Saint Le Tissier at beatific best

Southampton 4 Middlesbrough 0

Maybe it was the sight of the Brazilians that did it or just the simple faith shown in him by soul-mate Glenn Hoddle, who had again picked him for an England squad. Whatever the reason, Matthew Le Tissier shook off his lethargy on Saturday to reclaim his position as arguably the most accomplished footballer in the land, and unquestionably the most infuriating.

Such rationing of genius is becoming tiresome, almost as tiresome as watching this outrageous talent twiddling his thumbs on the fringes of the national team. Hoddle should either play him against Poland next week or forget him. Doubtless the England coach would see the latter course of action as tantamount to failure if not an indictment of his own unfulfilled international playing career, with which Le Tissier's has run almost parallel.

The vexed question of how to extract the maximum from Le Tissier has confounded successive Southampton and England managers, but hope springs eternal that between them the new boys - Graeme Souness and Hoddle - might come up with the answer. Souness intends to "sicken" Le Tissier with the sight of the ball in order to cure his occasional languor.

"I want him waking up in the middle of the night dreaming of size-five Mitre balls coming towards him," he said. "There's not going to be a single player at England training next week with more ability than him, and that's not a Southampton manager sounding off about his own player. Every manager would agree with that sentiment. I've played with some great players, worked with some great players and in terms of sheer ability he's top of the list."

Of course not all teams, certainly not international ones of repute, would afford Le Tissier the sort of space which Middlesbrough permitted him, notwithstanding his first goal, of course, which he audaciously scored direct from a corner. Such was his mood that even when Middlesbrough did take closer order, as young Phil Stamp did once in the first half, Le Tissier was gloriously contemptuous of the challenge, turning the player inside out before finally nutmegging him.

Middlesbrough, however, were their own worse enemy. Their defending was inept, a clear case of lack of quality rather than quantity given that they started with five at the back. Unless Bryan Robson quickly addresses the problem, they can forget about European qualification, never mind the championship. Fabrizio Ravanelli and company were never playing well enough to carry the threat away from their suspect defence and the Italian striker even ended up missing a penalty.

As for Southampton, they may prove a lot of sceptics wrong this season, and in so doing help repair Souness' reputation which has taken something of a mauling since his days of unbridled success at Rangers. Getting the best out of Le Tissier may yet represent his greatest challenge.

Goals: Oakley (11) 1-0; Le Tissier (29) 2-0; Le Tissier (48) 3- 0; Watson (82) 4-0.

Southampton (3-4-1-2): Moss; Maddison, Lundekvam, Dryden; Slater (Heaney, 17, Watkinson, 72), Oakley, Magilton, Charlton; Le Tissier; Shipperley, Watson. Substitutes not used: Benali, Flahavan, Potter.

Middlesbrough (5-2-2-1): Miller; Fleming, Whyte, Vickers (Cox, 79), Whelan (Moore, 64), Branco; Emerson, Stamp; Barmby, Juninho; Ravanelli. Subsitutes not used: Hendrie, Hignett, Roberts (gk).

Referee: L R Dilkes (Mossley).

Bookings: Middlesbrough Whelan, Juninho.

Man of the match: Le Tissier. Attendance: 15,230.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Provisioning Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum