against France. Announced his international retirement after the 2022 World Cup and was recently honoured by his club with a testimonial against Genoa - the team Southampton beat to lift the Europa League trophy in 2019. Has been an outstanding servant to the club, but injury kept him out of contention for the majority of last season, and now in the last year of his 100,000 per week contract, he may find his outings restricted again this term due to advancing years, the signings of Jose Pinho and Andrew Powell, and the emergence of Kingsley Idris.

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    JOSE PINHO
    Age: 19 - Nationality: Portuguese - Caps: 0
    A tall, strong but skilful all-round attacker, signed from Porto for 15-million this summer. Can play as a right-winger or striker, but is expected to be the long-term successor to Jay Rodriguez in the Shadow Striker role, where aerial and finishing abilities, with intelligent off-the-ball movement, are essential. Could become a world-class player, but may need a season or two to realise his potential.

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    CHRISTOFFER JORGENSEN
    Age: 27 - Nationality: Danish - Caps: 66; Goals: 25
    Talismanic Danish striker who took a couple of seasons to establish himself in the Southampton first team following his 2016 transfer from Brondby IF, for 11.75-million, but has managed 20+ goals in three of the last four seasons, with injury disrupting 2019/20. Was often rotated with Erik Gomez until the Mexican’s departure last summer, emerging as the regular first-choice last season. Combines excellent off-the-ball movement with awareness of his teammates, a creative eye and lethal finishing ability. A 6-footer who is good in the air and quick on the ground.

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    YVO LUCAS
    Age: 24 - Nationality: Dutch - Caps: 0
    A 12-million signing from NEC Nijmegen who slipped under the radar during the media storm created by Erik Gomez’s 70-million transfer to Manchester United. Enjoyed a positive first season, registering 15 goals in all competitions - though only 8 in the Premier League will have to be improved upon, this term. Lacks aerial ability so sometimes requires a tactical tweak to play to his strengths; dribbling, off-the-ball movement and precise finishing. Has an impressive work rate and the strength and stamina to make it count.

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    ANDREW POWELL
    Age: 22 - Nationality: Welsh - Caps: 20; Goals: 6
    A summer signing from Swansea City whose progress has been tracked by The Saints’ scouts since he first came to attention as a 16 year-old. Scored 15 goals for the Swans last season, including the unlikely winner against Manchester United that saved them from relegation - and would have handed Southampton the title were it not for Newcastle’s injury-time equaliser against The Saints, at St. James’s Park. Tall, good in the air and quick, but slightly lacking in stamina. Only played one pre-season match with his new club due to his late signing, but will be expected to compete for a first-team place from the very start of the season.

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    KINGSLEY IDRIS

    Age: 19 - Nationality: English - Caps: 0
    Left-footed Saints Academy graduate who impressed at youth level and has played a handful of first-team matches during the last two seasons, in which he contributed 4 goals, plus a successful loan spell with League One outfit MK Dons in 2019/20. Has demonstrated an ability to hit fiercely-struck volleys on target, and, despite a wealth of competition within the club, could be poised for a breakthrough season. Born in Ondo, Nigeria, but has represented England at U21 level. Has had a good pre-season with the first-team squad.

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    JORGINHO
    Age: 20 - Nationality: Brazilian
    Jorge Henrique Dickinson is an Anglo-Brazilian striker who scored on his full debut against Fiorentina in a Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg in 2019 - one of 5 goals in two seasons of limited first-team opportunities as a youngster with The Saints. Spent 2020/21 at Derby County, where he did well, and last season with Fiorentina, who are now the junior partner in an official feeder club relationship with Southampton. With stiff competition among strikers this season, has been listed for loan again. Can also play in central-midfield. Has 43 caps for Brazil at U20 level.

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    CARL STORRIE
    Age: 20 - Nationality: English
    Local lad whose performances among the youth ranks suggested much promise, but has failed to assert himself during limited first-team opportunities, so far. A hamstring injury put paid to his pre-season and potential loan transfers. Has the skills to operate as an effective Shadow Striker, if he can come to terms with the pressures of Premier League football. An exceptionally quick runner.

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    BILLY ROBERTS
    Age: 20 - Nationality: English
    Shot to stardom as a teenager, when he scored 6 goals in 13 first-team appearances for The Saints in 2019/20. Spent the following two seasons on-loan with League One clubs, at Chesterfield and then AFC Bournemouth, and then suffered from being underused at eventual Championship promotion winners Coventry City, as part of their official feeder club arrangement with Southampton. Has returned to League One with Derby County for the first half of this season. Has two years left on his contract, but his long-term Southampton future remains in the balance.

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    RYAN SEAGER
    Age: 26 - Nationality: English
    Impressive finisher whose development has been undermined by a lack of stamina and a propensity for long-term injury. Lists Motherwell, Rangers, Middlesbrough, Peterborough United, Ipswich Town, Brentford, Sheffield United, York City, Celtic and now Derby County among the clubs he has played for on-loan. Has been offered to other clubs for transfer in the past, without any takers.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 01/06/2014 at 06:21 PM.

  23. Wednesday 3rd August, 2022

    Pre-Season Friendly
    SHOLING vs SOUTHAMPTON
    VT Group Sports Ground, Southampton; Att: 1,575


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    Friendlies against local non-league sides can help to raise morale just prior to the big new season kick-off - though the ease of victory against VVV Venlo had taken care of that - and are lucrative fundraisers from their point-of-view [not that their finances affect my save, but a bit of social responsibility adds a little more realism to my FM universe].

    Best goal: Giammarco Stangoni, 73 minutes (0-6)
    A move that began with a short free-kick from Louis Cruse, moves the ball forward, back, left and right, before Ardean-Webb angled a pass out to Tom Ince on the left-hand side. With two defenders for company, he ran at them and then squeezed a square pass between them, into the penalty area for the unmarked STANGONI to smash, with his cultured left-foot, across the ‘keeper and into the far corner.

  24. MEET THE SQUAD - SAINTS U18s (selected)

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    KIERAN BURKE
    Age: 16 - Nationality: English
    Southampton-born right-back prospect, who is regarded as a potential Premier League star of the future - despite a lot of competition in that position, at present. Good teamwork and work rate; will need to work on his crossing.

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    KEVIN EGAN
    Age: 16 - Nationality: English
    A 6ft3in centre-back about whom the words “world-class” are being whispered, at Southampton’s Staplewood training complex. Strong in the air and currently under the one-to-one tutelage of Sergey Radimov.

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    JAKE BASFORD
    Age: 16 - Nationality: English
    The shortest player at the club, at 5ft3in, but a hard-working midfielder who can play as a Deep-Lying Playmaker or Box-to-Box Midfielder.

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    JIM WRIGHT
    Age: 16 - Nationality: English
    Determined, tough-tackling midfielder with a strong left-foot, who heralds from Southwick (presumably the one in Hampshire, though possibly West Sussex, Northamptonshire or even Sunderland!)

