Saints Match Preview Part III

Last updated : 29 January 2002 By Mike Reich
Pahars: Will he be fit?
We spoke to Christian at Southampton-MAD about tomorrow night's match against the Saints, and all things Saints related.

Glenn Hoddle did well for you, but then left at the first opportunity to go to Tottenham. What is your opinion of the ex-England manager?
Hoddle did an excellent job for us. There is no doubt that his coaching methods improved us from another relegation candidate to a mid table team. Many of our squad improved markedly from his, and Gorman's, coaching. I was sorry to see him go but could understand his reasons for wanting to return to Tottenham. In the end we should just take as many positives as we can from his tenure.

To make matters worse, he then bought Dean Richards. Did the Saints get a good deal for him?
Deano was always ambitious. He was on the verge of a move to Liverpool before he came to us. When Hoddle came in for him he jumped at the chance. Well, as much as he could without shouts of poaching coming up. His reasons were split among - a chance of an England call-up, he really rated Hoddle, lovely lucre, more prestige at a London outfit. In the end the money we got was about right, it was just unfortunate we had to part with him in the first place.

How has Gordon Strachan done since he came to Southampton?
Well, we're not bottom, which was exactly where we were going under Stuart Gray. Strachan came in and was shocked by the coaching and fitness levels. It's taken him until recently just to get us back up to where we were under Hoddle. I have to admit I was a little doubtful about Strachan after his time at Coventry. However, he's learnt a great deal from the experience and is at a club which won't sell his best players every five minutes. He also brought in exactly the right players to shore up our weak spots, which took him less than a week to identify and resolve. With Williams in our defence, we've hardly noticed Richards's departure.

What is your current opinion on West Ham?
I've always thought that West Ham were always on the verge of doing really well under Harry Redknapp, but there was always something missing. A few iffy transfers later (Song anyone?) and Roeder may be able to get things going again after a dodgy start. You do have Dailly in you side though, who I've had in my Donkey's XI for a number of years.

Who do you think is West Ham's potentially dangerous player?
Against us, absolutely no-one:-) Generally though, Joe Cole keeps improving all the time and I'm more worried about Kanoute than Di Canio. I would hope our defence could handle Defoe.

You have several players unavailable for this match, including the suspended Chris Marsden, the injured Beattie, Delap, Draper, and doubts on Parhars & Oakley. How do you feel those players missing will affect you?
Beattie will be a big miss as his goal scoring and sheer work rate have been immense this season. Marsden is playing exceptionally well under Strachan and has always been a key motivator for the side. Of the others hopefully Oakley and Pahars will make it, as they are also key players. Despite being our record signing Delap isn't an automatic pick for the first team. Who's this Draper bloke? :-)

Who are your worst and best players so far this season?
We currently have a lot of baggage at the club so any offers for Ripley, Gibbens, Draper, Bleidelis and Petrescu would be gratefully received. The jury is out on Le Tissier, Monk and Davies.
On the plus side, Beattie and Pahars have been given enough games to form an effective partnership up front. Marsden is a little engine in midfield, with Oakley quietly knocking great passes about. All the others are working really hard for the team with new boys Telfer and Williams adding a lot of experience to the side.

Have you got any hidden gems in your squad?
Wayne Bridge is the best English left back around. Marsden's suspended or I would have added him to the list.

In which area do you think the team needs the most money invested?
We could use a quality centre half. In truth, we have probably the biggest squad ever. With Delgado, Fernandes, Ormerod and Chala still settling in, I'd like to get rid of some of the dead wood and then see what we need.

How do you think the team will line up against the Hammers?
Jones-Dodd-Bridge-Williams-Lundekvam-Telfer-Svensson-Oakley-Fernandes-Pahars-Delgado. It pretty much picks itself under Strachan.

What do you think the score will be?
If Oakley and Pahars make it then we'll squeak a 2-1 win.

Any other comments?
I think I've bored you all enough. Despite being without some key players, Strachan has had the squad over in Spain for his first real break with them. If nothing else we'll be really up for this match.