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Poch has taken Saints to another level, says ex-Pompey boss
6:00am Thursday 8th August 2013 in Football
Mauricio Pochettino has taken Saints “to another level” – according to former Portsmouth boss Steve Claridge.
The Argentinian was a surprise appointment when Nigel Adkins was sacked in January.
But Claridge believes the former Espanyol boss has improved Saints.
“I like him as a manager, he’s taken them to another level,” he explained.
“He came at difficult time so what he’s achieved is great.
“They’re going after teams, they are playing at a tempo I have not seen them play at previously.
“There’s more clarity to their play.
“There was speculation whether Southampton play from the back or get it forward, but there is clarity now of what they do when they get the ball in certain areas.
“He got some half decent results and he saw them to safety.”
After finishing 14th in their first season back in the Premier League, Claridge expects Saints to consolidate still further in 2013/14.
“I expect Saints to finish in the middle somewhere,” he explained.
“A team like Southampton will want to establish themselves.
“It would be difficult to pitch them into a European space just yet, but I don’t really see them getting relegated.”
Claridge and Pochettino both took to management at an early age.
The former became player-manager at Fratton Park when he was just 34, while Pochettino was also in his thirties when he took the management position at Espanyol in 2009.
And the BBC pundit, a commentator on the Football League Show, expects Pochettino to have brought in more new signings by the time Saints go to West Bromwich Albion on August 17 for the season opener.
“He doesn’t need six or seven new players, maybe just two or three with that little bit of quality just to fill it out a little bit. That’s all and they’ll be fine,” Claridge explained.
“He’ll look to improve the squad. When you come as close as they did to relegation then, of course, there will be areas they want to improve.
“He’s had that marker, so he knows what’s not good enough and what is.
“There might be room for another wide man in the squad.
“There will be room for another forward, maybe of the ilk of Lambert.
“They knock the ball about, they hit the ball on the diagonal for Lambert at the far post and play off him.
“But they proved that they can play without him as well, so that’s a good sign.
“I don’t see them having a problem this season.
“The next thing is to entertain the fans, make sure you play some good football and go on a cup run.”
The much-travelled Claridge has been on his travels promoting this season’s Capital One Cup.
He scored the winning goal for Leicester in their 1997 final success against Middlesbrough, and is convinced of the importance of a good cup run for a club like Saints.
“It (the Capital One Cup) is a huge opportunity for everyone,” Claridge emphasised.
“There’s a place in Europe at the end of it and that’s where Saints could sneak in.”
Saints will today find out who their second round opponents in the Capital One Cup will be.
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