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    GEORGE CARTER
    Age: 17 - Nationality: English
    Attacker who can play as Striker or on either wing, who top-scored for the U21s on their run to the Group 1 title last season. Currently being tutored by Christoffer Jorgensen.

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    JOHN GRIFFITHS
    Age: 16 - Nationality: English
    Left-footed striker from Christchurch in Dorset, who is already rated at 1.2-million despite having only turned 16 years-old three weeks ago. Regarded as a potential world-class player on the strength of a handful of U18 and U21 performances after joining the club during the 2022 intake. Dubbed the new Michael Owen.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 07:15 PM.

  25. Saturday 6th August, 2022

    Jay Rodriguez Testimonial
    SOUTHAMPTON vs GENOA
    St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton; Att: 37,468


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    Our only pre-season fixture at St. Mary’s Stadium was a testimonial for Jay Rodriguez, against the side we beat to lift the Europa League Trophy in 2019, who were also Serie A Champions in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Our former skipper Morgan Schneiderlin was in the heart of their midfield. Expecting them to field a 3-4-3 formation, I opted for 3-5-2. In the event, they went for 4-4-2, but we still controlled possession and Stangoni’s dribbling from deep caused problems for them. Andrew Powell, signed from Swansea City during the week, got his first outing in a Saints shirt and should have taken any one of several headed opportunities in the first-half. Having the wide men Stay Wide and Hit Early Crosses, with two Strikers to aim for, created plenty of chances for us. Powell and Jorgensen should both thrive under this tactic. Rodriguez played the second-half but was unable to commemorate his big day with a goal of his own.

    Best goal: Andrew Powell, 67 minutes (2-0)
    Sercan Calik received a pass from Westley inside his own half, before making a charging run down the right-wing and delivering a cross onto the head of Andrew Powell, three yards out. Sirigu pulled off an excellent reflex save in the Genoa goal, but POWELL volleyed the rebound into the net with the ‘keeper stranded on the ground.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 26/06/2014 at 01:25 AM.

  26. Sunday 7th August, 2022

    Preparation vs ARSENAL (a)

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    Arsenal: 5-4 (fav) / SAINTS: 7-4


    This is the first time in five years that we are not competing in the Community Shield, so everything feels a little out-of-whack. I have asked Javi Rico to prepare his Scouting Report on Arsenal, our opponents on the opening day of the new season, earlier than normal so I can begin planning for next week’s big kick-off. Pouring through the report and other historical data about our Past Meetings with Arsenal, I note down the following observations:

    - Javi recommends working on Attacking Set Pieces in training, this week, which is now scheduled in.
    - They are vulnerable to 4-4-2, which in my experience means they are uncomfortable with my 4-4-1-1, too.
    - Our record against Arsenal since 2018 is excellent; just one defeat in 12 meetings.
    - Giammarco Stangoni scored two against them in a 4-1 win at St.Mary’s, last season; and that is the only goal they have scored against us in the last five meetings.
    - The match at the Emirates was a 0-0 draw, but they created more chances.
    - They finished 6th in the Premier League, last season.
    - Brendan Rodgers has Arsenal playing 4-5-1 V-Shaped Midfield.
    - Kurt Zouma and Yegor Raevskiy at Centre-Back, and Ogenyi Onazi at Defensive Midfield, make for a solid defensive triangle.
    - Assist area data suggests they are slightly weaker down their right side than their left, but they have quality full-backs on either side in Sebastian Corchia and Eduard Sobol.
    - They have several quality attacking players, but most of them currently lack either stamina or match fitness.

    Planning:
    - Arsenal’s strong central defensive unit will make life difficult for Stangoni in the No.10 role - but even the best defenders can struggle to stop him running at them and past them. The 4-5-1 Assymetric System, although not used in pre-season, so completely new to our most recent recruits, would enable him to work predominantly in the inside-left channel and play throughballs to the Complete Forward.
    - If Jack Robinson lines-up at left-back, rather than Sobol, then his lack of pace could provide chances for Sercan Calik to get past him.
    - We’re unlikely to win much in the air against Zouma and Raevskiy, but if Tom Ince plays in the M_L position and Hits Early (Drilled) Crosses, we might find some joy playing on the ground.
    - Raheem Sterling’s presence in the Arsenal squad - a new signing from Norwich City this summer - makes me reluctant to go up against them without full-backs, so the 3-5-2 is off-the-table for this match.
    - The longer the match remains goalless, the more I would favour us to win due to superior stamina among our forwards, but their defence is very strong. Our best chance of a goal is probably in the inside-right channel, if we can isolate Raevskiy.
    - We have a clean bill of health throughout the first-team squad.

    Effectively then, the scouting report is telling me to play 4-4-1-1 and my own analysis says 4-5-1 Assymetric. Decisions, decisions. I need more data. So I watch the goals from the 4-1 win against them at St. Mary’s, last season, and note that:

    - All of whom I consider to be their best defenders were playing that day: Corchia - Zouma - Raevskiy - Sobol.
    - We triangled our way through their midfield, playing around Onazi (DM) for the first goal, which owed a lot to a crucial miss-control by Zouma. So I check out his First Touch: 12. He’s not a great passer, either, so putting pressure on him might yield results.
    - They were unable to stop us passing our way through them; James Ward-Prowse was the man pulling the strings from DLP_S.
    - The third goal suggests they may have difficulty defending low crosses.
    - The fourth goal occurred when Sobol went missing from left-back; a Tom Ince cross finding Kabastanakis unmarked on the far post.
    - Their goal was due to a mistake by Louis Cruse, our goalkeeper.

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-saints-4-1-arsenal.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-saints-formation-vs-arsenal.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-past-meetings-vs-arsenal.png

    So you can see my decision-making process, here:

    I ruled out the 3-5-2 for fear of exposure on the wings against a strong team like Arsenal; I considered the potential flaws of the 4-4-1-1 against their 4-5-1 and the strengths of their individual players, and began to consider our 4-5-1 Assymetric System; but after going in search of more information and seeing evidence of how our 4-4-1-1 has worked against them before, my concerns are settled and I have decided to play that way against Arsenal next week.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 30/05/2014 at 02:02 AM.

  27. FORMATION ANALYSIS: “3-5-2 Reyes_BPD”

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-3-5-2-tactic.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-3-5-2-vs-rehne.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-3-5-2-team-instructions.png

    Inspired by the Mexico national team, for whom Diego Reyes is captain, I decided to introduce a 3-5-2 system into my prepared formations at the beginning of pre-season, to replace the 4-5-1 V-Shaped midfield (or 4-3-3, if you prefer) that I didn’t use much last season. Although I am concerned that the lack of full-backs in that set-up will leave us exposed on the wings, I’m confident that we can control possession in most matches and benefit from flooding the midfield and putting two up-front for the Wide Midfielders to target with their crosses.

