Tag Archives: Southampton

Premier League Files: Eyal Berkovic

Premier League Career: Southampton (1996-1997), West Ham United (1997-1999), Manchester City (2002-2003), Portsmouth (2004-2005)

Having made 78 international appearances for Israel across a 12-year career for his country, Eyal Berkovic is often considered as one of his nation’s greatest-ever players. Berkovic played for four Premier League clubs during his career and was most productive for West Ham United, helping the Hammers to a fifth place finish in 1998-1999. He also won promotion to the top-flight with Blackburn Rovers in 2001.

Eyal started his career at Maccabi Haifa in 1989 and remained at the club for seven years. During that time, Maccabi Haifa were a regular title contender in Israel and won the championship in both 1991 and 1994. His strong influence on their squad was quickly noted by his country who capped him for the first time in 1992. Although Israel failed to qualify for a major tournament during his international years, Eyal went on to win 78 caps before retiring from duty in 2004. He scored nine times.

English football was waiting for him at the start of 1996-1997 when Graeme Souness took him to Southampton on a season-long loan deal. He made 28 appearances for the Saints and scored four times. Berkovic’s best game in a Southampton shirt definitely came in the amazing 6-3 victory over Manchester United. He scored twice and set-up three goals for his teammates, Egil Ostenstad and Matt Le Tissier.

Souness’ summer departure meant Berkovic didn’t complete a permanent transfer to The Dell. Instead, he moved permanently to West Ham United for £1.75 million in the summer of 1997. On his home debut, Berkovic immediately became a big hit by scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 success against Tottenham Hotspur – a club West Ham have always enjoyed beating during the Premier League Years.

Berkovic was the perfect creator for John Hartson, who enjoyed his best-ever Premier League scoring season in 1997-1998, helped by Berkovic often being able to pick out the tall striker with key passes and telling crosses. However, the relationship off-the-pitch wasn’t so sweet between the pair. There was an ugly training ground bust-up early in the 1998-1999 season. After a tasty tackle in a routine training drill by the Israeli, Hartson took exception to it and kicked Berkovic in the face. Captured on camera, it was an awful moment for manager Harry Redknapp to witness. Hartson was banned for three games and fined £20,000 for the incident.

He would move to Wimbledon in January 1999 and before the year was out, Berkovic also moved on. He went to experience Scottish football with Celtic. Signed by John Barnes, Berkovic scored nine league goals in 32 appearances but was unable to achieve the rapport he’d enjoyed with supporters at his previous clubs. It was a difficult time in his career and he was subjected to religious taunts by Hearts supporters during a match between the teams at Tynecastle in December 1999.

Discarded by Martin O’Neill when he became Celtic boss, Berkovic moved back to England, reuniting with Souness at Blackburn Rovers who signed him on-loan. Two goals against Queens Park Rangers and Grimsby Town in his 11 appearances for the club helped Blackburn achieve promotion back to the top-flight, two years after their relegation. However, he stayed in the First Division and was signed permanently in July 2001 by Kevin Keegan for Manchester City, who were coming down in Blackburn’s place.

He scored on his debut in a 3-0 home victory against Watford and played a key role in helping City regain their Premier League status with a record 108 goals and 99 points gathered on their way to the title. He linked up well with Ali Benarbia in a 3-5-2 formation that seemed to suit Keegan’s side very well. That form continued into the 2002-2003 season as Manchester City finished ninth in their last-ever season playing at Maine Road. Berkovic was voted Manchester City’s Player of the Season in the club’s official magazine and was instrumental in their first victory in 13 years over city rivals Manchester United in November 2002, playing some role in two of the three goals the Citizens scored in a 3-1 victory.

Competition for places increased in 2003-2004 with the arrival of Steve McManaman and Claudio Reyna plus the growing emergence of Shaun Wright-Phillips. Berkovic fell out with Keegan and in January 2004, was sold to newly-promoted Portsmouth for £500,000. In his first game for Pompey, he helped them beat of all clubs, Manchester City 4-2 at Fratton Park. A few weeks later, he netted his first goal in a 4-3 loss at Tottenham and was one of the driving forces towards Portsmouth’s survival in their maiden Premier League campaign.

The move to the south coast saw him link up again with his manager at West Ham, Harry Redknapp but he was unable to hold down a starting place in 2004-2005, despite an early season goal in the 4-3 win over Fulham. He left Portsmouth and the Premier League in January 2005, signing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv after a planned return to Maccabi Haifa was rejected. He was unable to win any more silverware and in May 2006, announced his retirement from professional football.

He moved into management straight after retirement but struggled to hold down decent relations with his owners, both at Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Tel-Aviv. So in May 2015, Berkovic moved into an ownership role himself. He is now chairman of Hapoel Rishon LeZion, a club in the Israeli Second Division.

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Iconic Moments: Ali Dia – The worst Premier League player of all-time? (November 1996)

Throughout the history of the Premier League, there have been some amazing players who have graced these shores from the likes of Henry, Cantona and Zola to Aguero, Salah and Bergkamp. However, the English top-flight has also seen its fair share of flops and players who simply haven’t delivered on their potential. Others just aren’t good enough to reach the top level and quite possibly the worst is Ali Dia.

This weird but true story began in November 1996. Manager of Southampton at the time, Graeme Souness received a phone call from someone claiming to be the current World Player of the Year at the time, George Weah. The claim was that Dia was Weah’s cousin, had played 13 times for his country Senegal and also been a Paris Saint-Germain player. The call was actually made by one of Dia’s friends from University. If proper research had been carried out at the time, they would have seen that as recently as September 1996, the same player had made just one substitute appearance for non-league side Blyth Spartans!

Souness fell for it and Dia was signed on a one-month contract. A few days later, he was named as a substitute against Leeds United and got an unexpected opportunity when a calf injury forced Matt Le Tissier to be replaced by Dia after 32 minutes. His 53-minute cameo was nothing short of laughable and embarrassing. Withdrawn for Ken Monkou with five minutes left, Dia was never seen again in the Premier League. Le Tissier later said: “His performance was almost comical. He kind of took my place, but he didn’t really have a position. He was just wondering everywhere. I don’t think he realised what position he was supposed to be in.”

