CQN’s weekly feature on ex-Celts in the south, featured this week are Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster, Virgil Van Dijk, Aiden McGeady, Gary Hooper Neil Lennon (who is NOT about to return to Celtic), Paul Lambert and Tony Watt…
SOUTHAMPTON boss Ronald Koeman was fuming after Victor Wanyama saw red for the THIRD time this season.
The Dutchman couldn’t disguise his anger after the former Celtic midfielder was dismissed following a reckless challenge in the 53rd minute during the 1-0 win over West Ham.
Wanyama was ordered off after flooring Hammers’ playmaker Dimitri Payet in a similar incident that saw him sent packing in the defeat at Norwich last month.
Asked about the trio of dismissals, Koeman snapped: “That’s too much.
“We already mentioned after the Norwich game, you can’t make that tackle on that place of the pitch.
“It’s the same for this situation. It’s a hard tackle and you give the referee the possibility to give you a red card.”
Despite the sending off, Koeman was satisfied with his side’s performance, particularly that of ex-Hoops keeper Fraser Forster who kept a fifth consecutive shut-out.
The Saints gaffer said: “Forster is a fantastic goalkeeper. He showed that last season, too.
“He’s so quiet, but gives a lot of confidence to the defenders. It’s not a coincidence that when he is back we’ve started keeping clean sheets.
“It’s not a criticism of Maarten Stekelenburg or to the rest of the goalkeepers, but sometimes you have one who has a little bit more luck in his life.
“He came back after a big injury, but he’s demonstrating how good he is as a goalkeeper.
“I’m very pleased with the final result. It was a difficult game from the start but more difficult after the red card of Wanyama.
“But I think we defended fantastically well and, even with one less player on the pitch, we had the best chances to score the second goal.”
Southampton, with Virgil van Dijk also enjoying a good run in central defence, are now up to seventh just two points behind West Ham following victory over Slaven Bilic’s side.
Koeman added: “Our ambition is always to try to do it better than last season.
“That’s very difficult because to end last season in seventh position was fantastic.
“But we have good players, we have a good team we have a really good belief at the moment and a lot of confidence.
“We’re looking forward to the rest of the season and if Leicester can be the first, maybe Southampton can be the sixth.”
AIDEN McGEADY made his on-loan debut for Sheffield Wednesday, but it was another former Celt who took the spotlight in the 2-1 win at Birmingham.
Gary Hooper, who completed a £3.5million deal from Norwich last month, hit both goals to fire the Hillsborough outfit into the Championship play-off zone.
Assistant boss Lee Bullen claimed the success was all down to to the frontman’s goalscoring ability after they had trailed to a first-effort from former Hibs striker Clayton Donaldson.
He said: “Hooper’s first goal was fantastic. Some of the one-touch play on a difficult pitch was sublime. We got the equaliser in 77 minutes and then to go and get the second goal a few minutes later made us ecstatic.
“His goalscoring track record is second to none whether down here or up in Scotland.
“Hooper has proved that again against Birmingham. His finishing was excellent. He has been a great signing for us and he feels really happy at the club.”
Bullen added: “It was a superb game of football under difficult conditions.
“Birmingham got a foothold in the game and caused us problems, but we kept plugging away.
“We have good players and somewhere along the line they eventually find a way back into the game.
“So, that’s us now in the play-offs and we know on our day we are as good a match for any club.”
McGeady, on loan from Everton until the end of the season, had a quiet afternoon and was substituted just after the hour mark.
NEIL LENNON is adamant struggling Bolton will dodge the dreaded drop after beating Rotherham 2-1.
The former Celtic boss is refusing to accept relegation from the Championship is inevitable, despite only goal difference separating them from rock-bottom Charlton on 24 points.
Kaiyne Woolery scored his first goal for the club when he struck in injury time to snatch a precious victory.
That was an unlikely scenario as a 4-0 defeat in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day left them eight points adrift, but in the midst of crippling off-field financial issues, the bid for survival is on.
Lennon said: “It’s a great win and a really important win which keeps us in touch now with some difficult games to come.
“I’m delighted, although I have to admit I don’t think we played particularly well. We have played better and lost games, so I guess we were due one.
“That’s seven points from nine and that’s as much as anyone can have expected under the circumstances.
“We may fail and we may succeed, but we have a fight on.
“I still think we have enough to get out of it, this little spell will give the players a boost and will restore the confidence.
“Hopefully, it will give us a big boost, but our form has been inconsistent, to say the least, so it’s nice to find a bit of form going into the last few games.”
It looked all set for a draw when Jay Spearing’s 65-second opener for the Trotters was cancelled out by former Scotland winger Chris Burke, on loan from Nottingham Forest until the end of the season.
Woolery’s last-gasp effort ensured it was another damaging loss for the visitors, coming just seven days after they were beaten at home to Charlton.
“We coped really well, we dominated the middle of the pitch. They’re a good side and they’re up there on merit, but we put a lot of pressure on them.”