    There is a squad issue here, too, in that I don’t have so many central midfielders but I do have loads of full-backs. But if I retrain a couple of players and use this formation to rotate the squad now-and-again, it can be of use to me, and it will keep the opposition guessing - bearing in mind that something, possibly the tactics, let us down during the run-in last season.

    I set-up against Renhe, in our second China Tour match, with all three defenders instructed to Close Down More, with Reyes as a Ball-Playing Defender with the license to Get Further Forward and play More Direct Passes (by default), while the other two Central Defenders_Defend are told to Pass It Shorter.

    In the midfield five, all I did, essentially, was bring the No.10 from my tried-and-trusted 4-4-1-1 formation into line with the other midfielders. So we still have a DLP_Support and a BWM_Defend either side of him; I switched the wide men to Wide Midfielder_Support, to encourage a little defensive discipline, in recognition of the absence of full-backs in this formation. The man in the middle is an Advanced Playmaker_Attack, who is encouraged to Roam From Position, play More Direct Passes and Dribble More (by default).

    Giammarco Stangoni played to these instructions very effectively for most of last season, and my thinking now is that with two Strikers ahead of him, plus Wide Midfielders either side, the range of passing options would be greater for him, even if his own presence in the opposition penalty area is reduced by virtue of his deeper starting position.

    By partnering a False9 with an Advanced Forward up-front, I introduce ways of breaking the opposition’s defensive lines. If defenders follow the F-9 into, for them, more advanced positions, they will create gaps for my three more attack-minded midfielders to exploit with runs from deep, and space for the AF to receive the ball in dangerous positions. If they remain within their own defensive shape, then the F-9 can receive possession in a position where we can then slip short passes into the path of the AF, who is constantly looking to Move Into Channels and Shoot More Often.

    Team Instructions are to:

    - Retain Possession
    - Shorter Passing
    - Work Ball Into Box
    - Play Out of Defence
    - Hit Early Crosses
    - Float Crosses
    - Run at Defence
    - Exploit The Flanks
    - Play Wider
    - Hassle Opponents
    - Get Stuck In
    - Higher Tempo

    Fluidity: BALANCED
    Mentality: CONTROL

    Despite one or two teething problems (which I highlighted earlier in my brief report on the Rehne match), the formation has a lot going for it in the midfield and attacking third, so I will persevere with it as one of my set of three tactics throughout the first half of this season.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 05:42 PM.

  28. Wednesday 10th August, 2022

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    Rene Meulensteen asked me today how I felt about our squad: Am I happy with what we have? So I told him:


    “We have a strong squad but I’m not entirely sure whether we are actually better than last season - we were excellent for the first 8 months. Having let the experience of Clyne and Shelvey leave the club, their replacements, though blessed with greater potential, are not yet at the same standard - on paper, at least. So, a lot will depend on the rate of improvement demonstrated by our young players this season.

    The new 3-5-2 formation that we have been working on in training is an interesting innovation that I’m sure will yield goals and points if applied at the right times. But our squad is heavy on full-backs and light on central-midfielders, so using it too often will harm the squad rotation. It could provide opportunities to blood a couple of youngsters, though.

    The coaches have marked Tin Jedvaj’s potential ability as being in decline recently, but his performances have been good. He needs to perk-up early on this season and put that mistake at Newcastle behind him. Our centre-backs are all mid-20s, but I want to avoid having them all get old together. We should work hard with Kevin Egan, to make sure he’s ready to be a direct replacement for one of them when the time comes.

    We are well-equipped in the striker department. I want all of the players to do well, but I also want to promote our academy players, so we must try to give Kingsley Idris plenty of game time, this season. I think Storrie and Roberts will struggle, but Jorginho might find a berth in midfield, if he can meet the standards of performance that we need.”

    “Blimey,” replied Meulensteen. “I was only asking.”
    Last edited by rocheyb; 24/05/2014 at 07:50 PM.

  29. Thursday 11th August, 2022

    Article

    The Echo Online
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    SURMAN ATTACKS ROCHEYB ON YOUTH POLICY

    SOUTHAMPTON MANAGER, rocheyb, has come in for renewed criticism regarding the lack of home-grown players in his first-team squad, from the former Saints Academy graduate Andrew Surman.

    The Johannesburg-born Surman, who grew up in Bitterne, just a few miles from St. Mary’s Stadium, made more than 130 appearances for The Saints between 2004 and 2009 before transferring to Wolverhampton Wanderers for 1.2-million. And the former midfielder, who also went on to represent Norwich City and had a season on-loan at AFC Bournemouth, before ending his career at West Bromwich Albion, told The Echo Online that today’s academy students are not being given the same first-team opportunities that he enjoyed:

    “When I watch Saints these days, I see a couple of players who came out of the academy set-up, but they were there before rocheyb came in,” he complained. “He’s given Westley and Louis Cruse a chance, and I know there are a couple of other lads on the fringes, but he’s been there long enough now that you’d expect at least half of the first-team squad to be genuine, home-grown talent - especially when you think that the club’s no longer in a position where it has to sell its best players.”

    As the only Southampton manager to ever lift the Premier League trophy, in 2019 and again in 2021, and the Europa League in 2019, rocheyb has overseen the most successful period in the history of the football club. But despite his success, some factions of the fan base have joined Surman in criticising him for not adhering to the club’s long-held policy of promoting home-grown players, that stretches back more than 40 years to the days of Lawrie McMenemy. They say that the two notable exceptions of Louis Cruse and Shane Westley, and players that he inherited such as Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse, are not evidence enough of his commitment to youth development.

    However, while he angered some more traditional supporters with his “You never had it so good” response at last year’s AGM, there are some signs that he is now coming around to the fans’ way of thinking, and putting more emphasis on The Saints Academy, with the recent integration of 18 year-old midfielder Mark Ardean-Webb and 19 year-old striker Kingsley Idris into the first-team squad. Hopes also remain high for the futures of several other young players at the club, especially Kieran Burke, Kevin Egan, Nicolas Cruz and John Griffiths who are all currently in the U18 squad.

    Speaking to The Echo Online at a recent Youth Literacy event at the Southampton Guildhall, rocheyb defended his record on youth development and provided some cause for optimism:

    “It might be true to say that in recent years, while the club has been in a state of perpetual improvement and redevelopment from the boardroom down, the academy programme has not had the emphasis or the attention that it deserves - and needs, if it is to be successful. But if you look at England squads, from senior to U18 level during the period of my involvement here, there has been a consistently high representation of Southampton players at all levels, and there are players like Idris Ekinci and Andrew Smith who have gone on to have good careers elsewhere while we have remained very successful without them.”

    He added: “I appreciate the importance in which some fans regard the club’s reputation for developing our own players, and in truth I am very much in support of the idea myself - as long as the players are good enough. We have invested heavily in improving the facilities at Staplewood recently and our set-up is now second to none. We are constantly scouting for the best young players to bring to the club and I’m very optimistic that we already have several who stand a more than realistic chance of one day establishing themselves as Southampton players.”

