NEW Huddersfield Town signing Keith Southern reckons he’s swapped one top manager for another after finally being reunited with Simon Grayson.
The 31-year-old midfielder, who both played alongside and under his new boss at Blackpool, was close to joining Leeds when Grayson was in charge there.
While his Elland Road move fell through, Southern is now a fully-fledged Town player and will join up with his new teammates on Monday – even if he will make a farewell appearance in tangerine at his testimonial against first club Everton a week tomorrow.
“It will seem a little strange after 10 years at Blackpool, but I’m excited about joining Huddersfield and really happy to be linking up with Simon Grayson again,” said Southern, who was a key man in the team Ian Holloway took to the Premier League.
“I played alongside him before he became my manager, and they were good times, with a memorable promotion through the League I play-offs before he moved to Leeds.
“He laid the foundations for success at Blackpool before Ian Holloway took things on, and he’s also won promotions for both Leeds and Huddersfield, so it’s safe to say he has a knack for management.
“I know Huddersfield have been knocking on the door for a while, so now promotion has been achieved, the aim is to establish the club in the Championship then kick on, and I’m sure we can do that.”
After a £300,000 transfer fee was agreed between the clubs, Southern, who played 375 times and scored 33 goals for Blackpool, signed a two-year Town deal.
The surprise move came just weeks after Holloway – whom he describes as “football mad and a top all-round bloke” – activated an extra 12-month option on his Blackpool contract.
In addition the Gateshead-born former Everton reserve captain has just moved to a new house in Liverpool with wife Shellmar, who is expecting a brother for their two-year-old son Ryan in December.
“They say never be surprised by anything in football, but the move was a bit out of the blue,” he explained.
“I was on Blackpool’s training camp in Portugal and thinking about the new season with them when I was told Huddersfield had come in and that a deal had been agreed.
“I did come close to joining Leeds 18 months ago, so I had thought about the nuts and bolts of a move back then, and it’s a simple journey along the motorway from Liverpool.”
Southern might well make the commute with Town skipper Peter Clarke, who is based in Southport.
“I seem to have followed Pete around one way or another, because we were at Everton together, then Blackpool,” laughed the man who roomed with ex-Town player Gary Taylor-Fletcher on the Tangerines’ away trips.
“But it’s always good to see a familiar face in a dressing room, and from what I’ve been told, the team spirit here is really good.
“It was the same at Blackpool, and when you spend so much time together, that’s important.”
Having made the jump from League I to the Championship before, Town’s sixth signing since the Wembley play-off triumph over Sheffield United is confident his new club can make a challenge.
“As you’d expect, there are some quality players in the Championship and you do tend to get more harshly punished for mistakes.
“But it’s a great division for both players and fans, and from what I see, we’ve recruited well.
“The first thing is to establish ourselves, then try to push on from there.”