Brett Ormerod talks Southampton, Blackpool, Preston and Wrexham


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Former striker Brett Ormerod enjoyed a playing career lasting more than two decades. In an exclusive chat with bwin, he discusses the recent fortunes and prospects for some of his previous employers, including Southampton, Preston North End, Blackpool and Wrexham.

Southampton

On Virgil van Dijk (pictured) and whether’s he right to hand in a transfer request…

“You could say it’s the modern-day footballer now. He signed a new deal but, in some ways, contracts sometimes aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Unfortunately for Southampton, they’re often caught between a rock and a hard place as some of their players will want to make – as they’ll perceive it – a step up.

“Van Dijk is on a fair amount of money and there’s no doubt the club will get a huge profit if they sell him and players often seem to get their own way now. Perhaps there needs to be more of a balance between player and club power and the Bosman ruling has arguably put too much control in players’ hands.

“He was happy to sign a contract and one would like to think that he would have wanted to see it out, but situations change in football and heads get turned. The situation with Dembele at Dortmund is an example of what you don’t want to happen whatever club you are, with a player seemingly going on strike in order to try and get a move.”

On where his next move is…

“I think he’s off to Liverpool if I’m honest. A player who is clearly upset and not giving his all for the club can have a detrimental effect on the squad and Southampton are a team that always have a great team spirit and bond. At some point, perhaps there is a temptation to cut their losses and take the substantial profit the move will generate.”

On who could replace him…

“There is always a player in Southampton’s academy/youth-set up that can replace their stars. They are one of the best clubs in the world to bring up their own players. I think they have one or two targets to replace van Dijk. I can’t think of another club that has lost some of their best players as often as the Saints but has continued to perform well – quite simply it’s one of the best run clubs in the Premier League.”

On when this Groundhog day effect stops…

“It’s very difficult for any side outside perhaps of the top six to keep hold of their best players and that’s the case for Southampton. However, even Liverpool with Coutinho seemingly face a massive fight on their hands to keep him as Barcelona are one of the best clubs in the world and it’ll be interesting to see how that develops.”

On the signing of Mario Lemina…

“I think he’ll have an incredibly positive impact. When I was playing at Southampton, getting a player from Juventus was almost unthinkable so to be able to buy these types of player is amazing to see. The way the club has been run allows them to make these signings.”

On letting Jay Rodriguez (below) go…

“I was surprised when he was sold but considering the injuries he suffered, one can understand it. The new manager perhaps may have seen him as surplus to requirements. In my opinion, he’s a very talented player, but to get £18m for him considering how little he’s played is probably good business for Southampton. He may have been a regular but was used sparingly last season. If he’s a squad player and you get that much for him then it’s arguably worth taking.”

On James Ward-Prowse and potential captaincy…

“I don’t think he’ll get the captaincy now, but I would think he’s a captain in the making for the club. He had a fantastic European Championship and he’s getting better every year. He epitomises everything that the football club is about. I hope he keeps progressing at the club. I’d like him to be captain in the next few years, he ticks every box.”

On the sacking of Claude Puel and his replacement, Mauricio Pellegrino (pictured)…

“I was surprised by Puel’s sacking as he got Southampton to eighth place and a cup final and they could’ve won the cup if it wasn’t for some poor refereeing decisions. From talking to the fans when I was down there at the end of last season, many seemed to feel it was the football at St Mary’s that cost him his job; the majority seemed to feel it was too negative, they weren’t scoring enough goals.

“I do think it would have been very hard for the club to get rid of him had he won the League Cup. When I played, we finished eighth and at the time it was one of the best seasons the club have ever had. The ambition of the club has changed, they have higher expectations, but you can certainly understand why some will see the sacking as harsh.

“It’s tough for Pellegrino because the pressure is to play more attacking and free-flowing but maintaining good results. It’s always tough for a new manager but hopefully he can bring the fans entertaining football and some good results.”

On Southampton’s start to the season…

“There’s never any easy games in the Premier League and whilst on paper you’d expect Southampton to pick up points in their first three games, it’s never as easy as that. As far as the first few fixtures go, they should be going for maximum points.”

On his prediction for Southampton this season and key players…

“If they can replicate last season and finish in the top half with entertaining football then it will be a good season for the fans. I’d love to see them going to bigger teams and turning them over. They need to also keep their identity of bringing through youth players into the first team set-up.

“James Ward-Prowse is worthy of that armband and I’m hopeful he can continue his good form from the last few years. Gabbiadini could be a huge player for Southampton if they can provide him with the service; he has proven he can score goals.

“I’d take eighth in a heartbeat.”

Where will Southampton finish this season? BET HERE!

Blackpool

On all the loan signings made by Gary Bowyer so far…

“Blackpool has had that footballing model for ages, they do loan a lot of players and tend to have more than anyone else in the league – they simply cannot afford to keep players long term.

