Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Monday February 5 2007
Football supporters have very short memories, and when players leave your club they become public enemy number one. On Saturday at St Mary`s Stadium three players faced their former club, with different kinds of responses.
Rams skipper Matt Oakley was expecting a tougher time from the Southampton fans on his return. Oakley, 29, spent 14-years with the Saints before joining Derby County in the summer. Saturday was the first time back to the south-coast club, and despite the Rams leaving with a 1-0 victory, he was given a warm welcome by the home supporters.
Oakley said: 'What I was expecting was the reception they gave me before the game and to boo me whenever I touched the ball on the pitch but that didn't happen.
'I got a good reception all afternoon and I was really grateful. I thought they would have given me a hard time to put me off my game but that would have just spurred me on a little bit more to be honest.
'It's great to go back there and win, that was the big thing for me.'
Midfielder Oakley made more than 300 appearances for the Saints, and he thought the circumstances in which he left might have upset some Southampton supporters.
'It's strange because when I left it was all a bit messy,' said Oakley.
'They offered me a contract and I turned it down because there wasn't really enough on the table for me to accept.
'I looked elsewhere and spoke to Billy Davies and he came to me with a fantastic offer and a plan of where he wanted to take the club - back to the Premiership. I didn't really feel that from George Burley - I didn't really get that vibe and that was why I left. 'I'm glad I did because we are sitting top of the league.'
The 3,000 Rams fans on Saturday were completely different towards former Derby players Grzegorz Rasiak and Inigo Idiakez, they booed their every touch - in fact the Southampton striker was treated with hostility by some of the visiting supporters.
Poland international Rasiak helped Derby reached the play-offs in season 2004-05, with 18 goals in 41 league games before being sold to Tottenham Hotspur. He was bitterly disappointed at the reception of the Rams faithful. He said: "I spoke with Marc Edworthy, Morten Bisgaard and Michael Johnson, before the game. I've got some good friends at Derby but Derby supporters can come to my home for a few minutes and I will have a few words with them, he joked."
Rasiak, however was impressed by his former club on the pitch, he said: "They are very, very solid at the back. They are strong and it is no surprise that they are top of the league because they have got good players who play very well together, and have got a very good team spirit.
'We put Derby under pressure in the first half and they had some problems but in the second half they held the ball better and passed it more and they were much better.'
The result left the Saints, managed by another former Ram, George Burley, 10 points behind leaders Derby.
Date:Monday February 5 2007
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