It can be particularly galling if internationals come after a poor club performance because the manager or coach would like to spend valuable time with his players. By the same token if the team wins well before the players are due to go away then normally a two week wait for the next game can prove a disadvantage.
So watch for some unpredictable results this weekend. After the last Premiership game prior to the internationals — Bolton v Liverpool — four of the anticipated Championship contenders are currently in the top six. Of course, league tables at this stage of the season make a mockery of football. Consider the pressure being brought to bear on Leicester City’s management after only two games.
It is a long, hard season and consistency is the key word. We now need a quick win after differing fortunes from our two away games.
We have not started as well as we would have liked but the opportunities were there at Blackburn for us to come back with points. Some of our approach play was particularly skilful but, as everybody in football knows, the two penalty boxes are the most important areas and we failed to capitalise on chances and conceded two goals when Blackburn ran at us with the ball.
In the morning I visited the Blackburn Rovers Academy which is one of the top centres in England. It cost a comparatively small figure of around £8million but they have a wonderful indoor artificial pitch, swimming pool/hydrotherapy area and modern remedial and rehabilitation facilities. They also have sprinting areas, intergrated goalkeeper areas as well as five quality grass pitches.
On that Saturday morning, our Academy teams had long journeys north after their previous week’s wins over Crystal Palace and Bristol City. The Under-19s beat Wrexham 3-0 with the Under-17s drawing 2-2. It is one of the rare long trips that they will face this season as most of their fixtures are against Southern opposition.
Last weekend we entertained Newcastle United at our training ground for the first time. Our first year intakes have settled down very quickly and it looks as though one or two of these youngsters will be challenging the second year boys for Youth Cup places.
Seeking our first home win we hope that players like Leonhardsen, Ferdinand, Anderton and Sherwood are fully fit and challenging for a first team place. This will place us in a more healthy position today to get the three points.
Our opponents will be strong opposition, particularly in the light of the slight acrimony when Glenn Hoddle changed clubs and the recent transfer speculation about their centre-half Dean Richards. Every club has to protect its own interests and there are always two sides to every story. But the press tend to exaggerate any genuine difference of opinion, which, more often than not, has been discussed in the proper manner.
Our Reserve games have now started at the Stevenage ground. It is an excellent pitch and we look forward to welcoming Tottenham supporters to that venue, many of whom enjoyed the excellent game of football there when we beat Forest 1-0.
Our visitors today, of course, have a new excellent pitch at their new ground at St Mary’s. Many people think that leaving the Dell may be a disadvantage to Southampton but I am sure we can expect the Saints to be challenging hard this season for a top six spot. They have a young management team and a shrewd backroom set-up.
Finally and sadly we send our sincerest condolences to two football people. One was a regular box holder here, Mr Ken Tyrrell who was known as Mr Motorsport and was a kindly man who I met on a couple of occasions before games. He was a keen supporter and some nice motor racing friends have written their warm appreciation of his life and we send our sympathies to his family.
Also to Les Sealey whose funeral took place last week. Les was a big hearted character who I signed from Coventry and he made over 250 appearances for Luton in a very successful era. As fellow professionals we send his family our deepest sympathies and sincerely hope that one or both of his two sons follow his footsteps and become a fine goalkeeper.
Get behind the team today.
Most clubs in the Premiership have been without their senior international players over the last few days. This can often mean that a club manager’s plans are disrupted.