Writer: Daniel Bailey
Date:Friday March 6 2009
Saints boss Mark Wotte is expecting an even contest at St Andrew's this weekend as his side take on Birmingham, despite the two teams differing positions in the table.
The 52-year-old Dutchman has guided his relegation threatened side to three straight wins against top half sides, and Wotte is now anticipating another interesting encounter on Saturday.
Speaking to the club's official website ahead of the clash with Birmingham, Wotte said, "I love to play the top teams in the league because it means that you have so much to win," he explained.
"I like big challenges and we're all looking forward to this match. Birmingham are a big club with a big stadium and alot of fans. They are under alot of pressure though, perhaps more than us, because they need to win promotion. We need to survive and that's another kind of pressure."
Birmingham beat fellow promotion chasers Bristol City on Wednesday night, thanks to a late goal from French defender Frank Queudrue. The win puts the Midlands club back into the automatic promotion places, but Saints' Head Coach is confident that his side have the talent to match them pound for pound.
"I'm a positive thinking guy and I want to generate positive energy," he added. "I don't like to talk up other teams because it does no good. Birmingham are a respectable team, but in this league anyone can beat anybody, so why can't we beat Birmingham?
"They can change a game because of the quality of their subs and they are still a Premier League team playing in The Championship. We respect them, but they will start with eleven players and so will we!"
With the new fighting spirit and discipline that Wotte has introduced to the Southampton ranks, Saints' Head Coach believes his side will be aiming for a fourth straight league win, providing his players are at their very best.
"At the beginning of the season we beat them once in the Carling Cup and then were unlucky to lose the home league game, so we're not afraid at all," he stated.
"Everyone has to be 100% in his mentality because then the key factor becomes ability. The other way round will never work because if you have very good players with the wrong mentality then you will never win anything. I am happy that the boys know this and they show it and you have to work hard first before you get a good result.
"If we do what we did at Ipswich and are confident in the way we want to play and work hard then it's all about taking our chances and not conceding silly goals like we did at St Mary's when Kevin Phillips scored Birmingham's winner.
"Our biggest problem comes at home when teams turn up and keep eleven players behind the ball. When you play away, most English teams play to win and play direct. You always have chances to break and counter attack and we just have to make sure we take our chances."
Date:Friday March 6 2009
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