Dia gave up the game in 1997 after a couple more unsuccessful spells in the non-league with Gateshead and Spennymoor United. He went on to receive a Master of Business Administration from San Francisco State University in 2003.

Ali Dia – quite possibly the worst player to ever feature in the history of the Premier League.

Great Goals: Matt Le Tissier – Blackburn Rovers vs. SOUTHAMPTON (December 1994)

Although Blackburn Rovers would eventually win this match in December 1994 against Southampton, the star of the game at Ewood Park was Matt Le Tissier.

The magic midfielder had a canny knack for scoring some outrageous goals and this is one which even he has often said is his best strike. With 12 minutes left to play, Le Tissier picked the ball up from teammate Tommy Widdrington on the halfway line. He shielded possession from Blackburn captain Tim Sherwood and turned Mark Atkins inside out. Le Tissier then went for goal from distance and his right-foot shot was inch-perfect. It flew into the top left-hand corner past his former teammate, Tim Flowers.

This goal was rightfully selected as the BBC Match of the Day Goal of the Season for the 1994-1995 campaign.

Memorable Matches: Norwich City 4-5 Southampton (April 1994)

Goalscorers: Mark Robins 37, Robert Ullathorne 44 OG, Jeremy Goss 48, Chris Sutton 55, 64, Matt Le Tissier 58, 63 PEN, 72, Ken Monkou 90

Teams:

Norwich City: Bryan Gunn, Ian Culverhouse, Spencer Prior, Gary Megson (Mark Robins 25), Mark Bowen, Robert Ullathorne, Ian Crook, Neil Adams, Darren Eadie (Colin Woodthorpe 67), Jeremy Goss, Chris Sutton

Southampton: Dave Beasant, Francis Benali, Ken Monkou, Simon Charlton, Matt Bound, Jeff Kenna, Paul Allen, Jim Magilton, Neil Maddison, Matt Le Tissier, Iain Dowie

Referee: Keith Cooper, Attendance: 17,150

Seven games without a win and with time running out, Southampton were in the drop zone coming into this match in April 1994 against Norwich City. The Saints badly needed the points, whilst their opponents had struggled since Mike Walker’s January departure to manage Everton. His successor, John Deehan had managed just two wins in his first 16 games in the job.

The first 35 minutes of the contest were scrappy on a boggy pitch surface but both teams had scored by half-time. It was Norwich who claimed the advantage eight minutes before the break. Mark Robins, having arrived from the bench midway through the first half after an early injury to Gary Megson, fired a left-foot shot past Dave Beasant to score his first goal of an injury-hit campaign.

Before then, Southampton had created the better openings and Iain Dowie should have levelled but hit the post with the goal gaping. In the end, they got a helping hand from their opponents. On 44 minutes, Neil Maddison cut inside in the penalty area but his shot was going wide of the goal before it took an unfortunate deflection into his own net off Norwich defender, Robert Ullathorne.

It had been an unremarkable first half but the second 45 minutes was absolutely breathtaking. The goal feast started within three minutes of the restart. Neil Adams’ fine delivery landed on the head of Norwich midfielder Jeremy Goss, who scored his eighth goal of the season. Seven minutes later, Chris Sutton got in on the goalscoring act. He was quickest to pounce on Beasant being unable to hold onto a shot from Robins.

At 3-1 down, Southampton looked in real trouble but the wildcard they had in their armoury was Matt Le Tissier. He had been quiet throughout the afternoon upto the 58th minute when from the edge of the penalty area, his soft shot somehow managed to beat Bryan Gunn, despite the goalkeeper getting a strong hand to the attempt. Five minutes later, it was 3-3. Jeff Kenna’s surging run into the penalty area was ended by Ullathorne’s clumsy tackle. Referee Keith Cooper pointed to the penalty spot and Le Tissier – with his excellent penalty record, never looked like missing from 12-yards.

Only 60 seconds later, the Canaries were back infront. Sutton scored his second, heading past Beasant after beating Ken Monkou in the air from a free-kick. However, Southampton kept going and deservedly levelled at 4-4 when Le Tissier completed his hat-trick. His 100th goal for Southampton was a header that beat Gunn at his near post after a deep cross from the excellent Kenna.

It was the kind of game where a winner always looked likely and it arrived for the Saints in stoppage-time. Le Tissier turned provider with his corner finding Monkou and his downward header found the back of the net to give Southampton a priceless and ultimately, decisive lead in this amazing encounter.

It was a valuable victory for the south coast side, who confirmed their safety on an extraordinary final day. Norwich might have knocked Bayern Munich out of the UEFA Cup but finished in a low-key 12th.

Premier League Rewind: 15th May 2005

Results: Birmingham City 2-1 Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Everton, Charlton Athletic 2-2 Crystal Palace, Fulham 6-0 Norwich City, Liverpool FC 2-1 Aston Villa, Manchester City 1-1 Middlesbrough, Newcastle United 1-1 Chelsea, Southampton 1-2 Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Blackburn Rovers, West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Portsmouth

The centre of attention on the final day of the 2004-2005 Premier League season was at the bottom of the table. For the first time in the competition’s history, all three relegation spots were up for grabs and by full-time, only one set of supporters from Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion would be celebrating survival.

The team in the driving seat were Norwich. They were outside the bottom three and a first away victory of the season at Craven Cottage against a Fulham side with little to play for would secure their top-flight status and relegate the other three sides irrespective of their results. However, as soon as Brian McBride had the Cottagers infront after just 10 minutes, it looked like it would be a long afternoon for the Canaries supporters. Any hope of beating the drop was virtually extinguished by Papa Bouba Diop’s cracking free-kick and it turned into a mauling for Nigel Worthington’s side. Andy Cole came off the bench to round the scoring off in stoppage-time. Fulham won 6-0 and Norwich were relegated.

