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Southampton 3 v 1 Birmingham City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 28th October 2023 Kick-off 12:30
Southampton V Birmingham The Preview
Friday, 27th Oct 2023 10:03

Wayne Rooney played at St Mary's for both Everton & Manchester united, now he returns for the first time as a manager, he is already under fire from the fans after only two games, can Saints heap more misery on him.

Wayne Rooney was brought into St Andrews to change the style that they club were playing, he arrived with the club in 6th place and two games and two defeats later they are now in 12th, however such is the compact nature of this division, if he were to lead the Blues to victory they would jump above Saints in the table on goal difference.

So our job is simple, turn the travelling Blues fans against their manager and ensure that the boos again ring out for Rooney at St Mary's as they did for his teams performances in their defeat to Hull in midweek.

But the question for Southampton supporters is what side will Russell Martin put out ?

There are injury issues and they are being kept close to the chest by the manager, after the departure of Che Charles at half time in the draw at Preston, Martin has spoken of how he and indeed Adams himself are frustrated, but he did not elaborate on the injury sustained or the severity, so the answer to that question may not be answered and then only partially at 11.30 am on Saturday morning when the team is announced.

Also missing on Wednesday was Taylor Harwood-Bellis, he was doubtful at Hull with a hamstring issue, although he managed the full game he was missing at Deepdale, this was perhaps understanding, hamstrings are funny things and it is likely that two games in the space of a few games was a risk not worth taking in case it aggravated the condition and led to a much longer spell in the treatment room.

If Adams is out then Russell Martin has to consider his options, the first could be recalling Alex McCarthy in goal and playing Gavin Bazunu as a centre forward, don't laugh I have seen stranger team selections this season !

On a serious note though or at least I hope, the question is who will play in front of Bazunu in defence.

If Harwood- Bellis is fit i expect him back in the centre of defence, if he isn't then the only change I would expect is the return of Ryan Manning at left back.

That won't be popular with some, but the truth is we did miss him at Preston and especially in the last 30 minutes when we created far less chances than we have done when he was in the side.

Like it or not he is the best option we have there at least until Juan Larios is fit and that is likely to be in January.

If Harwood-Bellis does not pass muster than I would have no problem with Mason Holgate continuing, he has suffered a terrible start to his Saints career and perhaps some won't let him forget that, but at Preston he was ok and we should remember how little football he has played in the last 18 months or so.

Selecting the defence should be relatively easy compared to the rest of the team and in midfield and up front Martin has some real questions posed.

Ideally Adam Armstrong should be played as the central striker, but the reality is that he has also been vital as a wide man who works hard to get back and help out the full backs, we play a narrow game in midfield which means that our wide men up front have to help out, but defensive duties are not high on either Kamaldeen Sulemana or Charly Alcatraz's skill sets.

Sam Edozie is learning fast about his duties and he chased back Potts for Preston's second, however he is still raw and didn't quite get goal side of the man, I don't blame him for this, he was left exposed by those behind and around him.

So first up the midfield trio, does he stick with Downes and Smallbone as a duo and bring in Stuart Armstrong as the third man or does he bring in Shea Charles.

Up front Adam Armstrong is a given, I would like to see him played down the middle, but who plays alongside him, we are spoiled for choice , Sulemana, Alcatraz, Edozie, Fraser, even Mara, I can't make up my mind although I would like to see Fraser given a start, he has the experience to attack and defend and that will solve the problem on one side for Martin.

But there is only one thing that matters in this performance and that is getting all three points, as I said in an article yesterday How many points do Saints Need to get to the play offs we need around 75 points, that's an average of about 1.63 per game, we start against Birmingham with 21 points from 13 games, just a shade under that ratio.

This is our task for the next few months, just keep grinding out results and points and keeping above that average, if we do that then the play offs are our first target, then we can look at the top two.

If we beat Birmingham and beat them well then that will show that we do mean business, although after coming through that 4 game losing streak and turning it into a 5 game unbeaten run that places us into the play off positions is perhaps evidence that we are already doing just that.

Photo: Action Images

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Mattsgrandad added 11:08 - Oct 27
Please Saints , the fans are crying out for more direct faster play. Sit back to recover by all means after a sustained spell of direct attacking football. Pepper their goal with shots for a long period and something will happen. We pass square about 30 yards out with no penetrative pass and then are getting caught almost every game from a misplaced pass and the enevitable breakaway that follows.
Everybody is saying we have one of the best squads in the league but they all appear to be one trick ponies to me.

Bowlercow added 14:15 - Oct 27
RM v Rooney 2 seasons ago when he was at Derby Russ won 2-1Last season Swansea lost at home to Birmingham 4-3 So you pays your money and takes your pick
Just looked at last seasons table after 13 matches,and Swansea were 6th on 21 points They then finished 10th so can Russ improve on that
Anyone know why Brum sacked their manager after 11 games At that stage they were a point above us

DellBoyWally added 14:33 - Oct 27
Remember Leeds Utd? The team ignored the manager they pressed, pushed and attacked. Glory be!! Excitement and goals and brushing aside contender for promotion! BUT! second half manger takes off attackers and reverts us to tippy-tappy, thumb-up-your--ass football and we could have lost!!
Against PNE we had far superior numbers for passes in oppositions half, greatly outnumbered them for touches in the opposition penalty area but they beat us 5 to 1 for shots in the penalty area!!
What's that about? It's about playing our best striker (lead the table for goals scored) on the wing (hasn't scored since!). Forget Adams. In his mind he's leaving January and he plays like it. Get AdamA in the middle. We've got plenty of wingers sat on the bench! Play them.
AttackAttackAAttack. MMM (Moronic Manager Martin) must be seeing that his way ain't working. Our luck won't hold. Flukey last-second goals won't go in for ever. We will start losing and we are only 6 points above 20th place compared to 10 points from promotion 2 places above!!

JoeEgg added 16:42 - Oct 27
Spot on DellBoyWally. Look at the mess Birmingham are in. More than half the team injured. About time we had a striker scoring a goal. Get the ball forward quickly and 'over the top'. At least give it a try!!!!!!!!!

IanRC added 20:08 - Oct 27
When is Mr Stewart going to be available.

Play offs would represent a failure by the board, we should have been looking for automatic promotion given the squad we had when relegated.

Disagree about Manning, a liability most of the time, tends to fall over at crucial moments. Hope Harwood- Bellis is fully fit, thought Holgate was ok on Wednesday. Disagree about Sulemana he has tracked back well on several occasions in recent games, plus he is one of the few (like Stuart Armstrong) who can unlock a defence if only our strikers could get into the penalty area on time.

Farlow added 22:41 - Oct 27
Adam Armstrong down the middle your having a laugh.He NEEDS ROOM OUT WIDE ESPECIALLY AS WE DONT HAVE A BIG MAN IN THE MIDDLE.and i,m sorry i think Bazunu would be better as a striker than in goal.We should keep Bree at left back

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