The Ugly Inside Saints Man Of The Week
Sunday, 8th Dec 2013 11:34
The first of a weekly award to the person who has made the biggest contribution to Southampton Football Club in the past week.
The "Man of the week" award I feel will be better than the usual man of the match awards, it wont be just judged on performances on the pitch for Saints, it will take in other considerations as well and might not be just restricted to players but extend to managers, coaches, Chairmen and even supporters if a notable achievement is made by any of them, for those about to accuse me of sexism, it could also be feasibly be changed to a woman of the week, although judging by the service i received at half time yesterday, that could be a long time coming.
So the first winner of The Ugly Inside Saints Man Of The Week is Jack Cork, the reason Jack gets it isn probably fairly obvious, although there were a couple of other contenders, but what swayed it for me is the way that despite being frozen out of the side by Mauriccio Pochettino this season, Jack has come back into the side and put in two performances that suggest that the manager has made a grave error in using Jack so sparingly before Wednesday night.
But it isnt just about how professionally Jack has conducted himself during his time in the wilderness, although that needs to be recognised, for Jack there was no subtle messages put out in the media, no talk of him wanting away, just getting his head down and getting on with it, surely he must have felt that his career at Saints was over,indeed even with Morgan Schneiderlin injured on Wednesday he still couldn't get in the starting line up against Aston Villa.
His second half performance against Villa was superb given the circumstances and the fact that he had only played 12 minutes of Premier football all season, sadly it was slightly overshadowed by him getting robbed of the ball and the subsequent cross resulting in Villa's second goal, but that should not take away from his performance that night.
In had the feeling against Manchester City that Jack was only in the side because the manager had no one else, the only real alternative he had was playing Lambert and Osvaldo in a sort of hybrid role and even Pochettino knew that would be suicide against a side of the quality of City, so my feeling is that I would not be awarding this to Jack if our injury list wasn't so bad.
On the pitch against City it was as if Cork hadn't been away, the 45 minutes on Wednesday had helped get his sharpness back and he put in a man of the match display as if he had never been away, but given his treatment by the manager, Pochettino perhaps had no right to expect the player to put in so much effort.
So why has Jack Cork been so marginalised by Mauriccio Pochettino ? that is a question to perhaps we will never know the answer, certainly it cant be because of his playing ability, good players dont become bad ones overnight, and even if they did, Cork has had so little playing time that no one would be able to give an accurate assesment on that anyway, I can understand the manager wanting to play Victor Wanyama ahead of Jack, after all having spent so much money on the player you are going to want to play the new signing, I can even understand why Cork hasn't started any games up till this weekend but I cant understand why Cork hasn't been used a lot more off the bench, he is able to play in a variety of positions and there have been many occasions when the opportunity has been right for him to come on, but he hasn't.
I can only surmise that someone somewhere in St Mary's has decided that Victor Wanyama should not be subject to debate about the merits of playing him, it cannot be denied that as a defensive midfield player and and enforcer as such, Wanyama is second to none, but his abilities on the ball and going forward are a lot less prevalent, certainly some supporters have questioned why Wanyama is in the team (despite being a big fan of Jack Cork Im not one of the Wanyama doubters).
This being the case someone seems to feel that the judgement of buying Wanyama should not be influenced by the man he replaced putting in solid performances week in week out and creating doubt in the eyes of the supporters that this was a good signing. Put bluntly after the failures of big money signings Ramirez, Mayuka & Forren, the club could perhaps ill afford the supporters jumping on their backs if Cork was keeping a player who cost £12 million out of the side, easier to make sure no comparisons could be made, a ploy that wont be questioned whilst we had such a good start.
Whether Jack Cork has a long term future with the club is still open to doubt, his performance yesterday has made it hard for Pochettino to drop him next week against Newcastle and with both Schneiderlin & Wanyama out for indeterminable periods, Jack Cork has the opportunity to show his worth, we will see in the coming weeks whether Jack Cork was out on purely playing grounds or whether he is the victim of something going on behind the scenes.
The problem for him now is that if Wanyama is out till February as predicted then he has the chance to play some games, but will he then find himself back on the bench and marginalised as before when the Kenyan returns, Cork will undoubtably be the subject of interest from other Premier League clubs in the January transfer window, he will have to decide then whether any loyalty he shows Saints will be returned by the club when Wanyama returns and the window is shut, no one could blame him if he left, despite the fact that it would leave Saints short in a vital area.
For the moment though Jack Cork is the first recipient of The Ugly Inside Man Of The Week Award, I think he truly deserves it for all the reasons mentioned.
Photo: Action Images
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