The Canaries’ miserable afternoon in west London meant there was an opportunity for the other three teams then to escape the drop. Southampton had the trickiest fixture even though they were at home on the last day to FA Cup finalists Manchester United. They made a brilliant start, with an own goal off John O’Shea giving the Saints a lead at virtually the same time as Norwich were going a goal down at Fulham. A Darren Fletcher header did little to change the outcomes and at half-time, the point was enough for Harry Redknapp to protect his record of not experiencing Premier League relegation on his CV. Ruud van Nistelrooy had other ideas. The Dutchman had experienced a difficult campaign plagued by injuries by his 62nd minute header – his sixth league goal of the season put the Red Devils infront and they held on for a 2-1 victory to end Southampton’s 27-year stay in England’s top-flight.

So, Norwich and Southampton were both down, which meant it was a straight shootout between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion for survival. Palace travelled to a Charlton Athletic side without a win in their last eight games but they trailed at half-time to Bryan Hughes’ first half effort. Iain Dowie then brought Dougie Freedman off the bench and soon after his arrival; he put the Eagles level with a cute chip over the advancing Charlton goalkeeper Dean Kiely. Then, Mark Clattenburg pointed to the penalty spot when Jonathan Fortune handled the ball in his own penalty area. Andy Johnson’s 21st goal of the season meant Dowie’s side were now just 19 minutes from safety. However, with eight minutes remaining, Fortune made amends with a towering header from a free-kick to level the scores at 2-2. That is how it ended but would it be enough for Palace to avoid a fourth Premier League relegation?

It wouldn’t be the case if West Bromwich Albion beat Portsmouth at The Hawthorns. The Baggies were bottom going into the final day and only a win would be enough to give them a chance of achieving survival. Just a minute after his arrival into the match as a second half substitute, Geoff Horsfield drilled the Baggies into the lead and on-loan midfielder Kieran Richardson settled the contest with 15 minutes remaining. When he scored, Palace were winning so the three points weren’t enough but Fortune’s equaliser at The Valley sent The Hawthorns into a carnival atmosphere. No team in Premier League history had ever done what West Brom had just done. They were bottom on Christmas Day but had achieved survival on this, the ultimate Survival Sunday.’

Away from the drama at the bottom of the table and the other dramatic issue was who would take seventh place and the final UEFA Cup position in the table. Middlesbrough held the advantage and were playing chief rivals Manchester City at Eastlands. The scoreline was 1-1 when City had a late penalty. If Robbie Fowler had converted it, the Citizens would have claimed seventh position but his spot-kick was saved by Mark Schwarzer so Boro held on for the point that secured the last European qualification spot.

What else happened in May 2005?

  • Labour and Tony Blair win their third successive General Election but only a majority of 66 seats – a great reduction on their recent margin of victory in 2001.
  • After the election, Conservative party leader Michael Howard announced his intention to step down.
  • Liverpool FC win their fifth European Cup in sensational fashion, beating AC Milan on penalties in Istanbul after coming back from 3-0 down at half-time to draw 3-3.
  • The Eurovision Song Contest is won by Greece’s Helena Paparizou with her song “My Number One.”
  • 27-year-old transport manager Tim Campbell wins the first series of The Apprentice, winning a £100,000 job with Lord Alan Sugar’s firm, Amstrad.
  • American businessman Malcolm Glazer gains control of Manchester United after securing a 70% share. The takeover angers many United supporters.
  • BBC Weather relaunches, changing to 3D graphics.

 

Memorable Matches: Barnsley 4-3 Southampton (March 1998)

Goalscorers: Ashley Ward 17, Egil Ostenstad 24, Scott Jones 31, Matt Le Tissier 40, 70, Jan-Aage Fjortoft 42, Neil Redfearn 57 PEN

Teams:

Barnsley: Dave Watson, Scott Jones (Eric Tinkler 82), Nicky Eaden, Chris Morgan, Adie Moses, Martin Bullock, Darren Barnard, Darren Sheridan, Neil Redfearn, Jan-Aage Fjortoft, Ashley Ward (Andy Liddell 37, Georgi Hristov 64)

Southampton: Paul Jones, Francis Benali, Jason Dodd, Claus Lundekvam, Ken Monkou, John Beresford, Matt Oakley, Kevin Richardson (Andy Williams 57), Matt Le Tissier, David Hirst, Egil Ostenstad

Referee: Gerald Ashby, Attendance: 18,368

Barnsley remain one of the smallest clubs to have played in the Premier League and their fans will never forget the 1997-1998 season when they rubbed shoulders in the top-flight with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

They entertained Southampton in March 1998 and were looking to make it three wins in a row after an excellent victory in midweek at Villa Park against Aston Villa. They made the perfect start here too. Ashley Ward, who had scored in that win in the Midlands, put the Tykes into a 17th minute lead. He spun away from his marker Claus Lundekvam and crashed a low shot past Paul Jones’ defences.

Southampton, who were enjoying a comfortable season in the reaches of mid-table, hit back seven minutes later. Egil Ostenstad forced home the equaliser after some patient build-up play and slack home defending. However, Barnsley were showing plenty of character in what was their debut Premier League campaign and in the 31st minute, regained the lead. Jones came for a corner and never looked like getting there. It was his namesake, Scott Jones who won the aerial battle and put the home side back into the lead. Scott Jones had been the hero recently, having scored twice to dump mighty Manchester United out of the FA Cup at the fifth round stage.

The Saints though were producing great entertainment in this topsy-turvy clash and produced a second leveller five minutes before the interval. Jason Dodd broke down the right-hand side and his pinpoint cross was headed into the net by Matt Le Tissier. Just before Le Tissier’s equaliser, Ward was forced off the pitch by a hamstring injury but 120 seconds later, Danny Wilson’s battlers earned themselves a third lead in the match. Midfielder Martin Bullock beat two Southampton players, before crossing the ball for Jan-Aage Fjortoft to smash the ball into the roof of the net.

It was 3-2 at half-time and Barnsley finally earned themselves some breathing space and a two-goal cushion just before the hour mark. Fjortoft’s shirt was tugged in the penalty area by Lundekvam. It looked like a standard jousting contest but referee Gerald Ashby decided there was enough contact to award a foul. Captain Neil Redfearn dispatched the penalty with some aplomb. Dave Jones said afterwards: “The referee told me this was his last match before he retired and maybe he wanted to go out with a bang. I just wish he’d retired before today.”

