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Time For Positivity In The Saints Supporter Base
Friday, 22nd Jun 2018 09:33

On the last day for renewing season tickets, it is a good moment to reflect on what Southampton Football Club have achieved over the past few years and look to the future with positivity.

Today see's the final day for the renewal of season tickets and judging by social media there are going to be a fair few who have not renewed and that is their choice.

But the rest of us have to continue the journey without them, just as we had to do when the club was relegated to League One back in 2009.

Many of those who are telling the World why they are bailing out of season ticket renewal tell social media how they supported the club through thick and thin and many describe Markus Liebherr as our saviour and hanker for those halycon days.

But in many respects the legend is a little removed from the actual reality, no one can deny that Markus Liebherr saved Southampton Football Club, indeed perhaps those who are quick to point that out but even quicker to criticise his daughter might wish to reflect on what she has done and how Markus himself would be horrified at the abuse she is receiving now.

But his arrival did not bring a great upsurge in support, an average of 17, 849 watched us slip to administration and relegation to League One, the following season with all the feel good factor only an average of around 3,000 more sat in the stands alongside Markus.

Since then literally every season has been better than the previous, right up to the season just gone, our first season where we haven't improved, although ironically it did offer our first sight of an FA Cup Final in 15 years and only our second FA Cup Semi final in over 30.

But as great as the time has been since our return to the Premier League, every summer since 2014 has seen negativity from the supporters who whilst understandably are not happy about star players leaving, seem unable to grasp the reality of the situation and the difficulty the club have in keeping players in the modern game and indeed keeping the club in the Premier league, the Championship has many clubs who have spent more money than Saints, have better resources but have failed.

Hopefully last season was a blip on the landscape, there can be no real excuses for it, but it was our first poor season in almost a decade and if you call 2016/17 a failure just because you weren't entertained then you need to look back at the history books, top 8 finishes and cup finals haven't exactly been plentiful over the last 133 years, let alone in the same season.

But my main gripe is the fact that we have allowed this mood of negativity to take over, there is barely a story about the club where a large minority of supporters cannot help making sarcastic comments, about Katharina Liebherr, Gao Jisheng, Les Reed or Ralph Krueger.

I don't know what they expect from any of these individuals, Katharina Liebherr has done nothing to harm this football club, her and her family have been it's saviours, but lets get this right, she is Markus's daughter, you cannot praise one and damn the other, she picked up the club in the aftermath of his death and had to revamp it again.

Gao has done nothing wrong except invest a large part of his money into it, a far larger part than it seems some of our own supporters are now willing to, yes he has not said much so far, but the club in no different from Markus's plans for it, he never intended it to be anything other than self suffcient and that is the best way to be.

Gao has the resources to built this club up, but that isn't done by continually propping it up by ploughing money into it, I do not know his intentions any more than anyone, however too many are willing to damn him without any evidence to the contrary, football is littered with owners who talk the talk but end up never walking the walk, the only thing Gao has shown is that he appears to think that the club is well run and at the moment there is no need for big changes, but to evolve it over a period of time.

Les Reed is perhaps the biggest villain to many, yes he has made mistakes and last season was perhaps his biggest in the appointment and then failure to sack Mauricio Pellegrino, but sacking Pellegrino would not have guaranteed survival as the three relegated clubs who did sack their manager found out, hopefully Reed will have learned a hard lesson, the fact that preceding this season we had just watched the longest period of continuous top ten finishes in our history should man that he is given some leeway.

Finally Ralph Krueger, most who slag him off haven't a clue what his job actually is, again he has presided in building the foundations of our commercial success over the last four years, he will have learned lessons as well.

But sorry to digress, all this negativity is dragging us down, it is time to draw a line in the sand and look at the bigger picture, if you don't want to be part of that picture then fine, but let the rest of us get on with it, you don't wan't to be at St Mary's every weekend then fine, talk on social media about your golf or whatever else you are going to do instead, don't keep on about how bad things are, I'm sick to death over the last week of people getting all indignant about Dusan Tadic leaving when for the last three years they have done nothing but complain about him.

For those of us that have renewed our season tickets it is time to create a mood of positivity around the club, an atmosphere where it can succeed, we have been victims of our own success, but that is the way forward for us, we have to embrace it and work with it not against it.

