Saints into Europe on last day of the season

Last updated : 26 June 2004 By editor

Let's face it, it's a much nicer thought that looking to for an away win at Crystal Palace on May 7th to avoid relegation.

The truth of next season will probably lie somewhere in between, with Saints looking to maintain their mid table place of recent seasons. With no more than one championship contender in any month (Chelsea Aug 28th & Apr 2nd, Arsenal Oct 30th & Feb 26th, Manchester United Dec 4th and May 14th), Saints should be looking forward to having more good spells than bad.

The three promoted clubs look likely to struggle and provide a bit of comfort to those who fought for mid table security last time round. West Brom (Nov 5th & Feb 10th) are continuing with the same, cautious approach to maintaining Premiership survival. It doesn't look as thought they have quite enough strength to achieve that this season, while Crystal Palace (Nov 27th &May 7th) and Norwich (Nov 20th & Apr 30th) just look delighted to be there. The funds from the Premiership will do wonders for both clubs even if they are only in the division for a single season.

Other strugglers may well be Blackburn (Aug 21 & April 9th), who have signed Javier De Pedro much to my irritation when we only got Neil McCann, Manchester City (Oct 2nd & Jan 1st) and of course Everton (Oct 16th & Feb 5th).

Keegan's team lacks steel, and no amount of flair players will overcome that key flaw in their inability to flourish in the Premiership. Looking back, I'm pretty glad Keegan didn't get the urge to return to Saints, a former club as a player. Souness, a former Saints manager, must be baffled at his under performing sides last season. While a great player, the answer may not lie in De Pedro.

Should Saints do well, the teams that will be fighting for places with them in the top ten will be Charlton (Sep 11th & Dec 26th), Aston Villa (Aug 14th & Apr 16th) and Birmingham (Oct 23rd & Feb 1st)

With Hoddle well gone from Spuds and Dean Richards a footballing embarrassment, the fun of beating Tottenham (Dec 18th & Mar 5th) has lessened but Pompey will be supplying some genuine rivalry. We'll be seeing them at St Mary's on November 13th and with a bit of luck, we'll be condemning them to nationwide footy at Fratton Park on April 23rd.