Eye of the Taïder: Saphir is a Saint!

Signing number four is through the door at St. Mary’s and it comes in the form of midfielder Saphir Taïder on a season long loan deal from Inter Milan.

The Algerian international started two games at the recent World Cup in Brazil for his country in the defeats to Belgium and Germany respectively.

Though central midfield is hardly a position Saints have needed to strengthen, it will be interesting to see whether Taïder can make an impact at St. Mary’s.

As usual though I decided to spare you my uneducated views on a player I’ve seen little of and caught up with Inter fan Mike Whittaker from fansite http://www.nerazzurriworld.com/.

Firstly sorry for Osvaldo. Saphir Taider, what can you tell us about him?

MW ‘I must admit I’m not overly happy about the Osvaldo deal, his bad attitude and personality has a very negative affect on his considerable talent. He reminds me a lot of Balotelli (Good player but causes a lot of problems within his clubs), anyway this is about Taider!  Unfortunately, us Inter fans didn’t get to see as much of him as we would’ve liked last season, so I’m unable to give you a as in depth analysis as I would’ve been able to if he’d played regularly.

However, all in all, he has a huge amount of potential in the central midfield role. So what can Taider offer to the current Inter squad?  He is a box to box player that is comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder where he can utilise his preference to get stuck into a tackle to dispossess an opponent and fulfil his defensive duties.  His ability to hold onto the ball enables him to dictate the flow and tempo of the game and could be employed as a Regista too.
I will be sad to see the youngster with such good potential leave Inter, but as I’ll explain in the next question, it’s probably the best decision for both the player and Inter.’

Does he have any specific strengths and weaknesses you can tell us about?

MW ‘His greatest strength is in his defensive capabilities where he is very switched on to the flow of a game and solid when called upon.  His weakness is his reluctance to put in extra work to be noticed by the coach/manager, and can be lazy on the pitch when off the ball.  Last season he was vying for a place in the Inter team against Zdravko Kuzmanovic (who Inter fans will tell you is useless) and veteran Esteban Cambiasso (was looking exhausted by the last third of the season) both of whom amassed much more time on the pitch than Taider.  I can only speculate on the reason for this is that  Taider was unable to convince Walter Mazzarri of his value to the team and he mustn’t have gone the extra mile required to warrant the Inter coach to give him a proper chance.

This theory is strengthened by the fact that Mazzarri has brought in Yann M’Vila and Gary Medel into the Inter squad while letting the youngster Taider leave relatively easily.  Like I say this is speculation, but it is a very likely scenario knowing how Mazzarri likes his players to fight for a place on his team, and prove themselves worthy.’

 

Do you think he can adapt to the Premier League?

MW ‘I’m not convinced he can, if I’m totally honest. We all know the Premier league has a faster pace than Serie A, and if his laziness is obvious in Italy in England he could have rings run around him.  Sorry! Though, as I’ve said there is tons of potential in the lad, so with the right club and manager he could develop into a really good quality player.’

Saphir takes on Lahm at the World Cup.

Saphir takes on Lahm at the World Cup.

What have you made of the Southampton situation this summer?

MW ‘Obviously as an Inter & Serie A fan I don’t really know the ins & outs of what’s happening at Southampton, but it seems to me the club are taking several massive steps backwards this summer.  I can see them really struggling in the upcoming season, possibly with relegation on the cards come May.’

Have you heard anything about Ezequiel Schelotto following Taider to Saints?

MW ‘Yes, the rumour surrounding the deal is that Schelotto is included, I heard yesterday that he started following Southampton on Twitter so it definitely looks almost certain you will be getting him too.  If you want to know what he is like, it can be summed up in one sentence- one of the worst Inter purchases of recent years, as an out and out winger he was never going to suit the systems Inter use.’

So there we have it, another player added to the squad and another we can be excited to see in the famous red & white stripes, perhaps more as a potential star than an automatic first choice player!

Hopefully there are more to follow!

Chris

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Domino two is down! Graziano Pellè: The Lowdown

Someone said that once Tadic was signed it would be like dominoes in terms of incoming transfers. Well the first has fallen as Feyenoord forward Graziano Pellè has completed his move to the club.

It has hardly been a secret the Italian was on the verge of rejoining the coach who has overseen the two most successful seasons of his career in Holland, but what exactly is it that the club is investing in?

I caught up with what I think we can now consider ‘georgeweahcousin.com‘s Dutch correspondent’  Will Burns from totaldutchfootball.com and Feyenoord fan  Jacco van Keulen from wijzijnfeijenoord.nl (answers to follow) to see what they think Pellè can bring to St. Mary’s.

It’s taken a bit of time, but finally Pellè is a Saint. Is this the man to replace the talisman of the last five years (Rickie Lambert)?

