City boss Glenn Roeder may well be keeping one eye on events at St Mary's this summer after watching Bolton chief Gary Megson return Polish international striker Grzegorz Rasiak to sender ths week.
The powerful, 29-year-old frontman left Southampton in an almighty hurry on the final day of January's transfer window as the Saints desperately looked to slash away at their wage bill.
In fact, Rasiak's last game for Southampton was the 1-0 home defeat by Roeder's Canaries in which the 6ft 3in striker twice shuddered David Marshall's wood-work either side of the break only for Ched Evans' thumping strike to seal a crucial away win.
But with a ?25 million debt hanging ever-heavier over the heads, so the Saints bundled both Rasiak and Rudi Skacel out of the back door at the end of January – Rasiak to the Reebok, Skacel to Hertha Berlin. At the time, all eyes in Norfolk were on Roeder's chase for Shola Ameobi.
He did, however, drop a hint that one of his big targets had slipped out of his grasp at the very last minute. If only by looking at the deals that were done at the death, the finger pointed in Rasiak's direction. Roeder never confirmed that was his intended target, but he 'fitted'.
“Did we try for someone else? Yes – right up till five o'clock,” said Roeder, speaking immediately after the window slammed shut last January and revealing his frustration at the one that had got away.
“I'm told that he went somewhere else at one minute to five – which has really peeved me off. There's also a rumour that the deal never went through; that it was off at one minute past five. And I hope that it hasn't. Not that I'm vindictive, but I hope that it hasn't…”
If Rasiak was, indeed, 'the one', that deal did, indeed, go through.
But having just sold Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea for ?15 million, Rasiak was always likely to be batting on a sticky wicket as far as the Reebok faithful were concerned and it proved a less than fruitful move with the Pole making just two starts in a Bolton shirt as he played second fiddle to another ex-Saints hero, Kevin Davies.
With their Premiership status secured for another season, Megson revealed on Tuesday to the local Press that three of his loan signings – Danny Guthrie from Liverpool, Mikel Alonso from Real Socieded and Rasiak would all be returning to their 'home' clubs this summer with no, full-time deals looming.
“They're all going back – and they go back with our thanks,” Megson was reported as saying, with the expectation now that Megson will be allowed to buy big up-front – particularly given the fact that Anelka's strike partner, El Hadji Diouf, made it abundantly clear that he was intent moving on following that 2-0 win over Sunderland that sealed their place in the top flight.
What Rasiak is actually returning to at St Mary's is the other interesting question – an on-going shambles, is the short answer following the return of ex-chairman Rupert Lowe and Co to the helm.
With the prospect of an Extraordinary General Meeting in the air, the lengthy twists and turns to the St Mary's boardroom saga came to another head this week as Lowe, Michael Wilde and Andrew Cowen – still on the Plc board – returned to the board of the football club with Wilde installed as the new chairman.
Lowe – the man who famously added England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward to the Saints coaching team – issued a stark warning on his return as to the on-going financial plight at the football club.
“It is good to be back,” Lowe, told the official Southampton website this week. “But there is a big job to do.
“People have to realise this club has got serious financial problems.
“I don't want to rake over old ground and talk about who did what and why we are in this situation, but the fact is that over the last two years this club has lived a life far beyond what it can afford.”
All of which, sources close to the South Coast club insist, means that Rasiak – reportedly one of the top wage earners on ?14,000 per week – will not be long for that parish as Lowe and Co look to slash away at the first team wage bill from the start.
The Pole still has at least a year to run on his original, Saints deal after moving to the South Coast from Spurs for ?2 million in the summer of 2006. In fairness to then manager George Burley, he repaid his faith with 24 goals from his 45 Championship starts for the Saints – a better than one in two return.
Certainly on the evidence of his display against Norwich that night, he proved a real handful – and at 6ft 3in has the kind of physical presence that various Canary managers have long been looking for. The fact that he didn't set the world alight under Megson at Bolton might come as no surprise – stuck in a hotel, under a new manager in the midst of a fraught relegation fight, few players take to that situation like a duck to water.
As we said, he also had to step into Anelka's shoes – no easy ask of anyone. He could, in short, simply be one of those 'In-betweenies…' that Roeder has set his heart on.
If nothing else, his whereabouts come the end of the summer will be one to watch.
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