Tuesday, 18 May 2010

More news...

Saints revealed their released and retained list last week, bringing the Saints careers of a few characters to an end.

The headlines are that Michail Antonio and Papa Waigo will be returning to their respective parent clubs, Reading and Fiorentina, after season-long loans, while there has been a clearout of fringe squad players such as Simon Gillett and Lloyd James.

Veteran defenders Chris Perry and Wayne Thomas will be not be competing in any sprint finals soon, but their commitment and steadfast loyalty to the Saints cause over the last few years means they will be remembered. And it seems the same can be said for Graeme Murty, who, despite just spending one injury-ravaged season here, appeared to be an important figure within the squad.

I expect he's looking forward to spending more time on the late kick-off sofa with Leroy Rosenior.

In other news, the club kicked off its 125 anniversary year by unveiling a special commemorative club crest. The design is hardly revolutionary, but gets the point across.

Pardew stays, Cortese goes off on one

My apologies again for neglecting this page recently, I am back on it again now after spending three hours writing about 1960s social history in an exam this morning.

Where to start but the blistering statement Cortese released last week? He keeps his cards close to his chest and doesn't speak often, but when he does, he doesn't half go for it.

In an end-of-season diatribe of almost polemic proportions, Cortese dismissed media reports that he was set to sack manager Alan Pardew after the Saints boss failed to guide the club to a top-six finish despite player investment in January.

Unsurprisingly, the Southern Daily Echo is the chief target for his ire, despite reports over Pardew's future being published in national newspapers; judging by this report in The Mail, you would have been forgiven for thinking Pardew had boxed up his desk stationary already.

Even Radio Solent - which, unlike the Echo, has a commercial agreement with the club - reported that Liebherr's absence from St Marys ten days ago was down to unhappiness at this season's progress. But Cortese has his sights firmly set on the Echo:

"As a local paper, I would have hoped that it would provide the local newspaper with news, rather than gossip."

He does not stop there, launching broadsides at Saints legends Matthew Le Tissier, Lawrie McMenemy and Kevin Keegan for daring to speak out in favour of Pards.

Of course, the bottom line is that Pardew is staying - that is something we should all be thankful for as managerial stability is what this club craves. And even if Cortese's public pressure on his manager appeared harsh in March, it certainly had an effect as the side went on an immense end of season run that almost ended in a play-off place.

But Cortese needs to realise that the media coverage surrounding English football will not go away - and, as he is learning, can grow out of control if left to swell unabated. Communication is an essential part of running any football club and that is the one area the Swiss needs to build on next season.

Cortese says he "will not respond to every piece of idle speculation." Nor should he. But although keeping completely tight-lipped may satisfy him in his feud with the Echo, by allowing these rumours to escalate, it is only the fans who suffer.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Pardew - I just hope we get the chance to build on this

Saints ended the season in style at St. Marys this afternoon, coming from behind to secure a comfortable win over already-condemned Southend. Post-match comments made by manager Alan Pardew, however, raised the prospect of an uncertain few weeks ahead for the club.

Saints 3 - 1 Southend

Despite the blistering run of form that followed their JPT success - which means Saints would have made the play-offs and been just three points from an automatic promotion place were it not for the points deduction - Chairman Nicola Cortese has maintained an ominous silence on his manager's future in recent weeks. Despite a season widely regarded as successful, Cortese is understood to be unhappy at the balance of results since over three million pounds was spent on the squad in January - and if that is not the case, he has not said anything to alter that impression.

Pardew's comments after the win effectively threw down the gauntlet to Cortese to come out and back him in public. He seems keen to stay at Saints despite reports of interest from a higher level, but his patience will surely be tested if he continues to have to work in an environment he may not feel is supportive. Today's win was certainly useful in demonstrating that only the points penalty stood between Saints and greater success this season.

The win was also important as it secured a couple of impressive goal landmarks for Saints players. After falling behind in the second half, a Rickie Lambert brace - taking his League tally to a colossal thirty for the season - won the game before a third was added by Adam Lallana minutes from time - his twentieth from midfield this season.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Saints update

Apologies for the recent break in posting, I have not had as much time to write as the end to Saints' play-off hopes coincided with the start of exams. Here is a brief update of the past two weeks.
  • Saints 3 - 2 Carlisle: Saints again shared five goals with their JPT Final opponents, this time coming out on top by a single goal thanks to a Rickie Lambert strike and a Michail Antonio brace.
  • Huddersfield's thrashing of condemned Stockport on the same day, however, mathematically ended Saints' hopes of catching them.
  • Following those two goals, that topped off a strong debut season from the Reading loanee, Pardew expressed his intent to extend Antonio's spell at Saints. Reading's decision to extend his contract at the Madjeski by a year does not appear to bode well, but there is a chance he will continue to gain experience at Saints next year.
  • Gillingham 2 - 1 Saints: Pardew fielded a new-look side, including Eastleigh signing Aaron Martin at the back and Lee Barnard and David Connolly up front, away to Gillingham for the penultimate game of the season.
  • The side struggled without Rickie Lambert, who was brought on at half time to add some much needed firepower as Saints slumped to a poor defeat in front of over 2,000 fans.
  • Pardew slammed his players following the match, claiming they had not realised how difficult it would be against a Gills side who needed the win to boost their survival hopes.
  • Signing another striker of Lambert's ilk appears likely now in the summer after Pardew expressed his concern that his side's attack looked blunt without his leading marksman. Just what Barnard and Connolly did not want to hear.
  • Finally, the summer of discontent has officially begun. A national newspaper has today reported that Pardew is struggling to hang onto his job after failing to make the play-offs despite the 3m spent on players in January. Time for Cortese to come out and back his man in public and put an end to these stories now.

Which team will fill the third relegation spot?

Four games left. Will Saints survive?

Would you be in favour of a return for Rupert?