With 20 minutes left, Le Tissier produced another of his trademark free-kicks to bring the visitors back into the match again but they couldn’t find another equaliser and left Oakwell with nothing to show for their efforts. Southampton finished 12th in the final standings whilst despite going on to beat Wimbledon and Sheffield Wednesday in home matches during the run-in; Barnsley’s relegation was confirmed at Filbert Street on the final Saturday of the season.

Seasonal Stories: Southampton (2014-2015)

Challenging the elite

Summer 2014 was one of turmoil for Southampton who saw their manager leave for a new post and several key figures from the previous season move onto bigger clubs. However, new manager Ronald Koeman and his players found a great resolve that saw them achieve a best-ever Premier League finish of seventh, despite being made relegation favourites at the start of the campaign.

The form of Graziano Pelle was important whilst towards the end of the season, another of the new purchases in Sadio Mane sealed his place in the Premier League record books.

A challenging summer

Southampton had finished the 2013-2014 Premier League season in eighth position with their best-ever points tally in a 38-game season. However, the club were about to experience plenty of upheaval in a challenging summer.

First was the departure of Argentine manager Mauricio Pochettino. Pochettino had impressed throughout his 18-month tenure in the St Mary’s hotseat and plenty of clubs were interested in his services. It was Tottenham Hotspur who eventually got his signature, replacing Tim Sherwood. Pochettino’s successor would be ex-Dutch defender Ronald Koeman, who had plenty of managerial experience from spells with PSV Eindhoven, Benfica and Valencia.

Koeman had to deal with many of the key Southampton first-team squad moving onto pastures new. Liverpool FC took the trio of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, whilst Manchester United signed Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers left for Arsenal. Morgan Schneiderlin also tried to force a move through to Tottenham but his transfer request was rejected and a serious knee injury meant Jay Rodriguez’s impact on this campaign was going to be severely limited.

There were eight new arrivals. Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld and left-back Ryan Bertrand were the season’s loan stars and they would be joined by six new permanent squad members. Attacking midfielder Sadio Mane came in from RB Salzburg, Fraser Forster moved from Celtic to succeed Artur Boruc as the club’s permanent no.1 goalkeeper and Serbian midfielder Dusan Tadic was acquired from FC Twente. Many columnists and pundits had Southampton down among their contenders for relegation following the summer of change.

Tremendous early run

Southampton played well on the opening weekend at Anfield and were unfortunate to lose 2-1 to Liverpool FC. Shane Long, a recent signing from Hull City, missed a great late opportunity to earn the Saints a share of the points.

Southampton’s first win came at the end of August. Having made peace with the hierarchy after his summer spat, Schneiderlin came to the fore at Upton Park, scoring twice in Southampton’s 3-1 triumph away at West Ham United.

This win in east London started a tremendous run of form for Southampton as they would win eight of their next nine matches to rise to the dizzying heights of second position. They kept six clean sheets in that period with Alderweireld and Bertrand settling in very quickly and showing that Shaw and Lovren weren’t being missed at all.

One of those victories remains the club’s biggest-ever Premier League victory as they wiped the floor with Sunderland. Southampton won 8-0. They were helped by three own goals whilst Graziano Pelle scored twice to continue his fantastic start to his Southampton career. He scored six goals in his first 11 matches.

TABLE ON 9th November 2014

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 11 9 2 0 28 11 +17 29
2 SOUTHAMPTON 11 8 1 2 23 5 +18 25
3 Manchester City 11 6 3 2 22 12 +10 21
4 West Ham United 11 5 3 3 19 14 +5 18
5 Swansea City 11 5 3 3 15 11 +4 18
6 Arsenal 11 4 5 2 19 13 +6 17

Maintaining form in festive period

Another player who was having an excellent season was Nathaniel Clyne. The right-back scored a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa but it did begin a dip of form which saw Southampton lose four consecutive matches. Three of those games were against the elite in the shape of Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

However, there was another bounce at the right time. With the festive period in sight, Southampton had some tricky games against Everton, Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal but collected 10 points from a possible 12. The 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park saw Neil Warnock’s second reign as Crystal Palace manager come to an end whilst the 2-0 victory over Arsenal forced Arsene Wenger into changing his main goalkeeper from Wojciech Szczesny after an error-strewn display on the south coast to David Ospina.

The January transfer window was a quiet one in comparison to the busy summer period. Bertrand’s loan move became a permanent transfer whilst Dutch winger Eljero Elia was brought in on-loan for the rest of the season from SV Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. Jack Cork though did leave for a fresh start at Swansea City after being unable to hold down a regular place in Koeman’s starting XI.

Elia’s impact was limited but he did score both goals to spearhead a 2-1 away victory at Newcastle United. This came after Tadic came off the bench to secure victory at Old Trafford against Manchester United. In mid-January, Southampton were sitting in third place and above Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool FC. They looked a potential serious player for the UEFA Champions League qualifying positions.

Feeling the pace

A late home defeat in early February to Swansea City was the first signs that Southampton would fall short of what had turned out to be an ambitious but feasible target. Jonjo Shelvey’s long-range strike helped the Welsh club garner all three points on a day where a couple of Southampton’s key players had days to forget. Forster, who had been excellent in-goal, didn’t do enough to keep out Shelvey’s shot, whilst Bertrand blotted his copybook with a red card for a dangerous tackle on Modou Barrow.

Southampton would win only another five Premier League matches after this game and dropped out of the top four after a 2-0 home loss to Liverpool FC on 22nd February. They wouldn’t return to that position again.

Nevertheless, there were still some high points. Tadic’s penalty ensured they collected an excellent point at Stamford Bridge against champions-elect Chelsea whilst James Ward-Prowse scored only his second-ever goal for the club in April’s 2-0 win over Hull City which briefly took the Saints back into fifth position.

Southampton eventually finished in seventh, winning just one of their last six games. However, that victory was a memorable one against Aston Villa.

