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Southampton 2003: Where are the Cup Finalists now?
"Since the Ginger One took his sabbatical, George Burley has become the fifth manager in the hot seat and the team are languishing in the Championship bottom half; only 4 of the 14 players who played at Cardiff are at his disposal"
Few teams have suffered such a reversal of fortunes as Southampton’s recent experiences. From FA Cup finalists in 2003 to relegation two years later certainly qualifies as ‘freefall’ and the turnover in playing staff has inevitably been chaotic. The contrast was even more dramatic because in 2003 the Saints had finally become something more than the Premiership’s top escapologists.
Under Gordon Strachan, Saints were looking forward to Europe and playing good stuff on the park. The new St Mary’s was buzzing and there were two England internationals in the squad. Since the Ginger One took his sabbatical, George Burley has become the fifth manager in the hot seat and the team are languishing in the Championship bottom half; only 4 of the 14 players who played at Cardiff are at his disposal.
The Finnish international was a superb performer for the club and even in 2003, other clubs were looking at him. He arrived as a £2 million signing from Hearts at the beginning of the Cup run season. Joined Fulham recently in the transfer window to replace Edwin Van Der Sar.
Incredibly, the showpiece was only his 4th senior game- and one of the others had been the 6-1 thumping at Arsenal a few weeks earlier. Played because club stalwart Jason Dodd was out injured and didn’t let anyone down. However, he hasn’t been able to hold down a regular place since, despite winning caps for Northern Ireland. One of the players still on the books at St Mary’s though.
Could have been sent off in the first minute at the Millennium when he was struggling to deal with Thierry Henry’s pace. A vital element in Southampton’s success at the time and still a key player at the club. Like several players he experienced a dip in form last year but he still holds the back line together.
The Swedish defender played 40 plus games in 2002/03 forming a sound pairing with fellow Scandinavian Lundekvam. His absence for all of the relegation season was critical. Back in harness for 2005/06 but still struggling with injury.
A tremendous asset as a left-sided defender and making forays to support the attack. The Final was his last act as a Saint- Claudio Ranieri bought him during the summer and he won a League title at Stamford Bridge under Jose Mourinho. A dreadful injury lost his place at Chelsea so he’s at Fulham on loan to secure his World Cup berth.
A real grafter in the midfield, also able to perform creditably as a full back. Won a single cap for Scotland and has joined Gordon Strachan at Celtic. Gave great service for four years as a free transfer from Coventry City.
Following in the footstops of Dodd and Matt Le Tissier as a one-club man on the South Coast. A neat and tidy midfielder who has suffered his fair share of injury problems. Been on the Saints books since 1994 and has well over 250 games for the club.
Swedish international midfielder who had probably his best season in 2002/03, coming off an excellent World Cup. His skills were a key factor in Strachan’s side, though he proved to be less influential under the Scot’s successors. Returned to Elfsborg in 2005.
A midfielder with a touch of vision who had been around the lower divisions before he got a late shot at the Premiership on the South Coast. Despite his ageing appearance and shuffling running style, Marsden had a clever footballing brain and kept the side ticking over under Strachan.
Actually captained the side on the day but injuries took their toll and within 6 months of the Final he left for a five month stint in the Far East at Pusan Icons and then a last hurrah at Sheffield Wednesday before retiring in 2005.
A solid, grafting professional who Saints acquired from Blackpool in 2001. A team player but not a heavy goalscorer at the top level. Had loan spells at Wigan and Leeds in 2004 and 2005 before a permanent move to Preston in the recent window. Selected for Cardiff because Latvian Marian Pahars was once again out with injury.
The cutting edge of the team who forced a way into the England picture during his time at Southampton. Hit 23 League goals in 2002/03, his best effort. Sold to Everton during the January 2005 transfer window where he’s struggled to get back to his best form
Fabrice Fernandes was a victim of the cautious approach caused by the 6-1 drubbing by Arsenal in the weeks preceding the Final. The Frenchman had been a creative spark for the team starting 35 League games and his non-selection was a controversial decision. Only got on for five minutes and was never such an effective force again. Joined Bolton in summer 2005.
Experienced goalie Paul Jones came on when Niemi was injured in the second half. Moved To Wolves in January 2004 and has been loaned to several clubs since. Norwegian Jo Tessem was also thrown on to try to change the game. He’s returned to Lyn Oslo where he’s played alongside Nigerian sensation John Obi Mikkel.
2 March 2006
Latest article feedbackWilliam Lovell:
Excellent article and a good assessment, but it is also interesting to compare the current replacements in the present Saints first 11 and to see that on paper the Championship team is not significantly weaker than the 2003 Cup Final side!
Neimi - replaced by Bialkowski (Poland u-21 international)
Baird - Still at the club but second choice to Alexander Ostlund (current Swedish international)
Lunkavam - Still first choice (and current Norwegian international)
Michael Svensson injured - position covered by Danny Higginbotham, (former England u-21 International)
Bridge - position now covered by left-sided full-back Jim Brennan (Canadian International)
Telfer - replaced by Djamel Belmadi (Twice Algerian Footballer of the Year and curent international)
Matt Oakley - still at the club (former England u-21 international)
Anders Svennson - replaced by Darren Potter (on loan from Liverpool)
Chris Marsden - replaced by Kamil Kosowski (Current Polish international)
Brett Ormorod - replaced by Peter Madsen (Danish international)
James Beattie - replaced by Grzegoz Rasiak (current Polish international)
The squad includes a number of other players competing for First team places, including some exciting young players graduating from the Saints Academy, as did Theo Walcott.
Many of the Saints squad have only been playing together for a few weeks since Georg Burley came in as Head Coach, giving Saints fans every reason to expect great things from the team next season.
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