INDIVIDUAL PLAYER REVIEWS 2012/13

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14. GULY DO PRADO

Post  SaintMike on Wed 05 Jun 2013, 9:33 am

Perhaps one of the most maligned Saints players of recent times, the question is why ? Yes he has had his off days but he has never complained and just got on with it.

Guly Do Prado has probably taken more flak than most over the past 18 months or so and although he has had his bad moments, the fact is that there are others who have made as many mistakes yet are beyond criticism, indeed one of yesterdays reviews spent most of the last three years thinking he was above the club, yet returnes scoes a couple of goals and is now feted by some as one of the players of the season, during that time all Guly did was play where he was asked when he was asked without complaint.

So after the stick he received during our promotion season from the Championship it was always going to be interesting as to how he would perform, he started the early games and if he had a nightmare he was far from alone, but he found himself marginalised and around half of his 18 league appearances would be off the bench.

In fairness to him he has done his job when called upon despite those who will slag him off verbally in games whatever he does, perhaps a good example of this was over the New year period, restored to the side at Stoke he put in a sterling performance, but he will be remembered for missing a chance, it wasnt an easy chance, it was 18 yards out, but that game will be remembered for Guly's miss, not the chaotic defending at the back. Likewise a few days later, again at home to Arsenal he put in his fair share against the Gunners, but when the luck isnt going for you it isnt going for you and again people remember his own goal, an unlucky one at that from a challenge he had to make, rather than his performance.

Guly will be remembered for his mistakes rather than anyone else, he just seems to be one of those players who a certain sheepish element of the crowd take a dislike too, at the same time taking to players who actually are doing much less than Guly, the Championship season, Guly started well and was in fine form scoring and creating goals, yet he was verbally abused whilst the man in direct competition for his position, Steeeeeeeeeve was greeted like a conquering hero in every game, OK by the end it was ironical as most had realised that he was contributing little, but the crowd didnt turn on him like Guly.

Guly's best game of the season was his last, he worked hard and his last kick of the ball was chasing back and winning a tackle in which he got injured and had to go off, after that Saints lost their shape a little and struggled to contain Spurs and the feeling was that if Guly had stayed on then we might have nicked a draw.

Will that be Guly's last kick for the club ? it could possibly be, yes he didnt deserve the stick he got and the blame for everything that went wrong, but he isnt a Premier quality player, he like around 10 in the squad were on the fringes, if we needed to call upon Guly in the second half of the season it was due to injury or suspension, if Saints bring in four of five decent players in the summer, its hard to see Guly getting much of a look in.

If he does go he should leave with the grateful thanks of Saints fans, our rise has been meteoric in the past two years, but without Guly we might not be in this position, 23,647 were in St Mary's as Saints hopes of promotion looked to be faltering after a defeat at Rochdale, with Lee Barnard stretchered off and the clock running down at 0-0 against a side who would be relegated, up stepped Guly for a bit of class and a late winner, it turned the tide in our way in the battle for 2nd place and we marched to promotion instead of faltering, 9,000 empty seats appreciated Guly that day.

Guly's contribution wasnt great this season therefore a 6/10 is the most I can give and a lot of that is for being a staunch squad player, his opportunities were limited, but as I say when called upon he did his job and many a good result saw Guly come on for 10 minutes or so at the end to help see the game out, sadly many wont remember this.

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15. RICHARD CHAPLOW

Post  SaintMike on Wed 05 Jun 2013, 10:52 am

Richard Chaplow has been a solid player for Saints over the past two years or so, sadly he has been blighted by bad luck.

When Richard Chaplow arrived back at St Mary's on loan in September 2010 he came into a side that needed a boost and he quickly provided it being a hard working regular that got few plaudits as other took the glory.

He looked certain to replicate that in the Championship, but early doors he was sent off at Barnsley which took a month out of his season and then just as he got back into the side and was arguably the form player, he suffered an injury at Bristol City that would keep him out of league action for almost three months. He returned though and played a vital role in the run in to promotion.

This season though was always going to be tough for Chaplow, most thought that perhaps the Premiership would be a step too far, indeed at West Brom he had played in the top flight before being loaned out to Saints mid season although perhaps his hard working type of game might be useful at times, truth was though that with plenty of midfield options, he wasnt to get much of a chance.

Most Saints fans will be pushed to remember him playing this season, thats probably because two of his three Premier appearances as sub were away from home, however he did play a part, in his final game at Chelsea he came on with 23 minutes left and Saints 2-1 down and worked hard to not only get Saints back in it but close the game out and make sure that Chelsea didnt get a late winner.

Soon after he went on loan at Millwall , but his unlucky streak continued, at Saints he always had the knack of picking up injuries at the wrong time and this proved to be the case at Millwall where after barely a month he was again out for the season, of course the biggest tragedy was yet to come with the sad death of his baby, somethng which all Saints fans sympathised with him for.

So what does the future hold for Richard, sadly I think like many at the club for the past few years, he will be on a good wage after promotion increases etc, so next season he will again be looking at a loan somwhere, sadly this is the way of life in todays game where the gulf between Championship and Premier is so wide and Richard like many before him was playing for a wage increase in the promotion year rather than a shot at the Premier.

5/10 for Richard Chaplow, no reflection on his contribution to this football club, just that his chances were limited.

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16. ADAM LALLANA

Post  SaintMike on Thu 06 Jun 2013, 8:30 pm

A season that started with such promise for Adam Lallana ultimately turned out to be one of disapointment for one of Saints starlets.

Adam Lallana must have thought the Premiership would be a doddle after getting a call up to the full England squad and being praised by Gary eville himself, but sadly this would be as good as it got for Adam.

