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Saints win would turn a few heads
If Saints win at Old Trafford tomorrow it will do more than just maintain their position in the top four of the Premier League.
It will also make much of the country sit up and take greater notice of the club.
Saints’ start to the season has been excellent and there is already a sense of intrigue beginning to develop around it.
How have they done it? How long can they maintain it for?
Some may point to the club’s fixture list and argue that their success is partly down to a kind set of opening games.
While it is true they are yet to face one of last season’s top four sides, they have been to Anfield and won, while they have beaten good West Brom and Swansea outfits.
Even with the issues currently facing the defending champions of English football, a win at the home of Manchester United would mark out Saints’ opening to the season as more than just a good start.
It would be a signal that they are a force which should be taken increasingly seriously.
It is a game that will certainly represent a stern test of their ambitions.
Within their own walls, there have already been plenty of declarations of serious intent.
Goalkeeper Artur Boruc has said more than once that he is aiming for the Champions League this term.
Saints’ honorary president Terry Paine has also backed the view that a top-four finish is possible.
It is hard to shake the feeling that will be a bridge too far, and it is doubtful that even a win tomorrow would have many people backing them for a Champions League spot.
But the greater point is that Saints have become an increasingly ambitious club, and are confident of regularly challenging the Premier League’s elite teams – and that is a tremendous sign.
There is, obviously, a good chance they will lose tomorrow, but the mere fact they are now travelling to places like Old Trafford with a genuine sense of hope says a huge amount about the progress they have made, and are seemingly continuing to make.
Tomorrow, that feeling of hope will be partly helped by the perception that United are, for the first time in years, vulnerable at home.
The legendary presence of Sir Alex Ferguson, which provided them with such a wonderful comfort blanket, is now gone.
With him in charge, there was always a sense that things would be ok for United.
Now, though, that certainty has been removed, and a stuttering start under David Moyes has not helped matters.
Opposition sides feel there are a few weaknesses in the United team they can exploit, and, perhaps most crucially of all, the departure of Ferguson has seen the fear that enveloped so many visitors to Old Trafford start to dissipate.
West Brom have already been richly rewarded for a positive approach there this season, winning 2-1.
Even last term, Saints ran United extremely close, drawing high praise from Ferguson, who said that, on their second-half performance, Pochettino’s men had been the best side to visit Old Trafford all season.
The challenge for them now is to not only replicate that performance, but turn it into a positive result. If they do, then the spotlight will start to shine that bit brighter on them.
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