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Earthquake at Southampton

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At the brink of Season 6 every team must sort out their starting line-up and ensure for decent subs, but some managers have more homework to do than the others. Ageing and injuries take their toll on players. Today, we speak to Southampton's manager baranello, who struggles now after the club has been bitten by the loss of 7 players.

Exclusive interview with baranello by Woody Leg.

W.: You are currently down to 15 players just before the season start. That puts you under the lower squad limit, is that right?
B.: Well, technically we were, right until a few days ago, when Elano was found in one of Rio de Janeiro's dodgy beach bars sipping caipirinhas and dreaming about everything but returning to the club. He even changed his name to Emha, poor sod. But our negotiator got wasted together with him, then called a cab, dragged the unconscious lad to the airport and brought him back before the player got a grip with reality again. He'll be fine and surely show some class in the coming season. He scored already in one of pre-season friendlies and we hope he will destroy league's goalkeepers one by one from the free kicks, as he did last season.

W.: Frillypink to hear that. You finished last season on 5th position and this was a club record under your management. What were the key points to that result?
 B.: Careful squad management throughout Season 5, from pre-season games to the last days of the league, let us display solid form over all fixtures. But in the end there were teams whose form was near perfection, and we were not ready to compete on that level yet. We beat Maccabi, the final league winner, twice over the season, but we lost a too much points that were just within our grasp and appeared key factor in the end. But this is the beauty of football - you can never be certain of the result before the final whistle. We are going to work on our concentration, in every game, until very last minute.

W.: Last season we saw just minor changes to the squad. Which signing do you consider the most important?
B.: Sure, certainly Southampton does not see the need of installing the revolving door like in some clubs in the league, but that doesn't necessarily mean we don't do transfers at all. We were sorted in the back with Clyne, Henrique and Zebina so we only got back Mathieu after his episode in Catania under Dortaboy the Grumpy. We bid farewell to top man Kevin Nolan because we managed to get a good leverage on him, though his replacements turned out to be a bit disappointing so we don't see them at the club anymore. We also parted ways with Patrick Odemwingie who didn't see much match time because both Altidore and Mayuka were on continous display of skill together with the mid-season auction signing quality striker Filip Djordjevic, who appeared as a real weapon. Those three are already considered a real spearhead of The Saints and fans put a lot of hope in their goals for the coming season. We strenghtened our midfield by snapping Lee Catermole, and although he didn't play a lot last season, he emerges as a midfield hero in the pre-season. Ball might pass, the opponent not. That's his motto and fans love him for that. But the really fresh air in the armory were Kuba Blaszczykowski and Henri Saivet, both signed right before the season has ended. Kuba is a Dortmund's legend, intelligent, great dribbler and creative playmaker while Henri is a French youngster, deadly when placed as second striker, but can also play attacking midfield when needed, we will be seeing a lot of action from these two very soon.

W.: Whoa, that seems like pretty crowded forward. What about current team balance?
B.: Yeah, we are now doing some shifts and turns, because we lost a few players, including the pillar of our defence - Zebina, who gave up professional football. The same applies to Fabio Aurelio and Demy de Zeeuw who went nuts and take on fashion design, poor sod. Demy and Fabio were important subs, who were able to shift scales of the game in difficult moments, so we will be certainly missing them. But Zebina is a different story. Our defence has a serious dent and we need to patch it asap. Henrique also tried the trick with changing name but in the end he came from vacation on his own but he won't drag the cart alone, Gareth McAuley is a quality bloke, but we need a serious 1st squad reinforcements. We're already in talks to sign a new centreback, stay tuned. Mathieu and Clyne are reliable as hell, so no worries on the sides. Catermole, Isla and youngster Ward-Prowse will run the show in the middle, but if any good deal can be lined up, we might see some changes here. We would definately need another goalkeeper because Kelvin Davis isn't everlasting, if you get me right, so a sub or just better replacement would come handy. We hoped for Thomas Kaminski to stay with us, but he preferred dirty russian money in his payroll on Cyprus.

W.: So, any confirmed rumours as of yet?
B.: No, not really. We're scouting the market, there's a lot of new managers in the party, but their players have already been seen in different teams. Probably we will see some transfer action, perhaps some of our players might be desperately lured by the new managers, but we can't let our squad disperse the force we managed to retain after this difficult dealings, so if we see changes, they are going to be for better only.

W.: Seeing your current squad one might think you are going to play some insanely attacking football. Are you planning to go wild and overrun opponents halves with your striking force?
B.: Frillypink idea, but let's remember this is a serious league, not any myClub punk football stunt festival. Surely, we will shift our focus to more dynamic football to use doubtless qualities our players posses. But we're going to mix it into our current playing style based on creative midfielders, positions shifting in our attacking ranks and clinical finishes. We used a "skewed" 4-3-3 formation in the pre-season matches and it proved effective. Altidore is perfect as a tank-type, trap-and-turn-around attacker, while Mayuka and Saivet run everywhere, providing coverage on AMF position too. We scored a lot and almost every forward player had his moment on the scoreboard. We certainly need to work on our defensive strengths because we conceded too much. Of course, there are managers who would beat you even if you played 9-1 formation, but well, you can only learn from guys like Gregmeister or Nurologic.

W.: Allright, so what are your expectations for the coming season?
B.: Honestly, it's hard to say. League structure has changed heavily due to next-gen migration so most of managers are yet to be seen for the first time on the opposite side, but we will fight for the highest location possible. Fans shouldn't be disappointed!
W.: Okay, thanks for the chat.
B.: Cheers. Remember, PEN Forever!  :pen:

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