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Preview: Southampton vs Watford

With the international break finally over, Premier League football returns to St Mary’s this weekend, as Southampton prepare to face Watford.

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The two sides drew their first game of the season and went on to win their second, before both were held to a goalless draw by a newly promoted outfit. The similarities don’t stop there either, as both Southampton and Watford have made managerial changes since they last met in the 2016/17 season. Mauricio Pellegrino is of course in charge of the Saints, whilst Marco Silva – once reportedly wanted on the South Coast – is the boss of the Hornets.

During the pre-Watford press conference, Mauricio Pellegrino confirmed that Virgil Van Dijk has returned to training with the first team, whilst Matt Targett has also recovered from his injury troubles. This means that the entire Southampton squad currently boasts a clean bill of health.

But in order to find out more about our upcoming opponents, I spoke to The Golden Pages – a Watford FC fanzine produced by the fans, for the fans.

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It’s very much early days, but what have you made of the season so far?

It’s been a positive start. The opening day draw against Liverpool was an unexpected point and I don’t think many had us down to win at Bournemouth. The draw to Brighton was disappointing, but we can put that down to Britos being sent off because of an idiotic challenge.

How did you rate Watford’s dealings in the summer transfer window?

Fantastic. I’d go as far to say we had one of the best windows of all clubs in the Premier League. Nathaniel Chalobah at £5m may well be the bargain of the summer, while Will Hughes and our new winger Richarlison also look like excellent acquisitions at very reasonable prices. The only criticism may be that we didn’t strengthen our defence enough, but hopefully the late arrivals of Molla Wague and Marvin Zeegelaar are up to the job.

Once upon a time Southampton also had Marco Silva on their watch-list; what have you made of the boss so far?

It is early days, but he’s showing good signs. We seem to know exactly how we want to set up our team, and we have signed many of the players we need to play this way. Silva’s rapport with our fans has already surpassed what Walter Mazzarri managed in a year, helped hugely by the fact he speaks the English language.

Who do you expect to be your key man this year?

Abdoulaye Doucoure in the centre of midfield has been a beast so far, and I would put my money on him to be our player of the season. However, Richarlison’s flair coupled with his ability to get stuck in will almost certainly make him a key player for us going forward.

Where is the weak point in your side? and how do opposition teams typically find joy against your defence?

Our defence has struggled for some time. We have a lot of capable defenders, but very few great ones, and for this reason we often get caught out. We pick up plenty of injuries too, meaning we rarely have the same back four play together for an extended duration, and our full-backs seem to enjoy going forward more than actually defending.

What would make for a successful season? 

This year we will be hoping to avoid relegation again, and that has to be viewed as an acceptable season. But with the squad we now have, and Silva in charge, we will be looking towards mid table rather than a relegation dog fight.

Which player from this Southampton side would you take to join the Hornets? 

Virgil van Dijk would be more than welcome. Some top clubs were in for him this summer and we could really use a top defender at the back.

And finally, what do you think the score will be this Saturday? 

I think we could get a result if we set up the right way. We’ve got goals in us but we still can’t defend. I’ll say 2-2.

Loan report: Olufela Olomola

A number of Southampton’s academy graduates have been sent out on loan this season in desperate need of vital first team experience, but one youngster in particular has made their mark at their new club quicker than anybody else.

Whilst many academy graduates initially struggle to handle the physicality and competitive nature of the Football League, Olufela Olomola has appeared unfazed, kicking off his loan move with Yeovil Town in the finest of fashions.

After five League Two appearances, Olomola has already found the back of the net on four separate occasions, averaging a goal for every 93 minutes that he’s played. What’s even more impressive about this however, is that he’s managed to do this with just six attempts at goal – missing the target with just one attempt in green and white colours so far.

But believe it or not, I haven’t spent my last few Saturday’s keeping a close eye over Olomola and Yeovil Town. So rather than sitting here and rambling away about his fine form whilst out on loan, I decided to speak to Stephen D’Albiac – a sports writer at the Western Gazette and the Somerset Live.

How have the Yeovil fans taken to Olufela Olomola so far?