I dont particularly think the blame lies with Lallana himself here as to why the season hasnt sparkled a it should do, in League 1 and the Championship playing out wide suited Adam in that with Saints dominating so many games especially at home, he had licence to roam and attack, because of that dominance it meant that his absence from the defensive duties he should have been taking care of was not so crucial, but in the Premier its a far different story.

Going forward Adam has often looked good, his total assists in the Premier League of 5 was only bettered by Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert, his goals total could have been better but again his three still put him sixth highest scorer and to put that in perspective, behind Lambert our second top scorer was jay Rodriguez with only 6.

But as I say Adam has suffered more than most with the step up to the premier league, not because of a lack of talent, but to be blunt he isnt suited to playing wide in this division, going forward he can do his job, but defensively he is found wanting, too often when Saints attacks broke down our left back often found himself double teamed by two of the opposition with Adam left stranded 30 yards up the field. In the Premier a wide player needs to be able to get up and down the line cover back and instictively know where he needs to be defensively when the opposition is breaking, Adam doesnt really have that in is locker im afraid and that has cost us whoever has been left back.

Personally I would have thought that Lallana could of and should have been played in that forwrd central midfield role, there the need to chase back is a lot less and the emphasis is more on attack than workrate on the back foot, the arrival of Gaston Ramirez perhaps affected Adam more than anyone, if we had played Adam in that position and bought a quality left side wide man feel we would have got more out of both positions, as stated Adam on the left scored 3 and had 5 assists, Gaston had 5 goals and 4 assists, not a lot between them really, but would pose the suggestion that had Lallana played in that central role he would have been involved more and therefore created and scored more than he did.

So the key to Adam's season next year will be whether Gaston Ramirez is still at the club, if he is then it could be a bit part role for Adam, I cant see Ramirez, the club;'s record signing not being started if fit, if Saints dont plug that left sided gap then I would be surprised and if they do then I cant see where Adam will easily fit in apart from replacing Ramirez late on in games when the Uruaguayan seems to tire.

If we dont buy a left sided wide man then it will take a change in style or thinking from Saints if they dont want to get ripped apart down the left as they did far too many times last season, even with Luke Shaw in the side it happened too many times for comfort, Shaw had the pace to get himself out of trouble on some of those occasions, but still too much was created down the left as teams targetted that as the weak link for us when attacked on the counter.

Saints natural game at present is to attack, when we do so it has been about getting both wide men forward as well as our 3rd midfielder, good from an attacking option, but when you have three out of five midfielders in the opposition box it leaves us very vunerable to that counter attack.

It hasnt been the best season for Adam Lallana, it hasnt been due to lack of effort or skill, he has the talent to play at this standard, what it has been about is where he is played and that will be the key next season, I think if he is moved to that central role then he could well flourish there, would certainly expect him to contribute more than Gaston Ramirez has done so far, if Saints are to flourish as a team, that position is key one of Ramirez or Lallana needs to step up to the plate and make it their own.

For this season therefore its 6/10 for Adam Lallana, disapointing yes, but for the reasons I have mentioned, if Mauricio Pochettino gets things right then next year could truly see Lallana play a key role, although its unclear yet just what that role might be.

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17. EMMANUEL MAYUKA

Post  SaintMike on Thu 06 Jun 2013, 8:32 pm

I would say one of the most disapointing signings for Saints till I remembered Vegard Forren.

Put bluntly I really cant see why we signed Mayuka, his signing for a not inconsiderable fee rumoured to be around £3.5 million in hindsight looks baffling, his season has consisted of just one start in the Premier League plus 10 appearances off the bench of varying, usually short amounts of time, totalling around 2 hours and 12 minutes approximately of game time on the pitch with little to show for that, certainly not a goal.

I can see why Saints might have considered signing him in that we need pace and he is certainly fast, indeed on paper he should be an ideal foil for Rickie Lambert, the problem being though is that as we play a lone striker role, one that Mayuka certainly isnt suited for himself, he is going to get very little chance to do that, yes he runs about a lot, but then again so does Mo Farah and I would suggest that he would not be that far behind Mayuka in knowing whhere and when to make runs and that is the clue, a good player knows when to make a run and when to hold back.

I would suggest that Saints would have been far better keeping Billy Sharp at the club, perhaps he isnt quite Premier quality as a striker, but he knows how to find the goal, there have certainly been some games where late on we have been crying out for a goal poacher but had no one to come on and save a game.

Strangely even when we have been in that position, neither Nigel Adkins nor Mauricio Pochettino showed much enthusiasm to bring Mayuka on, from 5th November and the defeat against West Brom till 20th April when he suddenly appeared for a couple of minutes at the end of the 0-0 draw at Swansea, he played no football at all for Saints apart from a very puzzling appearance in the Sunderland game when he made his only start, completely inneffective he was hauled off after the break and replaced by stranger still Steve De Ridder whilst Jay Rodriguez remained on the bench, despite a lively 15 minutes at Liverpool the previous week, if ever the conspiracy theorists were out in force it was those couple of game.

So Mayuka's contribution to Saints season was minimal to say the least and its hard to see what the future holds, yes Pochettino used him a little bit in the final four games, but that looks like the manager having a last look at him to give him the chance to prove himself, certainly he did nothing to suggest that he might come good next season.

I have nothing against him as a player, I just think that his seat on the bench where he must be near the club record for consecutive sitting on the bench and not getting on the field, certainly for an outfield player, could have been better filled by Billy Sharpe or even Tadanari Lee for that matter, I dont know who was responsible for signing Mayuka, almost certainly not Nigel Adkins, but whoever it was made a mistake somewhere along the line, of course these things happen and its what happens next that counts.

Im struggling to give Mayuka a rating here, perhaps a mark for putting on the kit smartly and another for warming up well, a third perhaps for getting on with the job as it must be frustrating for him as well to watch so many matches without involvement, but thats about it 3/10

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18. BEN REEVES

Post  SaintMike on Fri 07 Jun 2013, 4:58 pm

Sadly what looked like a promising career at St mary's for Ben Reeves is now over.

