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Saints Fans Need To Get Behind The Team And Stop The Hysteria
Wednesday, 26th Sep 2018 09:34

Everytime Saints concede a goal or lose a game the knives are out on social media and it creates problems not solutions.

The defeat at Liverpool once again brought out mass hysteria on social media from supporters who again had plenty of opinions about where the problems lie, but not a clue about the solutions.

When I write stories such as this one, the first stock answer I get is that it is not the supporters fault and I shouldn't blame them !

That is 100% correct, I have never said that the supporters are to blame for anything that goes wrong, however I have always maintained that they have to be part of the solution not part of the problem and that means firstly giving the team a chance to settle in and show their worth and secondly getting off the back of certain individuals in it.

I seem to spend half my time these days writing stories that in pointing out certain facts have to point the finger of blame elsewhere and that is not good either.

Wesley Hoedt seems to be the whipping boy of many, yet has he really put too much of a foot wrong ?

The answer is not really, yes he got an own goal at Liverpool where he could have done better, but in that incident he was one of four Saints players who were just as culpable and he was not at fault for any of the other two goals.

Against Brighton Hoedt didn't do much wrong, indeed he made the tackle of the match in the first half, but still the knives are out, Jannik Vestergaard will hopefully become the player he sometimes looks, but in the central pairing he has cost us more goals than Hoedt so far.

But they both need time to bed in, like it or not they and Benarek are the future of the club, those that slag them off forget the soft goals we have conceded since both Fonte and VVD left, they forget who was at fault and why we had to buy new, perhaps neither Hoedt of Vestergaard are truly the future, but going back to the past certainly isn't, these two have to be given a fair chance to forge a partnership, then and only then can we judge, certainly not after only a handful of games together.

Mark Hughes has just as big a task as last season, he has to try and rebuild confidence and morale that has been destroyed over two seasons, that clearly can't be done overnight and this is where the fans come in.

A defeat against the most in form team in Europe at the moment is not the end of the World, 3-0 doesn't look great on the scoresheet, but those at the game will tell you it wasn't the rout that those who have only seen the highlights will tell you, Liverpool were restricted to only 4 shots on target, that should tell us something about our defending.

We defended far worse at Anfield when we won 1-0 in the 2nd leg of the League Cup semi final.

But both of those games are in the past now, we have to move forward and this is where the fans can truly help or hinder, we have to create that siege mentality that got us through the bad times in the 1990's, back then we did plenty of moaning and protesting, but we also did plenty of supporting, we knew the squad wasn't strong so as supporters we did our bit and that enabled us to survive in the top flight and move to St Mary's.

It has always been a bumpy ride for Saints, but we have to look at what the Premier League is these days, just how much ahead of us the Big Six club's are in every respect and look to how we can compete.

We won't always get it right, there is not a football club in England that does, but because we aren't getting it right doesn't mean that we are getting it totally wrong.

For some everything is rotten about the club these days, even when there is no evidence to suggest otherwise, just because things aren't perfect on the pitch doesnt mean the wole club is failing.

This is not happy clapping, it's just reasoned thinking, Chairman Gao is royally slagged off by some, despite the fact that all he has done is come in and look to evolution rather than revolution.

Ralph Krueger as Chairman has overseen a massive overhaul over the past 4 years or so, just because one of his heads of department hasn't done the job properly doesn't mean all the other departments are failing.

But supporters are only interested in one thing and that is what they see on the pitch, nothing wrong in that, but today's supporter takes to social media and soon rumour and innuendo seem like absolute truth.

So we stand at a threshold, we got away with it last year, we have a reprieve, do we grasp that reprieve and accept that things take time to rebuild, or do we keep smashing away at the foundations day in day out to help them eventually crumble.

No one is saying that when things go wrong there should not be protest, there should not be dissent, but last year was our only bad year out of the last five seasons, the club deserve a chance to turn it round.

At the games the support has been superb both home and away, especially away, the supporters have got behind the team, but you go on social media and it is constant sniping at everything concerned with the club, mainly from people that spent most of last year telling anyone that would listen that they would not be renewing their season tickets this year because they were not being entertained.