There are many things to be positive about for the coming season, our failure last season can be pinpointed, we have removed and replaced the main issue and we can move on if a section of the fan base will let us.

For those of us who have renewed our season tickets we are not happy clappers, we just support our football club through thick and thin, I speak to many who feel that way, when I write articles of this nature, it usually pricks the conscience of a few people who post a ranting reply, but most of those who go week in week out quietly tell me I am right, they save their voices for the game itself, they don't tell everyone what great supporters they are, they just get on with it, it is what they do, what they have done for years and will continue to do, it defines them, every club has them, supporting the team is not dependent on results, it is about loyalty through thick and thin.

So for those departing from our midst, I understand your reasons for going, or at least why you are saying them, but please let those of us who are going to continue, do so without the negativity of this past season dragging us down, if you have nothing good to say then say nothing.

This is not a story about being a better supporter than anyone else, at times of course all of us have reasons why we can't go to games either regularly or at all, this isn't about those people, but if I have to explain that, then you probably won't understand how I feel about supporting a football team anyway.

So to those who are staying, let's do what we did in 2009, get behind the club, be positive and remember that what it is all about is supporting the club, 45,000 people talk about how they sat at Wembley with Markus Liebherr in 2010, but for a lot of us, those two seasons in League One were more about midweek games against Hartlepool and Dagenham & Redbridge with less than 18,000 in the ground.

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Trojan_Otter added 09:55 - Jun 22
Superb article.
Far too many supporters of similar minds are abused personally on social media rather than have their opinions debated, hence don't bother to post, leaving one predominant narrative.
Yes, rubbish season last year and 21 months of poorer viewing, but still blooming great compared to 10 years ago and most of the 90s.

SaintBrock added 10:06 - Jun 22
You're living in a fool's paradise Nick which you are entitled to do. It will take more than a few palliatives and a sticking plaster to heal the wounds of the past four years to regain the loyalty of many previously stalwart fans who have walked away from the club during that time. I am friends with many who have found that the habit of watching the Saints is much easier to break than you might think and will never be coming back.

Several of your assertions are drivel frankly! You imply Leibherr the Younger has done no harm to the club yet has walked away with £180m that she could never have dreamed of acquiring in any other way other than the luck of inheritance and left us saddled with an invisible and disinterested owner who probably spends much of his time thinking how best to leverage his asset to advantage.

The days of truly altruistic people like Leon Crouch being prepared to put their own money in to keep the club going are long gone and one suspects that you still have that romantic idealism in mind when you wrote this piece. SFC is little more now than an asset on the balance books of a foreign enterprise.


Toussaint added 10:09 - Jun 22
Its a human reaction I think.when you go on the Saints website for example everything is about extracting money from us.then you see some other teams sites and they are receiving proper info and updates on transfer news etc.I dont join in with the negative stuff but you can clearly see that we have been lied to when the club announced it would be more open to fans, they actually seem to have gone even incognito.we are left in the dark and thats where the negatives come from.the only news we`ve had since an emotionally charged Kruegers interview .the Maddison saga,signing 32 year old players from stoke and child molesting stories about Hig{wont say his name}.I thought the club loves its fans first,so there should of been at least one transfer lined up to appease us.but its the opposite Tadic and Maccarthy are reported to be leaving. but then again I think back to Koemans tweet of the empty training ground and within weeks about 5 players arrived.I dont get that feeling this time,just have to trust in Kruegers words which is not easy to do based on the last 2 the end of the day if my Dad left me something he brought for 12 million I would not be haggling to sell it for 250 of the most irritating Spurs fan I have as a work mate, I see him almost everyday and his favourite line is `` wheres all the money gone`` and I just cant answer the tw at

ItchenNorth added 10:15 - Jun 22
Football is much more enjoyable if you just stay away from Social Media and any number websites you might care to visit (not this one I might add). It's simple; ditch them all. Go to the pub and the match with your friends, have fun, back the team and enjoy the ride.
I've been supporting and attending Saints games for 35+ years; there's little we can do as fans to effect the direction of a club other than back the team on match days. Things are no worse today at the club than they were when I first started supporting them, it's just modern media exposes you to comment instantly. Negativity has always been there, but today you can post it in seconds, whereas in the past you had to be bothered to write a letter to The Echo or The Pink !!!

vanmans added 10:15 - Jun 22
Theirs nothing left to be positive about being a saints fan, the Board have taken it all away. Now to rub salt into the wounds there is talk about selling the best player we have left in Dusan Tadic. People say we must sell before we buy, WHY? What happened to the Van Dyke money and all the other money we have received from player sales and TV money ? Once again this year other teams are buying new players and we just stand still waiting for the transfer window to close.

one_at_a_time_please added 10:16 - Jun 22
Surely fans should react to what the club is doing not the other way round, and at the moment the club is doing nothing.

