Ahead of Sunday’s game against Southampton I spoke to Nick Talliadoros, head designer at Neo Media and passionate Saints fan, about his thoughts on being back in the premier league, his hopes for this season and who he thinks will win on Sunday.
You can follow Nick on Twitter here.
What are your thoughts on your season so far?
From being on -10 in league 1 only a few seasons ago, we’re just happy to be back! It will take us a while to settle in, but from what i’ve seen so far i’m fairly satisfied and I think we’ll be ok. We have a tough start to the season and an opening day trip to Man City was not really what we wanted, but overall, we handled it well and gave a good account of ourselves, even going 2-1 up on the day. Wigan was not so good, but when they have a keeper in Ali Al Habsi saving everything, there’s not a lot we could have done to get a result.
What are you initial feelings on your new signings?
Well so far we’ve signed, Jay Rodriquez, Nathaniel Clyne, Steven Davis, Paulo Gazzaniga & Emmanuel Mayuka. All fairly young but very talented and it follows the ethos Saints have with bringing through youngsters. Jay Rodriguez was in the Championship team of the year alongside Rickie Lambert and hopefully they’ll be given an opportunity to play alongside each other in the premier League. Clyne has started both games at Right-Back and has been very impressive. Davis signed from Rangers and scored in the 3-2 defeat at Man City. Mayuka is a bit of an unknown quantity but we have been told he’s a “lightning quick” Striker. I expect to see more coming in before the end of the transfer window. Gaston Ramirez possibly being one.
Jay Rodriguez signed for a fee believed to be over £7m. Do you think he will be worth the money you’ve paid for him?
Our chairman would certainly not have spent that kind of money had he thought otherwise. Jay Rodriguez is a sound investment and I believe he’ll fulfil his full potential in the premier league with us. He is a hard-working striker who scored consistently for Burnley over two seasons in the championship, and is only 22. He also scored against us last season so I guess that’s one less player to worry about!
Another signing who has a lot of potential, and at one point was rumoured to be signing for us, is Nathanial Clyne. Do you think he has what it takes to thrive in the premier league?
Arguably one of our most outstanding performers so far. Clyne has gelled in very quickly with the rest of the squad and has already been selected in a Premier League Team of the Week for his excellent shift against Man City. Judging by his performances so far, it’s no wonder United looked at him. He has been called up to the latest England U-21 squad. Future England right-back.
After the Manchester City game, Nigel Adkins was criticised for not playing Rickie Lambert. It seems to be that even though clubs register a 25 man squad they are almost expected to play pretty much the same starting 11 week in, week out to the point where managers have been fined for playing a “weakened team”. What were your thoughts on Lambert starting from the bench?
Not starting Lambert was a tactical decision. Adkins decided that Lambert would probably make more of an impact from the bench in the second half. He let the young legs of Rodriguez do all the running in the first half, then brought on Lambert to nick a goal. It paid off and got us into a 2-1 lead. You can’t argue with that. I think managers should be able to utilise their full squads as they so wish and no-one can say Southampton never gave it a good go against City.
Nigel Adkins has done a wonderful job so far, guiding you to back to back promotions, but do you think he has what it takes to manage in the premier league and will he be given time, if things go wrong, or do you think the owners may replace him with someone who has more experience in the top flight (in the same way that QPR did last year with Neil Warnock)?
There is no doubting the ambitions of our Executive Chairman, Nicola Cortese, but he has a lot of faith in Adkins. He has been heavily backed in the transfer window so far, breaking our transfer record once already, and we expect that to be broken again in this same window. Staying up is an obvious target, but knowing Adkins and our chairman, they’ll want to aim higher. We may surprise a lot of teams this year.
Onto the game, who do you think will win?
United will be much better prepared than the last time they came to St Mary’s in the FA Cup. We were in League 1 and obviously massive underdogs, but we took the game to them and went in 1-0 up at half-time. Although we’ll have a few different players, they now know how we play and will put out a far better team. In that case, United will probably win this one.
What are your thoughts on United’s opening two games?
Everton gave them a very good game and deservedly came out on top mainly thanks to Fellaini. Fulham should have been easier than it was (no disrespect to Fulham), but when United are 3-1 up at home, you expect them to get a few more and close out the game.
What areas do you think Southampton will cause United the most trouble?
If United still have defensive issues, Rickie Lambert’s aerial ability could cause a few problems. Our newly appointed Captain and academy graduate, Adam Lallana, will be one to look out for this season. He is a tricky young player who can play on either flank or through the middle. He set up Davis for his goal at City and hit the bar against Wigan.
Where do you think Southampton will finish this season?
Honestly, we’ll invest in our squad and I think we’ll surprise a few people. Adkins has said we’ll push for Europe, and as positive and optimistic as he is, most saints fans would probably just be happy with 17th! But personally, I can see us doing a little better than that and I think we’ll finish around mid-table. That would be a fantastic achievement.
Where do you think United will finish this season?
Clearly they will be challenging for the title. With the addition of Robin Van Persie, and a few defenders back from injury, I think they’ll win it.