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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


It's part of the territory as a Premiership player that you are constantly in the public eye.

You have to be big enough to accept that not all the publicity you get is going to be positive, all the time.

But some of the attention that has attached itself to my recent drink-driving court case has been a bit out of order.


I made a mistake which I accept I'm paying the price for

I don't have a drink problem, and my manager Gordon Strachan was quick to leap to my defence and confirm that.

Some people would have you believe that footballers go out drinking every night.

I never lose sight of how lucky I am to be playing in the Premiership, and I'm fully aware of my responsibilities.

Those responsibilities are not just to those who watch us and perhaps look to us as role models, but I also have responsibilities to myself.

As the gaffer said, the rewards are so big in the Premiership that we owe it to ourselves as athletes to be responsible.

I made a mistake which I accept I'm paying the price for.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm putting the episode behind me to concentrate on what I'm paid to do - score goals for Southampton.

I must admit, we've struggled to do that this season, and it's not easy to pin-point the reason why.

Liverpool's England striker Michael Owen
It's not easy when things aren't going your way

We're not doing much different from last year when the goals were going in.

It was interesting to see what the gaffer said in the wake of the goalless draw with Charlton about players needing to stay calm in the opposition penalty box.

When the goals aren't going in, there's a danger of any striker being caught in a vicious circle.

In your haste and eagerness to score, there's the danger that you start to snatch at things

All you can do is work in training and hope that you get the break you need in a match.


Michael Owen can't buy a goal at the moment, but nobody would suggest for one moment that he's not a class player

It's often the way that a striker's lean spell will end in the strangest circumstances; a ball will cannon in off his shins, or hit him on the backside and fly in.

When it happen it lifts a weight off your shoulders, and even a freak goal will give you confidence.

Not that I or my team-mates are alone in this.

Michael Owen can't buy a goal at the moment, but nobody would suggest for one moment that he's not a class player.

It's also interesting to see that in the current round of matches, including Monday night's goalless draw between Fulham and Chelsea, 11 Premiership teams failed to score at the weekend.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand proves that manager will pay big money for defenders

The list of those firing blanks included teams who are thought to have potent attacks, the likes of Manchester City, Leeds and West Ham.

Defences are getting tighter and I think that's down to the amount of homework every Premiership team does.

Every team these days sends out scouts to look at the opposition, to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

When the reports are in, they're digested by the manager and coaching staff, and you spend the week working in training to combat them.

It means teams are so much more organised defensively, and more capable of nullifying the opposition.

Defences know where certain players are likely to make their runs, how the ball is going to be delivered to them, things like that.


I said at the start of the season that I didn't think the transfer window was a good idea

None of which makes our job as strikers any easier.

It's probably no coincidence that the biggest transfer deal done in the summer involved a defender, Rio Ferdinand.

Talking of transfers brings me on to the subject of the closing of the transfer window.

I said at the start of the season in one of my first columns that I didn't think it was a good idea.

Teams like ourselves are not able to strengthen until January, which means the manager has to use the players he has, unless he can find somebody out of contract.

It's another reason why we need Agustin Delgado fit. When he is, it will be like a new player for us and hopefully give us a boost.

Even though he's a striker and could potentially be after my place, I welcome the competition.

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


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