    Louis Cruse, Shane Westley and Mark Ardean-Webb are showing the way - as Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Adam Lallana did before them - and I will certainly be looking to bring our better U21 and U18 prospects through, in good time, and direct my transfer budget towards strengthening other areas so that these young lads get the opportunities they need.”

    Asked if that meant fans could expect to see the popular protege Kingsley Idris leading the line against Arsenal in the season opener at the Emirates, this Saturday, he replied: “Probably not.”
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 05:44 PM.
    Sam91 likes this.

  30. the effort put into this is amazing. KUTGW

  31. Quote Originally Posted by roberdooo View Post
    the effort put into this is amazing. KUTGW
    Thanks, Roberdoo. I keep TextEdit open while I play the game to compile the info, and then load segments into this thread in one hit - so working to a dated diary format helps to keep everything properly chronological. I was probably right about it only being viable for one season, though, particularly as the report format I have settled on for competitive matches involves a minute-by-minute, which I have done for my two opening matches of the season - I will load them in this evening.

    As time-consuming as it is, I have already found that paying such attention to detail reveals tactical solutions that I might not otherwise have thought of on my own. Equally, though, I might sometimes over-think my tactics. The proof will be in the results.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 25/05/2014 at 05:49 PM.

  32. Saturday 13th August, 2022

    Premier League - Matchday 1
    ARSENAL vs SOUTHAMPTON
    Emirates Stadium, London; Att: 58,376

    For the early kick-off, big season opener at The Emirates Stadium, I opt for the 4-4-1-1 formation. Giammarco Stangoni takes the captain’s armband for the first time, operating as a Trequartista in the No.10 role with Christoffer Jorgensen up-front as a Complete Forward. Rodrigao makes his debut at right-back, while Jose Pinho takes a spot on the bench.

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-saints-vs-arsenal.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-saints-team-inst-vs-arsenal.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pre-match-vs-arsenal.png

    Jonjo Shelvey will make his debut for Arsenal, in central midfield, following his transfer from The Saints in the summer, as do Raheem Sterling (AM_L) and Josip Basic (AM_R). Lyle Tau, who joined from Celta Vigo, is among their substitutes. The Gunners’ back four is as expected, in their 4-5-1 formation.

    My team is set-up to Control possession and employ a Balanced fluidity. We’re closing down their midfielders and forwards, and also Zouma, the central defender whose first touch and passing ability are not the best.

    1st-Half Highlights:
    - 30sec: A terrible start by The Saints! We lose possession in the centre circle, Raheem Sterling flies down the left-wing and crosses for Angelo HENRIQUEZ to head past Ibrahim, into the far corner. 0-1.
    - 9mins: It gets worse! A seemingly innocuous passing movement in midfield lands the ball at the feet of Jack Wilshere. He plays a straight pass into the inside-left channel where Raheem STERLING beats two defenders and shoots past Ibrahim for a debut goal. 0-2.
    - 29mins: After a few attacks and crosses down the left-hand side, we finally get Kostas Kabastanakis running at the full-back on the right. Sobol is unable to prevent the cross and STANGONI volleys home from the corner of the six-yard box. 1-2.
    - 35mins: We have turned the tide! James Ward-Prowse’s far-post corner from the left is headed back across goal by Roel Rutten. KABASTANAKIS’S close-range header is parried by Szczesny, but the winger hooks the rebound home with his left foot. 2-2.
    - 38mins: Giammarco Stangoni goes close after being released into the inside-left channel by Shaw.
    - 41mins: Jorgensen’s near-post header is saved on the line by Szczesny.
    - 43mins: Another Arsenal attack, another goal. Sterling runs infield near the halfway-line. A short pass to Wilshere enables another direct ball to Henriquez, who beats three defenders with an angled pass to Josip BASIC. The Croatian helps himself to a debut goal with a shot across the keeper. 2-3.

    HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 3-2 SOUTHAMPTON

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-ht-arsenal-saints_players.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-ht-arsenal-saints_stats.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-ht-vs-arsenal.png
    They have had 3 shots on target and 3 goals. Our defence has been exposed by two directly straight passes by Jack Wilshere and the running of Raheem Sterling. The defenders and Reyes, my Ball-Winning Midfielder, are not in the game at all. I’d like to drop our defensive line, but we need to attack and get goals in the second-half. Meulensteen’s half-time report is critical of Rodrigao, but after getting a positive response by shouting at the team during the break, I decide to stick with the same players for the beginning of the second-half. I go to an Attacking and Fluid stance, telling both full-backs to attack and the team to Look for Overlap while playing a Higher Tempo, More Expressive game. It’s a risk - particularly with Sterling playing so well for them - but we need to get at them.

    2nd-Half Highlights:
    - 51mins: Jorgensen is put through the centre on the counter-attack, by Stangoni, but shoots wide from the edge of the area with three defenders closing in.
    - 56mins: An excellent passing move draws The Saints level! Reyes passes to Kabastanakis on the right-wing, about 40-yards out. His chipped diagonal pass to the edge of the penalty area is controlled by Stangoni, who chests the ball down and advances into the right-hand channel, with two defenders closing in. He slips a square pass across the front of the 6-yard box for JORGENSEN to apply the finish. 3-3.
    - 63mins: The half-time instructions seem to have worked, but Rodrigao is still struggling, so I send Sergey Radimov on to replace him at right-back. Radimov responds well to my assertive encouragement.
    - 71mins: I switch the positions of Ward-Prowse and Reyes, assigning Reyes to man-mark Jack Wilshere. I note that their right-back, Corchia, is rating at 6.5 and his condition is at 79%. I wish I had put Migliorini on the bench!
    - 72mins: Onazi is lucky to stay on the pitch, bundling into Stangoni while already on a yellow card.
    - 75mins: Sterling is allowed to run a long way for the home side, before shooting over the bar from the edge of the area, with his right foot.
    - 76mins: Hrustic comes on for us at left-back, with Luke Shaw moving into M-L_A to replace the tiring Tom Ince. Jose Pinho comes on as Shadow Striker. I switch Jorgensen to DLF_S and move Stangoni back to replace Ward-Prowse - but with more license to roam.
    - 90mins: Wilshere puts the ball in the net but he’s ruled offside. He’s now playing at AM_R, so I undo the specific man-marking instructions I gave to Reyes.
    - 90mins+1: Luke Shaw gets a late opportunity to claim all three points, when he makes a diagonal run into the penalty area from the left to meet Stangoni’s lobbed pass, but Szczesny parries his shot at the near-post, for a corner.
    - 90mins+2: The full-time whistle.

    FULL-TIME

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    MAN OF THE MATCH:
    KOSTAS KABASTANAKIS (SOUTHAMPTON) - 8.5
    Right Winger_Attack: 1 goal; 1 assist

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    VERDICT:
    A disappointing first-half performance was recovered by a show of resilience for an away draw against a good Arsenal team, but there are worrying signs of the slackness that crept in towards the end of last season. An entertaining match for the first Premier League Sky broadcast of the season from a neutral’s point-of-view, but there is much work ahead.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 05:49 PM.

