With the 2015-16 Premier League starting at the weekend, RoM has spoken to rival fans about the season ahead. Southampton fan Chris Rann, who owns the blog George Weah’s Cousin, shares his thoughts.
Scott: How did Southampton do in 2014-15?
Chris: Not bad. A record high Premier League finish and qualifying for European football for the first time in 10 years was a lovely response to the collective decision by everyone outside of the club that we were relegation certainties. It was an uncomfortable summer but everything that happened turned out to be for the best.
Scott: Luke Shaw was one of the players you sold. How highly do you rate him?
Chris: Very highly. He clearly has a problem with injuries (it was the same at Saints) and that is why United fans are yet to see the best of him, but he’s got the same level of talent Gareth Bale showed as a young left back at St. Mary’s. I think he is immature which isn’t helping, and footballers are often short sighted. I’m certain he would of benefited from a another year with us. Van Gaal might be the kind of disciplinarian he needs, and I really hope he fulfils his potential.
Scott: How do you expect Southampton to do in 2015-16?
Chris: It’s interesting because I think they are likely to not do as well as last season, but it will still be an achievement. It’s difficult for anyone outside of the traditional top 6 to go any higher. Can we finish 7th again? Possibly, but with other teams around us doing good business we could easily drop as low as 12th. We are going to enjoy Europe and will no doubt keep upsetting the odds as we go along. We have a very good manager and this time he hasn’t had the upheaval of last summer to contend with, so the sky is the limit.
Scott: Who do you think will be your best player?
Chris: Sadio Mane. We’ve already seen how good he can be in glimpses and still only 23. He really is an exciting attacking player and I fully expect to be talking about his big money move to one of the top clubs in England, if not Europe next Summer. He really is that good.
Scott: How do you rate Koeman?
Chris: I’m not sure I’d swap him for anyone else in the Premier League, perhaps with the exception of Mourinho. Not only is he doing an incredibly good job results wise, playing attractive football but he seems to ‘get’ the club and it’s fans. The polar opposite to his cold Argentinian predecessor in that respect. I only fear for the day a ‘bigger’ club comes calling, but he often stresses that he has a contract and I get the impression he might be the one guy around who means to respect it.
Scott: Are you happy with your team’s business in the transfer window?
Chris: Yes and no. We were expecting to lose Morgan Schneiderlin and Clyne, but that doesn’t mean it hurt any less when it happened, especially with regards to the Frenchman. I can’t stress enough what a wonderful football you have signed. He now has the stage he deserves and after seven frankly brilliant years in a Saints shirt I couldn’t begrudge him every success even if I wanted to. You’ve signed an immaculate defensive midfielder.
Saints have built a habit of replacing any outgoings with better for cheaper, and though Schneiderlin is almost impossible to replace, Jordy Clasie looks a steal at just £12 million. The Dutch international is an incredibly tidy player and I look forward to seeing his impact. The star of pre-season so far has been Clyne’s replacement though. Portugal’s Cedric Soares has been fantastic, and if he can maintain that form in competitive fixtures Clyne will be soon forgotten. Add to those two Spanish international Juanmi, World Cup finalist Martin Stekelenburg, Cuco Martina and Steven Caulker and though the first XI might not be as good, the squad is starting to look stronger. Two more incomings are expected too.
Scott: Where do you think United will finish this season?
Chris: I think based on the business of those around you and that of yourselves I’m backing you to give Mourinho the biggest challenge this season. As much as I dislike Van Gaal as a person I think he has the nous to succeed quickly. 2nd.
Scott: If you could have one United player in your team, who would it be?
Scott: Who do you think will win the league?