SD: So far, very well. Fela has made a great start and provided a constant attacking threat. He’s clearly a determined young player and his attitude has certainly endeared him to the supporters, along with the goals that he has added.

What does he bring to the side that you didn’t have before?

SD: He has helped Yeovil become an attacking threat, which is something that was lacking last season. He’s strong, direct and not afraid to run at defenders, and his pace and the way in which he has linked up with fellow attackers Francois Zoko and Otis Khan has been a real threat to the opposition.

What strengths has he shown?

SD: As before, he’s strong and direct, able to run past defenders and his finishing has been very good. He never stops running either which is a quality that any supporter likes.

What areas of his game still need work?

SD: There have been a couple of times during games this season where he has decided to go it alone when he should have picked passes out, but that is only a very minor criticism given what he has brought to the team so far.

Olomola’s loan deal ends in January; do you think the club should look to extend his stay?

SD: Absolutely, and I would go so far as to say it should be the club’s number one priority between now and January. I’m sure the club will try to extend his deal. They were stung in the loan market last season when they lost Ryan Hedges – who was equally impressive – to Barnsley in January and they will want to do everything they can to avoid a repeat of that. As long as Fela keeps scoring goals and continuing his development, I don’t see any reason why Southampton would not be happy to agree an extension.

And finally, have the fans conjured up a song for him yet?

SD: Not yet, but there’s still plenty of time! If he keeps banging in the goals then I’m sure he’ll get one.

 

Review: The Ins and outs of Southampton’s summer transfer window

The 2017 summer transfer window has had all the drama and rumours of recent seasons, except there’s just one little difference; no key departures.

So, with that being said, there’s only one place to start as I begin my review of Southampton’s summer transfer window.

There’s been social media stalking, airplane tracking, and even hunts for a certain Mercedes people carrier, but with August now behind us, the future of Virgil Van Dijk has finally been decided.

The Dutchman will remain on the South Coast until at least the January transfer window, after not a single bid was filed for the center back throughout the entire summer.

Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Juventus and even Barcelona reportedly held an interest in Van Dijk, but with thanks to Les Reed and co, the club have been able to retain their finest asset.

Being able to have a player of Van Dijk’s quality in the side is obviously a huge boost for the club, but most importantly, we’ve now set a precedent for future transfer windows. The pressure that the club have been under with Van Dijk has been like no other saga before, so to stand strong against the players wishes will send a message to any players in the future who wish to follow in Virgil’s footsteps.  

Van Dijk now has to get his head down, apologise and give his all to Southampton Football Club. If he decides not to do this and therefore not play, then he misses the opportunity to play for his country in the World Cup (if Holland even qualify, of course).

Regardless of if they do however, he will still wish to be firing on all cylinders when the time of his inevitable transfer does come around. He simply has no other choice but to find any last professionalism he has left in him, and right his wrongs of the summer.

From here Van Dijk can get back to showing his incredible talent on the field, Southampton get an extra years service from a world class defender, and he gets his dream move at the end of it all. Everyone’s a winner.

Incomings

Jan Bednarek – signed from Lech Poznan for a reported £5M, the Polish U21 International appears to be one for the future. With Hoedt, Van Dijk, Stephens and Yoshida above him in the pecking order, it looks likely that the 21-year-old will spend his first season at the club working with the U23’s. I’ve seen little so far to leave me excited about this signing, but developing players is what Southampton do best, so give this one some time.

Mario Lemina – pinched from Juventus for a club record fee of £18.1M, this is yet another example of Southampton’s latest transfer strategy; snatching the fringe players from Europe’s elite. Lemina is an athletic, powerful, box to box midfielder, who boasts the defensive mindset to help Oriol in the middle of the park. Early showings suggest that he will be used as Southampton’s midfield outlet for turning defence into attack. He adds much needed energy into a Southampton midfield that was previously lacking legs.

