Southampton combined XI: Puel's Saints vs Strachan's side

Michael Svensson

What would a combined XI consisting of the current Southampton side and the one that Gordon Strachan guided to eighth in 2003 look like?

Some Southampton fans have been slightly underwhelmed with how this campaign has gone. Despite the fact that the Saints take a narrow lead into the second-leg of the League Cup semi-final and competed in the group-stages of the Europa League, the fact that they look set to finish well adrift of the European spots in the top flight this term has led some to question current boss Claude Puel.

But how does the current squad compare with the side that Gordon Strachan guided to eighth place in the Premier League and the FA Cup final during the 2002-03 campaign? Here is HITC Sport's combined XI...

GK: Contenders - Antti Niemi, Fraser Forster

Antti Niemi was an excellent shot stopper while Fraser Forster has perhaps not been at his best this season. However, at their respective bests, it is arguably the Englishman who is the better stopper. 

GK Verdict: Fraser Forster

Southampton's Fraser ForsterSouthampton's Fraser Forster

RB: Contenders - Paul Telfer, Jason Dodd, Cedric

Jason Dodd was coming towards the end of his career when the 2002-03 season rolled around, so it was often Paul Telfer who Gordon Strachan turned to. The Scotsman was solid but unspectacular at St Mary's, so once again, the nod goes to Cedric, who is enjoying a good campaign.

RB Verdict: Cedric

LB: Contenders - Wayne Bridge, Ryan Bertrand

Ryan Bertrand has a Champions League medal, and has undoubtedly been an excellent signing for the south coast club. However, Wayne Bridge was really breaking onto the international scene by the 2002-03 season and was clearly beginning to put himself on Chelsea's radar. It is one of the most difficult calls, but Bridge edges the battle.

LB Verdict: Wayne Bridge

CB: Contenders - Claus Lundekvam, Michael Svensson, Virgil van Dijk, Jose Fonte

If this line-up was compiled last season, it would be difficult to find a reason to not pick the current pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Jose Fonte. However, the latter has arguably not been at his best this term, leaving the path clear for Michael Svensson to partner the Dutchman. Lundekvam is unlucky to miss out, but Svensson was excellent under Strachan.

CB Verdict: Michael Svensson and Virgil van Dijk

Michael SvenssonMichael Svensson

CM: Contenders - Matt Oakley, Rory Delap, Chris Marsden, Anders Svensson, Oriol Romeu, Steven Davis, Jordy Clasie

The first thing to say is that based on Oriol Romeu's current form, he is undoubtedly deserving of a place in the line-up. Meanwhile, Steven Davis also stands out for his consistent displays this term and versatility. Of the old guard, it was arguably Anders Svensson who created the most excitement, so he edges out some of the stalwarts who were so influential in guiding the Saints to Cardiff.

CM Verdict: Anders Svensson, Oriol Romeu and Steven Davis

RW: Contenders - Brett Ormerod, Dusan Tadic

Unfortunately, this is not a close battle. Strachan often used a 4-4-2 system with Ormerod playing up front while Tadic is much more comfortable playing on the wing. For that reason, the Serbian makes it into the team over the hardworking forward.

RW Verdict: Dusan Tadic

LW: Contenders - Fabrice Fernandes, Sofiane Boufal

Sofiane Boufal has struggled since joining the Saints in a club-record deal, and has only shown glimpses of his true quality. Fabrice Fernandes was arguably a very similar type of player, capable of brilliance, but also more than capable of going missing for large spells. It is difficult to call, but Boufal's potential suggests that he could become a much better player than the Frenchman.

LW Verdict: Sofiane Boufal

Southampton's Sofiane Boufal in actionSouthampton's Sofiane Boufal

ST: Contenders - James Beattie, Charlie Austin, Jay Rodriguez

Although Charlie Austin impressed before he picked up his injury, this is arguably almost as easy a decision as the right-wing call. James Beattie was sensational during the 2002-03 season, scoring 23 in 38 league games so would lead the line. Austin, and perhaps Jay Rodriguez, would certainly be on the bench for this combined team.

ST Verdict: James Beattie

Here is what the team would look like...

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