Last night I was fortunate enough to be the only external journalist allowed access to the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award. Yeah, not sure how I managed it either.
Anyway, as great as it was to interview Messrs Bale and Wilshere, first and foremost I am a Southampton man.
One that is proud (if not a tad surprised) to see FIVE players in the official League One team of the season.
So after competing official business I grabbed a word with all award winners other than Alex Chamberlain, who did not attend the event. Below you will find exclusive Q&As with Kelvin Davis, Adam Lallana, Dan Harding and Jose Fonte.
Seems promotion is possible…
Kelvin Davis Q&A
Obviously you were in the team last season, how proud are you to have made it two years in a row?
“It is fantastic to obviously be named in the team for the second year running and, if I am honest, I felt I had a better season this season than I did last season. I am obviously proud to be named in the League One team of the year.”
What is it like seeing four of your other team-mates up on that board with you?
“It is brilliant. The dressing room was bouncing when we let the lads know and it is great to be able to come tonight and have so many of your team-mates with you.”
There are obviously more Southampton boys on there than Brighton ones, so are we able to get second?
“That is the aim and it is the cliché, but clichés were not made up for any reason. It is about winning our next game and it happens to be against Brighton and if we win that then we want to get three more wins which should see us across the line.”
What is the atmosphere in the camp like at the moment?
“We’re very happy. We’re on the back of a good run and OK we lost away at Rochdale but that is a tough place to go midweek. Other than that I think we have something like eight in 10 so we are moving along quite nicely and are full of confidence. We have a couple of injuries but I am sure other teams in our position have the same thing as well. We’re looking to keep the momentum going and get across the line.”
Adam Lallana Q&A
You must be delighted to be honoured to be named in the team?
“Yeah, obviously I am delighted. It is getting down to the crunch time of the season and we’re aiming for promotion. We have five games left and hopefully we can maintain our good form and get promoted.”
Brighton on Saturday then…
“They have already been crowned as champions so hopefully they have had a heavy week and we will catch them on a bad afternoon. It is going to be a big game for them and they are going to want to beat us, and it is a massive game for us but we will prepare as normal and hopefully we will get the three points.”
Injuries taking their toll. You think you will be able to play until the end of the season?
“Yeah, definitely. We have a big squad and we have a week off now because we haven’t got a midweek game. We have been hammered with games recently, playing Saturday then Tuesday, Saturday then Tuesday. The lads will get a couple of good days off to freshen up, get back fit and we will be ready for the last five games.”
How proud are you to see so many team-mates in the team of the year?
“It is an honour, there are five lads on there and we have not even clinched promotion yet. It is an honour to get that kind of respect from your fellow professionals and a privilege.”
Is it a case of what could have been?
“We got off to a bit of a rough start with a change in management and then we had a caretaker manager in. We had a bit of a rough time and could not get the consistency going. But since the new manager came in we seem to be a bit more stable and he has brought is own ideas into the training ground. He had a while to convince the lads and I think we have just settled on gone on a couple of good runs. We haven’t drawn many. We have either lost one or two but then gone on a good run, whereas Huddersfield are 22 games unbeaten but I think they have drawn quite a few. They are still in it but we’re leading the way and it is still in our own hands.”
I am die-hard Southampton fan so I have to ask are you going get promoted?
“Yes, no doubt.”
Dan Harding Q&A
How proud are you to be in this team of the year?
“It is brilliant. It is something that means a lot to myself and the other players nominated and when I heard the news I was really, really happy.”
To see five on the board must be pretty good for team morale?
“Yeah, it shows how strong we are and how strongly we are regarded by our fellow professionals, which is fantastic. As I say, each and everyone of us are proud to receive this award today.”
Does this show what could have been with so many players on there yet Brighton has runaway with the league?
“Yeah, they have had a fantastic season and all credit to them. They have done really well and deserve to be where they are. But it also shows that when people play Southampton maybe they think they have to step up that extra 10 or 20 percent, making our games harder which is something we have had to live with this season. Hopefully we can get over the finish line.”
What have you made of the evening as a whole?
“It has been really nice, really fantastic. The entertainment has been brilliant, the lads have been brilliant and it has been a really great night.”
Jose Fonte Q&A
How proud are you to have made the team of the year?
“I am very proud, obviously. It is always a good achievement and great credit should go to all of my team-mates because without them it is impossible. And many thanks to all the players that voted for me and now I just want to achieve promotion.”
Five players is unheard of and that just shows the quality of the squad…
“Obviously it shows the quality of the squad and it has been a tough season because we did not start well and with the manager being sacked as well there was a little bit of uncertainty. That affected us a little bit but once we got going we are doing well and now we just want to finish strong and get promoted. We have the quality and the talent for that.”
Thoughts on the evening itself?
“It is brilliant. It is always nice to come and have this nice dinner and see all our team-mates and fellow companions. It is just a lovely evening, I really enjoyed it and I will be back next year.”