Lawrie McMenemy is confident that Southampton can get one over Manchester United again at Wembley more than 40 years after he led Saints to an FA Cup triumph over the same opponents.
In wider terms there’s still some distance in terms of resources between the two clubs, but they meet in the final of another major trophy this year with the gap getting closer all the time.
Nothing will make McMenemy happier though, than to see his old club repeat the success he had, even if he concedes that again Saints are not the favourites this time around.
“Similar to 1976 we’ll be the underdogs,” he outlined.
“I was at the first game of the semi-final against Liverpool and on the day we won 1-0 and they wouldn’t have complained if it had been 2 or 3-0 because we really played well enough for that. I remember thinking as a football person most football people would come away saying ‘pity that’ because they’re not going to win up at Anfield.
“When I look back to 1979 it was the other way around, we played away first but we were losing 2-0 and pulled it to 2-2 to the go and win 1-0. I was thinking if we can draw or hang on at Anfield this time then we’d be through, but we went on and won, and I think if you can do that against Liverpool who are pushing away to get into the top four as one of the best clubs in the league, then why not do it against Manchester United?”
McMenemy, who also led Saints to the final of the League up in 1979, has urged the team to prepare their focus on the 90 minutes or more of football on the day, and try to remain undistracted by events in the lead up to the game.
“When you come out of the tunnel you can see that light at the top and you can hear that buzz,” he explains.
“There was 100,000 people there in my time and you’d line up with the two managers at the front to then start walking and the noise gets louder and louder before it explodes like a beehive, and nobody unless they’ve been there before is used to that.
“You have the walk, the band and the national anthem, and I used to say, get that out the way and, at 3pm, he (the referee) blows the whistle and there’s a football match. If you don’t do that particularly with lads from abroad, it will be new to them and you’ve got to remember that’s what you’re there for, to play for 90 minutes and win.”