Saints stars deserve more media praise

Monday 1st April 2013 16:34

Southampton: Have been in great form recently

Southampton: Have been in great form recently

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Southampton FanZoner Ben Stanfield is annoyed by the little amount of credit Mauricio Pochettino's side have been given during their good run.

Chelsea (champions of Europe), Manchester City (champions of England) and Liverpool (urm...well Liverpool) have all turned up at St Mary's over the last few weeks and, incredibly, all suffered the same "off day" resulting in defeat to "little, relegation threatened, Southampton"!

That's right. None of them have been out-thought, out-fought or even out-classed by Saints. Nope!

They have simply been, as is the case when many other "smaller" clubs have had the audacity to beat the "bigger" boys, under-strength or just had far too many players tired from long trips around the world to play international matches.

It's a shame that when teams like Saints, Norwich and West Brom beat the top Premier League clubs that they never get the credit they deserve. But I guess that's English football these days.

If you play for, or support, a "smaller" club then you should always prepare to get mocked or even ignored whenever the opportunity arises - be it by other fans, the media or even your national team manager (eh Rickie?)

Why can't pundits and the media etc simply come out as one and say 'Southampton, who were fantastic from start to finish, totally deserved to beat a hapless Chelsea/Manchester City/Liverpool side (delete as appropriate) that, although missing several star names, still had a team out that consisted of eleven international players"?

I guess that would be far too critical of the clubs that these journalists like to keep in favour with, that it's much easier to say that they just had an "off day" and Southampton were simply "lucky".

Oh well, ultimately I don't really care! Seven points out of the last nine available has been a fantastic achievement from Saints.

After Artur Boruc's penalty save in injury time at Norwich, which could prove to be the turning point in our season, Saints have had two scintillating home games and achieved maximum points against one of the most successful British clubs in recent years...and also against Liverpool as well!

It now means, heading into the last seven games of the season, that they really have a great chance of staying in the Premier League and proving a lot of football experts (who said we'd do well to finish anywhere North of bottom) wrong!

There is no doubting that it would be a brilliant achievement to stay up but we're not quite there yet. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, Saints have a habit of coming undone against teams that they should beat (QPR at home recently being a perfect example) and they now have a run of games which could be deemed both winnable and losable before the end of the season.

Those seven points from the last three games have seen us rise to the lofty heights of 12th in the Premier League but, with only four points separating us from 18th position, we're definitely not safe yet.

I reckon two more wins and a draw from our remaining fixtures should be more than enough. The positive for Saints is that we actually have an upward momentum at the moment and, whereas teams like Sunderland are struggling to pick up points, we seem to have kicked on at just the right time in the season.

Not only that but we are doing it by playing attractive and committed football. When we have the ball our playmakers like Jay Rodriguez, who has been in incredible form over the last six weeks, Rickie Lambert, who surely deserves at least one chance to prove himself in an England shirt, and Jason Puncheon, who has been turning opposition defenders inside out and creating chance after chance.

When we've not had the ball then we've had the exceptional Morgan Schneiderlin (who has probably been our player of the season) and Jack Cork (Mr Consistent) chasing all over the park to get it back.

The team ethic and willingness to fight for each other, that was originally installed by Nigel Adkins and has been enhanced still further by Mauricio Pochettino, has never been higher than it is now.

Whether it's based on the quality of the football or the desire to work for each other, I don't think any neutral can say that Saints don't deserve to stay up this season.

But, apart from just staying up, I've no doubts that Mr Cortese will want Saints to finish as high as they can as "points means prizes" (or in this case money!). The main thing for any player, fan or chairman at Saints, is achieving safety, whether its 17th or 12th, and being a part of both the Premier League, and that bumper TV pay deal!

Let's see what the next couple of weeks bring and how high we can finish.

In the meantime, I just wanted to finish by saying how good it is to see the aforementioned Nigel Adkins back in football. No real Saints fan can ever think of Mr Adkins as anything but a hero for what he achieved at St. Mary's. Certainly I know I will always think of him as that.

I think it'll be a very tough job for him to keep Reading up this season but, if they do get relegated to the Championship, then he'll be very confident that he can get them promoted straight back to the Premier League.

For that reason alone it's a shrewd appointment by the Royals.

Of course the football Gods have also ensured that Nigel's first home game next weekend should be against his former employers so that'll add a little extra spice to the game.

More importantly it will be great for Saints fans, who never really got the chance before he was sacked and then who had to suffer the embarrassment of a Club that had no intention of acknowledging his achievements publicly, to sing his name and thank him in the flesh.

That will be done before and/or after the game, though, because now Pochettino is our leader and has our full support. Saints fans are renowned for always getting behind their team for 90 minutes, whoever is wearing the hallowed shirts or standing on the touchline managing the side, and endeavouring to help push them on to three points!

Hopefully if we can win the game then we might actually get some credit for performing well rather than hearing about yet another "off day" for the opposition!

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