February 13, 2013 by backofthenetjl
Having developed something of an addiction to the latest edition of Football Manager, I made the decision to start a new save with Premier League newcomers Southampton.
The Saints are a good footballing side who play with great spirit and philosophy; exactly what I was looking for. So I prepared for the challenge ahead. Seen as though previous manager Nigel Adkins had just guided Southampton into the Premier League, I really wanted to build on that. Of course when you make the step up from the Championship to the top flight, survival has to be your priority, but with the group of players I had and the extra additions we had made, I was confident we could go one better and possibly finish mid-table.
Upon my arrival at St Mary’s, I received a warm welcome from chairman Nicola Cortese and was relatively pleased with the transfer budget that had been handed to me. A few players had already been acquired such as Jay Rodriguez, Gaston Ramirez and Steven Davis, but this didn’t stop me from improving our squad even further; we needed to have quality all over the field as strength in depth is a must if you are to have a good chance of staying up.
I was informed that as preparation for the difficult season ahead, I would be taking the players on a Pre-season training camp in Austria; not the most luxurious of locations but with an extremely high altitude, it was a good place for the players to increase their fitness levels, after all they would not to be in top condition for the challenge they were facing.
But before that trip to Austria, an inter-squad friendly was set up with our reserves; this would enable me to assess the players that I had and ultimately decided who was key to my plans. It took place at our training ground and I was pleased with what I seen. Not only did we deliver a good display in which we won 3-0, but it also offered me a valuable opportunity to have a look at some of our younger players, most notably Luke Shaw and Jamie Ward Prowse.
A friendly with Dutch outfit Feyenoord at St Marys would follow and against a good side, I thought we played extremely well. We shifted the ball around excellently and were clinical with our chances. 5-3 was the final score and the only negative I noted was how we conceded 3 goals; we cannot afford to do that in the Premier League too often as it will cost us massively. Jason Puncheon was absolutely superb and earnt himself an 8.50 rating, while Frazer Richardson also conjured up a good performance.
After a promising start to Pre-season, we headed off to Austria for the start of our training camp and it was not long until we played our first game of the tour. It was against SV Grodig; a team I was not too familiar with, meaning I felt it would be good to see how the players would react by playing a team they didn’t know too well. We dominated possession but couldn’t convert enough of our 14 shots on target and subsequently lost 2-1. Nevertheless the level of performance was reasonably good, though there was still much to work on. Pre-season is mainly about working on match-fitness and showing positive signs for the season ahead; in that game I felt we did that even though I would of liked to have claimed the win.
Overall July was a fairly decent month for us in which we showed some promising signs for the new season. There were some good individual display and It appeared as if the players were fitting in well with the new 4-3-3 system I had installed. My capture of former Arsenal magician Robert Pires on a free had also had a positive impact, with Pires already offering his expert advice and guidance to the younger players; I was quite pleased with my capture of the Frenchman and hoped his experience would come in handy. So a good start to my managerial career with the saints, but still much to improve on. I was also ready for August; a month which could determine the fate of our season, with several players on my transfer wishlist.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and I will post my next monthly review very soon.
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