St Mary’s Had a Little Lamb

Can Rickie Lambert be Southampton’s Grant Holt this season?

By Oli Gamp

Since linking up with the Saints, the South-Coast outfit’s star man has finished top scorer in each season; with 21 goals in League One, and 27 goals after the team was promoted to the Championship. There are always doubts whether players can make the transition from the lower leagues to the Premier League, but it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised. A great example of this is Gary Taylor-Fletcher, the only player to have scored at least once in all the top six divisions of English Football.

Taylor-Fletcher proved his worth as one of these players as his journey from non-league to Premier League since the turn of the millennium was rewarded with five top division goals. Having started his career at Northwich Victoria in 1999, he gradually worked his way up the football pyramid over the course of the decade to show that he was good enough to play at any level, and it’s amazing when you
think of all the different players turning out for teams in the Football League who could certainly feature in this
category; yet unknown to the media and public eye. It’s a joy to discover these sort of individuals and it’s a shame that they only seem to gain recognition when their team reaches the Premier League.

Pundits and general football fans alike are always searching for that ‘surprise package’ pre-season. Last year, we were found this in Swansea and Norwich, both defying the odds to not only stay up, but also come inches from finishing in the top half.

You could draw comparisons from Lambert to Norwich’s Grant Holt, who had long been seen as a natural goal scorer as his team embarked on a similar journey; achieving back-to-back promotions from League One to the Premier League; scoring a total of 60 league goals during that period. There
were too doubts raised over Holt’s ability to grace England’s top tier, but these were quashed as he finished as the 2nd best English scorer with an impressive 15 goals. Lambert has scored 47 goals in the past two seasons, without even having played in the Premier League yet.

As one of the promoted teams, Southampton will be automatically among the favourites to go straight back
down, but with the help of their new signings and talisman Lambert, they could yet prove the doubters wrong yet again.

People can be sceptical, but statistics don’t lie; and Lambert’s suggest that he will more than capable of making an impact in the 2012/13 season. Come to think of it, I may just have to put him in my fantasy team.