Southampton supporters have been slightly more upbeat in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side get back to winning ways with a much-needed 1-0 success over Fulham in the third round of the FA Cup last weekend.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their clash with the Cottagers having failed to win any of their previous nine Premier League games, a run which has seen them plummet down the table, at the same time increasing the pressure on the former Alaves boss. However, the Saints chief earned a bit of respite at the weekend as James Ward-Prowse’s goal 16 minutes before the break secured a narrow success for the South Coast outfit, who in turn booked their place in the last 32 and a home tie with fellow top-flight outfit Watford at the end of the month.
Consequently, there has been a little bit more positivity among our resident Southampton fans in the Tavern this week, several of whom are hoping that Saturday’s victory can be the springboard for further success in the coming weeks and months.
In the meantime though, there has been much for those hardy Saints fans lining up at the bar to discuss, not least recent reports suggesting that Everton are leading the chase for reported Southampton target Theo Walcott.
The 28-year-old has struggled for regular football at Arsenal this season, earning just 49 minutes of Premier League action so far, and it doesn’t look like his fortunes will improve in the second half of the campaign either.
As such, speculation has been building surrounding his future, with Southampton reportedly interested, yet it is Everton who are thought to be favourites to sign the forward – a move which could actually turn out to be a blessing for Pellegrino’s Saints.
Yes, it’s a signing which may well win round large sections of the St Mary’s faithful, but when it comes down to whether Walcott might actually improve this Southampton team, it’s fraught with doubt.
The England star has not been overly prolific during his time at Arsenal, and while 108 goals in 398 appearances is a solid return, they are not ground-breaking numbers, and include just two seasons in which he has managed more than ten Premier League goals.
Add in the likely big wages the Saints will probably have to pay to lure him back to the South Coast, as well as the various injury problems he has had during his career, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that they will get the return they want from such investment.
More importantly though, Walcott is not the out-and-out goal-scorer they need.
21 goals in 22 Premier League games is simply not going to get the job done for the Saints – continue that trend and they will undoubtedly be in a relegation dog-fight.
But it’s not through the lack of trying, as Pellegrino’s men have created more chances this season (210) than any other side outside of the division’s top six – in contrast, the team directly above them (Bournemouth) have created 195, while the team directly below them (Stoke) have created 179.
Charlie Austin is clearly the club’s most efficient goal-scorer, but he looks set for a spell out with a hamstring tear, leaving Pellegrino bereft of someone who can put the ball in the back of the net. And Walcott isn’t necessarily that man.
Yes, he’d bring energy, pace, and a burning desire to prove himself ahead of the World Cup, but his arrival wouldn’t necessarily move Southampton out of their slump – the goals will likely still be hard to come by.
So while some fans will be frustrated to see Everton lead the chase for the £18 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt), it could turn out to be a blessing for under-fire Pellegrino.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!