“Gary Bowyer has done an outstanding job to keep Blackpool afloat with everything surrounding the club and he’s worked miracles. I do understand why fans want to stay away from the club with their money not being re-invested into the team. There seems to be no easy solution and it’s a difficult time at the moment.

“The freefall down the leagues was tough to see but Bowyer has steadied the ship and made a massive difference.”

On the achievement of Bowyer compared to Holloway (below)…

“They are different achievements and to compare them would be wrong, but what Gary has done is nothing short of incredible, as was Ian’s job getting them to the Premier League. He had a similar experience at Blackburn, working at a club in a downturn, but he’s a very measured, calm individual and if there’s anyone who can keep the players focused on the season ahead, he’s the perfect man to do it.

“It’s clear that there’s a big impact on the pitch by what’s going on. We know how amazing Bloomfield Road is, but unfortunately there’s been more away fans than home fans and the atmosphere hasn’t been good in recent years.”

On whether Gary Bowyer can put down a medium/long-term plan for the club…

“It’s probably too unstable for him to do so. He can only work on short term. There’s a court case going on with the Oystons and Mr Belokon and it’s involving a lot of money, which will certainly have repercussions on the club whether for good or bad. There’s so much uncertainty that all the manager and players can do is operate in the short term.

“I spoke to a lot of fans who stayed away from the Wembley game because of the situation at the club. It must be gut-wrenching for the fans not to be able to properly support their club – the bigger fight is with the owners.”

On the season ahead and whether they can survive relegation…

“I didn’t watch the Bradford game but I heard that Blackpool were playing brilliant football and were unlucky to get beat. They could well have beaten Wigan. It’s a new squad and will take time to bed in so they might struggle initially. If they can finish around mid-table then that would be good.”

Can Blackpool stay up? BET HERE!

Preston

On Preston’s start to the season and Alex Neil…

“Preston do not have the finances to compete with the bigger Championship clubs, they have certainly punched above their weight. Alex Neil (below) is a great manager and worked wonders with Norwich and was essentially a victim of his own success having not bounced back immediately following getting relegated. My initial impressions are that he’s very grounded and he’ll fit in well at Preston.

“Preston have some really good footballers in their squad and there’s a lot to be optimistic about. Hopefully they can push for the play-offs this year. I think they’re one or two big signings away from making those play-off places. They didn’t sell Jordan Hugill to Ipswich last season which certainly showed their ambition when a few years ago they may well have done. They kept hold of him but they really do need a 20-goal a season striker like they had with David Nugent.”

On signing Stephy Mavididi on loan…

“I think he can do a great job. He had a quiet game against Accrington but he’ll need to bed into the squad. It’s tough coming from under 23s to Championship football. He’s a promising young footballer and there’s certainly optimism for him this season.”

On his prediction and key player for the season…

“I think the key player for them this season is Ben Pearson from Manchester United. He had a fantastic season last year. He’s a player who got better with every performance and if he keeps on going then he’ll be a key player for Preston. You’ve got Hugill but you’ve also got Callum Robinson, who will cause a lot of defenders problems this season – he’s a tricky, pacy winger. It will be tough for Preston to get play-offs this season but hopefully they can sneak in.”

Fancy Preston to reach the play-offs? BACK THEM HERE!

Wrexham

On the past few years for Wrexham and what they have to do to turn it around…

“It’s going to be very tough. Dean Keates is a great friend of mine and we played together for Wrexham in a season where we got 98 points and still didn’t get promoted.

“I think the Conference system is wrong. Two teams should get promoted with a play-off round as well. To only have one team promoted means you’ve got some fantastic clubs in non-league such as Tranmere and Wrexham that can’t get up. It needs to change. It’s an incredibly tough league to get out of.

“Having more teams promoted makes it a better league. There were so many great teams such as Luton and Grimsby that could beat League Two teams when they were in the Conference.”

On whether Dean Keates is the right man to take them up…

“Yes, absolutely. He was captain there for a while, he has the experience as a player and know-how to lead his teams. There’s a lot of frustration at Wrexham because the owner pulled out a few years ago and the fans kept them alive so they’ve struggled as a result. The club has a massive fan base. It’s a league club in everything but name. The expectation from Dean (below) and the players is to go up every season they play in the Conference.”

Who will win the National League? CHECK OUT THE ODDS HERE!

Non-league

On the rise of wealthy non-league clubs like Billericay Town…

“It can be a positive and a negative. It’s a bit of a circus at that level because they have so much more money than the other teams. A lot of fans in non-league like the fact that it’s about local football and you can have a beer with one of the players. It’s not all whistles and bells. With the influx of players such as Jermaine Pennant, Foley and so on, they’ll be out of the league in no time. They are building new facilities, which can be great for the fans.

“Billericay Town will fly up the leagues if the money keeps coming in. Fleetwood did the same thing when they were a real way down the football pyramid but now they’re in the Football League. It seems the owner is a football man and loves the club so if he puts his money where his mouth is, then Billericay will be playing in the Football League soon.”

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