Eight things about Saints’ 2012 Premier League start
1. I know I should be pleased about how things have gone so far
But it’s hard to be. The two 2-1 leads we’ve dropped were to the best two teams in the country, yes. And we’ve enjoyed periods of attacking brilliance against both. BUT we’ve still dropped two 2-1 leads. And we’re bottom of the table. And our defence looks suspect.
2. It’s Wigan that sticks in the throat
If we’d had got three points at home to Wigan then two fantastic losing displays against City and United would feel much sweeter. But we cannot afford to be a team that turns it on against the big boys and doesn’t turn up against the rest.
3. For the first time ever I’m critical of Adkins
Not so much for the Manchester City loss. But to take off our most effective attacking players in Lallana and Lambert to try and defend our way to victor against United was madness. Our defence is weak. Our best form of defence is attack. As soon as we started dropping deeper and hoofing the ball up the pitch the United game was only going to head one way. As we bought in so little in the way of defenders in the transfer window, let’s just stick at what we’re obviously good it – aggressive, skilful attacking play. We can outscore opponents but I’m not confident we can contain them.
4. But that doesn’t mean talk of Adkins losing his job isn’t ludicrous
Because it is. This man has seen us through two successive promotions and led us to our first silverware in decades (yes, the Johnstone Paint Trophy counts as silverware). Adkins made an error today, but I’m sure he knows that. He has the team playing progressive, positive football and he’s built a decent squad. And if nothing else he’s earned a stab at the Premiership. They say results are what counts but, y’know, sometimes decency counts for more. Not that I think Adkins will need to rely on sentiment to retain his employment. He’s one of the brightest young managers in the country and is the right man for the job. There are only three managers I’d swap him for – Ferguson, Wenger and Moyes. Judas Redknapp, of all people, is not welcome.
We made the third most expensive signing of transfer deadline day (Ramirez - £12m) and were the joint fifth biggest spenders in the window (£29.3m). That’s a good spend, too – not silly spend (although I might reassess that if we do indeed bring in Del Piero on 1m Euros a year as rumoured). Clyne looks the business. Rodriguez? Who knows, as the £7m transfer (who seemed on the pricey side) can’t get a game at the moment. Time will tell if Ramirez proves to be the hit pundits are expecting, or if Mayuka can cut it in the Prem. Davis is a sound signing. God knows about the two keepers. But it’s good. It shows that Cortese and his adopted family means business. We’re on solid ground.
6. Super Rickie Lambert
Nothing has pleased me more than Lambert getting on the Premier League’s scoresheet. Two goals in three games. And against the two Manchester’s too. As with Adkins, he’s earned his top flight chance after years of success in the lower leagues. I had no idea if he’d cut it in the Championship last season. He ended up as the top scorer. I’m now sure he has the goods to do well in the Prem and I sincerely wish him all the best. A true Saints No.7.
7. Our friend Billy Sharp
In the same way that Lambert and Adkins have earned their chance this year, Billy did the same. So I was really quite upset when we shipped him out to Forest. The club let itself down there.
8. And Ward-Prowse and Schneiderlin
I’m not sure if anyone saw these successes coming. Morgan never really stamped hi authority on the Championship but looks right at home in the top league. And 17 year old Ward-Prowse! Credit again to Adkins - he saw it, and James is delivering.