  33. Saturday 13th August, 2022

    Youngster Joseph Michael went on-loan to Preston North End, today. He was there for less than a day and broke his foot in their match against Accrington Stanley. He’s out for 4 months, so I terminated the loan.

  34. Monday 15th August, 2022

    First item of the new week was the final update on season ticket sales: slightly up from last season, at 28,479.

    Preparation vs BIRMINGHAM CITY (h)

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    The Scouting Report for the upcoming home match against newly-promoted Birmingham City was on my desk, first thing. It advised me to train the players on Defending Set-Pieces and that City are vulnerable to 4-4-2, which is the system they use, and they concede goals towards the end of the first-half. They won their first match 2-0 at home to Wigan Athletic, but their squad depth is comparatively poor to ours so I’m optimistic we’ll be able to dictate the tempo of the match and create plenty of goalscoring opportunities. Our record against them is good: PL 8; W 6; D2; L 0.


    Rene Meulensteen and I reflected on Saturday’s draw at Arsenal. We agreed that the sloppy start put us on the back foot but we never got to grips with Sterling’s dribbling or Wilshere’s ability to pick a pass; two things to consider when we come up against them again.

    A hastily arranged U21s match at Staplewood, against local non-league side Blackfield, provided run-outs for several players on the fringes of the first-team. Jorginho was the Man of the Match with two goals. Kingsley Idris got the other in a comfortable 3-0 win. The U18s lost 1-2 to Chelsea over the weekend, but Kevin Egan played well.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 27/05/2014 at 06:59 PM.

  35. Wednesday 17th August, 2022

    There was no midweek match for the 1st XI, so I decided to go and watch the U18s take on their counterparts from Cardiff City at Staplewood - where two of our highest-rated youngsters caught the eye. Centre-back Kevin Egan opened the scoring with a near-post header from a corner. Striker John Griffiths got the second after a defensive error, and then got in behind the back four to control a chipped pass and place a side-foot shot inside the left post for 3-0. I was impressed by Griffiths’s build-up play with his back to goal and his ability to lose his marker. The win puts the U18s 3rd in Group 1 South, with 2 games played.

    SAINTS U18s 3-0 CARDIFF CITY U18s

    Man of the Match: John Griffiths (Saints) - 8.8

    Striker: 2 goals; 0 assists.

    While watching the U18s, I decided to employ the 3-5-2 formation against Birmingham at the weekend. I’m confident we can control possession against them and having two up-front will enable me to have Jorgensen, Powell and Lucas all in the squad at the same time.

    Manchester United beat Leicester City 5-1 at Old Trafford tonight, which, following their opening day 4-0 massacre of Cardiff City, puts them comfortably top of the Premier League, already.

  36. Saturday 20th August, 2022

    Premier League - Matchday 2
    SOUTHAMPTON vs BIRMINGHAM CITY
    St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton; Att: 37,484

    SAINTS team news: Ibrahim continues in goal, despite a poor opening match at Arsenal; the three Rs are in defence - Rutten, Reyes and Radimov; Sercan Calik’s defensive qualities give him the nod over Kostas Kabastanakis, who drops to the bench; Elias Migliorini comes in for Tom Ince; and Shane Westley will be the BWM_D; Yvo Lucas (AF_A) partners Jorgensen up-front (F9_S).

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pm-3-5-2-vs-birmingham.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pm-team-inst-vs-birmingham.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pm-formations-vs-birmingham.png

    Birmingham must have got wind of my plan to play 3-5-2, because they lined-up with a 4-5-1 formation with five flat across midfield. It will be up to us to dictate a high tempo from the very start. With Manchester United setting a blistering pace at the top of the Premier League already, we need to win this first home match of the season. The players respond well to one-to-one pre-match chats, asserting my faith in their abilities.

    1st Half Highlights
    - 7mins: Stangoni’s running on the ball earns Birmingham midfielder Liam Palmer an early yellow card.
    - 8mins: Lucas has a goal chalked off for offside.
    - 9mins: Lucas should have opened his account when Stangoni’s short pass put him through, but he shot wide.
    - 12mins: A Birmingham counter-attack breaks down, as Palmer’s pass hits Stangoni. Lucas controls his lobbed pass to attack down the inside-left. When he squares across the 6-yard box, STANGONI has got forward to strike firmly past Randolph. 1-0.
    - 16mins: RED CARD: A poor sliding challenge from the already booked Palmer on Stangoni reduces the visitors to 10 men.
    - 17mins: City shuffle to 4-4-1, but they can’t stop Migiliorini shooting on target at the left post.
    - 22mins: Migliorini goes close again as Southampton’s width and tempo pulls the City defence out of shape.
    - 32mins: Lucas hits the post after combining well with Jorgensen through the middle.
    - 34mins: Migliorini fires one across goal. That’s four chances he has missed.
    - 35mins: The ball falls to Stangoni 35-yards out, after Jorgensen’s pass is blocked, and his short diagonal into the penalty area finds LUCAS unmarked, to fire into the top right corner. 2-0.
    - 36mins: Westley wins the ball in midfield; Stangoni dribbles into the final third to play a short pass to JORGENSEN inside the D. He controls the ball with his right foot before firing a low left-footed drive into the bottom left-hand corner, beyond the despairing dive of Randolph. 3-0.
    - 38mins: A challenge on Stangoni, inside the penalty area, leaves him injured. Jorginho comes on to replace him. No penalty.
    - 41mins: JORGENSEN gets his second with a lobbed shot from 30-yards, after driving into the centre from the right wing. 4-0.

    HALF-TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 4-0 BIRMINGHAM CITY

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    The width and tempo of our 3-5-2 was already causing Birmingham problems before the red card, and Stangoni’s positive running was committing defenders and creating space for the two strikers. Jorginho has settled into the game quickly, favouring quick passes to dribbling but still creating in the final third. I can look to bring in a couple of players who haven’t featured yet, during the second-half.

    2nd Half Highlights
    - 46mins: Our ability to switch from one flank to the other via direct passing midfielders creates an opening down the left, leading to a corner.
    - 50mins: Sercan Calik receives the ball and runs wide with two defenders for company. Then he picks out Jorginho on the penalty spot. The Brazilian moves back to the edge of the D as he controls the ball, before spotting the unmarked MIGLIORINI on the left of the 6-yard box, who strikes left-footed across the keeper. 5-0.
    - 57mins: Jorginho’s long-range effort sails narrowly wide of Randolph’s left-hand post.
    - 64mins: Jorgensen’s header from Calik’s cross is well saved by Randolph. Andrew Powell steps off the bench to make his Southampton debut, in place of Yvo Lucas.
    - 67mins: Migliorini scores but Powell is judged offside.
    - 75mins: Calik is tearing Birmingham apart down our right wing.
    - 76mins: An audacious long-range attempt by Jorgensen to seal the hat-trick is denied by the crossbar.
    - 78mins: A rare City attack goes close.
    - 85mins: A patient build-up orchestrated by Migliorini plays Powell to the byline. His cut-back is met by JORGINHO who fires in at the near-post. 6-0.

