In anticipation for this weekend’s match-up against Southampton, we fired over some pre-game questions to Chris who owns Saints fan site, George Weah’s Cousin.
Did you think Poch would be this good?
In a word. No. In fact when he was appointed it appeared to be a suicidal move by the club. But by the time he left Saints, I would say that he only had one major flaw. A lack of ‘Plan B’.
Whether winning, losing or drawing the shape and the style never changed. Substitutions were always like for like and it appeared he had a mental block or a desire to die on the hill that was his belief in his philosophy.
Having said that, we were all gutted to see him go. The turnaround from the day he joined the club (there were talks of protests) to the day he left was pretty staggering. He took Nigel Adkins’ team who had lost a lot of games and steadied the ship (although for historical accuracy, it could be said it was actually pretty steady by the time he was appointed).
What was the moment you realised how good he was?
It was his first full season though that convinced us.
We only lost once in the opening 11 games of 2013/14 and although the form didn’t stay quite that good, to finish 8th in only our second season back in the Premier League was pretty impressive, and to do it playing some of the most expansive football in the league at the time was the cherry on the cake. It was my last season as a season ticket holder. A pretty good one to go out on!
Do you reckon he’ll leave Spurs?
I’m sure he will eventually, but whether that will be in the near future who knows. He has some loyalty. When Nicola Cortese (the chairman who appointed him) was removed halfway through 2013/14 it looked like Poch might walk immediately and if you believe behind the scenes rumours, he had to be talked out of it by his backroom team.
Having said that, he still hasn’t won anything (sorry to remind you), and it may come down to whether or not he believes that is down to himself or the lack of investment in the squad.
At Saints he seemed to show the domestic cups little to no respect which was frustrating for us, as they are realistically our only chance of silverware, but ultimately he is ambitious and left us as someone in a better position came along.
How good was Wanyama for Saints?
Fantastic. We’ve had a lot of high profile departures since we got back to the top flight as I am sure you are aware, and when lazy journalists talk about the team Saints could have had, there are always two notable absentees. The irony being that of them all, these two are the ones we have never adequately replaced (Van Dijk aside.
You simply cannot replace the best centre half in the world), those two are Graziano Pelle and Wanyama. Wanywama was a brick wall for us, and his partnership with Morgan Schneiderlin was as good as any in the league at the time, I’ve no doubt about it.
He was often derided by the less understanding due to his ability with the ball, but it was his work without it that made him so important.
Was he injury prone for you?
He played 97 times in 3 years which would suggest not, I certainly don’t remember any long periods out. He certainly got the odd case of suspendeditus though…..
Do you enjoy the games against the big sides where you’re almost sure you’ll lose?
I think that probably depends on how you define the word ‘enjoy’. Last Saturday is a very good example of this. We went to Old Trafford without even a thought crossing our mind that we would get anything, then at the final whistle we’ve lost 3-2 and ended up furious!
But that’s the ‘beauty’ of football I guess. We didn’t deserve to beat United, but a combination of ludicrous refereeing, our team outdoing themselves and some wonder goals and you can’t help but feel hard done by. Did I enjoy it? In a way.
Who would be the player you’re scared of leaving next? Maybe to Spurs?
If you had asked me this a few months ago I’d have said none of them, but we look a different proposition under Ralph Hasunhuttl. Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Jan Bednarek look another level of class under the Austrian and could attract some attention.