Southampton were leading 5-1 at half-time as they took full advantage of a brittle defensive display from their opponents. Mane broke Robbie Fowler’s 21-year record to become the new holder of the fastest Premier League hat-trick in history. Mane’s treble came in just two minutes, 56 seconds. Shane Long added a spectacular fifth from 40 yards out and Koeman admitted afterwards: “It was an amazing afternoon and I didn’t expect it I have to be honest but I was expecting a reaction after the last two games and it was great as it was our last home game. The fans deserved it for their amazing support.”

FINAL 2014-2015 TABLE – THE TOP SEVEN

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Chelsea 38 26 9 3 73 32 +41 87
2 Manchester City 38 24 7 7 83 38 +45 79
3 Arsenal 38 22 9 7 71 36 +35 75
4 Manchester United 38 20 10 8 62 37 +25 70
5 Tottenham Hotspur 38 19 7 12 58 53 +5 64
6 Liverpool FC 38 18 8 12 52 48 +4 62
7 SOUTHAMPTON 38 18 6 14 54 33 +21 60

Southampton had produced a stunning season and proven a lot of people wrong. The fans could be happy that despite all of the summer changes, Koeman and the board had made some smart moves in the transfer market and been rewarded with the club’s best-ever Premier League finish. They also finished with the second-best defensive record, letting in just 33 goals in 38 matches.

The Clubs: Southampton

All statistics correct upto 27th January 2019

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
753 233 208 312 912 1056 -144 907 20

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Jason Dodd 329
Claus Lundekvam 290
Matt Le Tissier 270
Francis Benali 243
Matt Oakley 232
James Beattie 202
Ken Monkou 198
Steven Davis 193
Paul Jones 191
James Ward-Prowse 176

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Matt Le Tissier 102
James Beattie 68
Marian Pahars 42
Rickie Lambert 28
Egil Ostenstad 28
Jay Rodriguez 26
Graziano Pelle 23
Kevin Phillips 23
Iain Dowie 21
Sadio Mane 21

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Southampton 8-0 Sunderland 18th October 2014 2014-2015
Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa 16th May 2015 2014-2015
Southampton 5-1 Swindon Town 25th August 1993 1993-1994
Southampton 4-0 Middlesbrough 28th September 1996 1996-1997
Leicester City 0-4 Southampton 8th December 2001 2001-2002
Southampton 4-0 Newcastle United 29th March 2014 2013-2014
Southampton 4-0 Newcastle United 13th September 2014 2014-2015
Southampton 4-0 Arsenal 26th December 2015 2015-2016
Sunderland 0-4 Southampton 11th February 2017 2016-2017
Southampton 6-3 Manchester United 26th October 1996 1996-1997

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Everton 7-1 Southampton 16th November 1996 1996-1997
Liverpool FC 7-1 Southampton 16th January 1999 1998-1999
Tottenham Hotspur 7-2 Southampton 11th March 2000 1999-2000
Manchester United 6-1 Southampton 22nd December 2001 2001-2002
Arsenal 6-1 Southampton 7th May 2003 2002-2003
Arsenal 6-1 Southampton 15th September 2012 2012-2013
Manchester City 6-1 Southampton 4th November 2018 2018-2019
Charlton Athletic 5-0 Southampton 22nd August 1998 1998-1999
Newcastle United 5-0 Southampton 16th January 2000 1999-2000
Manchester United 5-0 Southampton 28th October 2000 2000-2001

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Ian Branfoot 2 10th January 1994
Alan Ball 2 2nd July 1995
Dave Merrington 1 14th June 1996
Graeme Souness 1 1st June 1997
Dave Jones 3 27th January 2000
Glenn Hoddle 2 28th March 2001
Stuart Gray 2 21st October 2001
Gordon Strachan 3 13th February 2004
Paul Sturrock 2 23rd August 2004
Steve Wigley 1 8th December 2004
Harry Redknapp 1 3rd December 2005
Nigel Adkins 1 18th January 2013
Mauricio Pochettino 2 26th May 2014
Ronald Koeman 2 13th June 2016
Claude Puel 1 14th June 2017
Mauricio Pellegrino 1 12th March 2018
Mark Hughes 2 3rd December 2018
Ralph Hasenhüttl 1  

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Southampton 0-1 Arsenal 29th December 2003 32,151 2003-2004
Southampton 0-1 Chelsea 22nd November 2003 32,149 2003-2004
Southampton 0-1 Liverpool FC 18th January 2003 32,104 2002-2003
Southampton 0-2 Manchester United 1st February 2003 32,085 2002-2003
Southampton 3-1 Liverpool FC 16th March 2013 32,070 2012-2013
Southampton 1-0 Manchester United 31st August 2003 32,066 2003-2004
Southampton 1-2 Manchester United 15th May 2005 32,066 2004-2005
Southampton 1-1 Newcastle United 14th December 2002 32,061 2002-2003
Southampton 2-0 Liverpool FC 14th March 2004 32,056 2003-2004
Southampton 1-1 Aston Villa 8th May 2004 32,054 2003-2004

 

Intro

Austrian Ralph Hasenhüttl recently became Southampton’s 18th permanent Premier League manager in 20 seasons of top-flight football since 1992. The Saints were an ever-present from 1992 to 2005 when three managers couldn’t save them from relegation. Administration and a drop into League One followed but Southampton returned in 2012. Their best-ever finish was 6th under Ronald Koeman in 2015-2016 although times have been much tougher since the Dutchman’s departure that summer.

 

1992-1993

Southampton’s first Premier League season started slowly, winning just two of their first 10 games as they struggled to adapt to life without Alan Shearer who had been sold in pre-season for a British transfer record fee to Blackburn Rovers. Form did improve in the second half of the year and a 4-3 win over Ipswich Town in mid-March saw the Saints hit ninth place. However, six defeats in their last eight games saw the club finish 18th and just one point above the relegation zone. Goalkeeper Tim Flowers was named Southampton Player of the Season for the second successive campaign.