    FULL-TIME

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    MAN OF THE MATCH:
    CHRISTOFFER JORGENSEN (SOUTHAMPTON) - 9.4
    False-9_Support: 2 goals; 1 assist

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    VERDICT:
    The red card obviously helped us, but our team’s ability to play high tempo and attack from all angles came to the fore. A good first showing for the 3-5-2 featured a positive contribution from Jorginho in an unfamiliar midfield role. Fingers crossed that Stangoni is not injured long-term.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 26/05/2014 at 04:37 AM.

  37. Saturday 20th August, 2022

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    Following an anxious wait at Southampton General Hospital after the Birmingham match, it was confirmed that Giammarco Stangoni has suffered a sprained ankle and will be out for up to 5 weeks. Not as bad as it could have been, and he will hopefully be back in time for our difficult run of fixtures from 15th October; Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. Rene Meulensteen and I briefly discuss whether we need to bring anybody else into the squad and agree to sleep on it until Monday.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 25/05/2014 at 07:15 PM.

  38. Monday 22nd August, 2022

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    I called Jorginho into my office this morning for a quiet word to say “Well done” for his performance on Saturday. With Stangoni injured, Jorginho may be called into the first team squad quite often over the next month or so, at least when we play the 3-5-2 formation, anyway. In his interview with the American journalist Charlie Rose, shortly after his retirement, Sir Alex Ferguson said that "Well done" are the two best words a manager can say, to instil belief in his players - without encouraging them to start believing the hype and going completely overboard about their own abilities. If it's good enough for him, then it's good enough for me. Here's a link to that interview:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bjkk411Mpc

    Rene Meulensteen and I discussed possible transfer targets, which we would have to move quite fast on to secure before the transfer window at the end of this month:

    RM: “We don’t have to bring in a direct replacement for Stangoni - just another midfielder who can fit in with what we have and help us to play our systems.”

    rb: “We’ve got a few players who haven’t played yet this season, plus some promising youngsters. I don’t want to block their path to the first team. Losing Stangoni could be a massive problem, but he’s only out for five weeks and we’ve got winnable matches between now and then. Then there’s the added competition for places when Marco gets fit, again.”

    RM: “I have a few players in mind, at least to consider.”

    rb: “OK.”

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    RM:Jason Saville. He’s English and wants to leave Reading. He’s a defensive midfielder but if we brought him in, it would free-up Ward-Prowse to play a more attacking role. He’s two-footed, can play midfield or defence. He’ll probably cost about 12-to-15-million, but Chelsea are also sniffing around him.

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    Then there’s William Venera at Genoa. Expensive but very talented. An excellent passer and dribbler who can also tackle. He’s 6ft and good in the air, too. Does have a bit of a dodgy injury record, though, with hamstring and thigh injuries in the last year. Could be cup-tied for the Champions League because Genoa had to pre-qualify this year.

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    And finally, Waleed Farhan - a Bahrainian attacking midfielder at Real Betis. Great first touch, work rate, determination. Can play right or centre and up-front. He’s only 23, speaks five languages including English, and he’s got a 16.75-million release clause in his contract. Struggled a bit last season but did well for Napoli the season before.”

    rb: “I like Saville, but he’s too similar to Westley and Ardean-Webb. If we bring him in, at least one of those other two won’t get a game. Venera’s a great player but he’s made of biscuits. Farhan could be a possibility.”

    I checked Soccernet.com on my computer…

    rb: “Betis are at home to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday and we’re at Newcastle on Monday night. I’m in Switzerland on Thursday for the Champions League draw. I’ll go on to Seville and watch Farhan and then meet you and the lads at St.James’s Park, early Monday afternoon.”

    RM: “Good idea, boss.”

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    Giovanni Pulvirenti phoned in from Staplewood. His U21s team won 5-0 against Fulham tonight, featuring several first-team fringers in the same 3-5-2 formation that we used against Birmingham.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 23/06/2014 at 12:42 AM.

  39. Tuesday 23rd August, 2022

    Six of our players are named in the Premier League Team of the Week:

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pl-team-week_wk2.png

  40. Thursday 25th August, 2022

    I travelled to Zurich to attend the draw for the Group Stage of the European Champions League. Southampton were among the top seeds and we were drawn into:

    Group F

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    We have faced Atletico and Lorient before and beaten them both comfortably. Amkar Perm of Russia are an unknown quantity, though, and will have to be scouted. But all-in-all, I’m satisfied with the draw.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 26/05/2014 at 02:36 PM.

  41. Friday 26th August, 2022

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    While visiting family in Lachen, Switzerland, I spoke to Rene Meulensteen over the phone. He told me that we have been drawn away to Fulham in the 3rd round of the Capital One Cup. They are back in the Premier League this season but should be beatable as we attempt to break Liverpool’s record of four consecutive League Cup triumphs.

  42. Saturday 27th August, 2022

    When the manager is away!

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    First, Kostas Kabastanakis kicked up a storm on Twitter over being left out of the Dutch squad to face Romania and Latvia, with Hedwiges Maduro preferring to call up Vitesse winger Rob Tokaya, instead - a player I have scouted in the past but he has had several long-term injuries.

    Then I received an SMS from Antonio Fernandez Gere, our Head Physio, to inform me that Tom Ince (hamstring, 3 weeks) and Kevin Egan (hip, 3 months) are both injured. That’s a real shame for Egan, who had a chance of taking part in the Champions League group stage matches against Amkar.

    Paris St.Germain beat Manchester United on penalties to win the European Super Cup, after a 1-1 draw in Cadiz.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 25/05/2014 at 07:59 PM.

  43. Sunday 28th August, 2022

    Manager's Scouting Report
    WALEED FARHAN
    Real Betis vs Rayo Vallecano

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    Betis: 4-2-3-1 Wingers; Rayo: 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond

    Farhan starts as AM(R):
    - He made some early forays down the right-wing but without much progress.
    - After fading out of the game for a while, he popped up to score from a near-post corner with a left-foot half-volley, mid-way through the first half.
    - Betis were 2-0 up at half-time and Farhan drifted out of it again, until the 63rd minute when a sharp turn and darting run created an opening which he blasted over.
    - Looked comfortable in the No.10 position when switched for the last 15 minutes.

    Waleed Farhan (Real Betis) - 7.5
    Attacking Midfielder (Right): 1 goal; 0 assists

    VERDICT:
    A decent player when he was brought into the game, but tended to go missing on the wing. Impressive in the No.10 role where his passing ability created openings for his team-mates. Some thinking to do before the transfer window slams shut on Wednesday night.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 26/05/2014 at 04:39 AM.

