|From The Spot - Promotion Again At Last|
Wed 04th May 2011 09:03 by Spot51
Spot takes a look at promotion.
I know the Saints won a promotion or two when I was a kid but they barely
registered in my young mind. The first and only previous one that mattered in my
life as a Scummer was in Spring 1978 (see earlier From the Spot columns).
Saints were top flight when I began following them in 1973/74 but were cruelly
relegated by the new fangled “Three up - Three down” rule at the end of that
season. A four year exile in Div 2 followed but at least this included our
wonderful cup exploits of the mid 70s. Then in the spring of 78 we clambered
over Brighton and Spurs to secure second place behind Frank Worthington’s Bolton
Saints became a fixture in the top flight of English football for nigh on 30
years until the horrors of the “Noughties” saw us drop not once, but twice.
It is not my intention to scratch old wounds and debate why all that happened -
or indeed why we are now, at long, long last on the road back. What happened
happened yet if you put 20 Saints fans in a room to debate our club’s recent
history, I guarantee you’d get 20 different versions of the story - and probably
an ugly ruck too. So bollocks to all that stuff. We are where we are - GOING UP.
Yet we all know the job is not complete. Personally I still feel “out of pocket”
promotion-wise. I’ve witnessed just two promotions to three relegations FFS!
I want my missing promotion, pretty please, to put my football life back in
balance. Love him or hate him, Nicola Cortese, is a man with a plan and if that
plan comes to fruition within his time parameters then I for one will be
But I’m getting beyond myself now - we have yet to savour our current promotion.
We have to make sure Walsall don’t wop us 15-0 on Saturday and let the Terrier’s
back in. Next we have to re-establish ourselves as a Championship side.
Our last spell in the Championship was largely unenjoyable but even that had
some good moments. We got a shot at the play-offs for the first time in our
history. I’ll make an admission here. I was never very confident we’d succeed
via that route and my feeling of gloom was enhanced when Derby turned us over at SMS. Our stirring efforts up at their place were thwarted (why is there no away
goals rule in these games FFS?) and from then on it was downwards all the way!
But now the Saints are coming back. We can attach our pendulum to a different
fulcrum and must learn how to get out of the Championship via the other door
next time. The Championship is a decent league, full of decent clubs and the
prospect of doing battle with them excites me. Let us take a look at the likely
make-up of that division next season.
Those who are already there include Millwall, Burnley, Hull, Leicester, Ipswich,
Watford, Boro, Bristol City, PORTSMOUTH, Coventry, Barnsley, Derby, Palace,
Donny and very probably Leeds. Coming up with us and Brighton will surely be
Huddersfield via the play-offs. In the Championship playoffs we have Cardiff,
Swansea, Reading and probably Forest. Three of these of course will be
disappointed. Difficult to see how these matches will pan out but, if pushed, I
have a sneaking feeling it could be Reading that go up.
Who will come down from the Prem? Frankly I haven’t a clue. With 3 games left
and 9 possible points for the relegation battlers to compete for, a lot of
clubs still have work to do. Stoke and West Brom (10th and 11th) are probably
safe but Newcastle, Villa, Sunderland, Birmingham and Blackburn need a few more
points to ensure safety.
Barring uncharacteristic runs of form, it looks like the current bottom four are
most likely to provide the other three Championship sides for 2011-12. West Ham
and Wolves, currently the bottom two, both have 3 potentially winnable games and could perhaps get clear. Wigan still have to go to Villa and Stoke so their home
game with West Ham has massive significance. Blackpool, just one goal better off
than Wigan, must visit Tottenham and Old Trafford. They look stuffed TBF.
From an entirely selfish point of view, I’d like to see West Ham stay up. They
may well deserve to be relegated but, of the clubs that could come down, they
look best equipped to bounce straight back - they’ve done it often enough in the
past. So I’m hoping West Ham beat the drop and we are playing Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool next season.
As a recently retired gent, I may even consider going to an away game or two
next season. With bigger stadia, I’m hopeful away tickets may be slightly easier
to obtain in the Championship. There are a few grounds I’ve never been to but
mostly we’ll be playing in places I’ve visited before - but not for a long, long
There is no doubt Southampton as a club has what it takes to compete in the
Championship. The question we must address this summer is - do we have the
squad? Hold on tight - it is starting to get rather exciting!