At the start of the season Ben looked to have a chance of a future at St Mary's, in 11/12 he had made a good impression in several cup games as well as a couple of cameos as sub in the league, with Saints looking at youth Reeves was well in the frame.

He made his mark at Stevenage coming on in the Carling Cup tie there and scoring a sublime goal in the final minute and followed that up a few days later by making his Premier League debut as sub at Everton, coming on for the final ten minutes to repalce Nathan Clyne in the left back berth, providing me with one of the classic moments of the season as the person behind me thought it was Luke Shaw coming on, salivating at the moment and cheering on "Lukey" for the next few minutes, aclaiming his every move till the stadium announcer who for some reason had announced it was Lee Barnard coming on, got it right and informed the crowd and of course my Lukey loving friend that it was in fact Ben Reeves.

He had an assured final ten minutes in the position and given the problems we were having there on that side of the pitch that day it augered well for the future, but he would only play another couple of games as sub in the Premier, the emergence of the real Luke Shaw leapfrogging him in the pecking order meant that chances of even a place on the bench would now be few and far between and at the end of January he went off to Southend for a succesful spell there.

But being out of contract in the summer would have serious ramifications for him, with Saints staying up and now reportably looking to strengthen the squad with big money signings it means that there just isnt room for Ben, if we had been relegated then he might just have earned another deal, but with Saints aiming their sights higher, there are just two many experienced players in his way even as cover on both the left side or in midfield so it was probably inevitable he would be released.

But Ben will have no trouble finding a club and I would predict a decent future in the game, perhaps it will be League 1 or 2 to start with, but he has the ability to play at least in the Championship and who knows after that, so good luck to Ben, only a minor part in this season in respect of Saints, but 6/10 for what you did including the goal at Stevenage.

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19. JAMES WARD-PROWSE

Post  SaintMike on Fri 07 Jun 2013, 5:00 pm

In 2011/12 James made his debut for the club still a week short of his 17th birthday & looked the part even though a youthful Saints team went out of the competition, he followed that up in the January by scoring the equaliser in the FA Cup tie at Coventry, but that was his sole contribution to that season, not getting his chance to make his league debut.

That came though in suprising circumstances, on the opening weekend of the the season, Ward-Prowse was preferred in the centre of midfield to new signing Steven Davis who was also joined on the bench by Rickie Lambert, again Jamie looked the part and played over an hour of the game, he was on the bench for the Wigan game but played the full 90 minutes against Man Utd at St Mary's and again at Arsenal, but there would only be one other start for JWP, that being at Everton in October and for the rest of the season he was very much a fringe player being seen as one for the future rather than the finished article, it didnt help his cause that the midfield was jam packed with seasoned players in front of him and he found himself fifth choice for one of the central three positions.

After October things went a little quiet for him, but as we turned into the new year he started to get himself back into the picture, firstly coming on as sub on new years day against Arsenal and following that up with a number of appearances off the bench usually around the 10 -15 minute mark in duration, but also a very good 30 minute stint in the home win against Chelsea, not to mention his impact when coming on against Sunderland when he crossed the ball for Jason Puncheon's goal. In short when JWP came on as sub, it was rarely a minute or two cameo to run down the clock, he usually came on at a vital time of the game to add fresh legs and help close it out.

Many forget just how young JWP actually is, only turning 18 in November, im sure that this time last year he would have been very pleased if he had been told in this season he would start 4 Premier League games as well as another 11 appearances off the bench, the problem he has now though is breaking through to that next level with so many in front of him in the pecking order and next season I would think that it would be something similar in terms of appearances furthering his football education, gaining that little bit more experience and readying himself to establish himself in the first team, as I said he is till young and most players arent truly ready to blossom till they reach 20, so I expect 2014/15 to be his season, although I wouldnt be surprised is it was next.

So more of the same next year, I cant see the benefit of a loan spell for James, he is getting that experience here on the fringe of the first team and in his case that will be better here than elsewhere, anyway he is a valuable member of the squad whose contribution is vital.

James signed a five year deal in Novemeber on his 18th birthday which perhaps shows that he is considered the long term of the club, within the next two years I think we will see him mature and blossom into a great player.

So 7/10 for James, a good contribution in what was a season of taking steps forward for him, if he continues to do that at the right pace, then it can only benefit Saints.

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20. GASTON RAMIREZ

Post  SaintMike on Fri 07 Jun 2013, 5:02 pm

Gaston arrived with a huge fanfare of trumpets as the club record signing and also allegedly its highest paid player ever, its been disapointing.


The Gaston Ramirez transfer saga ran and ran as it was evident that the player himself or at least his agent were trying to use Saints as leaverage to perhaps attract what they perceived to be a bigger club coming in for him, eventually accepting that no one was going to offer as much as Saints were willing to pay, Ramirez signed for Saints virtually on deadline day.

Perhaps Saints determination to deliver what was whispered in PR terms as a marquee signing clouded their judgement, as talented as Ramirez is, the fact is Saints were paying a hell of a lot of transfer money & wages out for a player whose two seasons at Bologna had yielded 44 (15) appearances and 12 goals, statistics which are at best slightly above average.

In the early days of the sage Ramirez was often described as a wide man, this was a position that Saints desperately needed to strengthen in, when he arrived though that soon changed to a central midfielder, again worrying as having signed Steven Davis we had a plethora of those, again I would say our transfer committee took their eyes off the ball here in their quest to unveil what they saw as the marquee signing, it was all about doing this rather than concentrating on areas we really needed new blood in, the ramifications of Ramirez signing were felt not just in the centre of the park, but in other areas that had seemingly been neglected in the process, after a busy start to the window, Saints signed no one between 20th July and Gazzaniga arriving and 29th July and Mayuka, on the eve of the window shutting we were clearly panicking and it has to be perhaps considered that in doing so we persuaded Gaston to sign with wages that didnt match his ability.

