View from the Opposition: Expectation so high for Southampton fans
PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:25 02 January 2016
The man behind Saints fans’ website The Ugly Inside Nick Illingsworth looks ahead to today’s game at Carrow Road.
How do you feel about Southampton’s season so far?
To many Saints supporters it’s been a bit of a disappointment after the heights of last season. However, we are still well placed to make a charge on the top 10 in the second half, we just need to find a bit more consistency and end this run of mainly defeats in the last six games. It is all about lasting progress, and a top-10 finish will be just that as it will be our third in a row.
Do you think last season’s seventh-placed finish has unfairly raised expectations at St Mary’s?
Definitely. There is a feeling that we should be up there in the top four and with the likes of Leicester and Palace challenging, there is a point. However, we need to build a squad that can compete in the long term and although I think Ronald Koeman has done that after losing key players from last season, I think we have under-performed and that has led to what we term down here “bedwetters” complaining. But overall we need to have realistic expectations and that is to be a top-10 club year in, year out and building on that. We are still well placed for that.
Which players have failed to reach the heights of last season?
There have been a few that have been inconsistent, Dusan Tadic, pictured below, can’t seem to find consistency, Ryan Bertrand, although steady, has yet to really hit the heights of last season and Jose Fonte has been a little error-prone this year. Perhaps the biggest disappointment, though, has been Victor Wanyama, who had his head turned by Spurs in August and has never been the same player since.
Since replacing Mauricio Pochettino, how do fans view the job that Ronald Koeman is doing?
Put bluntly, Ronald Koeman did a fantastic job last season and is doing a good one this. I don’t think anyone else could have come into St Mary’s and done what he has after the traumas of the summer of 2014. He is very popular with the Saints’ support and if he were to get us to a Cup final, he would become a true Saints legend. Some managers are a good fit for a club and Koeman and Saints are an example.
Are there any members of your squad that you are worried about losing in the transfer window?
Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama are the two big names being linked with a move, although Ronald Koeman has stated categorically that no one will be sold this January. Mane would be a big loss, but there is a feeling that Wanyama’s heart isn’t in it after Spurs’ unsettling pursuit of him in the summer, so there are some who would be glad to see him go.
Who would you like the Saints to sign this month?
Personally I think we need a good, strong central defender to create competition in what has been an error-strewn back four and Ronald Koeman would like a genuine pacy winger, with Andros Townsend’s name being mentioned. If we could get two players in these positions I think we would be well placed for the second half of the season.
Has the Boxing Day mauling of Arsenal boosted hopes of an improved second half of the season?
We are on a terrible run, but I don’t think we have played badly. We have just kept making individual errors and suffered lapses of concentration at key moments and this has cost us dearly, as it did at West Ham on Monday when we really should have won. The Arsenal game showed just what we can do when we cut out these errors.
You strolled to victory against Norwich at home. Did any of their players impress you?
I have got to be honest here, I have fallen out of love with Premier league football. I go to games these days to support my team and get absorbed in what we are doing, not the opposition, and I don’t enjoy the game as a spectacle, I leave games struggling to remember the opposition – no slight on Norwich, but I would struggle to answer this question for any other Premier League team.
The Canaries and your neighbours Bournemouth are battling to avoid relegation. Do you think either will go down?
I think both will stay up, Bournemouth have never been seen as rivals by Saints fans. We draw a lot of support from the Bournemouth area and their results are often cheered when it’s announced they have won after a game at St Mary’s, although their supporters would like to stir up a rivalry. I think most Saints fans would be quite happy with the current bottom three going down.
And finally, what is your prediction for today’s game?
Of course I have to go for a Saints win and I think it will be 3-1. Our recent run suggests a team in turmoil, but up to the start of December we were unbeaten on the road and in good form. We are showing signs of finding that form again. I think Norwich like Arsenal might get the backlash.