WB ‘Pellè is a player I have admired for the past two seasons and I feel he is a perfect fit for the Premier League. At 6ft 4 inches, even though he is tall and physically strong, he is a delight to watch on the ball.’

There has been some talk of his hot temper. Given our experiences with Osvaldo, can this be tamed?

WB ‘I am unsure of Osvaldo as he is a player I have not followed but Pelle can be a hot head indeed. He has a great winning mentality and he can be explosive when things to do not go his way and has been known to sulk if his side are losing an important games.’

Welcome Graziano!

Welcome Graziano!

What are Pellè’s main strengths and weaknesses?

WB ‘He has a lot of strengths – excellent finishing, fantastic in the air, immense strength holding the ball up, great awareness. For weaknesses, the sulking and his temperament can be his only real downfalls.’

Forwards like Suarez and Bony have moved to the PL from Holland and been fantastic, van Wolfswinkel and Altidore not so much. Can Pellè make the transition?

WB ‘In my opinion, yes. A lot of strikers struggle with the pace and power of the Premier League – well the pace is faster in the Eredivisie and this guy is a massive 6ft 4 and immensely strong. Can he handle it, yes, if someone can get the ball crossed to him, he is beating that defender and the ball is ending up in the back of the net.’

Finally, both Tadic and Pellè have spoken of the ambition at Saints much like Koeman has. Are these players to take us up another level?

WB ‘Unsure about another level, as this is only two players in an eleven man team, and two players in a 20 man squad but they can certainly help out. If Southampton keep the ball on the ground, play football and do not resort to the long ball which many teams do here in England, Tadic will be a success. After watching Rickie Lambert, I know Pelle is a much classier striker and could surpass any successes the Scouser had for Southampton. The thought of Tadic and Pelle linking up is an exciting prospect, especially under Ronald Koeman. I will certainly focus on watching Southampton next year… when I find the time to watch the Premier League that is.’

So there we have it! Thanks to Jacco and Will for helping with this, make sure you check out wijzijnfeijenoord.nl and totaldutchfootball.com! Can’t wait for the next domino to fall…

Chris

Pochettino Enters Sack Race!

So it’s happened. Older fans will recognise the title of this blog as a nod to a brilliant Ugly Inside front page after Alan Ball left for Man City, and much like that situation it is difficult as a Saints fan to understand why this has happened.

As plenty have pointed out, why should we be surprised that a man who entered St. Mary’s in an underhand fashion should leave it in exactly the same way.

My problem is never with people showing ambition, but presumably Pochettino’s performances at Saints have given his own self confidence a boost. Can he meet the unrealistic expectations of Spurs fans and chairman? 5th place won’t be good enough and right now they don’t have the squad to get any higher. Who will he bring in? When given big money at Saints he signed Dani Osvaldo.

All will be revealed soon enough, but he might want to take a look at the immediate futures of the likes of Ball and Glenn Hoddle after they left Saints. The grass isn’t always greener.

They've given us a 5 year contract, which will be a lovely payout just in time for Christmas...

They’ve given us a 5 year contract, which will be a lovely payout just in time for Christmas…

Chris

5 Year Plan. Done.

I’m not sure I ever expected it to go this quick, but we really have reached the end of the ‘Five Year Plan’. It hardly seems fathomable that the club that lined up on the 8th August 2009 to play out a 1-1 draw with  Millwall in League One, would mark the end of the ‘plan’ with a 1-1 draw with Champions of England Manchester United in the same stadium.

What a five years it’s been. Considering the original plan was to get Southampton into the Premier League, the fact that that has clearly been achieved (a year early), a trophy has been won along the way and the final season saw us break into the top eight, I would say we can consider it a complete success.

Three managers, Two promotions, One trophy and Seventy Seven Players! Can the next five years really live up to it?

5 Year Plan Players

Chris

Our 3rd Birthday!

Blow me readers! georgeweahscousin.com is three years old!

This site has successfully made the transition from a League One site with fewer readers but plucky enjoyable output to Premier League site with far more readers (most of which have only just got interested) and far more commercially pleasing output.

As has become as traditional as Saints not trying in the FA Cup, we celebrate this occasion with the awarding of the ‘Ali Dia award for services to Southampton’ sponsored by Orgran Egg Substitute.

This is an award unlike any other. It is not awarded to the best player or the longest serving but anyone who has done something that has caught our eye in their duty as a Saints. The first year it was awarded to Oscar Gobern and last year the prize was taken by Billy Sharp but who would add their name to this illustrious list?