Initially things looked good, his full debut against Villa saw our first win and in his second game he scored his first goal, but those up at Goodison that day saw a team that looked unbalanced and struggling to cope with a system that we didnt have the personel to play effectively.

But his Saints career stalled after these two games and he wouldnt play again due to injury for another month and when he returned things were at rock bottomafter a defeat at West Brom, but with Ramirez back we picked up a bit after that and he showed his class, notably in wins against QPR & Newcastle, but what was soon becoming clear was that for Saints at least Gaston was a luxury, he was unused to the pace of the English game and although he seemingly had no trouble completing 90 minutes in Serie A, in the Premier he struggled to last much beyond the hour point.

This was to become a recurring theme, look back at most of his starts and he is usually substituted not long after that 60 minute mark and sometimes even at half time, what also became clear was that when things were going well Gaston could turn it on, when they werent he could be a liability, unable to get his passing game together when we were on the back foot and not the type player to be able to scrap for the ball in the centre of the park.

Given that as a bottom quarter team in the Premier league for most of the season there were going to be very few games we would control, especially away from home, it seemed sometimes he was picjked because of his high fee rather than his contribution to the team, both Nigel Adkins and Pochettino seemed to feel this in the fact that both have picked him in the starting line up regularly but mostly taken him off, indeed under Pochettino Gaston has only played around a third of the minutes he could have done under the manager, OK he has been suspended for the last three games, but even taking them into accunt he still wouldnt have even played half of the time he could have done on the pitch.

His sending off was controversial, the flying elbow was uncalled for, Shane Long was harrasing him on the run, nothing more when inexplicably he elbowed him, perhaps this was frustration at the way the move has turned out, certainly he might have felt that Pochettino has not been impressed, he had only been used as a substitute in this and the previous game, against Chelsea he had not even got on the bench, indeed in the last five matches including the West Brom game he had spent a total of 194 minutes on the pitch out of the 450 he could have, for the money Saints had spent they should expect a lot more than that. Put bluntly 20 starts plus 6 as sub and only 5 goals arent what you would expect for such a big fee, although it should be noted that is about his goals per game ratio etc in Italy.

But the fans havent got on Gaston's back, they realise that he is trying, but it just isnt working, he isnt suited to either Saints way of playing or to a team that is out of neccessity going to spend a lot of its time under pressure, Pochettino had perhaps realised this and was tending to use Ramirez sparingly, realising he wasnt the player needed in a tough game, but like most managers at any club, you are under pressure to play a big marquee signing and justify why such a big fee has been paid.

So this season has been a disapointing one for everyone concerned, including Im sure Gaston himself whom I consider more to be a victim of circumstance than a player who just doesnt give a toss, we have had glimpses of brilliance, some magical moments, but to be frank they have been few and far between for a player who for the money paid should have been a player who truly influenced our games week in week out, this being the case its hard to give him any more than 6/10, he just hasnt delivered what a player of whom so much money has been spent on should have done, if we had signed him for say £3 million then perhaps he would have been value for money but at over four times that he hasnt been, the Premier has been littered with lubs who have spent big money unwisely and paid the price for that.

So what now for Gaston, there are rumours of Juventus and other Italian clubs queueing up to take him back to Serie A, certainly that would probably suit him and I put these news headlines squarely in the box marked "leaked by Agent" I see them as nothing more than his agent trying to generate interest from other clubs, the problem though will b two fold, firstly with his wages being reportably somewhere between £50 -£65k a week net, would he be likely to find that sort of salary elsewhere, I would say no, secondly would another club pay £12 million for him and again I would doubt that, Ramirez was a player whose true value was about £6 million as a promising player in his early 20's, has even that value been damaged by a poor season with Saints, again I would say it has and Saints would struggle to get that sort of bid in for him and that would bring it down to a loss of face from the club to let him go so cheaply, that would be to admit that someone has got it badly wrong in every respect.

These things all being pertinent I would say that Gaston might well be with us next season, perhaps things could turn out better, if Saints concentrate on those areas they should have last summer then we will be a better balanced side and perhaps able to control games more, that being the case it would be easier for Gaston to come in and impose himself on games, if he does then its perpetualy motion in play, the team gets better Gaston plays better, Gaston plays better the team gets better, so I wouldnt write of Gaston just yet, but as I said there are manythings at play here and ultimately what might keep him here is the very thing that bought him and that is Money !

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21. JACK CORK

Post  SaintMike on Mon 10 Jun 2013, 10:29 am

Initially many Saints supporters were proud of Jack Cork being selected for Great Britain's Olympic football squad, but it soon became clear that this would impact greatly on Saints season, Cork had to miss the entire Saints pre season preparation as he met his Olympic commitments, not to mention that it meant he had virtually no break from football, this impacted on Saints in that he picked up niggling injuries meaning that although the Olympic tournament finished in early August, it would be 10th November before Cork appeared in the Premier League for Saints.

By then he had missed 10 games and Saints sat at rock bottom with only four points.

But then the season started to change and as mentioned it was no coincidence as Jack came into the side and formed a great partnership with Morgan Schneiderlin, in his first four games back Saints picked up 8 points and he would not miss another Premier league game all season.

But it would have been the most optimistic Saints supporter who would have predicted such success for Jack in the centre of the park in the Premier, indeed in the Championship Dean Hammond often played in the centre with either Cork or Schneiderlin moved out wide, yet when they finally came together it was if they had played together all their lives.