I have nothing against that, it is everyone's right to do what they want, but if you want to do that then don't keep on about it after you have gone, I'm sick of it, I would rather be left in peace to get on with supporting the club, if you care enough to comment on social media then care enough to turn up and support the club when it needs it, anyone can support a football team when it's doing well, it's when the chips are down that counts.

So whilst I'm certain this rant will change nothing on social media, hopefully for those of us who go to the games, it will help us focus, we need to make the loudest voices heard saying "Come on Saints" and not "F***ing hell Saints" as the latter seems to have become the default method of backing the team long ago.

If you disagree with me, think that everything is rotten about the club and tell me that you love the club, but can't back Krueger & Reed etc etc, then if you care do something positive about it, in the 1990's we did and changed a lot of things, but back then there was no social media so we had to get off our arses to protest and there don't seem too many willing to do that these days !

Photo: Action Images

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SonicBoom added 09:54 - Sep 26
It's not the supporters fault and you shouldn't blame them.....

warrens76 added 10:09 - Sep 26
it's a rotten administration, deceitful to the core, carry on clapping.

ItchenNorth added 10:20 - Sep 26
Spot on.

One thing I would say about Social Media is; don't go looking for the comments. Stay away from the #SaintsFC timeline, block anyone who makes endless idiotic comments; it makes the experience on such platforms as Twitter etc. far less infuriating!

underweststand added 10:27 - Sep 26
There are many issues here Nick - not least salaries. Despite the 100mill. TV money, Saints like many Prem.sides can't match £100K /week salaries that the Top 6 pay out regularly and in so doing "emasculate" smaller clubs by buying their best talents. Our list of players sold is longer than most and the hardest job is finding replacements for the Pelle's and the Mane's that we have not yet replaced.

It doesn't take a maths genius to work out that a 4 year contract at (say) 60K/week creates a "debt " of £12 million that the club must honour. Now multiply that by 11..(or even 24) and see the financial burden before we look at transfer fees for new players.

In signing "younger talents" from Euro clubs we don't commit to enormous fees, or salaries and trust that good coaching will bring them up to a proper Prem. standard. It takes time and that isn't easy where we lose points in added time when we have been the better side for 89 minutes. Losing to Liverpool wasn't a disaster-it was an inevitability given the way they have started their season, (even if we gifted the game to them with some sloppy goals).

It's down to MH and his coaches to find the right formula and make it work. We still haven't solved the striker problem - and as has been much-discussed those defensive lapses have cost us dearly (points-wise). That's learning the hard way.

Speaking to some of our younger /newer fans - I'd say that next January I celebrate 60 years as a Saints fan-and life has been a darn site worse for much of that time. Recalling our previous 27 seasons in the Prem. Saints were lucky to finish in the top half and frequently went to the last games (ala Swansea) before surviving for another season.

"Fans" who don't like the reality can became "long-distance" Man U supporters, although this morning even they are " in mourning" for another reason. Even spending £70-100 million on every player is no guarantee of "success" even for Mourinho.

For the last few seasons we have been "punching above our weight" and it may take another 2-3 years before our present squad is up to scratch. That will require patience from some who, obviously (from some posts on here) don't have that capacity. COYR!


ChristchurchSaint added 10:40 - Sep 26
Whilst I agree with your thoughts about social media (and I do agree 100%- I think it is something which we will look back on and realise what a pariah it should have been seen as), I still believe that there is something fundamentally wrong with the structure of the club. I hate to go back 10 years, but when we look at the fanfare and positivity of the Markus/Cortese era, there is no comparison to the atmosphere now. Even when we were in Div 1 with Nigel Adkins in the hot seat, most people were happy with the club, and saw a bright future. Now, with an almost invisible owner, who still hasn’t given a statement of his intentions, a chairman who has an attitude that they are doing nothing wrong, and a director of football/vice chairman who seems still to control the everyday running of the club, the whole atmosphere is as negative as I have seen it in the 56 years that I have supported my beloved team. The club, as a whole, should realise that 25000 people spend their hard earned salaries/savings to support their club and are fully justified in expecting to get a fair return for it.

Lymosaint added 11:14 - Sep 26
Thanks for this Nick - well reasoned, pragmatic, realistic, positive and intelligent.