Wesley Hoedt – The arrival of Hoedt for £15M is one that truly met the needs of the fans. Whilst Yoshida has stepped up massively and Stephens is an incredible prospect, the two have their weaknesses as a partnership; they are prone to being dragged out of position, have often crumbled under pressure and are painfully weak in the air. With the addition of Hoedt however, these issues have certainly been addressed (particularly the latter). Of those to contest 50+ aerial duels in Serie A this term, only Bruno Alves (79.3%) came close to Hoedt in the air, who recorded a staggering 84.1%. Standing at 6ft 4 it would be easy to label him as this battering ram of a defender, but in truth, he’s built up quite the reputation as a ball playing center back (watch out for some delightful 40-yard diagonals with his left foot). It’s brilliant to see that this signing is an addition to the squad, rather than a replacement.

Departures

Jay Rodriguez – Jay had a wonderful five years at the club and left us fans with nothing but good memories, but this transfer was best for all parties involved. The club had moved on and no longer saw a space for him in the side, whilst Rodriguez needed a new challenge to rediscover his love for the game – with that considered, accepting a £12 fee from West Brom is just common sense. Rodriguez is (was) a fantastic system based player, so given how organised a Tony Pulis side tends to be, this move could certainly work out. Back when Rodriguez was working under Pochettino, he would persistently make runs from the wide left into the edge of the box; this is a typical feature of a Pulis wide man, so I wouldn’t mind betting he can notch a fair few this season. All the best Jay, just don’t go scoring against us.

Jordy Clasie – once linked with a move to Manchester United to work under Louis Van Gaal, it’s fair to say that this transfer never quite worked out, and it’s all rather sad really. Having dropped behind Lemina, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Davis and even Hojbjerg in the pecking order, Clasie’s loan move to Club Brugge was needed simply for the players own development. He never really put a foot wrong when he stepped out onto the pitch, but at the same time, it never really clicked either. Whether it was the Premier League’s physicality, pace, or maybe just a lack of trust from managers, I know that Southampton fans will now be sure to keep a close eye on the Belgian First Division title race…

This brings about an end to my review for the summer transfer window, but I’ve got to admit, I find myself a tad frustrated that I’m not writing about an addition to our front line –  we’ve been crying out for a goal-scoring winger for over 12 months now.

All too often Southampton have worked so effectively in the first two-thirds of the pitch, only to lack that final touch of quality when it really matters. I can’t help but feel this is one hell of a gamble to take, and for that, I can’t particularly label this window a true success. We could easily be left looking red faced two months down the line when we continue to lack that missing piece in attack. 

From here on I can only pray that with the fine management of Mauricio Pellegrino, we can put an end to our misery in front of goal, and return to our fluid and free-scoring ways.

Les Reed himself stated at the end of the season that this summer would be a quiet one – in terms of both ins and outs – so for that Les, I take my hat off to you. He’d have been the first and main figure to take criticism and abuse if he wasn’t true to his word word, so when a job is well done, credit is certainly due. 

The same old story

Mauricio Pellegrino remains undefeated in the Premier League, yet the cracks of last season are still there to be seen.

After once again failing to deliver the thrilling and fluid attacking football that so many fans desire, some initial worries and fears appear to be settling in. My answer to this is that whilst they are indeed justified, it’s important to remember that Pellegrino is no magician.

We can see that the Argentine is looking to implement a controlled style of play coupled with a high intensity in pressing and defending. This has seen Southampton record two clean sheets from three Premier League fixtures without the services of both Virgil Van Dijk, and our new boy Wesley Hoedt.

This limited defence has shown fantastic maturity at times, displaying a fine understanding of Pellegrino’s defensive demands, whilst the midfield pairing of Mario Lemina and Oriol Romeu hold fantastic promise looking forward. Romeu offers defensive security and physicality, whilst Lemina is an outlet to turn defence into attack with his athleticism.

Unsurprisingly however, we’ve continued to crumble in the final third, with inexcusable mistakes letting both us (the fans) and the manager down. Poor touches, wayward passing and out-right embarrassing composure in front of goal; you name it and we’ve done it.

It’s clear to see just how well Pellegrino has already organised both his backline and those protecting it, so with that and our poor form in front of goal last season considered, I cannot help but conclude that this issue runs far deeper than the manager.