Jack though is the unsung hero of the dynamic duo in the centre of the park, Morgan Schneiderlin has got all the plaudits and there can be no denying he deserves them, but for me withough Jack Cork I dont think he would have been that effective, indeed I feel that without Cork Saints themselves would not have been so effective, in short Cork busied himself around in the midfield and did the things that many dont notice, win little balls here and there, keep the ball moving etc etc

These are not the grand sweeping passes and tackles that win you the player of the year, but without the smaller things done well I think we would have gone down. I honestly feel that without Jack, Morgan Schneiderlin would not have won the player of the year, however Jack with Morgan would have walked it, thats not to demean Morgan Schneiderlin, but to highlight just how crucial Jack Cork is to our team.

But it wasnt just his ability to play the supporting role so well, Jack also could adapt to whatever the situation demanded, whether it be to fill in at right back or combatting a different style of play from the opposition.

I would also pose this question, if Jack Cork can start the season well and keep up the standards that he has set in this last season, then I would suggest that he will be the next Saints player to win a full England cap, he is well known to the England set up and he plays in a position that England really struggle in, he might just be able to capitalise on that.

A year ago Saints supporters probably wondered whether Jack Cork would make the step up to the Premier, certainly no one seemed unduly worried that he would miss the start of the season due to the Olympics, now that has all changed, Saints truly have an engine room in the midfield that they never had in the Championship with all the chopping and changing.

9/10 for Jack Cork, he was one of the players who truly changed the direction of the season.

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22. MORGAN SCHNEIDERLIN

Post  SaintMike on Mon 10 Jun 2013, 10:31 am

Ever since he joined the club in the summer of 2008 Morgan Schneiderlin was talked about in terms of Premier potential, this was the season he proved it.

The potential for Morgan to play in the Premier was never in question, but despite all the rumours of transfers to Arsenal etc, no one seemed to put an offer in and it was with Saints he remained.

In 2011/12 Saints central midfield was not a very stable place, indeed as Saints powered to the top of the league, it would be the sixth game before Morgan got his first start, Nigel Adkins couldnt quite decide who was his best central pairing between Morgan, Cork & Dean Hammond and therefore often, too often some would say, to fit them all in he would play all three but one of them would have to play wide in a four man midfield.

So when Steven Davis arrived there was a quastion mark over whom would play and it looked like another season of trying to fit three into two, however with Cork unavailable, Morgan was virtually guaranteed to start the early games and although the results didnt go well his performances were impressive, despite th fact Saints were struggling to cope with playing a new formation when they clearly didnt have the personel to do so.

When Jack Cork came back to fitness Morgan benefitted greatly and if his performances had been good before they were great now, Cork worked tirelessly and enabled Morgan to really come to maturity, its hard to believe that when the season started he was still only 22, but unlike some players who spend their times nowhere near a first team chance at Chelsea or Man City, Morgan has played games and that meant he had the experience to cope with the Premier when the chance arose.

Perhaps the biggest improvement to his game though was the goal scoring, in his previous 4 seasons and something approaching 130 or so league games he had scored on only 3 occasions, but in 12/13 he hit 5 goals, if he can get his confidene up he is capable of this and more in the coming season.

A worthy winner of the player of the year award, although for me there was little to choose between him and Jack Cork and without each other it might perhaps have been a different story.

Now Morgan has the chance to push on and look for a full French cap, 2013/14 could really be his season, he is still only 23 but has almost 200 appearances or aints to his name, he has the experience, he has learnt his trade. He now also knows what to expect in the Premier league, if Saints can do as the Chairman and manager want and push up to the next level, then with Morgan at the heart of it he cannot fail to attract the attention of the French International team.

9/10 for Morgan, for me there is little to choose between him and jack Cork, should he be 10/10, for me know, is any player truly 10/10, I dont think so whether it be Lionel Messi or Morgan Schneiderlin.

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23. STEVEN DAVIS

Post  SaintMike on Wed 12 Jun 2013, 10:40 am

A good first season for Steve Davis at St Mary's, perhaps the least talked about signing of last season, for all the right reasons.


Some players dont make the headlines for their clubs, they quietly get on with the job they are paid to do and let the others take the plaudits, perhaps Nick Holmes would be the first name on most Saints fans lips when asked to recall a player from the past of that nature and last season that accolade would have been given by most to Steven Davis.
Signed from the imploding Glasgow Rangers for what would eventually be an undisclosed fee paid to avoid legal dealings, Davis would have a season full of games that were never spectacular, never mediocre, just good solid performances doing a sound job for the team when called upon.
Able to play either as a holding central midfield player or in a more forward role, Davis was hampered by the emerging partnership of Cork/Schneiderlin and the fact that ramirez was often played in the forward role, at least until the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino, this limited Davis's starts for the first team, but it would probably surprise many to read he actually still started 22 Premier games and came on as sub in another 10.
The arrival of Mauricio Pochettino seemed to give him a new lease of life, although he came on as Sub in all of the first three games under the new manager, two of those at Man Utd & Wigan saw Davis replace Ramirez at half time which perhaps gave an insight into how the new manager was thinking, from then on he was a starter in virtually every game under the Argentinian, playing vital roles in the win against Man City where he scored a real poachers goal to put Saints 2-0 up, the only games he didnt start from thereon in was Liverpool where he came on for Ramirez shortly after the break to put in the leg work needed to ensure Liverpool didnt get back in the game, QPR where strangely he was an unused sub in perhaps Saints worst game of the season and Norwich away missed through injury.
So it seems that Davis is the type of player that Pochettino needs to play his high tempo pressing game, which doesnt bode well for Gaston Ramirez im afraid, Davis's strengths lie in his work rate and ability to keep the ball moving when he get it, nothing fancy just get the ball and move it on quickly to another member of the team, if Ramirez stays I would expect Davis to start away from home and against the tougher games at St Mary's with Gaston being used more sparingly, its hard to argue with this way of thinking and it should be noted that our manager is a man who likes to play in a certain way and needs players of a certain style to do it, from the game time Davis got after those initial trio of game its clear that Pochettino is someone who looks at what a player can do within his system, rather than reputation or price tag.
So a good season for Davis, more often than not Saints played better with him in the side than without him, of the 9 games we won he started 4, made significant contributions as sub in another 4, missing only the Reading win which he sat out on the bench.
So a decent contribution to Saints season from Steve Davis although mainly unsung which is why I have sung about it now, under Pochettino he may find that he is able to blossom as he suits the style that the manager seemingly wants to play.
All of this being the case its 8/10  for Davis from me, I would hazard a guess that out of all our signings since promotion to the Premier, Davis has made the most consistent contribution over the course of the season, the only drawback for Steve is he plays in an area of the park in which we have perhaps our best players, however perhaps that has also been a key to the success of Cork and Schneiderlin, the fact they know they cant rest on their laurels.   

