|Opening Day Of The Season 1997 - Bolton Wanderers|
Tue 07th Aug 2012 09:30
For the fifth consecutive season Saints had a different manager in charge on the opening day, this year it was the turn of Dave Jones.
In terms of water flowing under Southampton's bridge in the previous six months or so, it had been a torrent, the Rupert Lowe era had now started, Graeme Souness had left to be followed by Lawrie McMenemy and in had come Dave Jones with his own entourage to try and stamp his authority on the club.
Whether Jones felt that he needed to show he had an iron fist having little actuial experience, his two years at Stockport being succesful, but on reflection scant preparation for a top flight job, his man management was badly lacking and immediatley demoting fans favourites Maik Taylor and Francis Benali in favour of his two signings from his old club Paul Jones and Lee Todd, did not endear him to the fans or indeed the existing squad, the decision to embarrass Benali further by taking away from him his prized number 3 shirt and hand it to Todd, showed that he was somewhat lacking in certain areas, for the record Todd's Saints career lasted 9(1) games and benali would eventually play 32(1).
The other two new signings were Kevin Davies, who wasnt a Jones choice but signed back in May by Souness who left Saints a very valuable parting gift and Stig Johansen a forward who at £600k for his 3 league games was a very expensive mistake by the new boss.
Off the pitch Saints had a new kit, still traditional stripes, but this time a bit wider with a black collar, virtual plain black shorts and a return to white socks.
Bright sunshine at the Dell saw newly promoted Bolton Wanderers arrive for what was being called the first relegation six pointer of the season by the media, Jones the manager would debut five player on this day, Paul Jones, Lee Todd, young left winger Andy Williams in place of Le Tiss who had broken an arm pre season, plus Davies and Johansen on as subs.
The game would not go well, a disjointed Saints side never really got to grips with the game and it was settled just before the break with a poorly defended goal conceded that many though Jones should have done better with.
But if Saints fans though the season would get better, initially they were wrong, in fairness after Bolton it was a start from hell, all of the eventual top five clubs would be faced, but in truth four points from a single win and draw apiece were not a good enough return from the first nine games leaving Saints firmly at the bottom.
The season would get better, but it was a tale of three portions to it, the first third were we struggled badly, the middle section where we were on fire and won 10 out of 18 with another 3 draws to boot, picking up 33 of our eventual 48 points and the final part which reverted back to our early season form, the warning signs were there for all to see !
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