Sanguin added 11:21 - Sep 26
Christchurchsaint, I don’t think you can compare the atmosphere today to that of ten years ago. When Markus/Cortese came in they saved the club, we were coming out of a historic low and had narrowly avoided losing the club all together. The future couldn’t be anything but positive compared to that. But it was better than that, because we all saw the investment in the squad which was significantly above what most teams in League One can afford.

Today, we’ve been in the Premier League for six years. We recorded consecutive top ten finishes and our best Premier League position ever. We’ve been in Europe. The fans expect us to beat teams outside of the top six, to be competitive against the big six and to push for European places. It’s the expectation that’s killing us and leading to discontent. That expectation and discontent filters through the fans to the players. It’s the reason that after six years we’re the team that has been in the Premier League the eighth longest. We’re jaded. No team has a right to be here and if we don’t get behind the team at games then we won’t be here much longer.

I do think that reducing season ticket prices would be a fantastic goodwill gesture though and if framed correctly could really help to improve the atmosphere at games.

SaintGeorge added 11:50 - Sep 26
Yup - just smile and grin at the changes all around. It's all brilliant.
Do not attempt to question the team selection.
Shut up.
Do not attempt to think, or depression may occur.
Stay in your homes.
Everything is brilliant at Southampton football club.
Anyone caught doubting the wisdom of the managerial staff will be shot
Remain calm, do not panic.
Your neighborhood watch officer will be by to collect urine samples in the morning.
Anyone caught interfering with the collection of urine examples
will be shot.
Stay in your homes, remain calm.
The number one enemy of progress is questions.
Mark Hughses peace of mind is more important than individual will.
All sports broadcasts will proceed as normal.
Use only the drugs prescribed by your supervisor.
Shut up, be happy.
The comfort you demanded is now mandatory.
Shane Long is the best footballer in the country
Do NOT question it.
Be happy.

helpineedsomebody added 12:09 - Sep 26
nick you need to MAN UP

redwight added 12:39 - Sep 26
Saint George. A few cheap laughs? Well possibly, I suppose, depending on your sense of humour. What is absent is any sensible response to a post which, as Lymosaint says, is reasoned, pragmatic and intelligent.

saintjf added 12:43 - Sep 26
We are still recovering from last season when we were lucky to stay up. It is very difficult to put things right in such a short time. The team is still short on quality. Hopefully all the new boys will settle in fully and make a difference. Securing comfortable premiership safety is not ambitious but it is probably a fair measure of success compared to last season. It feels a a more positive season to me but it still does not feel 'right' and is very much work in progress. However if there is no real progress then hopefully solutions will be found quicker than last season.

bstokesaint added 13:02 - Sep 26
Got to say I agree with Christchurch on this one. Nick, I’ve supported this club for less time than you admittedly – mainly because you are older, but I’ve followed loyally for over 30 years and this is the most miserable I have been. Conversely the years when we came up from League 1 and the Championship and the first 2-3 seasons back in the Premiership was the best era for me. I’ve never felt so proud. We had a young team with loads of energy, exciting European coaches (and Adkins – and I don’t mean that disrespectfully – he did an excellent job for us and is a lovely bloke to boot), we feared no-one and pundits couldn’t handle us as we dared to challenge the top 6. Koeman even went as far as to beat Man U, Man C, Chelski, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs in the same season. I mean that doesn’t happen at Saints, but it did..!

But sadly that is all history. We’ve moved into a new era and serious damage has been done. I fear the “Southampton Way” has left us damaged beyond repair. This isn’t “hysteria”. Just open your eyes. We’re going through managers like toothbrushes and with each one they become the scapegoat, but not before they all have a chance to bring in a duff record signing, many of whom are now out on loan at some fairly average clubs. You’d have to question how many of them are Black Box signings, or have been given exemption status to appease the current manager. We’ve wasted an absolute stack of cash on some real duds. I’m going to go back to the ‘golden era’ here too, but if you consider the money we have spent on the likes of Osvaldo, Ramirez, Clasie, Boufal and Carillo then the money we’ve gained from recycling talent has effectively gone in the black bin. And that doesn’t include some of the non-performing players in the current squad. We know who they are, so do they, but I won’t resort to name and shaming current players. As for the decent ones they don’t see us as anything more than a stepping stone to something bigger and better.

