He wrote in his Daily Mirror column: "They (Southampton and Liverpool) are the two sides that have been the surprise packages of the season so far and they appear to be the ones playing with the most freedom.
"They look fresh and eager and I think they are both being helped by the fact they don't have to worry about European football this season.
"Of course, you want to be involved in the Champions League and the Europa League, if you can, but sometimes you can use your absence from those competitions to your advantage.
"Nobody really considered either of them - especially the Saints - legitimate contenders for a top-four place this season.
"But they are reaping the benefits of not having to adapt to a new manager, as many of the leading clubs are having to do.
"It has got to the stage now where, if they buy in January, I think both might have a real chance of staying up there.
"If they do that, the rewards could be considerable. They have got themselves in position. Now they have to try to seize their opportunity."
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