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24. BILLY SHARP

Post  SaintMike on Thu 13 Jun 2013, 1:05 pm

For me it was a big mistake letting Billy Sharp go out on loan for the season, perhaps his contribution might not have been great but it could have been vital.

When Billy Sharp arrived at St mary's he was one of the top marksman in the Championship, intially he struggled to get a game with Tadanari Lee preferred, but after Lee got injured in came Sharp and it has to be said his goals in that final third of the season pushed us over the line, he just had that knack of being in the right place at the right time and putting the ball in the net, more often than not they were goals that mattered as well.

It was clear in the summer that Sharp's chances might be limited in the Premier, firstly because Saints were going to play one up front and that was going to be either new signing Jay Rodriguez or Rickie Lambert, but Billy Sharp would surely be a good player to have on the bench and to come on and look for that late goal that might just change a game and for a team likely to be in a relegation dogfight, two games can change a season.

Initially that looked to be the case and he came on as sub in the opening two games of the season, up at Man City and at home to Wigan, but then came a strange bit of transfer wheeler dealing, in came Mayuka for £3.5 million and with all haste it seemed that Sharp was forced out of the club, in his position you would have thought that with a chance in the Premier league he would have preferred to have stayed at least till January and see if he got a chance, but seemingly on the verge of the deadline he was railroaded out to Nottingham Forest, in hindsight whoever had paid that £3.5 million clearly did not want Sharp in the way, despite there being room in the squad for him.

So after 20 minutes of Premier league football plus 85 minutes in the Carling Cup and a goal against Stevenage Sharp was gone for the season, allegedly at his request a clause in the contract stating that he couldnt be recalled.

I would say that he was not happy with being forced out and was clearly told in no uncertain terms that he would not be allowed a chance to prove himself should he choose to stay.

I would also say that Sharp's contribution in the opening two games was no more or less than Mayuka gave us in the next 36, indeed for the £3.5 million fee, plus a not insignificant amount in wages to not only Mayuka but I would hazard a guess we were subsidising Sharp at Forest, we got not a lot from that.

Personally although Sharp is not what you would call your Premier League glamour boy he does have that knack, as we know for his 2 hours and 10 minutes on the pitch we got zilch from Mayuka, if Sharp had got the same game time, as limited as it would have been, I would have had money on him getting a goal or two, there are plenty of games were that would have been vital, if he had done it once in the last game against Stoke that would have been worth two places and £1.5 million.

Why he was not allowed to get the chance to prove he could do a job in the Premier League is anyones guess, personally I would like to see him given that chance next season, Im not putting him forward as the next Suarez or anything, but football these days is a squad game and i think given our squad and the number of player who contributed little to our season in it, Sharp would certainly have been a better bet in one of the berths than half a dozen who occupied one.

Sadly I think his time at St Mary's is over, to bring him back into the squad would mean the finger would well and truly be pointed at someone as to why we brought in Mayuka and shipped off Sharp sharpish and that probably isnt going to happen.

So if he does go, good luck to Billy Sharp, he repaid his £1.8 million fee many times over with those vital goals in 11/12 season, sadly we know what thanks he got for that.

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25. TADANARI LEE

Post  SaintMike on Fri 14 Jun 2013, 11:22 am

The rise and fall of Tadanari Lee ! if ever the conspiracy theorists had food for thought its the story of Tadanari Lee at St Mary's

The Japanese striker arrived at St Mary's just before the close of the transfer window in January 2012, along with Billy Sharp he arrived to bolster Saints firepower in the push for the Premier league as news stories from the club talked of signing players with International experience and the capability to play at the highest levels ie the Premier league.

His impact wasnt instantaneos, indeed his early appearances were off the bench with supporters seeing a player whose high octane game was all about working hard and winning the ball in the final third, then he scored that wonder goal against Derby County which then gave him almost legendary status amongst the supporters, his own song and a place in the team ahead of Billy Sharp for the next four games.

Sadly for Lee he got injured in the last of those against Barnsley and would not play another game that season for the club, or for that matter another league game up until this point.

But given Lee's impact in 2011/12 it seemed strange that he wasnt given the chance to show what he could do in the Premier League, it was easy to write off Billy Sharp as just a fat lad from Sheffield (his words not mine) who was your typical Championship level scorer who couldnt take his game up a notch, but in Tadanari Lee you had a highly rated Japanese international.

Clearly Saints were changing the playing formation and clearly Lee or for that matter Sharp were not going to be starting players in a lone striker formation, but this is the Premier League and you need all the weapons in your armoury you can get.

Ironically in the last game before the transfer window shut, Lee and Sharp scored in the Carling Cup win at Stevenage, perhaps Lee thought this might be the catalyst that pushed him back into first team contention, certainly he celebrated the goal with gusto, however it was not to be the case, within days Mayuka had arrived and Sharp had gone to Forest. 

After the departure of Sharp on loan to Nottingham Forest we were short of strikers, Mayuka started the first game on the bench against Man Utd and so did Lee, but it was Mayuka who got on the pitch.