You ask what can be done, like we should all just get on with it and pretend nothing is “rotten”. We can just keep switching managers and all will be well, but we have lost our way. What needs to be done is that the club needs a huge overhaul. We need to admit that the Markus golden era is over. You’re right Gao has done nothing ‘wrong’. But he’s done nothing right either. I suspect he has no cash and this may more of a personal project than one that benefits the club and the fans. I would love to be wrong, I’d freely admit it too. I hold nothing against Kat, but I think bringing Gao in has been a bad mistake. We should have thought bigger. The problem we have is that we can’t really do anything about the bigger picture. We can continue supporting the club as best as we can, but I totally emphasise with any fan that says they’ve lost interest. It’s hard to watch right now. We’ve brought this on ourselves and now we’re having to live with the consequences. I can’t see team performances changing much until the culture changes at the top.

saintpp added 13:03 - Sep 26
Good balanced post Nick Those fans who continually go on about how badly the club is run and how awfull new players are (after just few games in the pl) are drip feeding negativity into the fan base which in turn seeps onto the terraces and into the the players.
Our fans seem to expect new players to be the finished product when the finished product costs 3 times the amount we pay and thats if those kind of players would even come to us.
Its non productive and anyone who doesnt agree is then labeled a happy clapper.
Its just having a bit of faith and pateince which is sadly lacking.
Somebody posed a question 'what would you think of Reed if saints finished in the top 6 this year' and the answer was 'that we did it in spite of him not because of him' Well thats the mentality you are up against with articles like this.
Gao is also under fire just because he hasnt splashed humdreds of millions or come out with some statement blowing smoke up peoples @rses that will be in the CL in a few years.. Even if he did the same people would then laugh at him. The Wolves owner has said something similair well easier said than done hope for him their fans our more patient than ours.

Travellingfan added 13:25 - Sep 26
I support any call to focus on supporting the team, rather than the apparent focus on passing judgement through a lens of negativity. We as supporters can and do make a difference. History shows for every comeback against Liverpool (what a game to remember!) we have gone silent when it mattered (Chelsea last season). The awful mocking of "that's why you're going down" still haunts me! 'Southampton til I die' means what it says. I run a small business I can't give my best staff what the big boys might offer so I compete in anyway I can -and take the hit when they decide it's time to go. This is the most competitive league in the world, Saints are in it. Let's accept mistakes have been made and it will take time (at least 1 full season) to resolve (including finding the right mix and balance in the team) but they need us more than when it was easy to finish off games and collect points. If we aren't in full support then how can we expect to remain in this league?

NewburySaint added 13:30 - Sep 26
But is that not the whole point......we go to games and support our team then if we don't like what we see we vent our disapproval / fury / disgust afterwards on message boards or and social media.
I'm sure you have always been an advocate of this Nick rather than venting our frustration at the game...........

djtsaints123 added 13:45 - Sep 26
It is difficult to not be depressed as a season ticket holder when we are traate so disrespectfully. After last season woeful football tol new one would change but I still wonder how bad you have to play to be dropped( hoed giving away 4 goals , same for cedric and shane need i say more). Then there is hospitality we have a bright red carpet cost ? yet first home game two tills on bar and food counter unmanned one bar closed as was hot dog stand. So even though we sell the worst overpriced food/drink products( hot dogs are cheapest available and wine is actually undrinkable) which i have ordered as by the time you are served no time to drink pint. This has gone on for years but when team is playing well can be ignored but watching a bad performance just adds insult to injury, and you tell me get behind team why they sure don't care about supporters. i renewed in hope but fear same again as last 2 years.

SanMarco added 13:52 - Sep 26
I don't think social media should be worried about - it is just views from the pub at closing time magnified a billion times. The ranters and ravers on there are simply not worth bothering with.