 

1993-1994

For the second successive season, Southampton finished in 18th place and again, just one point clear of trouble. A point on the final day at Upton Park against West Ham United was enough to protect their top-flight status. Tim Flowers left the club in November 1993, becoming the most expensive goalkeeper in British football when he joined Blackburn Rovers for £2.4 million.

The goals of Matt Le Tissier ultimately kept Southampton afloat. Le Tissier scored 25 goals including hat-tricks against Liverpool FC and Norwich City. Unpopular boss Ian Branfoot was relieved of his duties in mid-January and was replaced by Alan Ball.

 

1994-1995

Southampton made a positive start to the 1994-1995 season, winning four of their first nine matches before a struggle in the winter months saw them slide to 20th place in the table. The goals of Matt Le Tissier once again kept Southampton away from danger and a decent run-in saw the Saints actually finish a creditable 10th, their best top-flight finish since 1990. However, manager Alan Ball resigned at the end of the season to take the post at Manchester City.

 

1995-1996

Long-serving coach Dave Merrington took charge as manager for the 1995-1996 season but it was another struggle against relegation. This time, survival was achieved only courtesy of goal difference on the final day of the season. One notable highlight was a 3-1 win over eventual champions Manchester United in April but Merrington was sacked at the end of the campaign.

 

1996-1997

Former Liverpool FC boss Graeme Souness returned to English management but couldn’t spark a huge revival in Southampton’s fortunes. For the third time in four seasons, the Saints’ survival in the top-flight was only secured on the final day, even though they lost at Villa Park. Yet again, a resounding win over Manchester United was the highlight with the Saints winning 6-3 in October against the Red Devils. Souness quit at the end of the season.

 

1997-1998

Former Stockport County manager Dave Jones was the next person to try the Southampton hotseat and he enjoyed a successful debut campaign. Although just two wins from the first 11 matches had Southampton down in 19th position, a strong winter saw the Saints move comfortably into mid-table which is where they remained for the rest of the campaign. They recorded a 3-2 win at Anfield and a third successive home victory over Manchester United. They finished in a fairly comfortable 12th place.

 

1998-1999

Southampton went backwards in 1998-1999 and a 5-0 defeat on the second weekend to debutants Charlton Athletic set the tone for a difficult season. Southampton won three of their first 20 games, collecting just 14 points and sat second-bottom going into 1999. They stayed unbeaten at home in the second half of the season and three victories in their last three matches over Leicester, Wimbledon and Everton secured Premier League safety at the expense of Charlton. Planning permission was also granted for the club to move into a new stadium on the banks of the River Itchen.

 

1999-2000

In April 2000, Matt Le Tissier became the first midfielder to score 100 Premier League goals when he struck from the penalty spot in a 2-1 defeat to Sunderland. Southampton finished in 15th place with 44 points and well-clear of any relegation danger. Dave Jones stepped down towards the end of January to concentrate on clearing his name in connection with child abuse charges. Former England and Chelsea boss Glenn Hoddle replaced him as manager.

 

2000-2001

After 103 years, Southampton said goodbye to The Dell as they prepared to move into St Mary’s. They bid farewell in-style with a 3-2 victory on the final day against Arsenal with club legend Matt Le Tissier scoring an 89th-minute winner in what turned out to be his last-ever Premier League goal. Southampton finished in 10th position but lost manager Glenn Hoddle’s services in late March when he walked out on the club to take over at the club he represented as a player, Tottenham Hotspur.

 

2001-2002

Stuart Gray, who had finished the season as caretaker manager following Glenn Hoddle’s departure, led Southampton into the 2001-2002 season but was sacked in October after a terrible start to the season. Gordon Strachan took over and galvanised the club to an 11th place finish, recording their first-ever victory at St Mary’s in late November against Charlton Athletic. At the end of the season, Matt Le Tissier announced his retirement from professional football.

 

2002-2003

Southampton languished in the drop zone after eight matches but a run of just two losses from their next 15 encounters including an unbeaten home record until mid-January when Liverpool FC won 1-0 at St Mary’s saw them climb into the top half. Manchester United were the only other team to win on the south coast as Southampton finished in a best-ever Premier League finish of eighth. James Beattie was the highest English goalscorer and there was also a run to the FA Cup final which ended with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

 

2003-2004

Southampton started strongly and even enjoyed a 1-0 home victory over reigning champions Manchester United in August courtesy of a late Beattie goal. They sat in fourth place in the table on Christmas Day but finished ultimately only in 12th spot. Gordon Strachan resigned as manager in mid-February to take a break from football management. He was ultimately replaced by Paul Sturrock after supporters opposed owner Rupert Lowe’s initial plan to bring back Glenn Hoddle to the club.

 

2004-2005

Just two games into the season, Paul Sturrock left by mutual consent after rumours of player unrest. He was succeeded by his first-team coach Steve Wigley but results didn’t improve and from early November, it became clear that Southampton were to be embroiled in a four-way relegation dogfight with the newly-promoted trio, Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.

In December, Wigley was sacked and Harry Redknapp was drafted in following his departure from arch-rivals Portsmouth. Form did marginally improve and there were notable wins over Liverpool FC and Middlesbrough but Southampton were still in the bottom three going into the final day of the season. A 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United condemned the Saints to relegation from the top-flight, ending their 13-season run in the Premier League.

 

2012-2013

After achieving back-to-back promotions, Southampton returned to the elite in 2012 after a seven-season absence. The Saints made a terrible start, losing five of their first six matches including a 6-1 loss at Arsenal but rallied from November onwards and always looked like they had enough to survive. It was a shock then to see Nigel Adkins parting company with the club in January, two days after coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Chelsea. He was replaced by Mauricio Pochettino who impressed many with his style of play. Southampton finished 14th, five points clear of any danger.

