Southampton Season Guide

August 9, 2003
By Dominic Raynor
(Archive)

Southampton

Nickname: The Saints
Founded: 1885
Ground: Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium, Britannia Road, Southampton, Hampshire. SO14 5FP
Capacity: 32,551
Ticket Office: 0870 2200150
Club Colours:
Home - Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, White socks with red and black trim
Away - White shirts, red shorts and red socks


Top Links

Soccernet's Southampton page | Full squad | Fixture list

Soccernet's Southampton Correspondent

Official Southampton Website

Fan Site - Saints World

Unofficial Website - Saints Forever

Last Season - Leaps and bounds Position: 8th

Picture: MikeEgerton/Empics

The Saints were going so well last term that they were disappointed to miss out on European qualification with an eighth place finish in the league. But Gordon Strachan's side still landed a place in the UEFA Cup place via the FA Cup. Despite being narrowly beaten 1-0 by Arsenal in the final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, they qualified due to Arsenal's league placing. Striker James Beattie fulfilled his potential and the usually streaky forward hit consistent form to finish the season as the club's top scorer and the Premiership's third best marksman - earning him his England debut. The season also unearthed another gem in Finnish goalkeeper Antti Niemi, who was a key factor in the Saints' highest finish in the Premiership.

Transfers - In and Out
Coming In:
Kevin Phillips (Sunderland) - £3.25m
Danny Higginbotham (Derby) - £1.5m
Neil McCann (Rangers) - £1.5m
Yoan Folly (St Etienne) - £250,000
Fitz Hall (Oldham) - £250,000
Leandre Griffit (Amiens) - Nominal
Graeme Le Saux (Chelsea) - Deal
Dexter Blackstock (Oxford) - Undisc.
Darren Kenton (Norwich) - Free

  • On The Move - All the transfers
  • Getting Out:
    Wayne Bridge (Chelsea) - £7m
    Matty Crowell (Wrexham) - Free
    Kevin Davies (Bolton) - Free
    Brian Howard (Swindon) - Free
    Paul Williams (Stoke) - Free
    Richard Jones (Swansea) - Loan
    Mike Williamson (Mansfield) - Loan



    First Choice XI

    14-Antti Niemi; 33-Paul Telfer, 11-Michael Svensson, 5-Claus Lundekvam,
    3-Graeme Le Saux; 29-Fabrice Fernandes, 18-Rory Delap, 8-Matt Oakley,
    4-Chris Marsden; 9-James Beattie, 7-Kevin Phillips.

    The Gaffer - Gordon Strachan

    Picture: MatthewAshton/Empics

    Dismissed by Coventry City, Gordon Strachan took over from Stuart Gray at Southampton in October 2001 and was charged with the task of keeping the club in the Premiership after a poor start to the 2001/02 season. He completed the task in hand and then successfully set about transforming the perennial strugglers into a Premiership force. The Scot had previous experience of avoiding relegation at his first managerial post with Coventry City. Strachan took over from Ron Atkinson in 1996 and remained with the Sky Blues for the next five-years until relegation to Division One and a poor start to life in the Nationwide cost him his job. As a player, Strachan enjoyed huge success. In the early eighties the fiery midfielder won two league titles, three Scottish Cup medals and the European Cup Winners' Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen. Atkinson then took Strachan to Manchester United where he won the FA Cup before joining Leeds United - where he won the old Division Two and Division One championships, in 1990 and 1992 respectively. As a manager Strachan, is now looking to bring the success he enjoyed as a player to Southampton and he has turned the club around in just two seasons.

    Player to Watch - Fitz Hall

    Picture: MatthewAshton/Allsport

    Nicknamed One-Size, Fitz Hall is a strong commanding centre-back who was released by West Ham after failing to make the grade but blossomed at Oldham after making a £20,000 move from Chesham United in April 2002. Hall was an impressive performer at Boundary Park but the club's financial woes meant that they couldn't refuse when Southampton swooped for the highly-rated defender ahead of Everton. He played his part in the Saints' pre-season tour of Scandinavia in July and by August he had claimed a starting place for the friendly clash with Millwall, scoring his first goal for the club. If he continues his rapid rise through the ranks he could make a big impression in the Premeirship.

    Young Gun - Chris Baird

    Picture: TonyMarshall/Empics

    Wayne Bridge was the last player to come through Southampton's surprisingly unproductive youth system, taking over from Matt Oakley back in 1995, to claim a regular first team place and Chris Baird could be the next. After making his first senior start in the last game at Maine Road towards the end of the 2002/3 season he found himself taking the place of the more attack minded Fabrice Fernandes in the club's first FA Cup final for 27 years. The Northern Ireland international right-back was probably the Saints' man of the match with his tireless running and tigerish tackling. His early development stalled in 2001 but after making rapid progress last term he will be looking to push on.

    From the terraces

    After last season's cup run, most Saints supporters are hoping that the team can go one better this time. With the added bonus of UEFA Cup participation and the chance to beat rivals Portsmouth twice in one year, season ticket sales have hit an all time high.

    Ultimately the club want to improve on last year's 8th place finish and if their away form can improve on recent seasons then they should achieve that.

    By Mark White, from Saints World.


    Whilst the FA Cup final defeat obviously hurt, I don't think too many Saints fans were too upset with how last season panned out. In fact, it could be described as something of a success story - an eighth place finish and our magnificent cup run has resulted in UEFA Cup football being on the agenda at St Mary's this season.

    However, whilst Gordon Strachan must be commended on the excellent job he has done thus far, the hard work begins now for the Scot.

    There is no reason why we cannot build on last season and finish even higher this time round, and if we manage that then Strachan will well and truly deserve all the praise that comes his way. Prediction - sixth place.

    By Darren John, from Fans FC.


    Whilst most fans applaud the signings of Hall, Kenton, Folly and Griffit for nominal fees, all are untried at the top level and all could be found wanting.

    Le Saux and McCann should sort out the left side of the team now Bridgey has sadly departed but with the chances of a repeat of last season's success weighing very firmly on Beattie's shoulders, the lack of additional firepower and the clubs refusal to buy big could prove very costly in the season ahead.

    Simon Tanton, Soccernet's Southampton Correspondent

  • Have your say on the Southampton Message Board

    Best - Europe Worst - Top half

    European competition may take its toll on Southampton's aspirations in the Premiership, but may also offer Gordon Strachan the chance to blood his young players with an increased fixture list. If the club manage to repeat a top eight finish then it will be seen as a season of successful consolidation. The club rely too heavily on the goal scoring ability and fitness of James Beattie. Reports that Sunderland's Kevin Phillips could be on the way are excellent news for Saints fans and his addition could make all the difference.

  • Any thoughts? Email Dominic Raynor.