05/06: Preview: Southampton
by Matt Rowson
How did they do?
"For all that we scored two or three lovely goals, for all that our football eventually out-shone that of our opponents, these were ultimately just decorations. Rather, the essence of the performance was in the midfield, where Southampton were sucked in, crushed, and rudely spat out like a old banger in a scrap metal yard. Whatever they'd been trying to do, they were just overwhelmed by everything that surrounded them, a species left stranded by evolution. They didn't stand a chance."
How will they do?
At the time of writing, Harry Redknapp and Rupert Lowe appear to be involved in a stand-off regarding quite how much of Peter Crouch's transfer fee is available for new signings. Whatever the outcome (and it has to be said that Redknapp's history in the "wheeling and dealing" stakes is far from flawless - Paulo Futre anyone? Florian Raducioiu? Marco Boogers?) you don't really get the impression that this is a healthy way for the Saints to start the season. A side relegated from the top flight for the first time in donkey's years doesn't really want to be lumbered with a manager who's doing an unconvincing job of pretending his heart's in it. Whilst there's still quality in the Saints' squad Redknapp's priority and focus really should be on imposing a reality check on players and supporters who might otherwise expect this season to be an easy ride, as has happened to several newly relegated top flight clubs in the past. The Saints will start slowly, but recover with or without Redknapp at the helm. Top half in the end, but that's it.