Ten Days That Changed The Season !
Monday, 11th Mar 2019 10:06
The win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday was the culmination of ten days that might just have not only kept us up but also restored the faith of Saints fans in their football club.
After back to back defeats against first Cardiff City that in fairness was disastrous and then Arsenal which was a lot less catastrophic the knives were out amongst a section of our support for not only Ralph Krueger and his board but also amazingly Ralph Krueger.
Yes things were looking bleak, but as history as shown, periods of crisis are not the time for ranting and raving but times to keep calm and focus on the task ahead.
That mean't looking at the bigger picture and what the two Ralph's were actually doing in terms of their respective job's rather than going into meltdown.
For Ralph Hasenhuttl that meant looking as his past record, after the Arsenal game he had been in charge for 12 games, in that period he had gained 15 points at a ratio of 1.25 per game, that was still a very good record, we were a team that had had a blip, not one in freefall.
We went into the Fulham game at St Mary's at perhaps our lowest point of the season in terms of supporter confidence in either the team or the board, in terms of the team, that was very wrong but these days social media allows every defeat to be turned into a disaster no matter who it is against.
I can understand people being upset that we did not spend in the transfer window, but the club did try to sign players in key positions and unable to get them decided to take a longer term view that we were strong enough to stay up and so keep the money ready for the summer.
We all know the two key positions and two key positions only we are weak in.
Against Fulham we did the job, perhaps some felt we should have kicked on a little and attacked more in the second half, but having got a two goal lead the task was to hang on to it and ensure that we got all three points and that we did, not quite in style but with guts and determination and only our second clean sheet under Ralph Hasenhuttl was very pleasing.
The trip to Old Trafford was a home banker, but although ultimately another late goal condemned us to defeat, it almost felt like a victory, suddenly those at Old Trafford could see that despite the shortcomings and as i said earlier no one is denying that those shortcomings exist, we put in a display that brought some pride back into being a Saints fan, unlike defeats before Hasenhuttl arrived we did not sit back and wait for our punishment as we did under Mark Hughes at Liverpool and Manchester City, we went out and played with spirit and confidence and we deserved at least a point.
The wind was changing we were still out of the bottom three and on the pitch at least we could see hope.
On the Wednesday came the off field news as the club released it's accounts, the meltdown brigade were expecting to see doom and gloom after their constant claims that Gao is an asset stripper and was only in it for the profit.
But they showed a well run club financially with profits from transfers reinvested back into the squad, no money sequestered and no further debt loaded on to the club, indeed it showed a profit and here it should be noted that of the pre tax profit of around £36 million, after the accounts were closed Saints spent around £28 million on Angus Gunn and Jannik Vestergaard, so that profit was spent within weeks of being declared.
There is a tendency amongst some to refer to Ralph Krueger as a "Hockey coach" etc etc, but although he is that he has also run sporting franchises in America so has extensive experience of doing the job needed.
On the pitch results might not have been great over the last two years, but off the field the club has been well run and Krueger has done the job well, having overseen four consecutive top 8 top flight finishes, something never achieved before even in the glory days of the late 70's early 80's, plus two European campaigns, a major cup final and an FA Cup semi final, Krueger deserved praise for his part in that. four great seasons and one bad isn't a bad record.
Yes we have started badly this, but as a board we have addressed the problem areas, if we can now pull clear from trouble we have a great chance of imposing ourselves and challenging for the top 10 next season.
You felt that on social media a mindset had changed as well, those screaming for Gao to go were suddenly faced with the reality of the situation and facts rather than fiction, Billionaire football club owners do not grow on trees and we have to balance the books, a fair few people started to realise that.
In the same week it was revealed elsewhere that if Tottenham Hotspur doubled the salaries of their entire playing squad and added 7 new signings on £100k a week they would still have a wage bill less than Manchester City, that perhaps tells you of the gulf that exists not just between the other 14 clubs and the big six , but even in those elusive echelons itself.
Therefore Saints fans arrived at St Mary's on Saturday armed with optimism, the display at Old Trafford had spread the hope that we could not only compete with Spurs but beat them at home for the first time in 14 years.
Initially that optimism looked without foundation as Spurs showboated their way through the first half and for the a big half of the second, but we got the luck that has deserted us for a big part of the season and Ralph Hasenhuttl made a tactical change in the second half and we suddenly looked like the team a week earlier at Manchester United again.
The rest as they say is history.
Now we can look back on ten days that have hopefully gone a long way towards keeping us in the Premier League, we all should have learned last season and indeed those seasons back in the 1990's that a club that concentrates on winning games rather than bemoaning it's lot has a lot better chance of staying up, in the final games of last season the silent majority found it's voice not only in the stands but on line and the supporters played a big part in keeping us up.
That seemed to be the case on Saturday against Spurs, not only did the crowd stay with the team during the first 75 minutes and roared it on to score the equaliser, but the final minutes were right up there with anything since the stadium opened.
We now need more of the same for the final 8 games, even after the Arsenal game 1.25 points per game would have given us enough to stay up, now we are down to around 1.12 points per game needed, the good news is that Hasenhuttl's ratio is now 1.4.
We are still paying the price for the early season under Mark Hughes and also those soft goals conceded late in the last month or so, but we are now a team on the up.
A year ago we were on the face of it in not much of a worse position than we are today, 28 points from 30 games, but the situation is a lot lot different now then back then, the squad is no worse than a year ago, but given the new lease of life our manager has given to the likes of James Ward Prowse & Nathan Redmond it could be said it is better.
As I said a long way to go yet, but there is no reason why we can't kick on and surge to safety now, two wins would probably be enough with a couple of draws added, but three wins would make it almost certain.
Sometimes brief periods change seasons, the last ten days might just be the catalyst that has silenced the doubters and got them back onside again, no one is denying that mistakes have been made, hopefully they have now been rectified, we cannot change the past results only the future ones lets concentrate on the future not the past !
Photo: Action Images
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