|Saints V Ajax The Preview|
Fri 27th Jul 2012 09:22
Saints meet Ajax again at St Mary's a little over three years after a previous friendly with the Dutch masters, how times have changed in the meantime.
Three years ago the meeting with Ajax was one of celebration, Markus Liebherr was given a standing ovation from a 24,000 crowd and lan pardew introduced as the new manager as Saints prepared for life in the third tier of English football for the first time in nearlyfifty years.
Of course Saints, still full of youngsters and yet to start signing some of those players who would lead them out of the wilderness and back to the pinacle of English football were outclassed and the game was something of an anti climax as Ajax outpowered their relatively inexperienced opponents, Saints scorer was Joseph Mills whilst Luis Suarez netted twice for the Amsterdam club.
Ajax now return and how things will have changed, Saints are back in the top flight and ready to give Ajax a run for their money on the pitch, although perhaps the Dutch will wonder why as a League two side we had 24,000 turn out, yet three years later on the back of so much success in that intervening time the crowd is going to be lucky to be half of that number back in 2009, too many home friendlies in a short space of time being likely to effect the gate drastically.
With three weeks to go before the big kick off, Im not sure how competitive Saints will actually be, although they may not play a different side in each half as they did in the Memorial Cup, they are still likely to make multiple substitutions with much of the squad of around 20 players or so getting a game at some point, at this stage of pre season football clubs are still a long way off peak, the idea is to hone the fitness and tactics to a fine point that coincides when it really matters, ie the start of the league season, that being the case, this is still going to be a low key game, yes a vital part of the developing pre season but still low key, with so many pre season friendlies scheduled, Nigel Adkins will be looking more at giving everyone a game and not over working them, rather than crafting his preferred first eleven together.
Three years ago the Ajax friendly was a nice day out celebrating the saving of the club by Markus Liebherr, Saturday will be a lot more low key both on and off the pitch, however on it, there will still be some vital pre season work going on and a few trying to prove something to the manager, but it will still be more of a training game than a serious 90 minutes, although in fairness that can be said about 95% of pre season friendlies played across the country during this pre season.
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