Paul Smith is a goalkeeper who Southampton signed for ‘500,000 from Brentford in January 2004. He was signed on the last day of the January transfer window although a power cut nearly prevented the move! For a year he didn’t get a game for saints but in January Antti Niemi, the first choice goalkeeper, got injured and Paul Smith got a chance. He put in some decent performances before Niemi returned from injury. A few games later Niemi got injured once again. Smith got another chance and played superbly against Everton, West Brom, Arsenal and Tottenham. After this there was talk of possible England appearances. Now Niemi was back and Southampton manager Harry Redknapp had a dilemma. It was the big match in the Quarter finals of the F A Cup. Saints had been drawn against Manchester United. One of the favourites and the current holders of the Cup. Would he keep the in-form Smith or turn to the experienced and well regarded Niemi. He chose to keep Smith and saints lost rather disappointing 4 – 0. Smith was dropped for the next game against Middlesbrough but Niemi made a mistake in the first half spilling a simple shot and gifting Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink a tap-in. But later in the game he made some good saves and saints came out comfortable winners by three goals to one. Although a slightly sad ending for Smith he has built up a excellent reputation and with the ageing Niemi often getting injured Smith is sure to get more chances and is now expected to perform.
Week 2 – starting 6th of February
This week my footballer of the week is Henri Camara. Camara, a Senegal international with over 50 caps signed for Saints on the last day of the January transfer window. He has done superbly so far scoring 2 goals in 1 and a half appearances. He is only on loan at the moment, from Wolves. Whether Saints stay up or not will probably depend if he wants to stay at the end of his loan. Last year when Wolves were relegated he refused to play for them. He was immediately loaned out to Celtic where he struggled to get in the first team behind John Hartson and Chris Sutton. At the end of his loan he went on loan again to Saints. He is not just a superb goalscorer he is one of the fastest and most skilful players in the Premiership.
Week 1 – starting 31st of January.
This week my footballer of the week is Peter Crouch who you may have heard scored the last gasp penalty in the F.A.Cup 4th round derby between Southampton and Portsmouth. Since the 6ft 6 striker joined saints for ‘2million pounds in July he has scored 7 goals in 9 starts and 9 sub appearances. After the departure of James Beattie to Everton on January the 4th Crouch has been given more of chance. He has started a superb partnership with Kevin Phillips which has produced a great amount of goals. But 2 weeks ago Kevin Phillips picked up a nasty injury. Manager Harry Redknapp experimented with a new 4-5-1 formation with Crouch playing up front on his own. So far that has worked amazingly, the Saints side are full of confidence after winning their last two games against Liverpool and Portsmouth, Crouch scored goals in both of those games and at this minute is a Saints legend to many fans.