The jury (Myself, Ali Dia, Alaeddine Yahia and Kleber Chala) found it extremely difficult this year. It almost went to Dani Osvaldo, who in just six months managed to be fined and banned for kicking a Newcastle coach, have several injuries, be fined and banished for attacking Jose Fonte and score a spectacular goal against Manchester City (thanks to Adam Priestly for the summary). When it came to it though only one man really warranted this award based on the last 12 months.

We here at georgeweahscousin.com are delighted to announce that the third winner of the ‘Ali Dia award for services to Southampton’ sponsored by Orgran Egg Substitute, for showing the level of testicular fortitude that only a maverick samba assassin can is:- Guly do Prado for his penalty against Yeovil Town.

gdp

 

In what looks to be Guly’s last season at Saints it has to be said that he has suffered some unnecessary criticism at times, yet still loves the club and has been a great servant to it. To ask Jay Rodriguez for the ball and to step up in front of the Northam and take that penalty took nuts. Congratulations Guly!

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the last year!

Chris

World at their feet: Saints in Brazil?

Seeing as though it was Southampton Football Club that effectively introduced the beautiful game to Brazil (Ref: Charles William Miller) it would be fitting that at this summer’s World Cup in the country, if the Saints were well represented.

Speculation is already rife as to who will and won’t make it to the finals, and here at georgeweahscousin.com we are no different!

So which of the Saints talented squad will be on the proverbial plane?

England

It seems fitting to start with our own nation, burdened with the usual over expectant feeling of entitlement, England could well be the squad with the most Saints in it.

Adam Lallana

Let’s put it this way, if Lallana isn’t in the twenty three man squad then he will either be injured or the victim of the most ridiculous tragedy in English footballing history up there with Matthew Le Tissier’s lack of caps and not building a team around Paul Scholes (confounded by playing him on the left wing).

Lallana is skilful, technically gifted and creative. He shouldn’t be English really, as he has defied the poor coaching standards here and become a talent worthy of Spain or Brazil.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5

Lallana, a shoe in for the squad for anyone with the right number of chromosomes...

Lallana, a shoe in for the squad for anyone with the right number of chromosomes…

Rickie Lambert

England at the World Cup will need different options if they are to succeed, and in Lambert they could well have that. Good with the ball at his feet and an ability to hold the ball up, Lambert has proven his critics wrong time and time again, scoring and creating goals at every level he’s played at.

The worry is that Roy Hodgson may revert to type and turn to Andy Carroll.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 3.5

The moment Rickie showed the rest of the country what the Saints fans already knew...

The moment Rickie showed the rest of the country what the Saints fans already knew…

Jay Rodriguez

Didn’t enjoy the best of debuts, but Rodriguez grows with confidence game by game and has emerged as Saints top scorer this season. ‘JRod’ is another one who has the technical ability to try something different. It feels like this might not be his year England wise though with the media turning on him after the game against Chile.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2

Just how many Saints will lineup for England this summer?

Just how many Saints will lineup for England this summer?

Luke Shaw

Uncapped so far, but with his stock rising and his mature performances both defensively and going forward for Saints, coupled with the recent decline of Ashley Cole, Luke will surely get the chance to show what he can do in the friendlies prior to the tournament.

With rumours that Man City want to make him the most expensive full back in the world, it is only a matter of time before his country calls. Undoubtedly the natural and long term successor to Cole.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 3.5

Shaw thing to be first choice England left back in the future....

Shaw thing to be first choice England left back in the future….

Nathaniel Clyne

In what is distinctly England’s weakest area it is surprising to me that Clyne hasn’t already been given a chance by Roy Hodgson. While the distinctly mediocre Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker both look unimpressive in an England shirt, Clyne has gone about his business at Saints with great success, consistently performing to a high standard.

Deserves a chance.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2.5

While all the media talk was of getting Kosovan Januzaj to play for England, Englishman Clyne was giving him a lesson at Old Trafford...

While all the media talk was of getting Kosovan Januzaj to play for England, Englishman Clyne was giving him a lesson at Old Trafford…

James Ward-Prowse

Probably the longest shot, and almost certainly this World Cup has come too soon for the Saints midfielder. With his ability to deliver a ball now being likened to David Beckham though, England honours will surely follow at some point….

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1

JWP bends it like Beckham into the San Marion net for England U21's...

JWP bends it like Beckham into the San Marion net for England U21’s…

Italy

It seems right to follow the potential England players with their Group D opponents. England v Italy at the World Cup will always be a special occasion and it might just be laden with Saints players.

Dani Osvaldo

Argentinian born Osvaldo opted to play for Italy, and recently has been a regular for the Azzuri. Although he has taken his time to adapt to the Premier League the skill he has shown for Italy was replicated with his amazing strike against Manchester City.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4

Osvaldo celebrates his recent goal against Denmark...