This is an issue within the personnel of our squad, and regardless of who we could ever possibly have in charge, the issue would still remain.

Southampton are a club famed for their tendency to coach and develop players rather than run to the cheque book, but in our current situation this is something that we simply can’t afford to do.

We’re crying out for a pacey and unpredictable goal threat from wide areas – someone that’s in the same mould of Sadio Mane, a player who I personally believe, sparked the beginning of Southampton’s poor form in front of goal.

No, I’m not slipping into meltdown, and no, I’m not even fearing relegation. I’ve seen plenty that’s left me positive for the season ahead, but we are a club that boasts ambitions to once again fly our flag in European competitions and challenge the status quo.

Such ambitions will be hard to obtain (and quite frankly ridiculous to expect) without investment before the window closes. So let’s act now in the market and as a club truly get behind our manager, Mauricio Pellegrino – something both the board and fans arguably failed to do last season.

Hoedt’s transfer to Southampton confirmed as imminent

The wishes of Southampton fans will soon come true, with Wesley Hoedt’s transfer from Lazio to Southampton all but complete.

For weeks now the rumours have been circulating regarding the future of the Dutch centre-back, but yesterdays quotes from Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi have brushed aside any remaining doubts.

“The boy wants to play with more continuity. He just doesn’t have the opportunity here. A dissatisfied player can not stay. By tomorrow he will go to Southampton. He and (Balde) Keita will have to be replaced.”

This follows on from comments made by Lazio’s sporting director Igili Tare, who stated that Hoedt “requested to be transferred.

“He wants to be a starter in England and will be transferred to Southampton in the near future.

“He has had a positive experience here in Rome. I wish him all the best.”

The original fee offered to Lazio was believed to be in the region of £15.5M, but Sky in Italy have since stated that the final deal is nearing £17M. This would mean that Southampton have now twice beaten their club-record transfer fee prior to this window – £16M paid for Sofiane Boufal last summer.

What appears to be most encouraging about this deal however, is the numerous reliable sources claiming that this transfer bears no implications on Virgil Van Dijk’s future. Hoedt is being signed to strengthen our defensive options and hopefully form a double Dutch partnership within our back line – only time will tell with the latter however.

Will Hoedt make an instant impact for the Saints this season? See for yourself as tickets for Southampton games this season are available from Footballticketpad.comWhilst the club may be looking for more goals this season, adding Hoedt’s quality to the defence can only help the teams performance.

With Hoedt’s arrival on the South coast imminent and Southampton standing strong over Van Dijk, it’s not long now until we can see a Mauricio Pellegrino team firing on all cylinders.

Preview: Southampton vs West Ham

Life under Mauricio Pellegrino got off to an encouraging start last weekend, but once again we were left ruing our chances as the final whistle blew.

Southampton were held to a scoreless draw at the hands of Paul Clement’s Swansea City, which means that the Saints have now failed to score in their last nine hours of competitive football at St Mary’s.

Can we break the deadlock this weekend? I spoke with West Ham fan, Liam Spencer, to get the low-down on our upcoming opponents.

What have you made of West Ham’s transfer window so far?

You’ll struggle to find many West Ham fans who would argue we haven’t significantly strengthened the squad this summer. Zabaleta, Hart, Arnautovic and Hernandez have all been signed for the first team, and with William Carvalho still to come it’s looking like a very good few months indeed.

It’s only early days of course, but what did you take away from last weekend’s result?

Although I’m backing Man United for the title, it was still disappointing that West Ham didn’t put up any kind of opposition on the day. Saying that, we were without Lanzini, Antonio and Kouyate, and once they’re back I think we’ll be a much stronger force.

From the outside looking in it seems that Slaven Bilic has a lot to prove this year; what are your thoughts on the Croatian boss?

I love Slaven, but anything less than top 10 this year and he’ll be in trouble. We all know he’s a passionate man and ‘gets it’ from a West Ham point of view, but we’ve spent big this summer and progress needs to be made.

Who do you expect to be your key man this year?

Javier Hernandez. It’s been far too long since West Ham have owned a consistent striker. I’m backing Chicharito to hit 15 Premier League goals.

