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Southampton and Norwich

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As I watched the Southampton game today I found myself making comparisons with Norwich City. I wasn''t doing this because Southampton were winning the match or because of their good start to the season. I suppose, really, what motivated me to the thought process was because my history of watching the two teams always had me drawing comparisons right back to the time ( and before ) we were promoted together out of the old Third Division in 1959/60 season.


The recent history of the two teams also invites comparison because of the quick promotions from the third level to the Premiership in successive seasons. Both accomplished this with young managers facing the premiership for the first time. Many would have said Southampton were prematurely harsh in sacking Nigel Adkins in their first season back in the top division. After all, Norwich were in 12th position at the time and Southampton were just a few points behind us with a game in hand. Most articles/opinions I read stated that Adkins was a very decent man and well suited to Southampton. His career as a footballer was as a goalkeeper and management experience at lower levels. Regardless of the recent success, his club decided they were looking for something more. At that point, we were also of the opinion that not only did we have a decent man in charge in Chris Hughton. His football career as a defender was at a much higher level than Adkins, as was his management experience.


Coming into this season I suspect many would have expected Norwich and Southampton to be fairly even, and we may yet be. We both seemed to have spent well before the season got underway. Many might have said we were fairly comparable on paper. Indeed, one of our two victories to date was against them. However, watching Southampton of late, it strikes me that how they move forward in play is in a completely different manner to Norwich from an efficiency standpoint. There is far less passing the ball sideways and backwards, much more intent to move forward relatively quickly and as a team. It not only appears to be more threatening but it appears to hold the team in a compact position if they lose possession. This is supported by the fact they have only conceded three goals in nine games.


As the management and coaching staff with Norwich had football careers that were, on the whole, much more defensive, I found myself listening to the commentators on todays Southampton match saying the Pochettino discipline is significant repetition in training twice a day. I looked up the background on the key coaching positions at Southampton and, they too, are more from a defensive background. It appears most of the staff had training within the Spanish system. My input here is nothing more than observational. Obviously, Southampton like us, have ambition and were prepared to gamble to pursue their targets. If Hughton and his team continue to see us unable to finish and achieve the desired results it will be interesting to see what directions McNally and company will look toward should it become necessary to make a change.  

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