Writer: Vital Saint
Date:Friday October 26 2012
Spurs up next, and here are the thoughts of Vital Spurs.
With thanks to OxfordSpur!
What are you expecting from the season?
At the start of the season, I would have been happy with a top six place and European competition again, but we seem to have settled quite well after a summer of big change and will hopefully improve as new players gel. Also looking at our expected rivals, I don`t see too much to worry about if we can get our own house in order.
Any highlights from the season so far?
Though we clung on for dear life in the second half, it has to be winning at Old Trafford for the first time in years. Nothing else comes close so far this season.
To be honest, our form has been a bit up and down and we have only seen glimpses of what we can do, but I can see the team getting stronger and more consistent as they continue to gel and see the benefits of their hard work.
Are you happy with your clubs business in the transfer window?
Obviously losing players of the quality of Ledley King, Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart, would have had a major impact on any side. Ledley was the complete defender and club captain, but to a degree his departure might have at least allowed for a greater stability of the defensive unit if everyone was able to remain fit. In Jan Vertonghen we appear to have done well in finding a top quality player to come in and everyone has high hopes for him.
Replacing Modric and Van der Vaart, hasn`t been quite as successful just yet, with regard to the players being brought in not being like for like swaps, but anyone who has watched Moussa Dembele, will know very well what an excellent player he is, both with his guile and also the destructive way he can play. In Clint Dempsey and Glyfi Sigurdsson, I don`t believe they have quite lived up to their potential, but I have a feeling that might be due to team balance as opposed to anything else.
Hugo Lloris, has created a huge point of discussion over his not going straight into the team, but to his credit, Brad Friedel has upped his game with the new challenge, so do you drop a man in form, just because you have brought in an expensive replacement?
Who is going to be your main dangerman when we play?
Gareth Bale! First time father and a first ever game against his former club! Need I say more...
What I would say though is that we have plenty of dangerous players. To me you look weak on your left side, which could be a great opportunity for Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker, whilst Jermain Defoe is having a great season.
Fingers crossed that Dembele will be fit from a hip injury, and I can see him and Sandro pairing up again and they are absolute beasts, but beasts with huge ability. Add Emmanuel Adebayor (perhaps from the bench) and the hard work and quality of Dempsey and Sigurdsson, who only needs a piece of luck for his career to take off with us, and I think you will agree, there are plenty of individuals to worry about, but when they click as a team, they can be awesome.
What are your weaknesses, any clues for the game will be appreciated :-)
I would certainly concede that we are not the finished article at the moment. The right side of our defence looks fragile, in Walker and Gallas. Walker is having a slight dip in form and Gallas is struggling with the pace demands of the Prem at the moment. Without wishing to dismiss that problem, it is quite possible that should Benoit Assou-Ekotto be passed fit, he could return at left back allowing Caulker and Vertonghen to form a central partnership and maybe Kyle Naughton could fill in for Walker.
Though our midfield looks great in Lennon, Bale, Sandro and Dembele, with either Dempsey of Sigurdsson making up a five when needed, it doesn`t have that bit of creative magic to unlock a resolute defence. Perhaps lucky for us that you have by far the worst defensive record in the division.
Have you been surprised with how Saints have performed so far?
I think that any side stepping up from the Championship to Premiership will struggle at some stage, either due to lacking quality or finance to keep up. I like the way Southampton play and I was hugely impressed with their fighting qualities in a very tough opening of the season. What has worried me is the way you appear to have lost that fight and seen unable to raise your game against seemingly weaker opposition that I would have expected you to pick up points.
Do you have any thoughts on Nigel Adkins?
Whatever happens this season, I hope you stick with him as manager. I know I am looking from the outside and therefore don`t have the insight of you guys, but he has done a brilliant job to this point and it is also a learning curve for him, as much as many of the players. I get the impression that he will learn massively for the experience of this season whatever happens and I think if you stick with him, you will be fine, even if this season proves too much and ends in relegation.
Has anyone stood out from our recent buys?
If I am truthful, I probably haven`t seen enough of your games and the relevant individuals to have a valid opinion, but I thought you were clearly ambitious in bringing in the likes of Gaston Ramirez for such big money and from what I can see so far, it hasn`t quite worked out. Would you have been better served looking to bring in players that had English experience instead of looking to make a statement? For example, and I use Spurs players to make this point. Signing Michael Dawson for £8m or Sebastien Bassong for £5m (perhaps both) would have been better business and goal difference could mean staying up or going down in May.
If you could take one of our players, who would it be and why?
I would probably take a punt on Adam Lallana, but I am yet to be fully convinced that he has the pace and absolute quality to be a top six player, this season will tell us that. I hear great reports on Luke Shaw and we need cover at left back, but again he probably needs a season of football before he is ready. Maybe buy him and loan him back to you for a season.
Without wishing to be disrespectful, I don`t see any individual Southampton player jumping straight into the Spurs team and being better than what we already have. would Lambert get in ahead of Defoe or Adebayor? would Lallana get in over Sigurdsson or Dempsey? Maybe, maybe not. For me, you have the basis of a good side, but the sensible approach is to look for team players as opposed to outstanding individuals, and in the main I think you have done that.
Who do you see as our main threat in the game?
I suppose Ricky Lambert has to be considered as the man to worry us. He has proved he is Premiership quality and like Grant Holt for Norwich last season looks to give you that striker any promoted team has to have. I actually feel he could cause William Gallas problems, but if I`m honest, I wouldn`t pick him and would either bring back Assou-Ekotto or Kyle Naughton at left back and move Vertonghen inside or directly replace him with Dawson. But then again what do I know...
Finally, a prediction for the game please?
What is important is our getting 3 points and I would like a clean sheet, which I believe we can. Having a Europa league game this Thursday is a slight worry, especially as it is a tiring away trip, but with a few squad players drafted in and hopefully a full strength starting XI on Sunday, I believe we should be good enough to win.
What I would say is that I genuinely wish you guys luck for the other 36 games this season and I hope you stay up, as I like you as a club and also for how you try to play the game. At this time, there are certainly three teams who deserve to go down before you. I just hope you get that mix of luck and are able to add the right players to get 17th and then kick on...
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Date:Friday October 26 2012
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