Preview: Southampton v Everton

We find ourselves just 12 games into the 2017/18 season, and already the future of Southampton manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, appears to be hanging by a thread. 

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Its not been a dream start to life on the South Coast for the Argentine, who’s recorded three wins in all competitions so far, seeing his side score a miserable nine goals along the way.

Our upcoming opponents, however, find themselves in a similar state; siting just outside the relegation zone in 16th place, just one point behind the Saints.

As these two underperforming ‘best of the rest’ sides prepare to face each other this Saturday, many Southampton fans are labelling this a season defining fixture.

So to get the inside track on The Toffees, we spoke with Adam Partington of the Grand Old Team.

Where did it all go wrong with Ronald Koeman?

I can smell the smugness within this question, you Saints fans must have enjoyed watching him fail so spectacularly…

The truth is, there’s not one thing I can point to, however, the business he oversaw in the summer was absolutely catastrophic and frankly didn’t make much sense. It left the side so unbalanced. Couple that with a lack of ideas, frequently bemusing decisions, and regression to ‘late 90s levels of Everton woefulness’, meant the board had no option but to pull the trigger.

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What would now make for a successful season?

I still think (given how tight the league is) that Everton can still get 7th. All of this depends on who the next manager is and if he can galvanize the squad pre-January, buy the right players, and then go on a run in the later winter/early spring. Before someone tweets me telling me I’m #deluded, I’m not saying this will happen, I’m just saying it’s still a possibility.  

How have teams got the most joy out of your defence?

We’re the masters of our own downfall. When Ashley Williams plays we look dreadful and the entire back line is prone to getting pulled out of position, Micheal Keane bizarrely isn’t much better. We have the second worst defensive record in the league, no pace, our distribution is pathic (bar Pickford) and our concentration worse. I don’t see him a lot, but a forward like Charlie Austin should get plenty of joy. I’d be inclined to say Shane Long would cause us issues, too.

Which player has surprised you most by stepping up?

Jonjoe Kenny has been pretty good but he’s not a surprise. Everton always bring through good lads so I’m never shocked when they cope with the demands of the Premiership.

Which areas of the field do you still consider Everton to be short in?

We need a striker. Nobody is going to fall off their chair reading that, everyone knows we didn’t replace Lukaku (not that we could get someone as good as him anyway). We also really need another decent centre-half, and a left-sided full back as cover for Leighton Baines.

You’re stranded on a desert island and can only be joined by one Toffees player; who’s it going to be?

I reckon Jagielka would be a good laugh. I think we’d get on but Coleman is my age and I’ve met him before and he was delightful, so he’d be my choice.

Which Southampton player would you take to join your side?

Virgil van Dijk because he’s exactly what we need (see above) and it would infuriate the Reds. Maya Yoshida would be my second choice. Not because I rate him but because his surname makes him sound like a rare Pokemon.

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As an outsider looking in, which Everton player would help to improve Pellegrino’s Saints most?

Am I right in thinking Fraser Forster hasn’t been great for a while now? If so, Jordan Pickford.

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

1-1.

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