Southampton chair: ‘Summer of pain’ necessary to avoid ‘insane risk’

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Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger has been forced to watch as player after player has skipped St. Mary’s for greener pastures. Sure, there was plenty of money coming back his way — some of it has been reinvested — but no executive wants to witness his club’s best players leaving the team.

He’s had to endure Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren’s moves to Liverpool, Calum Chambers big-money departure for Arsenal and Luke Shaw’s crazy pounds move to Manchester United.

Krueger is calling it a ‘summer of pain’, and it was a necessary evil if you buy what he’s selling.

From the AFP:

“It is a summer of pain on many, many different levels. It has been six months of pain because so much change has gone on and people always have fear in change.

“That’s why we have to have patience with the team now because it is not going to come overnight.

“But everything we’re doing is driven by the fact that we want to create a really honest, healthy structure and we want to be as well-run as anybody.”

Krueger believes that forcing players to stay against their wishes — and that could be a hint as to the future of want-aways like Morgan Schneiderlin — is detrimental to the structure he’s trying to bring to Southampton.

More from the AFP:

“There was a situation when there was so much change with the manager leaving and you theoretically ended up with a dressing room with half of your starters not really committed to being there,” he said.

“That is an insane risk for any club and especially a club which was already quite thin last year.

“Of actual centrepieces of the club, a few have gone. Not all five were centrepieces or irreplaceable, but you know there were a couple.”

The Saints have brought in promising attacker Graziano Pelle of Feyenoord and Dusan Radic of Twente, while attempting to fill one of the holes in the back with a loan addition of Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand.

Would it have been an insane risk to keep Lovren despite his wishes? I can’t say for sure, but the culture of football seems to dictate that you’re better off cashing in on overvalued English players. Yes, Shaw and Lallana are very strong players, but the money that came back for them could go a long way toward developing more talent.

The real question is whether the players would’ve wanted to skip town if they were in Europa due to a very winnable FA Cup path that Southampton did not take too seriously. But, hindsight is 20/20.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?