Still a great day for Southampton - 19/05/2003
Although a 1-0 defeat wasn't the best of scores for Southampton fans, I'm sure they still enjoyed their day at the Millenium Stadium. The atmosphere, helped with closed roof, was absolutely tremendous and for me, the magic of the F.A. Cup is as strong as ever. If that final header by James Beattie hadn't been cleared off the line by Ashley Cole I'd have fancied Southampton to have really pushed on in extra time. Arsenal just seemed to have that little bit too much for my old club, and with players of Henry, Campbell, Ljungberg etc etc, it was always going to be a tough game.
Appearing on 'Soccer Saturday' with SKY Sports really helped to build the F.A. Cup atmosphere. I enjoy the show and must have made about five or six appearances there. I think that they've got the balance between serious football news and views and humour exactly right. There might not have been the usual Cup Final sunshine, but the show certianly helped me get in the mood for the game.
Gordon Strachan has done a tremendos job down there. I know that there's a danger James Beattie might be tempted away - Newcastle being rumoured to be interested - but if they keep hold of him I think they'll improve next season. The cup run did cost them points in the Premiership, and I'm sure they'll be up there for a UEFA spot next season. I honestly thought that moving away from 'The Dell' would cost them dearly - I even remember telling their Chairman not to move!! My fears have been unfounded and St.Mary's can become the fortress that the compact former ground used to be. These are happy days for Southampton and everyone connected with the club can enjoy their holidays and look forward to season 2003/04. Dare I say it, but some may even welcome Portsmouth joining them in the top flight as they'll have the passion of a good South Coast derby to look forward to. It's been some time since they last played in same division and having played for both of them I'm only too aware of their rivalry. Don't ask me who I fancy, I'm sitting firmly on the fence!!
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