Now things got stranger, clearly Mayuka was not rated by Nigel Adkins, but clearly h was under pressure to include him at least on the bench, after the man Ut game Mayuka sat on the bench for every game up until he left for the African Nations cup, between 5th November and January 1st when he left for Africa, he never got off that bench and on to the pitch once, Adkins didnt feel that he could contribute even when we were losing games in the final minute and had not used all the subs, Liverpool away being one that springs to mind, strangely Mayuka started one game in that spell. against Sunderland after impressing in training !!!

Lee would not appear on the bench at all until Mayuka had departed and he returned for the win at Villa, in fact he couldnt even get a game in the FA Cup against Chelsea, 12 minutes off the bench being his last appearance for Saints, strangely Mayuka was on the becnh and not used.

Clearly now there was friction between manager and board, why wasnt Lee given his chance during the first half of the season ? Mayuka was seen as nothing more than an ornament on the bench by Adkins, why didnt he try something different, there are two theories here Im sure that you know them both.

The transfer window was therefore always going to see Lee depart, it was on loan back to Japan which is due to end officially at the end of this month.

So what next for Tadanari Lee, he stuck around at Saints in the first half of the season possibly hoping he would get a chance, it was soon clear that for one reason or another, like Sharp he would not get that chance come what may, unlike Sharp he couldnt just be shunted off on loan to the Championship being from such a different culture (OK cue jokes about Sheffield being more alien than Tokyo).

Will Lee and for that matter Sharp return in the summer with a new manager giving them a clean slate, certainly Pochettino doesnt seem to think Mayuka is the answer any more than Adkins did, will Lee get his chance in the Premier ?

I would ponder the question about what Lee could add to the squad, certainly more than some of the members of last seasons did, given that in my opinion we will struggle to sign better players than either Lee or Sharp given the way we play ie only one up front and Rodriguez possibly standing in the wings waiting for Ricke lamberts standards to slip, it will be hard to sign true quality happy to sit on the bench as reserve, Chelsea might be able to get Torres and Demba Ba  willing to job share, but we are not big enough for that.

We need to look at our squad and consider the variety we need over the course of a season and Lee offers something different to that mix.

I suspect though that the player will be ready to leave, of course things could change, perhaps Pochettino will give him the opportunity to shine ? I dont know, but the fall of Tadanari Lee was nothing to do with footballing ability, we saw what he could do last season and he hasnt had a chance this, for those who talk about stepping up a level I would put Jason Puncheon as evidence that sometimes its easy to write off a player, at the end of 11/12 would you have put more money on Puncheon playing regularly and Lee and Sharp not getting a game, I dont think so !

Lee's demise has been political not football wise, Saints spent big on Mayuka and he hasnt come up with the goods, managers are often under pressure to include players in these situations and both Adkins and Pochettino put Mayuka on the bench but didnt seriously consider using him apart from in brief spells.

Sadly I think we will have probably seen the end of Tadanari Lee at Saints, he has done the right things and despite having to spend all of the first half of the season in the cold didnt winge and just got on with it, if he does go I think we will have missed out on something here, OK he wont be another Rickie Lambert but in some games he might just have contributed and in todays squad system thats what its about, haing players that can do that.

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26. JAY RODRIGUEZ

Post  SaintMike on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 10:21 am

Things looked promising for the summer transfer window when on June 10th Saints started their business early and announced the signing of Jay Rodriguez for what was then a club record fee of around £7 million pounds, being a striker it would be interesting how he would fit in alongside Rickie Lambert was the initial thoughts, but as the pre season programme progressed and it became clear that Saints now intended to revert to a formation that only had a lone striker, it struck some that Rodriguez hadnt been signed to play alongside Rickie but to replace him!

That view was strengthened when for the opening game of the season at Man City it was Rodriguez who started the game and Lambert who was sat on the bench, but as we now know with the benefit of hindsight, there was life in Rickie Lambert yet and luckily enough for Saints plenty of life in J Rod.

Initially though he would struggle, his problem was he was a striker and whilst he was versatile and had the speed to play on the wing, truthfully he was not a winger, merely a forward with a bit of speed and although you might be able to get away with that in the Championship, in the Premier its an entirely different matter. So in his early days he like the team struggled, by the third game he was on the bench and some Saints fans questioned the wisdom of signing him.

What they had forgotten though was two things, firstly he was being played out of position and even up front as a lone striker was new to him, secondly he had talent and that was evident in the Carling Cup where he scored his first two goals for the club in beating Sheffield Wednesday 2-0, yes one was from the penalty spot, but the first was a cracking goal and he showed that he was ready to give SRL a run for his money.

But Lambert as mentioned was not ready to give up his shirt easily so Jay had to be content to either play out wide or be on the bench, his first League goal came for the club in the home defeat to Spurs when he fired home from a tight angle to bring Saints back into the game.

But the final couple of months would see him mainly on the bench with Jason Puncheon and Adam Lallana being used as the wide men, but he returned to the team for the final game of the year at Stoke and got his second league goal of the season, with Lallana now injured and with that little bit more experience he was ready to show he had the quality to play in the division.

In Mauricio Pochettinos first game he was back on the bench, but he returned for the visit to Old Traffod and scored after only 3 minutes, he followed that up a few days later by creating both goals in the 2-2 draw at Wigan and from now on there was no looking back.

His purple patch came when he scored three times in a row coinciding with Saints winning three games in a row, his first against Liverpool might not have been goal of the season, but from an individual effort point of view it was when he got the ball in the centre circle and ran through the entire Liverpool midfield and defence to score, he followed that up with a goal against Chelsea and then a brave goal against Reading where he frightened the keeper with sheer determination, he was at last justifying his fee.

