NAPOLEON, AS is well known, insisted that his generals should above all be lucky, the prime quality that Charlton's manager Alan Curbishley desired of his new recruit, Martin Pringle from Benfica, when announcing his signing last Thursday: "He's quick, strong and works hard. But I just want someone who's lucky."
The Swedish international forward made a favourable enough impression in his 20-minute appearance as a substitute two days later, but could not change his new club's run of misfortune or defeats, and by Saturday evening, supporters arriving back by train at Waterloo were wondering if they had just met theirs.
After a run of matches against sides from the top half of the Premiership table, Saturday's battle against the lighter than Light Brigade - routed embarrassingly when they rode into the Valley in August - had looked like the obvious one to rally the troops for the struggles ahead. Instead, Charlton were put to the sword.
Dave Jones's forces, it soon became clear, have regrouped well from their losses early in the campaign. Even with Matt Le Tissier hors de combat, they were the stronger, as well as the less predictable, and deserved their success.
Jones had just the warrior for the occasion in Mark Hughes, who drew yellow cards from two defenders early on before, inevitably, collecting one himself. He has been booked more often than not this season (12 games out of 20) but, released from midfield duties to the front-line, gave one of his most effective performances since leaving Chelsea last summer.
It was the first foul on him, by Danny Mills, that led to Southampton's opening goal in the eighth minute, the Moroccan international Hassan Kachloul reacting faster than a clutch of Charlton defenders after Patrick Colleter's free-kick dropped into the box and Hughes's shot was beaten out. Colleter, like Kachloul, was obtained on a free transfer as Jones scoured the continent for reinforcements following the Valley debacle. Both have proved excellent acquisitions.
After Andy Hunt had glanced in Mark Kinsella's cross, and Charlton began to look comfortable, Colleter disrupted them again by driving the second goal under Sasa Ilic from almost 30 yards, before James Beattie's last- minute tap-in sent them home to think again.
Southampton were therefore able to enjoy a rare dose of Saturday night fever, but they have won only a battle, not the war, as the list of forthcoming engagements illustrates: next up are Liverpool, Leeds, Chelsea, Tottenham, Newcastle and Manchester United.
Charlton, meanwhile, will redress the imbalance of their programme with four successive home games. Their reserve goalkeeper, Simon "Rolls" Royce, deserves a chance to display his pedigree after Ilic's recent series of errors and Pringle will certainly get one, with Clive Mendonca and now Steve Jones out injured. The search for new players continues - Jonatan Johansson of Rangers was the most recent target. But only lucky ones need apply.
Goals: Kachloul (8) 1-0; Hunt (13) 1-1; Colleter (53) 2-1; Beattie (89) 3-1.
Southampton (4-3-3): P Jones; Dodd, Monkou, Lundekvam, Colleter; Oakley Palmer, Kachloul; Beattie, Hughes, Ostenstad. Substitutes not used: Hiley, Howells, Bridge, Basham, Stensgaard (gk).
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Ilic; Mills, Rufus, Youds, Powell; Newton, Kinsella, Redfearn, Robinson; S Jones (Pringle, 71), Hunt. Substitutes not used: Brown, Parker, Konchesky, Royce (gk).
Referee: G Poll (Tring).
Bookings: Southampton Beattie, Hughes; Charlton Mills, Youds, Hunt.
Man of the match: Colleter.
Attendance: 15,222.Reuse content