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How many farewells will we see at Saints v Manchester United?
IT could well be a day of farewells at St Mary’s tomorrow as the curtain is brought down on a memorable Premier League campaign.
Certainly for the visitors, where Ryan Giggs takes caretaker charge of Manchester United for the fourth and last time.
A veteran of 34 trophies for the Red Devils – winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award for the first time in 1992, two years after Matt Le Tissier had lifted the same award – Giggs could pull on a United shirt for the 964th and last time.
Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will definitely be lining up for United for the last time.
Ferdinand, who has played 454 games for United and won 14 trophies, is out of contract this summer and with a new manager coming in – almost certainly Dutchman Louis Van Gaal – the former England star’s Old Trafford career looks over.
Vidic will be making his 300th and last United appearance at St Mary’s ahead of a summer move to Inter Milan.
Another United defender, left back Patrice Evra, could also be playing his 379th and last United game.
Van Gaal’s arrival will herald in a new era at Old Trafford after the club finished outside the top three of the top flight for the first time since 1991.
If they finish seventh, it will be their lowest finish since they came 13th under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1989/90 (Saints were seventh that season).
Of course, the farewells at St Mary’s on Sunday might not be limited to the visitors.
With the United players previously mentioned, we know already they are nearing the end of their Old Trafford careers. If nothing else, age dictates that.
At Saints, though, that is firmly not the case.
Shaw is only 18 while Lallana celebrates his 26th birthday today.
Shaw has a fantastic career ahead of him, and could easily emulate Ashley Cole in winning a century of England caps at left back.
As for Lallana, he is at the peak of his game.
These are not men with their best years behind them, as is the case at Old Trafford.
The manager also.
Pochettino is only 43, one of the youngest managers in the Premier League.
For Saints to prosper, as Lallana admitted in the Daily Echo earlier this week, the club need to keep hold of their best players and well-liked manager.
Hopefully tomorrow will not be a final farewell to the St Mary’s faithful for the manager, for Lallana, for Shaw.
Of course, we will not know if it is or not.
We might not know for many weeks.
Possibly some months.
We might know quicker, though.
That is often the nature of professional football at this level.
We just do not know. The players probably don’t know either.
So much rests on the shoulders of Saints’ relatively inexperienced board.
The likes of chairman Ralph Krueger, who possesses a great ice hockey CV but is a newcomer to professional football at this elite level.
The pressure appears to be on him to try and persuade Pochettino that he stays a Saint.
Whether the manager stays or goes could impact on several of the players.
There could be a domino effect.
Questions, questions, questions ... and at this moment in time, no answers.
Absolutely no answers at all.
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