As far as Kat goes, she has done precisely nothing positive for the club whatsoever just trousered £210m and then sold to any criminal who would buy. She should be thoroughly ashamed of herself given the trust that Markus left her in his legacy. He even left money in trust for the club which she got her lawyers to misappropriate.

CCSFC added 10:19 - Jun 22
One word..... Entitled.

PatientsofaSaint added 11:06 - Jun 22
Entertainment is like good food, you only need one slug in a salad to put you off.
I am interested to see what happens next season, yet realise we are short two twenty goal a Season men. If Fit Charlie might be one. who is the other. with Tadic on his way I hope Josh gets to earn a first team slot. Let's face it if any Saints player scores twenty ,he will make a name for himself.

A_Saint_in_Stoke added 11:09 - Jun 22
I find this post by Toussaint - to be totally in line with my views mainly
"but you can clearly see that we have been lied to when the club announced it would be more open to fans, they actually seem to have gone even incognito.we are left in the dark and that's where the negatives come from" I and others do not want to be negative, and do care passionately about our club, and are desperate for Saints to succeed, but like I mentioned yesterday - when was the last piece of "good news" you may say, Mark Hughes, appointment - ok but us fans CAN NOT work out WHY it took over 3 weeks to seal the deal - when MH and his staff had already been here for 3 months, and when Hughes himself wished to get things sorted quickly - it again smacks of lethargic incompetence by people at board level - along with all the other mistakes of last season, did not look good to fans!

skiptonsaint added 11:22 - Jun 22
I am going to try and remain positive and open minded until the transfer window closes and I can see what we have done.

However I will be very very disappointed if we are down the bottom of the NET spend table again.

That remaining vvd money must be spent plus all profit from players sales and imo a bit more unless we fancy another relegation battle looking at how other teams are strengthening.

I still just about trust Mr GAO, Kat, Ralph and Les but the ball is very much in their court.

saintmark1976 added 11:29 - Jun 22
Nick, the Ugly thrives because it accepts many posters varying opinions and allows adult discussion.Your post gives me the impression of being written in a fit of pique along the lines of if you don't agree with me then sod off.Is that really what you want because if it is you may in the future find yourself with very few contributions from those with differing views to yourself. That outcome may make you happy short term but could well have adverse long term effects on those interested in your excellent site.

On a different note. one at a time please, your post makes some interesting allegations which I would respectfully suggest for your own benefit should be restricted from the written form.

Jesus_02 added 11:57 - Jun 22
Firstly, the term abuse extravagantly bandied around whenever anyone is criticised there is a huge difference.

Secondly, I spent last night watching back to back documentary’s firstly about Garrincha and then the Brazil 82 world cup team. I wonder, when Charles Miller too football to Brazil was his criteria for success a mid-table finish and an appearance in a cup final.

Garrincha, was of course incredibly successful in terms of stats but he was most famed for his approach to the “game” and the fact that he entertained everyone to the point that he transcended brazil intense football rivalries. He was termed "The Joy of the Nation"

The 82 Brazil side didn’t even make the final but where celebrated as the most complete team In the world because of the entertaining style that they played.

If you believe that success is the season that Claude Puel was in charge. Or the policy selling players at rate that defies the ability to create a team spirit. Or allowing a position that prevents fans from identify in anyway with a conveyor belt of talented individuals. Then it’s not just saints that you have got wrong.