  44. Monday 29th August, 2022

    Premier League - Matchday 3
    NEWCASTLE UNITED vs SOUTHAMPTON
    St. James’s Park, Newcastle; Att: 58,986

    Newcastle: 6/4 (fav); SAINTS: 13-8; Draw: 2-1

    This week’s scouting report (which I neglected to post about), had us working on Attacking Set-Pieces in preparation for the Newcastle game. They line-up with a 4-4-2 Large Diamond, with Matt Phillips and Wilfried Zaha on the wings. The defensive midfielder, Arthur Girard, is one that I have scouted closely in the past. A win for Newcastle could put them top of the Premier League.

    SAINTS Team News: A change of shape to 4-4-1-1 brings Buti Ndou in for his first game of the season; Tin Jedvaj returns to the scene of last season’s error and partners Roel Rutten at the back; Dragan Hrustic’s superior current fitness giving him the nod over Luke Shaw, who is among the substitutes; Shane Westley partners James Ward-Prowse in central midfield; Calik and Migliorini are on the wings; Jose Pinho makes his full debut as Shadow Striker, behind Christoffer Jorgensen; Saints Academy products Mark Ardean-Webb and Kingsley Idris are among the subs.

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pm-vs-newcastle_tactics.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pm-vs-newcastle_formations.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-pm-vs-newcastle_ttalk.png

    I instructed the players to close down all Newcastle midfielders and forwards always, show them onto their weaker foot and to tackle hard.

    1st Half Highlights
    - 1sec: Southampton kick-off, attacking from right-to-left.
    - 2mins: Shane Westley takes the first shot, forcing Tim Krul into a save with a 20-yard strike.
    - 5mins: Belfodil spurns a good opportunity after neat passing in midfield releases him between Jedvaj and Rutten, but Ibrahim catches his attempted lob.
    - 9mins: Migliorini slides in to catch Jack Hunt in possession, after a Newcastle goal-kick, but he shoots into the side-netting when a square pass would have found Jorgensen and Pinho both unmarked in front of goal.
    - 10mins: A brilliant last-ditch tackle from Jedvaj denies Zaha a shooting chance, and Westley’s shot is deflected over the bar at the end of a swift counter-attack by The Saints.
    - 16mins: A mistake by Westley allows Phillips in on the left-hand side, but he shoots into the side-netting.
    - 22mins: Calik’s run and shot from a tight angle, after patient build-up play by Jorgensen and Ndou, forces Tim Krul to concede a corner at his left-hand post.
    - 26mins: Ward-Prowse launches a free-kick from the right-hand side, near the halfway-line, and Rutten heads narrowly over from 6-yards at the back post.
    - 27mins: Calik’s cross-turned-shot loops over the despairing Krul but bounces back off the inside of the post, with Jorgensen unable to connect with the rebound.
    - 28mins: Calik makes a 30-yard diagonal surge, plays Migliorini in behind the full-back, but the Argentine winger fires wide of the far post from just inside the penalty area.
    - 32mins: Ibrahim saves Girard’s 30-yard free-kick.
    - 34mins: A game of head tennis breaks out after Ward-Prowse’s free-kick from the left of the penalty area. Jedvaj has an effort headed off the line by Hunt, Pinho’s first follow-up is repelled, and he heads the second wide.
    - 37mins: A collision between Hrustic and Zaha results in a Newcastle free-kick and the Saints left-back requiring treatment. Ibrahim catches Ryan Bertrand’s delivery.
    - 40mins: Migliorini wastes another opportunity after Ward-Prowse plays him in from the left-wing.
    - 45+1mins: Migliorini, on the left-wing, shows great vision to pick out Sercan Calik at the top right of the penalty area. But the Belgian winger takes a fraction too long to chest control and shoot, with two Newcastle defenders closing him down.

    HALF-TIME: NEWCASTLE UNITED 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-ht-vs-newcastle_players.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-ht-vs-newcastle_stats.png
    We have been by far the better team and are unlucky not to be in-front at the break. Our defence was breached a couple of times early on with balls into the channels, but we dominated from about the 20th minute. More of the same required, but with better finishing. Hrustic and Jedvaj both picked-up knocks, but I will send the same team out to begin the second-half.

    2nd Half Highlights
    - 55mins: A short passing move through the middle by Newcastle’s Girard, Kirby and Gabbiadini frees Belfodil to shoot into the top right corner from the edge of the penalty area. 0-1.
    - 56mins: Hrustic is looking worse-for-wear, so Luke Shaw comes on to replace him.
    - 61mins: RED CARD: Buti Ndou is sent-off for a second yellow card, after a sliding challenge on Belfodil. Southampton are down to 10 men. I respond by pushing Luke Shaw up to the Wide Midfielder-Left and replacing Migliorini with Diego Reyes, who slots into a defensive three alongside Rutten and Jedvaj. Calik also switches to WM and Pinho remains as SS. I instruct the team to Attack with greater Fluidity and adjust the team instructions to suit.

    Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-red-card-vs-newcastle_tactics.png Diary of a Season: St. Mary's Redemption-red-card-vs-newcastle_team-inst.png

    - 63mins: Pinho heads out a Newcastle free-kick and the subsequent counter-attack releases Calik down the right-wing. He passes infield to Ward-Prowse who sets up Pinho, but the Portuguese’s shot is blocked by Krul, and Jorgensen’s follow-up hits Hunt. From the resulting corner, Jedvaj heads over from 2-yards.
    - 65mins: A brilliant reaction save from Ibrahim to stop Kirby’s volley from a half-cleared corner.
    - 68mins: Phillips and Belfodil combine down the Newcastle left and Belfodil’s side foot shot is saved by Ibrahim.
    - 70mins: Jorgensen heads past Krul from Shaw’s left-wing cross, but the flag is up for offside.
    - 71mins: Kirby’s looped pass finds Gabbiadini in space in the inside-right channel, but the angle is too tight after side-stepping the keeper and he fires into the side-netting.
    - 72mins: Last throw of the dice: Idris is on as AF_A for Jorgensen; Pinho switches to AM_A.
    - 81mins: Pinho side foots over the bar from 20-yards after a clever build-up down the left involving him, Ward-Prose and Shaw.
    - 87mins: Westley picks up a late yellow card to round-off a miserable day for The Saints.

    FULL-TIME

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    MAN OF THE MATCH:
    TIM KRUL (NEWCASTLE UNITED) - 7.6
    Goalkeeper: 2 saves; 2 parries

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    I tell the lads that they were unlucky not to get anything from the match and get a good response from all of them. It will be a long and disappointing journey home and we must be better in the next match, against Leeds United. To make matters worse, I discover that Dragan Hrustic’s name must be added to our growing injury list - he will be out for up to two weeks with a damaged elbow.

