All the attention may have been on Southampton's neighbours, Portsmouth, yesterday following the latest instalment of the saga at Fratton Park, but George Burley, the new Saints manager, is quietly satisfied now that he has had the chance to work on the squad left behind by former manager Harry Redknapp.
Southampton's players gave Burley three valuable points yesterday, as the Scot saw his team edge past a determined Brighton & Hove Albion side. But change will not be limited only to their Premiership neighbours after he indicated that his squad was also in need of a trim.
"We have got a squad of 32 and for me, that is too big," Burley said when he was asked about what changes were needed at the club. "You need healthy competition. I used to say 'you want it lean and mean'. That's an area we have to look at.
"When you have such a big squad, I do not feel quite right. We have a number of players here that maybe want to go, we will have to have a look at it. [But] we now have a clear picture of where we want to go."
Southampton won the early skirmishes in this keenly-contested south-coast derby, and went ahead through 19-year-old Dexter Blackstock, who slotted the ball past Brighton's debutant goalkeeper Florent Chaigneau with relative ease in the tenth minute. However, Brighton forced their way back on equal terms in the 21st minute, with a goal from their midfielder, Kerry Mayo, after good work by Alexandre Frutos and Jake Robinson.
Burley was dealt a blow on 67 minutes when his defender Darren Kenton hobbled off injured, to be replaced by Matthew Mills. This substitution, Burley's third and last, also meant that teenage striker Theo Walcott, admired by a number of Premiership clubs, had no chance to make a goal-scoring appearance.
Yet Southampton continued to press for the winner and were rewarded with just four minutes left, when a shot by another impressive youngster, Nathan Dyer, was turned in by Blackstock at the near post.
Southampton (4-4-2): Smith; Baird, Kenton (Mills, 67), Hajto, Cranie (Prutton, 63); Dyer, Quashie, Belmadi, Folly; Best (Ormerod, 46), Blackstock. Substitutes not used: Smith, Walcott.
Brighton (4-4-2): Chaigneau; El-Abd, McShane, Butters, Lynch; Frutos, Carole (Gatting, 90), Carpenter, Mayo; McCammon, Robinson (Jarrett, 79). Substitutes not used: Kuipers, Cox, Elphick.
Referee: M Riley (W Yorkshire)Reuse content