It was our great pleasure to chat with massive Saints fan Chris Rann, who runs the blog George Weah's Cousin as well as ESPN FC's Southampton blog. The lead-up to the game has been overshadowed by the news that manager Nigel Adkins has been fired, with Valencia manager Mauricio Pocchetino replacing him.
RBM - Southampton are just three points clear of the drop zone. Manager Nigel Adkins just got fired. Is this the best time for it?
CR - Errr… Not really. We are a little shocked and bemused. I am not sure there has ever been such an outcry of support for a manager when they have been sacked. We were sure Adkins was taking us places, the timing seems incredible, having only lost two games in the last twelve. Now it feels like we are going to have the new guy finding his feet at a time where we need to keep picking up points.
RBM - What do we know about Mauricio Pocchetino? How long had he been on the Saints' radar as Adkins' ouster?
CR - Very little. He was Espanyol manager, and had a good couple of season's in La Liga before financial issues and player sales saw it go sour. Sadly it sounds like he has been talking to the Chairman and 'studying' the team since December. This was planned for sometime hence the instant replacement.
RBM - Striker Rickie Lambert has been excellent this season. What have the positions of need been for the Saints? Who have they been linked with in the current transfer window?
CR - Our defence has been our biggest problem area, particularly our goalkeepers. But of late it has been much improved, and Artur Boruc has looked back to his old self in the last couple of games. To that end, we have been linked with centre halves mainly and completed the signing of Vegard Forren (who long believed to be a target of yourselves) on Friday. He might play on Monday.
RBM - The Saints are second bottom in the League for giving up points from winning positions. How do Adkins/Pocchetino go about correcting this disturbing trend?
CR - It seems a little harsh to criticise Adkins at this time, but his weakness was his substitutions and changing things when we were leading to sit on a lead. It often backfired as the stat showed. It will be interesting to see what Pochettino does in similar positions.
RBM - Southampton have only lost once in their last twelve games. Are the players finally starting to gel together? Can they survive the drop at the end of the season?
CR - I was sure we would be ok, our position reflects our dreadful start, but of late we have looked much better than a relegation side. We have a decent starting side, but our bench often looks weak. The players have long been gelled, and are working for each other again, but again we have to wait and see how the new man approaches things.
RBM - Finally, a score prediction for Monday. Who are the players you'll be expecting to shine, and what are you expecting from the game at St. Mary's?
CR - I would have gone for a 2-1 win before the Adkins sacking, but now I am not so sure. I will stay positive though and go for an entertaining 2-2 draw. Red scouser Rickie Lambert to net, and our front five to outshine our back four as usual!