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Taking the Positives

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Ok, time for a bit of honesty. Who out of us would have taken a close entertaining game of football where Saints would emerge with a large amount of credit last sunday? Just so long we avoided a hiding we could have held our heads high, right?

Indeed, we didn't get battered by Manchester United, we were a 37 year old former retiree away from at least getting a point. Paul Scholes was the fulcrum of Manchester United's comeback and it was dissapointing to see that tactically, we didn't respond to such an obvious move. Van Persie's hat-trick stole the headlines but without the constant pressure in the final quarter of an hour he wouldn't have had the opportunities that he eventually made the most of.

Nigel Adkins will learn, learn more about his new players and how they can mix in with the squad. Learn more about what he can and cannot get away with in this league and and learn how to set us up to close games out. The frankly insane suggestions in the media of replacing him with 'he who shall not be named' after just 3 games stinks of an excuse for bookmakers to make a cheap penny rather then any kind of logical thought. The way we have played against Manchester City and Manchester United where we gave them gboth an awful fright is based on Nigel's footballing philosophy, one that is seemingly shared by the senior management in the club.

Our effective midfield three of Davis, Ward-Prowse and the outstanding Morgan Schneiderlin look more then equal to the challenges this league presents. Adam Lallana has aquited himself well and even former pariah Jason Puncheon delivered what could arguably have been a man of the match performance seven days ago. Jos Hooiveld has been a rock at the back (although yes; he has conceeded two penalties.....) and Nathaniel Clyne looks to be a complete steal for only 2 million pounds.

And that brings us to Rickie Lambert. His fairytale continues. From lower league journeyman to goalscorer in all four profesional divisions. He is starting the season strongly and looks more comfortable for me at Premier League level then Peter Crouch did during his breakthrough year in 04/05. Crouch of course has scored over 20 goals for England, Rickie deserves a chance for his country if he can maintain his form.

They say the league table doesn't lie. After three games we have no points, we are bottom. Our performances do however tell more then raw statistics can at this stage of proceedings. Our need to turn these performances into points against the teams around us rather then the league's bigger names is obvious. The entertainment we will be receiving though in the process is going to be excellent. The Saints team we have now is not a pragmatic fitness focused team like the Strachan era, this is a well drilled attacking team that can force chances even when playing below par, this is a team more along the lines of the Chris Nichol era of goals-goals-goals. A naive approach? Perhaps. Yet relegation will not be the end of the world, the last seven years away have surely taught us that... and compared to 7 years ago, the club is a lot, lot stronger.

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