What would make for a successful season?

Top 10 and a cup run

There was no way I couldn’t ask this one; how has Jose Fonte been?

To be honest, right now it looks like a waste of money. He’s not going to get in the team ahead of Reid or Ogbonna and when he has been called upon it’s been mediocre at best.

Which player from this Southampton side strikes the most fear into you, and who would you take to join the Hammers?

I’ve always liked Nathan Redmond. If I could pick one it would have to be VVD though.

And finally, what do you think the score will be this Saturday?

2-0 to West Ham. COYI!

Southampton bid €17M for Lazio’s Wesley Hoedt

According to the latest reports by Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Southampton have made a €17M offer for Lazio’s Wesley Hoedt.

The report states that the bid was submitted last night, and whilst it’s still yet to be accepted, the €17M on the table does match Lazio’s initial valuation of the player at the start of this window.

To many looking in from the outside this will be considered an attempt to secure Virgil Van Dijk’s replacement, but given the clubs consistently strong stance on the situation, this could still be the Fonte funds being reimbursed.  Reports from the ever reliable Simon Peach have also reinforced that.

This report will no doubt be encouraging news for fans, who despite feeling optimistic about life under Mauricio Pellegrino, can see that our current defence doesn’t match up to that of previous seasons.

Whilst Maya Yoshida greatly improved last season and Jack Stephens is proving himself to be a promising talent, fans are hoping for a little more ambition as teams around us continue to strengthen in the transfer market.

As a pair the two have put in some fantastic performances, but they still hold the tendency to get bullied in the air, drawn out of position and left exposed. In a dream scenario Yoshida can act as reliable back-up, whilst we allow Stephens to progress alongside a player of Hoedt’s quality.

The Dutchman has proven himself to be a strong and dependable centre-back in the top flight of Italian football for the past two seasons, helping Lazio to finish eighth and fifth respectively.

Of those to contest 50+ aerial duels in Serie A this term, only Bruno Alves (79.3%) came close to Hoedt in the air, who recorded a staggering 84.1%. Given Southampton’s evident shortcomings in the air at the minute, this interest certainly doesn’t surprise me. Especially when his ability to build from the back has also been praised during his time at Lazio – something that’s to be expected if you wish to be a Southampton centre-back.

Review: Southampton 0 Swansea City 0

Southampton showed attacking intent and played with a high intensity from the very first whistle, but ultimately the narrative was all too familiar. 28 shots on goal, two on target and just one point to show for it.

This was Mauricio Pellegrino’s very first competitive game as Southampton boss, and had it not been for our poor form in front of goal, it would have been a dream start to life on the South Coast for the Argentinian.

It’s very much early days, but based upon this first showing, there’s plenty to look forward to in the Pellegrino era. Since his appointment Pellegrino has stated numerous times that he wants to entertain the fans – something that was clearly discussed during his sit down with Les Reed and co.  The players had a sense of urgency about the situation and were brave enough to take risks. We had a nice mixture of some neat triangles, defence splitting passes and even direct play (an option we very rarely turned to last season).

Both full backs were heavily involved in each phase of play, looking to bomb on down the line and ask questions of the defence. But this wasn’t at the cost of defensive stability, as both Cedric and Bertrand continually turned to check the positioning of their man.

I still maintain the stance that Southampton must invest in another centre-back this summer, but for all the talk about Virgil Van Dijk, Southampton didn’t allow Swansea even so much as a sniff at goal. Stephens and Yoshida were commanding in the air, quick to intercept and even brave in their distribution of the ball.

It wasn’t just our work on the ball that impressed me either. Our physicality, defensive positioning and alertness also stood out. We were rarely outnumbered, reacted first to almost every second ball, and looked to impose a greater physical edge over the opposition (not entirely dissimilar from a certain Pochettino).

The jury is obviously still out on whether this will be maintained consistently, but it certainly isn’t a bad place to start. As mentioned earlier however, there’s something that definitely doesn’t need debating; our ability to throw away golden chances.

