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Following the glorious trip to South Yorkshire, Steve and the lads get a taste of old Euro times, with a latter day return to the Thursday / Sunday routine which Pardiola so used to love. The second act sees Southampton making the long journey to St James’ to take us on, this coming Sunday.
The Saints have endured a pretty torrid time over the past few years, and that status quo is still in evidence, stretching laboriously into this campaign. They infamously hit rock bottom recently, equalling Ipswich’s unwanted record from ‘95 when Andy Cole was in his Mancunian pomp (sighs). A 0-9 home defeat to Leicester would have seen many managers receiving their cards, however the wonderfully monikered Ralph Hasenhüttl is still at the helm.
Their results prior to that blood chilling night weren’t great either, making the decision to remain with the Austrian either commendable or foolhardy depending on your view of things. Perhaps sticking with him has had the desired effect? It appears that a ‘bunker mentality’ is being built. Certainly, Southampton’s most recent performances (and results) have shown some clear improvement.
Since that fateful Foxes evening, they’ve narrowly lost at t’Etihad and at St Mary’s to the Scouse mackems. However, they arrive in NE1 having taken seven from the last nine points on offer, gaining a commendable ‘Desmond’ draw at the Emirates, then fighting back to turn over Watford at home. Most recently, Norwich City were vanquished 2-1. Barcelona, they ain’t, but the Saints are clearly fighting for their lives and may be a more tricky proposition than first thought.
United will also go into this one in fine fettle. Following the well earned draw last Saturday, we followed up on Thursday evening with the godsend of maximum points at Bramall Lane. I was half cut in a London boozer, juggling watching on my phone with being nice to business colleagues, but saw enough to know that we had to work bloody hard to get anything out of the game.
We were under the cosh, but Martin saved us with a brilliant performance. St Max nabbed his first Magpie goal with a mint header, following a great cross from Mankini and it was class to see big Andy up top again. It’s worth noting that we still have the likes of Schär, Lejeune and the Longa’s waiting in the wings as well. Crikey, even I’m beginning to feel cautiously optimistic. ‘Nurse, my ultra strong curmudgeon tablets please.’
Prediction time…..
The Saints have a couple of recent star performers, in Danny Ings and the Tory Toff sounding James Ward-Prowse. They’ve been banging them in and will be full of confidence. They’ll be up against a United side who’ll fancy it as well, though. I reckon there might be a few goals in this one, and I’m going with the Mighty Mags to nick it in a 3-2 thriller.
It would be mint to be on 22 points come circa 4pm! Make it so, Steve….
Nick Clark