As for us more measured fans: We started at the bottom of the third division with minus 10 points less than 10 years ago. Several years of constant improvement and success up to 6th in the top division raised expectations and the feelgood factor (it also created the king over the water that all good stories need in Nicola Cortese). Most of us, in our minds if not our hearts, understood that there would be a decline of some sort from this high point. The problem has been the manner of that decline. Something seems wrong with the structure and management of the club - yes this is magnified by the fact we seem to be in quite rapid decline but it is not 'hysteria', whatever that is meant to mean. Of course there are lots of causes suggested, blame is apportioned and saviours identified. None of us have all, or even many, of the answers but we are not 'hysterical' to raise the questions - and we are all delighted when we are proved wrong (or should be if we are true fans). It is also worth pointing out that some of these problems were probably already there when we were doing well but were not being pointed out as much due to our success (yes Gaston and Osvaldo, non-playing centre-halves etc).

My view is that those in charge of buying and selling players and appointing the manager do not seem up to the job. Talk to Saints fans and the great majority will point to certain obvious weaknesses over the past 2 and a bit years, weaknesses clear to anyone. Have those weaknesses been addressed??? Of course running a football club is difficut, that's why you are given a lot of money to do so, but our lot are making it seem very difficult indeed.

highfield49 added 16:09 - Sep 26
Good article Nick and the mix of comments from posters shows just how many diverse opinions there are from us supporters. Amongst all the issues of ownership, management, player loyalty etc, etc there are two things to me that have changed in recent years. Firstly the ludicrously uneven ability to sign and retain quality players. Others have mentioned poor player recruitment but how on earth do we compete with a club like Man U who pay £millions to sign the likes of Sanchez and pay him apparently close to £400,000 a week to not play? I suspect his wages alone are close to the total of our squad's earnings. Secondly, we are all desperate to get that warm glow from three points gained rather than the gloom generated by defeat or dropped points from unforced errors. I don't know where they are coming from at present but a few months containing at least a couple of wins and the odd draw will bring back some much needed positivity to the home support. I suspect that we may have to wait until the transfer window in January to get things right, in the meantime the current players will never perform in the toxic mix of social media experts who live their lives in fantasy land.

helpineedsomebody added 17:02 - Sep 26
the one thing i know about saints fans, they are well BALENCED & they dont live in FANTASYLAND.
whats wrong with free speech/social media

saintmark1976 added 17:30 - Sep 26
Wonderful attempt at trying to spin that all is well Nick.However the facts speak for themselves given that we have only managed to win eight Premiership matches from the last forty six.Still as the saying goes you are entitled to your opinion,with or without social media.

SaintBrock added 19:12 - Sep 26
Nick, stop patronising us we are not naughty school kids who need scolding. Most of us are probably a damn sight more street wise than you and at least as equally well informed about the club and what needs to be sorted out to return Saints to better days. These sort of articles do you no credit at all and all this holier than thou nonsense that you churn out every now and then is frankly boring twaddle. They smack of arrogance.


BoondockSaint added 19:42 - Sep 26
First of all, Nick, ignore so-called "social media" (which I know is hard to do these days) it is actually "anti-social media"-a place that brings out the worst.

I hope you are not lumping us in with that lot! As others have mentioned, the downward spiral of talent and players attitudes the last 4 years is frustrating. Especially when after watching the Saints go through the motions, you can put the TV on and watch another "small team" like Burnley, Brighton, or Bournemouth have a go at a big team.

I fail to see how fans can be expected to "get behind the team" when it seems the majority of players just do not care. Losing is one thing, and we can accept that, but not bothering to even try to win is another.

halftimeorange added 22:15 - Sep 26
Apart from the fact that football itself is rotten to the core, my main gripe is the complete lack of assurance or statement of intent from the board to the fans. I'm unsure as to whether it's the players or the supporters who are more confused. What exactly is our ambition as of today? In fact, I wonder if anybody truly knows.

SanMarco added 22:40 - Sep 26
Just seen that our hapless ex manager whose greatest achievement with us was beating West Brom has beaten Barcelona tonight...

SaintStu7 added 13:36 - Sep 27
Well said Nick. Usual negative comments from the usual sources, makes me glad to be a proper fan rather than someone who likes to bash your own team and players without any rational argument. There is much wrong with football these days which makes it hard to like players in the way we used to but they are our players so best get behind them rather than be constantly seeing negatives.

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