Bewildered Southampton leave Redknapp lost for words

Southampton 0 - Charlton Athletic 0
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The Independent Online

"Harry and Jim are red and white," chanted the Southampton fans before yesterday's final home game of the year. By the end many were singing a somewhat less complimentary tune following a soulless performance that hardly augurs well for the Redknapp-Smith partnership that recently moved down the M27 from Portsmouth.

Reputations alone are not always enough to ensure survival and despite the luxury of a rare clean sheet - their first for two months - Southampton are so short of confidence that it is going to need a combination of fresh faces in the January transfer window and a major injection of self-belief by the management team to haul them up the table.

Redknapp opted to play three up front but the downside was that Saints were heavily outnumbered in midfield, leaving plenty of gaps for Charlton to exploit. For much of the game the home side looked a nervous wreck and they enjoyed two big let-offs in the first half, with Shaun Bartlett heading against the bar with just the keeper to beat, then Hermann Hreidarsson putting a free header a yard wide of the post.

Despite Matthew Oakley drilling a low shot wide just before the interval, it was no surprise when Redknapp beefed up his midfield by sending on Anders Svensson in the second half.

That should have made it a more even contest but Charlton still looked by far the more ambitious and cohesive outfit. Antti Niemi kept his team in the game once again with an instinctive save from Dennis Rommedahl's volley and when James Beattie was substituted 16 minutes from time, St. Mary's applauded him politely off the pitch after what may well have been his last home appearance pending a move to Newcastle, Everton or Aston Villa.

Smith admitted that the sale of Beattie might have to be "one avenue taken" in order to bring in three or four new players. Filling in for Redknapp whose mood, he said, was not conducive to speaking to the media, Smith conceded that Southampton had been lucky to take a point. "But that's why we're here," he said, "to get the side out of the mire. The players can certainly play, after all they were fourth in the table this time last year. But at the moment they are playing with too much fear."

Southampton (4-3-3): Niemi; Cranie, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Higginbotham; Telfer, Delap, Oakley (Prutton, 61); Phillips, Beattie (Ormerod, 74), Crouch (A Svensson, h-t). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Fernandes.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1) Kiely; Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Thomas, Murphy, Holland, Kishishev, Rommedahl; Bartlett. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Hughes, Euell, Jeffers, Konchesky.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

Booked: Southampton: Prutton.

Man of the match: Holland.

Attendance: 31,195.

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