Minus Gabbiadini and Austin (who never start together), we don’t have a player that can cleanly strike the ball inside the box, and boy has it harmed us. Mishit efforts and a lack of composure in front of goal has cost us too many times, leading me to conclude that we simply have to act in the transfer market.

There’s been whispers of Southampton holding an interest in Atletico Madrid’s Luciano Vietto, and given his ability to play off the forward as a second striker, this certainly wouldn’t surprise me. Perhaps Pellegrino has already recognised his sides need for a clinical late arriver in the box?

Pep guardiola once stated “My job is to take you to the final third, and your job is to finish it” and with this considered, it’s been an incredibly encouraging start to life under Mauricio Pellegrino.

An insight into Mario Lemina

Whilst some were bemoaning Southampton’s lack of transfer activity this summer, the board decided to respond in the finest fashion; by securing the services of Juventus’s Mario Lemina for a club-record fee.

The midfielder has joined the club on a five-year contract for an initial £15.4m, that has the potential to rise to £18.1m. Lemina has been detailed as an athletic, powerful, box-to-box midfielder, who is capable of initiating counter attacks, whilst also boasting the defensive mindset to help out his midfield partner; good news for Oriol.

Lemina spent his youth career developing with FC Lorient in France, rising up the ranks to make his first team debut at just 18 years old. During his first and only season with the Ligue 1 outfit, he greatly impressed and soon after prompted Marseille to chase for his signature. He joined the club at the start of the 2013-14 season, and whilst he struggled to make his mark in the side during his first year, his talent was clear to see. It was with the appointment of Marco Biesla in May 2014 however, which brought about the Gabonese International’s finest form. Lemina played a vital role in helping Marseille finish fourth in the Ligue 1 table.

Throughout the summer of 2015, Lemina was the host of plenty of Premier League attention (by some accounts, this is when Southampton’s interest started) but on deadline day, it was Juventus who came out on top. They signed Lemina on a season long loan with a view to a permanent at the end of the season, and over the next year he faced the impossible challenge of fighting for a place amongst Juve’s midfield. Despite only starting seven Serie A fixtures, he did show glimpses of his talent, causing Juventus to activate the €9.5M release clause agreed in his loan deal. The following season however would follow the same story line as his first year with the Old Lady, and this brings us to today…

To gain further insight into just what type of player we’re acquiring, I spoke with Juventus fan, Marco Messina – the owner of ItalianFootballTV.

“Mario Lemina is a young player – 23 years old. He’s raw but you can see his talent shine through. Unfortunately I’ve never been a big fan of him to be honest; he’s a good dribbler but far too raw for a team like Juventus. Maximiliano Allegri actually liked him if you remember that he was subbed on many times in the Champions League. His time at Juventus wasn’t the best, as there were too many good players in front of him, and unfortunately he wasn’t good enough to ever break through. The general feeling is that Juventus fans are happy Lemina is leaving as he was holding up a spot for a better player in the squad. Maybe the Premier League could suit him better and at a club like Southampton, he’s actually going to get real time to play so it could be perfect for him.”

Preview: Southampton vs Swansea City

It’s almost here; the first game of the 2017/18 Premier League season. But in traditional Southampton style, we once again enter this season with a new boss, an endless supply of transfer gossip, and the determination to prove our doubters wrong (again).

Southampton’s first challenge of the season comes in the form of Swansea City, but rather than us sitting here and giving you a general low down, we decided to speak to someone who truly knows the ins and outs of the club; Kevin Elphick, the editor of Vital Swansea City.

Paul Clement and Swansea City appear to be a match made in heaven; what has he done to once again reinstall hope into the fans?

First and foremost, he kept us up last season when the odds were stacked massively against him. I don’t think he’s received enough praise from the media and pundits etc that he deserves. Like he said, it was his proudest managerial achievement and it’s not hard to see why.

It’s a cliche but he got us back to the basics, quickly recognising our strengths and weaknesses as soon as he came in and improving them almost instantly. After the disastrous spell of Bob Bradley, he identified his strongest side and stuck with it to get some consistency.

