Vi går in i säsongens slutskede, matcherna blir viktigare och viktigare. I morgon spelar vi vår 33:e ligamatch för säsongen och i den ställs vi mot ett lag som vi har en speciell koppling till. Sadio Mané, Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, alla är de hämtade från Southampton och det ger såklart den här matchen lite extra laddning. Nu behöver egentligen inte den här kampen mer laddning, vi spelar för titeln och de spelar för att hänga kvar. Tunga poäng står således på spel. Allen Gunn(@a_gunzy) är en av de som sköter Southamptonbloggen St Marys Musings(@StMarysMusings) och han berättar här om hur lagets säsong sett ut:
- It’s been a tough season for Southampton, what do you think are the main reasons for you being part of the relegation fight? Do you think you will manage to stay up?
I think the biggest issue was appointing the incorrect manager permanently. I have full respect and admiration for what Mark Hughes did to keep us up last year, which in hindsight really wasn’t much. I didn’t think he was the right person going forward based on his recent track record. We also put a lot of faith in a striker that spends more time in the physio room than on the pitch. Sure, I may get slated for that because Danny Ings has scored a number of goals, but he’s only beneficial if he’s on the pitch. I think we will stay up. We’ve got the right manager in charge and with just one relegation spot to fight for, I think we’re headed in the right direction with the emergence of James Ward-Prowse, Jan Bednarek and Angus Gunn.
- You changed manager earlier this season, what are your thoughts on that decision and how do you rate Hassenhüttls time so far? I like Ralph Hasenhuttl. He’s created a better working environment and the players have responded. We are still suffering from a lot of previously poor decisions on player purchases and failed addressing of positions — But he’s a far better option than Hughes and one we should’ve considered initially. I don’t buy into, “X deserves X because he did X”. It doesn’t always work out long-term and can prolong the problem.
- You won against Brighton in your previous game, how important was that win and how do you think the performance from the team was? Any win at this juncture in the season is going to be important. It was great to actually take care of business against a quote unquote lesser team, especially coming off a three-week layoff between games. We took time to get into the flow, but when we did, we did enough to earn the win. I think Pierre Emile Hojbjerg was sensational in the game. It’s easy to say that when he’s scored the deciding goal, but he’s shown how important he is to the team.
- If you stay up, what do you think need to be done during the summer to prevent you from being in the same situation next season? We need to buy a proper striker, one that stays healthy and can be relied on to start as many games as possible and as fitness and schedule restraints allow. We’ve not had a perfect fit up front since Graziano Pelle and we desperately need to find one in order to avoid another long relegation battle.
- Which players have been most important for you this season? Are there any disappointments? Hojbjerg has been immense. Ward-Prowse and Bednarek have rebounded after being afterthoughts to previous managers. Both have been rewarded and will be part of the reason why we stay up if we do. Mohamed Elyounoussi has been a flatout disappointment for what he cost. I don’t know if he’ll get a proper chance because when he has, he’s shown nothing to convince me otherwise. He may be another in the list of failed purchases, unfortunately.
- What kind of game do you expect against LiverpoolI expect Southampton to compete, but for Liverpool to ultimately win. Saints have shown they are up to the task against the top six, though the question will always be can we score goals.