That’s not abuse BTW that my opinion and a criticism of the onslaught of meaningless statistics on what is OUR beautiful game.

bstokesaint added 12:28 - Jun 22
Let’s be honest Nick you were only ever looking to divide opinion on this one. I don’t think you can forgive and forget for last season. It was a complete fiasco. A semi-final in a cup cannot be truly enjoyed with relegation worries hanging over you. The selling of players has gone past the point of financing the club’s future. We have developed a culture where players who view as no more than a stepping stone and we are the ongoing joke from rival fans. And yes if we’d won something we could respond in kind, but we haven’t and now half our old team are playing in a Champions League final and we’re losing signatures for Championship players. Cortese was not without his issues, but under him at least we had a clear structure and vision. There was the “five year plan” for starters and we all knew where that was taking us now. Now as fans we don’t know what the club is ultimately striving for and you can’t criticise fans for thinking it’s nothing more than a cash stripping exercise when we have net sales in a record-breaking TV revenue era. It feels like we have lost our ambition and are just prepared to settle. As for Gao I’m not going to stop attacking him until he actually does something. You can’t talk about what he’s ploughed into the club when it is a loan. That’s borrowed money not his own and how do we know he’s even good for it? How is that progression? I agree we had three good seasons back in the PL, but where we are right now is not a good place. We have like five weeks to make some big positive changes or we’re set for another long season. It’s not acceptable.

helpineedsomebody added 12:52 - Jun 22




helpineedsomebody added 13:10 - Jun 22

Jesus_02 added 13:32 - Jun 22
The ONLY people that have actually invested in the club are the fans (inc Crouch)

Everyone else has made A LOT of money.

"..Gao has done nothing wrong except invest a large part of his money into it, a far larger part than it seems some of our own supporters are now willing to" What percentage of his disposible income is this and is it greater than that of a season ticket holder. He will expect a return on this. We are just customers.

"...Ralph Krueger, most who slag him off haven't a clue what his job actually is". Exactly. and why is that? What is "the foundation of out comercial sucess" that he has been working so hard on and does ANY saints fan care if we have increased shurt sales in china when any revinue we get is ploughed back into more meaningless revinue growth.

If they are I suggest that they also "support" Bit Coin by tuning into live stock markets and bying Bitcoin merchendise.


davepid added 15:14 - Jun 22
Good article Nic.

Apart from Leicester we have had a remarkable 10 seasons compared to similar sized teams with a premiership history. Where are Coventry, Sunderland, Derby, Forest, the Sheffield clubs , Norwich and what have West Ham,Palace, Stoke,Middlesbrough achieved that we haven’t.

Back to back promotions, two trips to Europe - 8000 of us in Milan. A cup final and semi , a 8 goal thrashing of Sunderland . Many exceptional games - my favourite the semi final victory at Anfield in 2017. But best of all has been watching ‘our underdeveloped players-of 08/9 ’ ( lallana, Fonte Lambert, schederin and oxalde chamberlain) rising through the leagues and become internationals.


BoondockSaint added 15:16 - Jun 22
Part of being a supporter of any club is the old "'s the Hope that kills you". Trouble with the Saints right now, is we don't feel any Hope at all!

Yes, Koeman had an empty training pitch, but we knew we had a big name manager who would attract talented players, and he did. We had Hope.

But Koeman was replaced by Puel,a no-name (translation: will work cheap) manager who hated players scoring, and benched them if they did. The talented players brought in by Koeman were sold and not replaced. Puel gets fired, and is replaced by a replicant. After all this, it's the supporters fault for feeling Hopeless?

Come on Nick, the negativity and no-Hope mindset the team has developed over the last two years has come straight from the board. The fish rots from the head down.

As I have mentioned in other posts, if it's not Les' fault and he is constrained financially by the owner(s) why has he not walked out the door, gone on to use his talents somewhere else because his reputation is being damaged by the owner(s)?

As for Ralph, I have followed the NHL for decades and I can't think of one team that would be allowed to get away with his smoke and mirrors act.

While season ticket sales decline for the Saints, I bet they are increasing for Bournemouth and Brighton. They may not be the richest or biggest teams in the league, but they give their supporters Hope.