Osvaldo celebrates his recent goal against Denmark…

Uruguay

Gaston Ramirez

Sporter of awful barnet’s, splitter of fan opinion and creator of occasional magic, Ramirez has been in and out of the Saints first team, but is a regular in the Uruguay squad.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5

Opponents in the summer?

Opponents in the summer?

Croatia

Dejan Lovren

The Croatian has been an absolute steal for Saints and has made his way into many ‘top players in the Premier League this season’ lists. A regular for his country, he should be on his way to Brazil.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.5

World Class defender Lovren who will be in Brazil and some other fella who won't...

World Class defender Lovren who will be in Brazil and some other fella who won’t…

France

Morgan Schneiderlin

Perhaps the biggest crime in international football from a Saints perspective is the lack of recognition for Morgan Schneiderlin. Having had a brilliant first season and a half in the Premier League, Schneiderlin would walk into any other top flight side and most international teams. Come on Didier. You know it makes sense.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 2

Could France's loss be England's gain?

Could France’s loss be England’s gain?

Japan

Maya Yoshida

Having fallen down the pecking order at Saints, Yoshida is having to take what he can, and it has led to talk of a move back to Japan. He will undoubtedly be in Brazil though, barring an injury as a stalwart of their defence.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 4.75

Maya will be on the plane.

Maya will be on the plane.

Tadanari Lee

Forward Lee is well and truly out of the picture as far as the Saints first team is concerned, and perhaps his move to England two years ago has killed any chance of a World Cup place. A loan move back to Japan might revive his hopes though.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1

Can Lee get out of the international wilderness in time?

Can Lee get out of the international wilderness in time?

Portugal

Jose Fonte

A long shot, but Jose Fonte has really come into his own for Saints this season and has been part of the formidable back five that was at the top of the European defensive charts. Sadly, when I met Joao Pinto (Now a high level official in the Portuguese FA) in the summer he had never heard of Jose.

Chances of being in Brazil (out of 5):- 1.5

Part of the furniture at St. Mary's, but deserving of international recognition?

Part of the furniture at St. Mary’s, but deserving of international recognition?

So there we have it. Do you agree with their chances? Is there anyone else in the Saints squad who might sneak in somewhere? As ever let us know!

Chris

 

 

 

10 games in…

Over the summer I was privileged enough to be invited to be a beta tester for a new football scouting website Inscouts.com. The idea is that users having watched any game across the European Leagues & Champion’s League can login and rate the players out of six (six the highest) provoking discussion and opinion on the performances of individuals.

As part of the testing, I have been rating players in every game I watch which of course includes all of Saints Premier League games so I thought I would use the average scores to see just how well I (and the other Inscouts beta users) have thought Saints players have been doing…

Artur Boruc:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 4.10

Nathaniel Clyne:- Games – 8 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3.7 Average Rating – 4

Dejan Lovren:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.7 Lowest Rating – 3.7 Average Rating – 4.58

Jose Fonte:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.8

Luke Shaw:- Games – 8 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3.7 Average Rating – 4.4

Callum Chambers:- Games – 3 Highest Rating – 4.3 Lowest Rating – 3.5 Rating – 3.8

Danny Fox:- Games – 2 Highest Rating – 4 Lowest Rating – 2.7 Average Rating – 3.35

Dejan Lovren - Standout defender.

Dejan Lovren – Standout defender.

Morgan Schneiderlin:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 4.1

Victor Wanyama:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 4.1

Steven Davis:- Games – 6 Highest Rating – 4.3 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.75

Adam Lallana:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.7 Lowest Rating – 4 Average Rating – 4.52

James Ward-Prowse:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.3 Lowest Rating – 3.5 Average Rating – 4.19

Jack Cork:- Games – 3 Highest Rating – 3.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.46

Gaston Ramirez:- Games – 5 Highest Rating – 4 Lowest Rating – 2.7 Average Rating – 3.42

Captain leading by example this season.

Captain leading by example this season.

Rickie Lambert:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.9

Jay Rodriguez:- Games – 10 Highest Rating – 5.7 Lowest Rating – 2.7 Average Rating – 3.8

Dani Osvaldo:- Games – 7 Highest Rating – 4.7 Lowest Rating – 3 Average Rating – 3.9

Guly do Prado:- Games – 3 Highest Rating – 4 Lowest Rating – 3.3 Average Rating – 3.7

The thing that immediately jumps out with these ratings is that not a single Saints player thus far, has been seen to be playing below average. As far as I am aware I am the only Saints fan to be beta testing the site, and one of very few English supporters, so it gives a good reflection on what fans from Germany, France, Italy etc. are making of us.

I will update this again after 20 games and see who has improved or dropped off.

Chris