Grant: 'Why I'm wary of Saints'

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant says Southampton will again be a side to be reckoned with this season, despite their losing start to the campaign.


Peter Grant says Southampton will again be a side to be reckoned with this season, despite their losing start to the campaign.

Saints were thumped 4-1 at home by Crystal Palace last weekend and then slumped to a 2-1 Carling Cup defeat at Peterborough on Monday night.

The City boss was at London Road for the cup game and says it's the players who weren't on view that makes him believe there is more to come from the south coast side, who started with Alexander Ostlund, John Viafara and Marek Saganowski on the bench.

"I was at the game the other evening there and you look at their strength in depth on the bench and you look at the strengths that they have got available and it is still a very, very strong squad," Grant said.

"I would say it's much stronger than ours in depth still, even though they have lost a lot of players, so there is no doubt they are a good side."

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Saints boss George Burley has had to watch as Gareth Bale left for Tottenham for £5m, Chris Baird for Fulham for £3m and Pele for West Bromwich Albion.

Coming through the door has been Saganowski, who has signed a permanent deal after a loan spell last season, Adam Hammill, on loan from Liverpool, and Gregory Vignal, on loan from Lens -- and Youssef Safri moving from Carrow Road.

Safri's was an acrimonious departure, with off-field issues between the two men, and while Grant spoke little of the Moroccan in his Thursday media conference, he was clear on one issue.

"He has nothing to prove, we know he is a good player. Nothing to prove to me," he said.

Safri has played in both opening games and while it hasn't been the best start to a season by a long way, Grant says he sympathises with his opposite number at St Mary's.

"We are similar - you have players coming in and out, you have lost players you didn't want to lose, so we are in probably a very similar boat," Grant said.

"You don't want to lose your best players - they have done that and what is probably disappointing for George is he has lost players to Championship teams.

"But we understand the fact of being out of the Premier League, that is the nature of the beast. When you are not in the Premier League it costs you, not just financially but it costs you players, the quality you want. We all know the quality we want and we are all fighting for the same quality that is left."

They may share similar problems, but Grant believes Southampton's Carling Cup exit could be viewed as a blessing in disguise.

"It is first week of the season, George will be delighted it's happened at this moment in time," he claimed. "Some people look at it differently, some people, say, 'well, we're glad we are out of the cup because it gives us time to focus on the most important thing, which is the league'.

"For me it is trying to get that focus at all times. Some people maybe look at it differently."