Gordon Strachan: Leeds would make the Premier League much better

The former Leeds midfielder and Southampton manager looks at the contrasting fortunes of both clubs and dives deep into the problems at St Mary’s…


You beauty! Leeds United were great against Wigan. There energy is fantastic, the players are enjoying themselves.

It’s amazing when, there’s not a big change in the squad, it’s just when players realising that running and closing down is a huge part of the game, they completely enjoy it.

You get a kick from it, you think ‘wow, this is wonderful’. Add skill and ability, and you’ve got a great side.

Leeds would add to the Premier League in a huge way, I mean huge. It’s a club that should be in the top league.

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You have to earn the right to be there, of course. Would they make the league better? Absolutely.

Some clubs come up and are there because they deserve to be – but do they add to it around the world? I don’t think so.

When Leeds get there, there’s millions that’ll be added to the TV screen around the world, the stadium fills the screen when you watch, the noise and colour.

That’s what the Premier League is all about. You’ll get that at Elland Road.

Southampton’s struggles started with Van Dijk sale

I think Southampton’s struggles started when Virgil Van Dijk decided he wanted to leave, last season. It doesn’t matter how big a club you are, if there’s a big influence who wants to go, it can be really unsettling period, it affects everybody.

I’ve no way to know 100%, but he was such a huge personality there, and that would’ve had an impact. Since then, Southampton as a club have gone backwards rather than forwards. Not in serious reverse speed, just backwards.

They’ve lost probably the best defender in the world – you’ve seen the difference he’s made to Liverpool, suddenly they’re title challengers with him – and now the Saints are struggling to score goals. That stems from him going, too.

When you have a defence with Van Dijk in it, you know as a forward that you can get away with a 1-0. Him going changes that, because now you think ‘we’re going to lose a goal or two, so I need to score’.

There’s a mental pressure that comes on individuals who are responsible for scoring goals.

I saw them at Leicester early season, and thought they were doing a lot of things right, but they couldn’t take their chances. And that’s been the story of their season, it’s set in.

They have it all to do, but it’s not just happened over the last few months, it’s been since Virgil went.

The fact is, there’s no way you can keep replacing people that good, as they’ve been doing. It’s impossible to be the only ones to spot the right player.

Their scouting is good, but it wasn’t a surprise to me when they signed Van Dijk – he looked like a big bully playing with wee kids in the playground up in Scotland.

From then, because they’re not winning games, they’re feeling like they could lose a goal at any time. We’re not seeing enough winning goals from the strikers, just consolations.

I think they’ll have enough in their locker to survive, due to the fact that there are three or four teams worse than them in the league, but they need to get a couple of wins on the trot to move away from that group, who will get cut adrift soon.

Mark Hughes has been in the Premier League for a long time. There’s a baton in the Premier League where you hand it over after you get a good result for someone else to get stick and criticism.

When Huddersfield beat Fulham, David Wagner just walked in and handed it to Slavisa Jokanovic, telling him: “you’re on, mate – that’s yours for a week, see how you get on”. How quickly you pass on that baton determines how you survive.

Mark will know that, it’s no surprise to managers when they’re under pressure – dealing with that stress is what managers earn their cash for.

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