Opposition View - Southampton
In an interview between TNMW and their Ed.
1) Are you expecting an easier game than what may have been, due to Newcastle's recent form?
Slightly in some ways given your recent run, but these things can go both ways and your players will no doubt want to return to winning ways sooner rather than later. As normal the biggest decider in the game will be our own form and it might be a cliche but there are no easy games in this league.
2) What type of formation can we expect from Southampton?
I can't see any changes to how we lined up against QPR to be honest, so Ramirez and Puncheon will be wideish with Lambert through the middle. It's a slightly more fluid 433, but with Lambert as the big man with the others providing support for the knock downs etc.
3) Will the fans be giving Alan Pardew a warm or a frosty reception?
I think it'll be a lively return, and obviously given our ties and history, St Mary's will certainly be up to get one over on him. So Pardew returning should be another boost for the fans. I don't think there's much ill feeling though.
4) How would you describe his time spent managing the Saints?
Reasonably pleasing, despite the points deduction we did very well under him. Many would say it was disappointing to see him leave as his plan for us was working, many of his signings have more than been a credit to him since they came to the club, but there is only going to be one loser when it comes to dealing with our chairman. Luckily for us Adkins was the perfect fit, in a way that Pardew maybe wasn't behind the scenes.
Many question the timing of his sacking though after only three games in, but with the chairman not being happy with results the previous season, it was probably only a matter of time.
5) If given an extra season or two, do you think he would have got Southampton into the Premier League?
Yes. I think he would've, and being fair Adkins had the benefit of Pardew's previous work to build further on. I don't think there's many fans who would have expected Nigel to have achieved what he did with us, had that groundwork not been there and some very key players not already with us.
6) Have you noticed any differences in the way he manages us or does he still have the same 'cliches'?
I have no great knowledge of Newcastle, but from highlights and interviews, I don't believe he's doing much different. He's trying to build you in his way, and whilst it doesn't always work and you'll have your own gripes with him, I would say from our experience, it does come together in the end even if the style can be somewhat predictable.
7) Who would you say are the players to watch?
Lambert without doubt is always a handful, many would also say it's no surprise that we grabbed the victory with the return of Jack Cork in midfield. Ramirez is worth keeping your eye on, once he adjusts properly to the league he should be a very classy player from the flashes we've seen.
8) What area of the pitch do you see as important to take control of the
game for Southampton?
Midfield. If we can boss that we'll create chances and protect what has been a leaky defence. Our backline can be prone to errors, so midfield tracking and covering is very important.
9) Which players of ours do you fear?
Ba - if we can keep him quiet we've got a good chance of taking all three points.
(EDIT: This answer contained Ben Arfa as well until he got injured)
10) Do you think Pardew can get us to the next level of regular European football or C/L qualification?
Not this season, or probably next unless he rectifies the problem you talked about in defence. But given time and the right signings clicking, whilst I can't see Champions League yet, the Europa journey would be more than doable.
11) Would you say he was a 'yes' man?
Not really no, if he was I have the feeling he might still be with us.
12) How do you honestly see this one going?
Tight, tough and scrappy. Going to be more of a battle, than a free flowing affair I think.
13) Where do you see Southampton finishing this season?
I would happily take 17 or above. For us it's simply about survival and not yoyoing.
14) and us?
Think you'll ultimately finish comfortably around 8-12.
15) Prediction for Sunday?
Heart says 2-1 to us, head says 1-1.