Does anyone else remember the infamous 6-3 away day thrashing that Southampton dished out to Manchester United a few seasons ago? No, let me jog your memory, the Red Devils wore the now infamous grey ‘third kit’! There you go, now you remember. That third kit was never seen again as it had become something of a superstition to the players.
What is it with Southampton? They hold some of the most memorable score lines in Premier League history. This weekend’s eight nil thrashing of Sunderland has reinforced the progress the team have made under Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman was recently voted manager of the month for taking the Saints into third place.
It is worth noting that the Premier League record for goals scored by one side in a single game is still held by Manchester United. The record has stood for nineteen years and the Red Devils put nine goals past a hapless Ipswich back in March 1995.
So, why am I extolling the virtues of Southampton’s goal scoring excellence? Well, the Saints are currently in fourth place, an impressive feat but many did not see them being in this situation after they lost many of their star players to big money transfers in the summer. Ronald Koeman will be unlucky not to walk away with manager of the year after transforming Saints team that was dejected and depleted.
He has instilled one hell of a fighting spirit in the team and it is this spirit that United seem to lack currently. Fighting spirit can make the difference when the chips are down, however, you don’t get fighting spirit without confidence. Also, people often forget that a fighting spirit does not mean you necessarily get a win from a losing position but it does mean that if you do lose then the opposition will remember you. Drawing a game when you have been two or three down is a good outcome in anyone’s book.
So, what can Van Gaal take from his fellow Dutchman’s success at Southampton? Certainly, he should look to instil a fighting spirit but also perhaps he should consider his transfer policy. Clearly, Southampton don’t have the financial resources that Manchester United have but so far their player acquisitions seem to be providing a better return for their respective transfer fees. I have always though that big clubs could learn a thing or two from the leagues bargain hunters. Just because you pay £35 million for a player is no guarantee he will fit into your squad/system/footballing philosophy.