Sturrock ready to make his Premiership mark

Click to follow

Paul Sturrock was officially installed as the manager of Southampton yesterday and said his first priority would be to find a way of increasing Saints' meagre goals tally.

The 47-year-old Scot will meet his predecessor, Gordon Strachan, today for a "wee chat" about his new job but he already has clear ideas about how he wants to move forward.

He said he has been "very much" impressed by his new squad, saying "Defensively they are very sound". They have conceded only 27 goals this season, which is the best in the Premiership outside the top three.

"They have got a very good goalie [Antti Niemi] that I remember from the days up in Scotland. Their width players are quite exciting and obviously they have got a potent threat in the three or four strikers we have.

"One thing I have noticed is that they haven't scored enough goals, so that is probably going to have to be the first thing that we try to rectify." Only Leeds and Wolves have scored fewer than Southampton's 27 Premiership goals this season.

"I think Southampton have had a difficult time," Sturrock said. "The situation with Gordon [initially staying in place after announcing an end-of-season departure] kind of smacked of the Fulham situation with [Jean] Tigana a year ago. There was an uncertainty about them and I do feel that maybe caused them a wee bit of concern result-wise, but hopefully now they have got that solved and they can start climbing the League."

Having declared it was "very nice" to have fulfilled his ambition of becoming a Premiership manager but that it was "a very sad day" due to leaving Plymouth, Sturrock added that he was unfazed by the prospect of a baptism of fire in the top flight. Southampton face Liverpool a week on Sunday, then a tricky derby in Portsmouth the following weekend.

Sturrock spent his entire playing career with Dundee United, moving into management with St Johnstone and then Dundee United before taking over at Plymouth in October 2000. He steered Argyle from the bottom of the Third Division to the top of the Second Division.

He has signed an initial two-year contract at St Mary's, which will become a one-year rolling deal after the first 12 months.

Asked if he had a message for fans about the type of football they can expect, Sturrock said: "Hopefully, winning football. The game is simple. I was at Chelsea's training ground earlier this season watching them go through their paces with Mr Ranieri and we did exactly the same things on the training ground at Argyle as they do, they have just got better-quality players than we had.

"I have got a certain idea of how I want the game played. I think I have got the players here that will suit that style and we will start on Monday trying to mould that style into the team."

Rupert Lowe, Southampton's chairman, said: "I have no doubt that there will be some comment in the media as to whether Paul can change gear and leapfrog the First Division. If I did not believe that he could, we would not have made the appointment."

Lowe, aware of potential accusations of hypocrisy because he fumed about Tottenham poaching Glenn Hoddle in 2001 but has lured Sturrock from Plymouth none the less, said: "Our dealings with Plymouth over the last five weeks have been completely honest and ethical and the appropriate compensation has been agreed."

Sturrock, meanwhile, has recommended as his replacement the highly rated Hibernian manager, Bobby Williamson, who has taken his side to this weekend's Scottish League Cup final.

Comments