    VERDICT:
    Despite the pre-match betting odds, we were the better team until the red card and still could have snatched something from the match even after we’d gone down to 10 men. I’m confused as to why we were unable to find the breakthrough. Clearly Stangoni’s absence hurt us and Migliorini’s shooting was poor, but we made enough chances to win this one. That Tim Krul should win the Man of the Match speaks volumes.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 28/05/2014 at 06:17 PM.

  45. Tuesday 30th August, 2022

    There’s an international break now, including the start of the European Championship Qualifiers for the 2024 tournament in Sweden. Luis Enrique’s England are going to play Finland in a friendly on Friday, before taking on Scotland at Wembley next Tuesday.

    After our indifferent start to the season, and with the transfer deadline in two days, I am considering whether to make any late moves for new players. I prefer to get new players in at the beginning of pre-season but I think we have an issue at the moment with too many young players in the first-team squad whose potential is world class, or close to it, but their current ability is average for the Premier League. That applies to all three of our promising right-backs, plus Mark Ardean-Webb, Jose Pinho, Kingsley Idris and Andrew Powell, and to a lesser extent, Shane Westley.

    I don’t want those young players to be blocked out of the first-team squad entirely, so I am only going to try to bring in one player - to strengthen the central midfield. Diego Reyes is an excellent DM, but M_C is a secondary position for him and we need an effective BWM. Tomassi Di Martino of Porto would be my first choice, but he would cost more than the 46-million we currently have available for transfers. Waleed Farhan is still available from Betis and can play M_C, but he’s not a strong tackler. Jason Saville of Reading is in the same boat as Westley and Ardean-Webb - promising, but still young.

    Rene Meulensteen and our Chief Scout, David Williams, who came to us from Manchester United this past summer, joined me this morning to pour offer possible recruits, and after hours of deliberations - and a short discussion on the possibility of bringing Morgan Schneiderlin back to the club - we finally agreed on one name: Mario Pugliese.

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    He’s a 26 year-old Italian, currently with Shakhtar Donetsk, who started his career with Atalanta but spent most of his time in Spain with Valencia before an 8.75-million move to Ukraine in 2019. He doesn’t speak English but he can speak Italian, Russian and Spanish - all of which are well-represented within our squad. He has the required attributes for a Ball-Winning Midfielder and his recent form has been good, too.

    He is currently rated at 10-million by Donetsk. We haven’t scouted him and not being an Italian international, he is not due to play again until the Donetsk derby with Metalurg on 10th September - by which time the transfer window will have closed. So, I’m going to have to trust my instincts and try to get a deal done within the next 36 hours - despite reported interest from Milan.

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    I prefer to handle transfer negotiations myself, so I was pleasantly surprised when I looked-up the details for Shakhtar Donetsk to find that their manager is none other than former Southampton player Dan Petrescu; the Romanian international who also played for Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City. With figures floating around in the my head, I quickly dialled the telephone number and waited patiently for someone to answer.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 30/05/2014 at 05:24 AM.

  46. Wednesday 31st August, 2022

    Chelsea have had a 3.7-million bid for Jason Saville accepted by Reading, so I took one last look at my notes on the player and finally decided not to interfere with that piece of business - although I am amazed that Reading are letting him go so cheaply. The Blues have also lodged a 28.35-million bid for Joaquin, a Barcelona striking prodigy who I have long-admired but can’t compete for now.

    While I was sitting in my office, waiting for news on the Pugliese deal, I saw on Sky Sports News that Chelsea have wrapped-up both of those deals, and two of my former players are also on-the-move. Fallou Diagne joined Leicester from Sampdoria, while Alberto Masi returned to his native Italy to join Udinese from Granada.

    George Carter scored a hat-trick for the Saints tonight, in a 3-1 home win against Bury, at U18 level.

    Charlton Athletic made a bid to loan 17 year-old right-back, Nicolas Cruz, for 5 months. The Addicks are a League One club and I would have preferred for him to play in the Championship, but they intend to use him as a key player at right-back, and I knew he’d be in good hands with Mark Hughes in charge there, so I accepted the bid and then called Curro Torres, the Assistant Manager of the U21s, to tell him to let Nicolas - who doesn’t speak English yet - know where to be for training tomorrow morning.

    Finally, at 9:45pm, as I was finishing off my Chinese takeaway in the office, I received confirmation that Mario Pugliese had agreed terms on a four year deal, and had become a Southampton player. The transfer fee was an initial 16-million, with potential add-ons up to 19.5-million, and his starting salary will be 100,000 per week. I left the office thinking that I’m sure we’re paying him more than he’s worth, but he will add some considerable strength and experience to our midfield.

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    Last edited by rocheyb; 30/05/2014 at 05:27 AM.

  47. Friday 2nd September, 2022

    Tommaso Di Martino, the Porto midfielder that I wanted to sign, suffered a twisted ankle while on international duty with Italy today, so he’s out for 5 weeks. Just as well I didn’t sign him, then.

    We registered our Champions League squad, today, for the Group Stage. We named 24 players in the squad with the minimum 4 players trained by Southampton and 8 trained in England, plus 4 additional U21s who don’t have to be registered.

  48. Saturday 3rd September, 2022

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    Yvo Lucas celebrated his debut for The Netherlands by scoring against Romania, during a friendly 1-1 draw in Rotterdam - triggering a wage hike to 42,500 per week. He also suffered a dead leg during the match, so he’ll be touch-and-go for the Leeds match, next Saturday.
    Last edited by rocheyb; 26/05/2014 at 03:48 AM.

  49. Monday 5th September, 2022

    Preparation vs LEEDS UNITED (h)

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    SAINTS: 6/4 (fav); Leeds: 7/2; Draw: 9/4

    Our next match will be against Uwe Rosler’s injury-hit Leeds United, who finished 11th in the Premier League, last season. According to the scouting report, they usually play 4-4-2 and are vulnerable to 4-2-3-1. They are most likely to concede goals after the hour mark. Similar to Birmingham City, their squad does not compare well to ours, so I will play the 3-5-2 system against them and go in search of goals.

    We beat them 4-1 in the corresponding fixture last season and followed that up with a 1-0 win at Elland Road in the return. In fact, we have beaten them on each of the six occasions we have met, so we will be looking to extend that 100% record on Saturday.

    Their best player, Nigel McCartney - a striker - is among the injured, with a groin strain that will keep him out of the trip to St. Mary’s. But they will have Zac Frew, a 24 year-old former Arsenal youngster who totalled 31 caps and 9 goals for the England U21s.

  50. Wednesday 7th September, 2022

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    Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse were both part of the England team that beat Scotland 2-0 at Wembley Stadium, in their first European Championship Qualifying Group G match. Louis Cruse was among the unused substitutes. Meanwhile, Andrew Powell scored 4 for Wales in a 7-1 defeat of Malta, at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. We also had players involved in Belgium’s 10-0 demolition of Gibraltar and Croatia’s 9-1 mauling of San Marino.

    A makeshift Saints U18s team, with several players on international duty, drew 2-2 at home to Watford.

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