1970 added 15:19 - Jun 22
people other than you nick follow saints through thick and thin except the thin bit happens when people have finally given up on the product or they don't believe the product is value for money, I can agree with both of those things so why cant you nick?
you say "There are many things to be positive about for the coming season, our failure last season can be pinpointed, we have removed and replaced the main issue and we can move on if a section of the fan base will let us" even though good old ralph ratner in his famous speech said he didn't have any reasons for the dismal season and therefore no-one was responsible and thus cant improve so you obviously know more about saints than our not very popular chairman or are you just winding people up while les sits on your lap, why don't you tell us what ralp does then nick and why he keeps blurting out rubbish to foreign journos , the club is being run by a committee of money grabbing numpties that pass on the mantel as soon as the fans get restless and season tickets stool, we as fans don't belong to this as per lack of communication so face up to it nick and get real the fans are entitled to do what they want even if it means not renewing there season ticket

zoso added 18:19 - Jun 22
There are many things to be positive about for the coming season, our failure last season can be pinpointed, we have removed and replaced the main issue and we can move on if a section of the fan base will let us.

Maya Yoshida signed a new contract and no centre half signed. I am over the moon as you are.

cocklebreath added 19:57 - Jun 22
Utter tripe yet again Nicky, you sure your not on the clubs pay roll?

DPeps added 21:46 - Jun 22
The general level of positivity amongst fans typically mirrors the positivity of a club, allowing for the odd exception: i.e. those who are always happy and those who are always on a downer.
When you see more positivity from a club, you'll see more from fans

oldeastterrace added 22:07 - Jun 22
No right minded Saints fan enjoys moaning about the club. However, other clubs are making signings and we are 'struggling' to get deals done by the looks of it. Whilst we are hearing that Tadic is about to leave us! The fact we haven't brought anyone in yet is something that is concerning me ESPECIALLY when we are desperate for fresh blood in a number of positions. We were lead to believe that the club were eager to get business done early this summer, in fact I believe Mr Krueger said this when he finally spoke to the fans after the season was completed and we survived relegation by the skin of our teeth. Yet again it would appear we are being 'outbid' by clubs perceived to be a similar size to us ie Leicester City for one.

Hopefully signings will be made soon and any 'negativity' will be replaced by optimism but if we head into July and we still haven't nailed down some new players then the fans frustrations will increase. We need to remember that the transfer window closes early this summer, so we can't f--k about. If we fail to bring in these new players then Mr Hughes will be fuming I suspect and another relegation struggle will be the result. Just as I am about to post this I see that Saints have agreed a fee for Stuart Armstrong from Celtic. I do not know much about him to be honest we will see if we get this deal done.

warrens76 added 08:56 - Jun 23
G Jesus 02...excellent points, truly excellent and here are mine.

Well here we go again, Tadic out at 14 million player in for half that....VVD out 75 million Carillo in 19 million...BM what's the odds we have lowest net spend again.
SKY increase it's money every year or so in order to make the PL more attractive, albeit we know who they really promote.....our commercial income whilst still far too low is at last worth gate receipts although one does influence the other, if you had 40% more capacity it would eventually follow with merchandising, ground advertising rates etc....the idea that only player sales can finance player buys is another PR coup from the club.....hey fans sure we have 170 million from all our activities but only player sales can be used....really, come on really is that how the rest of the PL operate, the entire point of the SKY money is to make a competition by allowing quality of sorts across the board...SFC cannot buy a VVD we are told, well player sales financing player buys means wages aside we could! ah but we cannot pay high wages, well not Mufco, City, LFC rates no, almost everyone else including Spuds we cold come close to, even CFC are reigning it in and as Abromo's situation becomes sticky, well watch that space.
The Diplodocus in the dishwasher is that we must believe the club has NO money except from player sales, WTF, we must also accept that an owner that can take us to the next level is not there to actually invest any money in the club, sorry Kat that was the PR spin YOU put out, so what is Gao for, what is this next level, very small club?
SFC cannot challenge the giants financially because of our non history fact, however it could change the future and give us some starting by reinvesting everything 'possible' in the club anyone who thinks we are not being used time and again as an immediate cash cow is, well you tell me.

highfield49 added 09:44 - Jun 23
I know that I'm going over old ground here but can anybody convincingly explain to me why the investment of £200m has brought about absolutely zero progress in player recruitment? I'm not one of those people who demands big name, big wage signings but what I do want is a flutter of excitement like those long gone days when the likes of Shiton, Keegan, Case and even Hughes arrived at the club. Rightly or wrongly, for me the last hint of that sense of anticipation was the signing of Martin Caceres and I never actually got to see him play!

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