When Southampton were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2004-2005 season a joke (most likely originating from Portsmouth) began circulating amongst football fans across the country. It went like this: What do the Titanic and the Premiership have in common? Both are ships that will never return to Southampton.
Now, 8 years later it appears that Nigel Adkins’ side are defying these Michael McIntyre-wannabes by marking their return to the Premier League with performances characterised by resilience and determination. Southampton currently floats 2 points above the relegation zone in 15th place, and many believe that this relative success is anchored in the performances of 30 year old striker Rickie Lambert.
Lambert has scored 9 goals in his 20 Premiership appearances so far this season, most of which have been pivotal in securing points for the team and washing away thoughts of relegation. Previously under Nigel Adkins, the striker has enjoyed terrific form scoring 30, 21 and 27 goals respectively in his first three seasons at Southampton, so there is no reason why he would not be able to add to his current tally.
…attempt to pry him away from the coast…
This goal scoring prowess is especially important to the club considering how few goals Southampton’s “big” summer signings have hauled in between them. Jay Rodriguez (£7mil) and Gaston Ramirez (£12mil) have only scored 5 Premier League goals in total thus far, which is borderline shambolic when you realise that Lambert cost a meagre £1mil from Bristol Rovers 4 years ago.
Due to the success of transferring his scoring ability from the Championship to the Premiership, Lambert has been the subject of some recent January transfer window speculation. Both West Ham and Stoke are believed to be interested in acquiring his services and will most likely at least attempt to pry him away from the coast at some point this month.
…sink faster than the Titanic…
However, in the interest of the team, fans and shareholders, it is imperative that Adkins does not succumb to any financial pressure to sell Lambert. If anything, money should be spent to bring aboard players that can help get the best out of Lambert, otherwise Southampton’s chances of staying in the Premier League beyond May will surely sink faster than the Titanic ever did.