 

2013-2014

Mauricio Pochettino’s first full season in English management saw him guide Southampton to an excellent eighth position in the Premier League table, surpassing their best-ever points tally in the process. Pochettino’s determination to promote English youth saw Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Jay Rodriguez all win their maiden England senior caps although a terrible knee injury in early April at Manchester City ended Rodriguez’s chances of going to the World Cup. Pochettino became a man in high demand during the season and he would leave in the summer to take over as manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

 

2014-2015

Pre-season was a concern for Southampton fans. Pochettino had gone and was replaced by Ronald Koeman, whilst Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana all left for higher-profile clubs. However, any relegation fears were quickly dispelled as Koeman’s team gelled together and was a contender for the UEFA Champions League qualification places all the way until early March. They eventually finished seventh which was still a best-ever Premier League finish and also recorded their biggest-ever Premier League win; an 8-0 mauling of Sunderland in October.

 

2015-2016

Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin were the next key players to depart Southampton but yet again, Koeman’s side continued to defy the critics. The signing of Virgil van Dijk from Celtic was a smart piece of business. Southampton enjoyed a fantastic Boxing Day, defeating Arsenal 4-0 whilst Chelsea were also overcome 3-1 at Stamford Bridge and Tottenham Hotspur defeated 2-1 on the penultimate weekend. Despite falling to 14th position in early January, Southampton recovered brilliantly and secured sixth position on the final day of the season, earning another campaign of European football in the process.

 

2016-2017

After two full seasons at the helm, Ronald Koeman controversially left his position as Southampton manager to join Everton and he was replaced by Claude Puel. Under the Frenchman’s guidance, the Saints finished in eighth position and reached the League Cup final. However, home supporters were frustrated by a more sterile style of football deployed by Puel and he was dismissed at the end of the season by the board.

 

2017-2018

Southampton turned to Mauricio Pellegrino to fill the managerial position but the appointment was disastrous. The Saints recorded just seven league victories all season with the highlight being an impressive 4-1 win over Everton at the end of November. Virgil van Dijk was sold to Liverpool FC during the season for £75 million and Pellegrino was fired in March after a limp display and 3-0 defeat at St James’ Park. Former player Mark Hughes came in as manager and saved the club from relegation, helped by a Manolo Gabbiadini winner in the final week of the season at Swansea which kept Southampton safe at the expense of the Swans.

 

2018-2019

Having kept Southampton safe, Mark Hughes stayed on as manager but he managed just one victory away at Crystal Palace in September and he was dismissed in early December after a 2-2 draw with an out-of-form Manchester United. His successor was the former RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhüttl, who has spearheaded the Saints to victories over Arsenal, Huddersfield Town, Leicester City and Everton which has given supporters hope that the club can avoid relegation once again this season.

Memorable Matches: Manchester United 3-3 Southampton (September 1999)

Goalscorers: Marian Pahars 17, Teddy Sheringham 34, Dwight Yorke 37, 64, Matt Le Tissier 51, 73

Teams:

Manchester United: Massimo Taibi, Henning Berg, Denis Irwin, Jaap Stam, Mikael Silvestre, Nicky Butt, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Dwight Yorke

Southampton: Paul Jones, Francis Benali, Jason Dodd, Claus Lundekvam (Chris Marsden 69), Dean Richards, Trond Egil Soltvedt (Matt Le Tissier 46), Matt Oakley, Hassan Kachloul, Stuart Ripley, Mark Hughes, Marian Pahars (James Beattie 89)

Referee: Steve Dunn, Attendance: 55,249

Southampton fans must have been visiting Old Trafford with trepidation in September 1999. Their record at the Theatre of Dreams was dismal, having lost their last 10 league games. The home side were the reigning champions and were still unbeaten, despite being held to a surprising draw by Wimbledon a week earlier.

With extra demands and more fixtures in the UEFA Champions League for Manchester United, Southampton were looking to expose a potential weakness and they silenced the home support by taking the lead after 17 minutes. On his return to Old Trafford, Mark Hughes played through his strike partner, Marian Pahars. The Latvian showed a deft piece of individual brilliance to nutmeg Jaap Stam and then finished coolly beyond Massimo Taibi who was preferred to Mark Bosnich in-goal for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

For the Red Devils, it was a shock to the system but they found their stride just past the half-hour mark, especially David Beckham. His pinpoint cross to the near post on 34 minutes was guided into the net by another textbook finish from Teddy Sheringham, who had just managed to evade his marker, Dean Richards.

Three minutes after getting back on level terms, United were infront, although Paul Jones was very unfortunate to concede. Yet again, Beckham was at the heart of it. His great cross found Sheringham again, who was denied brilliantly by Jones’ athletic double-save. Sheringham didn’t show his disappointment though. He reacted quickly to cross the ball back into the box. Dwight Yorke was there to nod the ball into the net and complete the first half turnaround.

The reigning champions could have taken the game beyond Southampton early in the second half. Jason Dodd made two tremendous goal-line clearances in quick succession. Meanwhile, Matt Le Tissier had been kept on the bench by Dave Jones but he had been brought on at half-time for Trond Egil Soltvedt. Within six minutes of his arrival, he had Southampton back on level terms but through a huge slice of luck. His shot on-goal from 25 yards was on-target but was very weak and looked easy to save for Taibi. Somehow, the ball wriggled through his arms and squirmed underneath his body for one of the biggest goalkeeping gaffes we’ve seen in Premier League history. Oh dear!

Going forward, Ferguson’s side still continued to fly. Nicky Butt played through Yorke for his second of the afternoon on 64 minutes but defensively, they looked very charitable. With 17 minutes remaining, Silvestre was robbed of possession in a dangerous position by the alert Pahars. He showed his astute awareness to pick out Le Tissier who couldn’t miss. Southampton were level again and fully deserved the point they collected here.

Manchester United lost 5-0 in their next match to Chelsea and that would turn out to be Taibi’s final Premier League outing. Despite the problems with replacing Peter Schmeichel, Ferguson’s side cruised to their sixth title in eight seasons whilst Southampton finished 15th.

Premier League Files: Luke Shaw

Premier League Career: Southampton (2012-2014), Manchester United (2014-PRESENT)

In August 2018, Luke Shaw scored the first goal of his professional career and it turned out to be the matchwinner in the first match of the 2018-2019 Premier League campaign. The left-back’s effort in Manchester United’s 2-1 victory over Leicester City was also a personal triumph for a player who is still only 23 but has found the going incredibly tough at Old Trafford.

