Date: 18th May 2013 at 12:20pm
Written by:

Editor Lloyd Reddin has travelled the internet airways for the final time this season. Reddin spoke to fellow Vital Southampton`s Editor Vital Saint for all his pre-match thoughts and season reflection before the curtain closes on the 2012/13 season.

1. Do you believe this season has been a success? What were your targets at the start of the season?

The simple target this season was to ensure Premiership safety and ensure that we remained in the league for next campaign. So on that score it’s been a perfect success and with our performances at points, and with how well the majority of our players have adjusted to the league, it’s been somewhat of a bonus season really.

Coming back up to the top flight all that mattered for the club and the fans was survival, and given the gap between ourselves and the bottom three we have managed it in some style really and given ourselves everything to build on in the summer to ensure we survive again next season, and hopefully gain a few places in the league in the process.

The fact that victory for us this weekend, with other results going our way, could see us finish in 10th place I believe is a massive achievement for us.

2. Do you believe changing your manager was the right thing to do?

I’m still not 100% sure, because we were back on the up when the rug was finally pulled from under Nigel Adkins, but equally you can’t dismiss the further improvements in our style and type of play that has come around from the team acting on Pochettino’s instructions.

In some ways you can say the jury is on on whether it was the right thing to do exactly, but nobody can really argue it turned out to be the wrong thing to do.

3. Are you worried that a change of Chairmen could effect on the field displays?

Yes, very much so, especially as Mauricio Pochettino has come out today saying he won’t remain at the club if Nicola Cortese leaves. Both chairman and manager have a joint play that they laid out, and you assume the vast majority of what Pochettino wants to achieve and change within the clu already existed as something Cortese wanted, so I just don’t see them splitting now.

Of course if Poch walks, we’ll have two huge gaps to fill in the club and there are no guarantees that replacements would want to follow the same plan, but the groundwork for that plan is already in place and it’s how the club is geared, so changing that now could cause serious damage.

Stability and consolidation are our way forward, totally changing the plan now could backfire in a huge way.

4. Who would you say is your danger man?

I would naturally normally defer to Rickie Lambert because he is so focus for us, but as he hasn’t trained this week and there’s no guarantee he will be in the side, I’ll go Jay Rodriguez, or Jason Puncheon who can more than cause you damage.

5. What would you say are your strengths as a team?

Workmanship and team ethic is our greatest strength usually, everybody fights and battles for each other, going until the end and trying our best to not leave anybody exposed. We can all pick out the individual names in the team, but at our best this season for example, our Man of the Match poll votes are incredibly tight between a good number of players.

6. What would you say are your weaknesses as a team?

When it’s not our day, things have a tendancy to fall apart in a big way. Lately it’s possible to say complacency has kicked in as we entered the last few games of the season with us all but being safe, and it has cost us in results. We also seem to settle for results instead of really gunning for it like we used to.

We are still a bit too open in defence although that has been much improved since the start of the season.

7. How do you feel about your manager?

Excited really. He has his vision, he knows what he wants to achieve with us and how he wants us to play and it’s all geared towards that. As said you certainly can’t call his appointment a wrong choice, and he has made changes in the short time he’s been at the club that have benefitted our performances on the pitch, so it’s hopeful and excited heading into the new season as he signs players that will suit him and he gets a full pre-season behind him to work tactics and things like that.

8. Which player (s) do you fear from the Stoke City side?

Adams’ ability to play a ball is well documented and he can more than open up a defence, and Crouch’s ability to find the net – although he appears to have struggled this season by his own standards – also can’t be dismissed. I’m led to believe Michael Owen will be starting this weekend as well and he’ll no doubt want to go out on a high.

9. Is there any Stoke players you would like to add to your squad?

Shawcross, N’zonzi and Crouch I’d love to see as options at St Mary’s.

10. What is your likely line-up for the match?

Shaw, Hooiveld, Fonte, Clyne,
Schneiderlin, S Davis, Cork, Lallana,
Puncheon, Rodriguez

Unless I’ve missed something, the only doubt in that line up is Shaw who has a virus, but it’s hoped he’ll be fine for the weekend. If Lambert is fit, he’ll start ahead of Puncheon I would guess.

11. Finally, what`s your score prediction for the match?

I think it’ll be quite full bloodied to be fair, but final game of the season, I think this might have 1-1 written all over it.