He ended the season with 6 League goals from 24 starts, plus 11 as sub, not bad given he was being played out of position, second only to Rickie Lambert, he was second to Rickie in another stat as well, that of assists, he had 8 to his name compared to Rickie's 9, this is perhaps an overlooked area, but J Rod was capable of bringing others into play as well.

So all in all a good season for Jay after a quiet start, as I say in fairness to him, he wasnt able to do the job Saints bought him for due to Lambert finding his own form in the Premier, but competition is good and Rodriguiez's arrival definately inspired Rickie.

So what will happen this coming season, the second half of the season saw Rodriguez match Lambert for goals under Pochettino, he has age on his side and he also has pace, an area that Saints have struggled in, Rickie has had a good season, but eventually will get overtaken by Jay, the only question is when, perhaps it will be this coming season ? perhaps not, the benefit of having two players in direct competition can only be good for Saints.

Saints fans though should be aware this is a squad game, there will be games that Jay will be preferred to Rickie up front, those who have been to away games will know that its easy for Rickie to be isolated up front due to his lack of mobility, in the tougher games away it may be Lambert on the bench and Rodriguez in the lone role up front, this worked at Chelsea away where Rodriguez worked tirelessly up front in the first half as Saints were overun, leaving Rickie to come on in the second with fresh legs against tired ones and with good results, as i say its a squad game nowadays, there will be tactical decicions to be made.

All in all though an 8/10 for Jay Rodriguez, we had glimpses of his great potential even though he was out of position and his work rate meant that he rarely had bad games, he now has that vital Premier experience under his belt and could well crank it up another notch in this coming season.

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27. RICKIE LAMBERT

Post  SaintMike on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 11:34 pm

Perhaps they should call Rickie Lambert "Mississippi" because like the big old river he just keeps rolling on.

It wouldnt be unkind to recall that two years ago when our forthcoming season back in the Championship was being previewed, there were more than just a few who questioned whether Rickie Lambert would be able to make the step up to the second tier in English Football, after all he had never played at that level and at 29 it was a bit late to start, in the following months he gave us the answer and come the end Of April Saints were back were they belonged and Rickie had led us to the Premier League.

This time last year the same questions were being asked again, surely at 30 Rickie couldnt take another big step up and play in the Premier League ? it would be fair to say that the transfer committee at Saints were asking themselves the same questions, hence the arrival of Jay Rodriguez as a ready made replacement, I wouldnt say that the powers that be werent going togive ickie the chance, but they clearly felt that long term Jay Rod would be the answer and that perhaps Rickie's appearances would be less frequent.

When Jay Rodriguez started the season at Man City in the starting line up and Rickie was on the bench that seemed to confirm what many feared, that SRL was not going to be first choice.

But those who questioned his ability hadnt taken into account firstly his ability to adapt, as he had done constantly in his time at St Mary's but secondly his determination, of course he was never going to be as free scoring as he had been but in his new role of lone striker he once again adapted and drove himself on like a man who knowing how long and hard he had waited for this chance wasnt going to throw it away, which of course in essence was what he was.

In that opening game he very appropriately scored Saints goal back in the Premier League after coming on as sub and has pretty much been first choice all season and 15 Goals and 9 assists are testament as to why he has been.

But perhaps his God like reputation hasnt helped him in some circumstances, some supporters find it very hard to accept anything other than him starting every game and pretty much playing all of the 90 minutes as well, they see it as an affront to his reputation, the reality of the matter though is that it is a squad game and a good tactician will know how to get the best out of his players and sometimes that means using them off the bench, this is only going to get more frequent in the future if Rickie is to spend more year in the Premier League.

At 31 hes has played over 500 league games, 166 (4) of them for Saints scoring 93 League goals , add to that another 74 cup games and you have a player who in his 19th appearance in the coming season will hit 600 Competitive games, he needs only 7 league goals for his 100 for Saints in the League, not to mention only 2 more for his league 200.

This perhaps emphasises what a action packed last 4 seasons he has had, League wise he has played over a 1/3rd of his career total league games plus scored almost half of his league goals total, he has been that dynamic.

I like many other want to see him at St Mary's for a few more years yet, I believe he has it in him to do that, however I do recognise that he cant keep playing 38 game seasons indefinately, sometimes in games we will need to use pace that will enable him to come on when the game is more stretched, its no coincidence that in 2 of the 3 games he came on as sub, he scored shortly after coming on.

His last third of the season saw the goals dry up a bit as Saints changed thir playing style under the new manager, he managed ony 4 goals in the 16 games under Pochettino, but finished the season as he had begun with the final goal of the season to book end the first, however with 9 assists to his name that proved he had a little more to his game than just goals and although he can still score the spectacular, look at his play now compared to the Championship and you can see how he has evolved from a player who would shoot from anywhere into one who is able to use a more patient build up as is required at this level.

He will know Jay Rodriguez is chomping at the bit, indeed will know that when the time comes sentiment wont stand in the way of progress in the new Southampton way and that is perhaps what kept it going last season and will keep him going for a couple more at least yet, Rickie is not a pampered premier academy brat who has never known hardship, he is brought up in the old school and after all of his career bar the last two spent in the lower leagues, isnt going to throw away this opportunity now, he knows it will be short, it has to be due to age, but whilst he is here he is going to enjoy it and that can only be good for Saints.

8 1/2 out of 10 for Rickie, he has had an excellent season, but we also have to appreciate that there have been games where he has been isolated and done little, sadly thats perhaps the problem for many strikers in lower half teams in this division not just Rickie & Saints, there will be many games especially away from home where you will find yourself on the back foot, this is why I emphasise that next season might see Rickie used a little more sparingly, sometimes you need a bit of pace for the lone man up front and its perhaps not his game, but he still had an impact, his goals were statistically worth 10 extra points to us, ie counting those that turned draws into wins and losses into draws and thats a quarter of our total, so not to be sniffed at.

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