They Should Never Have Left Southampton ! Players That Have Titanic'ed
Wednesday, 20th Mar 2019 11:06
In recent years there have been more than a few players who have left St Mary's only to see their careers nosedive, but it is not a new phenomenon, here we take a look at a few who have to coin a phrase "Titanic'ed"
It was Jimmy Tarbuck when speaking about an old friend of his who coined the joke "Name two things that should never have left Southampton ? - The Titanic & Lawrie McMenemy " and since then it has been used to describe many players who have left our club for supposedly better things and have found that it has been a disaster and the grass hasn't been greener on the other side.
Perhaps the first player in modern times to find that out was a true club legend Mick Channon, it cannot be denied that Mick had given us good service and deserved a move to a bigger club, no one begrudged him that and he left the Dell with the best wishes of us all, but a move to Manchester City in the summer of 1977 did not work out for him at all.
City paid £300,000 for Channon at a time that the British transfer record fee was £350,000, although ironically a future Saints Kevin Keegan would smash that at around the same time as Mick moved North.
City had just finished second in the old First division and looked to Channon who at 28 was at the peak of his career to fire them to the title, it would not be a success, he looked a shadow of the player he was at the Dell and although his record of of 24 goals in 72 games was reasonable he would stay only a little over two years and then take the opportunity of a lifeboat and a return to his home port where he would enjoy a swansong back in Southampton.
Danny Wallace was another whose career was very similar to Channon's for Saints, a debut at a young age, followed by a long period as a first team regular in what was truly Saints golden period, again no one begrudged him a move to Manchester in his case United not City, but it was not to be a success.
He would almost immediately go from being brilliant at Saints to terrible at United and he played only 47 league games in 4 years scoring only 6 times, by 28 he was let go firstly to Birmingham and then to Wycombe, sadly though it was later found that he had Multiple Sclerosis and it was the initial symptoms of this that were causing his problems, was it really 15 years ago we had that testimonial for him at St Mary's, Danny doesn't fall into quite the same category as some of the others, but I thought it would be pertinent to bring up his name as there are a couple of generations who will not have heard of him sadly.
In the 1990's there were others that shouldn't have left, Richard Hall was a cultured centre back who was very much in the Southampton Way, signed for £200k in February 1991 still aged only 18 he would be a mainstay in the team for five seasons and we could truly use a player of his class now.
He signed for West Ham in the summer of 1996. but would be injured for them in pre season and would make only 7 appearances and at the end of the 98/99 season he would be forced to admit defeat and retire, still aged only 27.
If he had stayed at the Dell then he may well not have been injured and I feel would have moved to a far bigger club and would have definitely been capped by England.
Moving on a few years we have James Beattie, he had six good seasons with Saints before joining Everton in the January of 2005, he had broken into the England set up and at 26 would have thought his best years lay ahead of him, sadly they wouldn't.
His spell at Everton was not good and he was sold to Championship club Sheffield United after 3 seasons, although he enjoyed a revival there for two seasons and went back to the Premier League with Stoke City a bust up with Tony Pulis was the beginning of the end for him.
If he had stayed at Saints rather than pursue a move to Everton in 2004/05 perhaps we would not have been relegated that season, certainly his goal for them just after his transfer at St Mary's in a 2-2 draw did not help either.
In recent years though it seems that the curse of the Titanic is striking more and more often, Theo Walcott's career has never taken off the way it should have and now aged 30 he may be very rich, but he has never truly fulfilled his potential, likewise Alex Oxlade Chamberlain although he still might.
Gareth Bale looked to be heading to Nottingham Forest after an injury hit first couple of seasons, but luckily for Harry Redknapp h stayed and the rest as they say is history, but his first 2 1/2 seasons were not successes.
But perhaps the curse started to kick in from 2014, we have sold a lot of players since then, but more than a fair proportion of them have not been total successes.
Rickie Lambert effectively ended not only his England career by joining Liverpool but also his domestic one, in the three seasons after leaving St Mary's prior to retirement he has started only 25 league games over three clubs and scored only 7 times, perhaps he would have been more a bit part player at St Mary's if he had stayed, but he could his career would not have petered out, at least though he left a legend.
Dejan Lovren has enjoyed some success at Liverpool but his career has been shrouded in controversy both on and off the pitch and he seems to have a higher regard for his own ability than his manager of the Liverpool fans.
Luke Shaw has taken 4 seasons of mediocrity to finally look to be getting his career on track, perhaps he should have stayed at St Mary's and got the foundations in before leaving.
Likewise Callum Chambers, in this his fifth full season since leaving to Arsenal he has still only started 30 league games for the Gunners plus 18 as sub although two seasons on loan at firstly Middlesbrough and now Fulham have seen him play more times than when he is available at the Emirates. If he had stayed at Saints he would perhaps have achieved far more.
Nathaniel Clyne went to Anfield and although initially in the team injury has affected him as well and now he is on loan at Bournemouth and at 27 his career is at a crossroads.
But perhaps the biggest loser on leaving Southampton was Morgan Schneiderlin, a dream move to Manchester United quickly turned sour and his form was nowhere near that of his time at St Mary's, a move to Everton after only 32 appearances has seen him fare no better in three seasons and now four years after leaving St Mary's from a financial perspective he must be very happy, but from satisfaction in his playing career not so much.
Victor Wanyama's move to Spurs in 2016 saw him allegedly tapped up by his former boss at Saints, initially it went well at White Hart Lane he played virtually every game in his first year, but if he should never have left Southampton he should never have left White Hart Lane for Wembley, in the last two years he has started only 24 league games with injury affecting his game time, but it not just that and this season he has struggled to get into the team even though he is fit.
Jose Fonte is perhaps the last of those who should have watched the film of Titanic and taken note, in 2016 he had the World literally at his feet he had just won the Euros with Portugal was Captain of Saints and at 33 could have enjoyed a great ending to his career.
But under his new agent he chased money and after an engineered move to Old Trafford was blocked he still could have knuckled down at St Mary's and would have captained the side at Wembley in the League Cup final if he had, there was a good chance we would have won with him in the side.
However he preferred to go to West Ham for money in January 2017 with Saints on the cusp of a Wembley final, trying to ingratiate himself with the Hammers faithful claiming that his wife came from a long line of West Ham supporters, a year and 24 appearances later, most severely criticised by West Ham supporters, he moved to China possibly because his wife had grown fond of Chinese food from their local takeaway and definitely not for the money.
He lasted barely 3 months before having his contract terminated by mutual consent and then joined Lille in France where he seems to be playing regularly.
The Titanic syndrome definitely applies to Fonte, if we also apply a further Southampton nautical analogy it could be said that he resigned from his position of Captain of the Queen Mary 2 to become Skipper of the Hythe ferry because his wife's family have a long tradition of supporting Blackfield & Langley FC and certainly not for the money.
Now that he has far more money than he needs perhaps Jose reflects on whether a few extra million was really worth missing out on the chance of a Cup Final at Wembley, I suspect that after reflecting he would probably feel he made the right decision.
This is a far from definitive list of players who should really have never left Southampton, who have I missed out ? give your thoughts on my list and add any other Titanics in the comments section below.
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