He got us playing in a much more organised and compact shape, and played to our strengths – mainly getting the ball wide and putting in crosses for Llorente to finish.

Looking ahead to next season, having simply played to our strengths last year to keep us up, it looks like he’s trying to get us back to playing a more possession-based, passing style and playing out from the back. A style of play that we got used to but has lost its way here in recent years.

He also comes across as an assured and confident character – unlike his two predecessors. With the likes of Claude Makelele, Nigel Gibbs and some former Spurs coaches amongst the backroom staff, I’d say we’ve got one of our best management teams in the last few years.

How have the squad looked over pre-season?

Paul Clement wasn’t happy with the performances during the U.S Tour, he admitted that by the end of the tour that the squad was behind his own targets, but they showed a big improvement when they came home, beating Birmingham and Sampdoria and keeping clean-sheets in the process.

Without Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente, our two key players last season, we have looked short of attacking creativity at times, and we need to address that weakness before the end of the month, as it doesn’t look like Sigurdsson will be kicking another ball for us.

What have you made of Swansea’s transfer window so far?

It’s not been great so far. It’s been too dependant on the sale, or lack of, of Gylfi Sigurdsson. We’ve signed two first team players, which is better than signing most squad players last Summer. Roque Mesa looks like the perfect player to help us revert back to a passing-style game, while Tammy Abraham is the sort of confident striker that we need to replace the flop Borja Baston – who’s headed back to La Liga on loan.

The most of us are hoping now that Gylfi Sigurdsson’s move to Everton is completed sooner rather than later so we can push through some much needed signings. We’re looking a bit thin in certain areas. We don’t have enough strength in depth or enough competition for places. I don’t know who we can turn to in games as an impact sub if things aren’t going our way. Therefore we need to bring at least 2 players that will walk into our side – the main one obviously being a replacement for Sigurdsson. We also need a defender (it’s a toss between a centre back and right back) and a winger/inside forward.

With both clubs holding a wantaway star, you could say Saints and Swans fans are in the same boat at the minute; what’s your stance on the Sigurdsson situation?

We’re all fed up with it now. It’s rolled on for weeks and weeks and we’re getting tired of this ongoing saga not being resolved.

He’s gone down in my estimation since he refused to travel to the U.S on the morning they were jetting off. He’s trained with the squad since they’ve been back home but has still refused to take part in any friendly matches.

It’s frustrating to see him resigned to leaving us, and refusing to take part in friendlies despite us still paying his expensive weekly wages.

I just want him to join Everton now, at £45m if needs be, mainly because we need the money quickly to bring in some much needed signings. We don’t want to be going to January with the squad as it is.

Who do you expect to be your key man this year?

Gylfi Sigurdsson would be the obvious choice if he was staying, and Fernando Llorente next, but because we’re looking to move to a possession-based game and his future not 100% secure, then I’d say it’s our new loan striker Tammy Abraham.

Llorente will miss the first one or two games, and we need Abraham to get off the mark quickly, otherwise – without Sigurdsson and Llorente, we could be struggling to score goals.

What would make for a successful season?

Reaching the 40-point mark still has to be our first and immediate target for the season. I’d hoped by now after 6 full seasons, that we could be possibly looking to be established in and around mid-table, but we’ve experienced the threat of relegation now for the last two years – and that’s where we’re currently at.

Which player from this Southampton side strikes the most fear into you, and who would you take to join the Swans?

Dusan Tadic springs to mind as being the player I remember to give us the most problems when we’ve faced you. He could walk into our team easily and would be able to play anywhere across our front three and would definitely improve us. He’d be excellent playing as a number 10 behind our front 2 or anywhere in a front three or wide.  That’s the sort of player that we’re currently lacking at the moment.

Finally, what do you think the score will be this Saturday?

Our record at Southampton isn’t great, we’ve won one and lost three out of five, we don’t score many at St Mary’s either and I expect another tough game. With a lack of impact subs available – I think you’ll be a bit too strong for us in the end so I’m predicting a narrow 2-1 defeat – with you going on to win it in the final 15-20 minutes. But I’m hopeful of a good performance ahead of our first home game against Manchester United at least.