Although he was a Chelsea supporter growing up, Shaw entered the Southampton academy at the age of eight and became a regular in their Under-18 setup when he was just 15. It was clear that a bright future laid in-wait for him and in May 2012, he was offered a professional contract on Southampton’s promotion to the Premier League alongside fellow graduates Calum Chambers, Jack Stephens and James Ward-Prowse.

He made his Premier League debut in November 2012, starting the 1-1 home draw with Swansea City and playing 74 minutes of the match. In the process, he became the youngest Southampton player to start in the Premier League. He went on to play 24 further matches in the top-flight, setting up Jason Puncheon for an equalising goal at Stamford Bridge in January 2013 in what turned out to be Nigel Adkins’ final match as Saints boss.

Mauricio Pochettino embraced the youth policy when he succeeded Adkins and Shaw was one of the key components to blossom even further under the tutelage of the Argentine. His 2013-2014 campaign was sensational and he was nominated on the shortlist for the PFA Young Player of the Year as well as beating off competition from the likes of Leighton Baines and Aleksandar Kolarov to win the left-back vote in the PFA Team of the Year.

His development was also noticed by England manager Roy Hodgson who made Shaw a shock inclusion in the Three Lions 23-man World Cup squad for 2014 at the expense of the experienced Ashley Cole, who retired on the spot from international football as a result. Shaw was the youngest player to play in the Brazil 2014 competition when he started England’s final group game – the goalless draw with Costa Rica. However, he has seen the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose and Ashley Young overtake him in the left-back pecking order and his lack of consistent form along with injuries meant he was overlooked for both EURO 2016 and the 2018 World Cup finals.

Four days after England’s disappointing World Cup 2014 campaign ended, Shaw’s anticipated move from Southampton to Manchester United was finally confirmed. The £30 million fee made him the most expensive teenager in world football for over a year until the same club bought Anthony Martial from AS Monaco.

A hamstring injury delayed his debut for the club until the end of September 2014 when he played the whole 90 minutes of Manchester United’s 2-1 success over West Ham United but he only made 16 league appearances in a frustrating season littered with niggling injuries. He also was red-carded for the first time in his career, receiving his marching orders in the closing stages of the return fixture with West Ham at Upton Park.

2015-2016 looked set to be a much better campaign for Shaw, who exceled in the early season matches, chalking up a couple of assists along the way. He was praised by both captain Wayne Rooney and manager Louis van Gaal but in Manchester United’s opening UEFA Champions League group stage match in Eindhoven, fate gave him a cruel blow. Shaw was on the wrong end of a dreadful tackle from PSV Eindhoven’s Mexican defender Hector Moreno and suffered a double leg fracture. He was given oxygen and treated by nine medical members from both teams in a challenge that was so bad; replays were not allowed to be shown by the match directors. His season was over before it hardly begun.

That summer, Jose Mourinho replaced Van Gaal as Manchester United boss and it started a chequered relationship between the Portuguese and Shaw, who was often on the wrong end of some stinging criticism from Mourinho. Sometimes, it was justified but on other occasions, people couldn’t help but think he was picking on Luke as an easy target. It came to a head in March 2018 when after he featured in Manchester United’s FA Cup quarter-final win against Brighton & Hove Albion, Mourinho said: “Luke – I cannot say much more. It is a relation with personality. It is a relation to trust, it is a relation to class. Luke, in the first half, every time they went in his corridor the cross was coming and a dangerous situation was coming, so I was not happy with the performance.”

Withdrawn at half-time of that match, it seriously looked like he would be completely frozen out of further matches. To Shaw’s credit though, he worked hard in pre-season and worked his way back into Mourinho’s thinking and has been the first-choice left-back for the bulk of the current campaign and one of United’s brighter sparks in what has been an awful domestic season so far, ultimately leading to Mourinho’s sacking before Christmas 2018.

Shaw has admitted the last few years have been tough and he even started seeing a psychologist after his leg break in 2015. However, he has earned himself a recall to the England squad and seems to be maturing into the player we all thought he would be from his early promise shown at Southampton.

Great Goals: Kevin Davies – Everton vs. SOUTHAMPTON (November 1997)

Kevin Davies went on to have a very successful career with Bolton Wanderers and even managed to win one England cap from Fabio Capello in October 2010. Davies though first made his name at Southampton. In his debut season with the Saints, he scored this wonderful solo effort away at Goodison Park against Everton in November 1997.

Picking the ball up on the left-hand side of the pitch, Davies cut inside, evaded John Oster’s feeble attempt to foul him before beating another two Everton defenders, then produced a fitting finish to a wonderful solo run past Everton veteran goalkeeper Neville Southall. Southampton ended up 2-0 winners.

Less than a year later, Blackburn Rovers paid £7.5 million for Davies’ services. He would have a miserable time at Ewood Park but it was goals like this that tempted Rovers to pay such a fee for him.

 

Iconic Moments: Saints survive at Swansea’s expense (May 2018)

Going into the final week of the 2017-2018 Premier League season, the relegation battle was starting to take shape. The first team to be consigned to the drop were Stoke City, whose 10-year tenure in the top-flight ended after a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.

The big game was at The Liberty Stadium in the last midweek of the campaign as Swansea City hosted Southampton. A win was imperative for Southampton who had the daunting task of facing champions Manchester City on the final day of the season. As expected, it was a tight and tense contest with few goalscoring opportunities.

The matchwinning moment came in the 73rd minute. Charlie Austin was denied from a corner by Lukasz Fabianski but the ball fell perfectly to substitute Manolo Gabbiadini. The Italian made no mistake to send the away supporters into delirium. Southampton held on for a priceless victory.

A +10 goal difference advantage over Swansea effectively ensured their safety at the expense of the Welsh club, whilst this result ended West Bromwich Albion’s Premier League stint as they were relegated. Mark Hughes, who took over as Saints boss in mid-March, would have been hoping for a slightly easier campaign in his first full season on the south coast but already, it looks like the Saints could be set for another relegation battle this season.