TalkOfTheDevils.com spent some time talking to Hampshire born, Manchester based freelance football commentator and sports broadcaster Steven Wyeth about the club’s recent signing of Luke Shaw. Steven fronted BBC Red Wednesday before moving on to different pastures. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Hi Steve, thanks for your time… Manchester United made headlines by spending the best part of £60m in just over 24 hours recently on two players. The second of those was Luke Shaw, the highly rated Southampton prodigy… at an initial fee of around £27m, there is some reservation, although the last left footed whizkid from St. Mary’s didn’t do so badly for himself. There’ll be natural comparisons between Shaw and Bale – even playing in left back won’t necessarily help him as that’s where Bale started. Playing at Old Trafford there’s going to be a sense of even greater expectation… how good do you think that Shaw is going to be?
Southampton seem to know what they’re doing with young players (one of the reasons Shaw didn’t leave last summer). Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have also graduated in recent seasons, so it’s reasonable to accept their high opinion of Shaw. He played at a consistently high level last season, a significant reason why Southampton far exceed expectations. He also rose to the challenge of international football, so there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to progress at Old Trafford and be first choice for club and country for a decade or more.
Shaw and Herrera were rumoured to be targets under David Moyes but were given the green light by new manager Louis van Gaal… he hadn’t even set foot in Manchester yet but seemed to have brought a huge boost back to the club. He is given so much credit for the modern success of Barcelona and Bayern – do you think that his arrival in the Premier League could see the biggest fundamental tactical shift in the game since Mourinho’s first arrival?
Only time will tell whether he brings with him a tactical shift, but he will bring a willingness to innovate and adapt, one of the biggest criticisms of the Moyes reign. Anyone who dares abandon the Dutch principles of Total Football ahead of a World Cup, and then take an unfancied team to the semi-finals will clearly make Manchester United, and the Premier League, more unpredictable.
One note about Southampton, who brought in their own Dutch legend, Ronald Koeman. He has lost a lot of quality in a few weeks… Some are even suggesting the huge changes may see them in relegation trouble this coming season. What are your thoughts? Is the foundation strong enough for Koeman to feel safe enough to put in his own methods?
With all the upheaval, I’m concerned for Southampton – the excuse are already in place for a bad season. They’ll need to do what they a year ago – take advantage of a ‘generous’ start from the Premier League fixture computer. That would relieve any uncertainty and pressure.
Adam Lallana’s creativity and attitude is the biggest loss – replacing the goals he and Rickie Lambert either scored or created will determine whether or not Southampton survive. An adequate replacement for defender Dejan Lovren (who seems certain to join Liverpool too) is also vital. Koeman should, however, have the personality and reputation to motivate the players, but he’ll need to add quality players to those with potential.
Our readers may well remember you from your days hosting BBC Radio Manchester’s ‘Red Wednesday’ show where you did a great job setting the groundwork for a format that is still popular today… how fondly do you remember your time on the show?
Launching Red Wednesday on BBC Radio Manchester, making it a success and seeing the popularity of both the live show and the podcast grow is one of my proudest achievements. A great deal of effort and planning went into each production, but ultimately success was dependant on the input of United supporters, those in the studio and on social networks. Thankfully their passion, knowledge and breadth of views made sure we were never disappointed. I still miss it.
What have you gone on to do since?
I left BBC Radio Manchester to work as a freelance sports broadcaster and football commentator, primarily for other bits of the BBC and BT Sport. There’s plenty of travelling involved, especially covering domestic and European football, but I still live in Manchester.
Thanks to Steve for his time.