Southampton legend and Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier spoke to FootballFanCast this week about all things Southampton, England, Gareth Bale and Neymar.
The long serving Saints midfielder makes no qualms about his love for the South Coast club and shows his passion every Saturday with Jeff Stelling and the boys as the goals fly in.
The 44-year-old came through the academy at Southampton and has seen a number of talented individuals follow suit in recent years begging the question – What is so good about the academy at St Mary’s?
“The scouting and coaching is good but you need to have a bit of luck in the first place,” Le Tissier said.
“The players have had ability at a young age and we have been lucky to produce some serious footballers who have earned the club millions and millions of pounds.
“No doubt the facilities along with scouting and coaching play a big part.
“Those player sales have somewhat kept the club going over the years.”
Southampton changed managers half way through their first season back in the Premier League as Nigel Adkins made way for Mauricio Pochettino.
Le Tissier believes the Saints would have stayed up if Adkins remained in charge and that Pochettino now has big job to do in order to push his team towards the top half of the Premier League.
“I was confident at the time that we would stay up under Nigel,” he said.
“We were on a decent run having just come back from behind to draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – we had lost two in 12.
“The new manager inherited a decent side full of confidence and he did alright.
“Every Southampton fan would have taken finishing where we did at the start of the season so now hopefully we can push on.
“From what I’m hearing there will be some money spent this summer.
“I know they are interested in a few big money players and the chairman and management both want to qualify for Europe, they won’t be able to do that with the squad they had last season.
“I expect to see three or four more quality signings to see them push into the top half.”
Le Tissier famously received only a handful of England caps in his career despite many believing him to be one of the best midfielders around in his prime.
The Soccer Saturday pundit believes he knows why he didn’t get more England caps and is feeling some déjà vu when looking at the current Southampton crop.
“It is unfair that some of the players at Southampton have not received the national recognition,” Le Tiss said.
“The fact that I stayed at Southampton may have cost me a few England caps.
“You would have hoped it would have changed by now but it hasn’t.
“Even with the injuries that Roy Hodgson had in the previous squad he still didn’t call up Rickie Lambert.
“As a manager who would you want, a forward who scored 15 goals in his first season in the Premier League or a lad who runs around a bit and scored one goal in 38 games for the league winners? – No brainer for me.
“Don’t get me wrong Danny Welbeck is a decent enough player but form wise in front of goal he is not at the races.
“England managers seem to think ‘he isn’t playing for a big team so he can’t be a good player’. That isn’t always the case.
“Down the years we have struggled to get away from that mind-set.
“When I was there, looking at the creative midfielders or forwards you have Gazza, Teddy Sherringham, Peter Beardsley, Robbie Fowler, Ian Wright – all players who didn’t get that many England caps.
“Look at the squad now and you think well, wait a minute. We just don’t have the quality that we had in the 1990’s.”
One man who has had to leave St Mary’s to receive the recognition he deserves is Gareth Bale and the Tottenham winger has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer.
Le Tissier is desperate for Spurs to hang on to the Welsh wizard and believes the Southampton academy graduate is a better all-round player than Barcelona’s £50million man Neymar.
“I don’t think Spurs are too reliant on Gareth Bale,” he said.
“If you have a good player in your team then you make the most of that, give him the ball.
“The time to tell is when the player picks up an injury and I think Bale did this season. Tottenham’s results weren’t too badly affected by his injury so that is the thing I would look at.
“There are not players of that ability for Tottenham to replace him with unfortunately.
“Players like Neymar – I think he has a lot to prove.
“We have all seen him on Youtube doing some ridiculous things but he has to settle in a team and I think the jury is still out on him.
“For consistency at the moment I would definitely rather have Bale over Neymar.”
With the summer blues affecting everyone, Le Tissier is relishing the new football season and believes the Premier League title race will be fascinating this time around.
“The Premier League will be a lot closer next season; it is still the most competitive league in the world,” he said.
“Purely by having Sir Alex (Ferguson) as their manager I think United; with his tactical awareness and influence he has over the governing bodies around football; will be a few points short compared to this year.
“City and Chelsea will both improve and maybe the North London clubs can push their way up to the top.”
Matt Le Tissier was speaking at the Samsung Experience Store, Westfield, Stratford, at the launch of Samsung Win A Pro Contract, a nationwide competition where amateur footballers can win one-year professional contracts at Swindon Town, Leyton Orient and Wycombe Wanderers. Register for a trial at facebook.com/samsungfootball