|Southampton 1 v 1 Manchester United|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 31st August 2019 Kick-off 12:00
England Win At St Mary's After Queue Chaos
Wednesday, 11th Sep 2019 10:40
If the defending on show on the pitch was shambolic then the situation outside the ground was even worse with many missing the first 15 minutes of the game.
St Mary's has hosted many matches to full capacity so this should surely have been just another game in terms of getting people into the stadium, but those arriving in the final half hour before kick off were faced with massive queues.
There was of course the excuse of the gridlock that the city was in with the M27 closed due to a spillage and it being difficult to get into the City due to the number of motorists who were trying to bypass the closure, but it was more than just that.
I have to say when I arrived at the Stadium around 20 minutes before kick off I had only seen such queues to get in to the ground like these once before ironically in a friendly against Bayern Munich around 2003 when a pay gate system aligned with a late walk up caused chaos.
The queues for the Chapel end seemed to be about 50 metres long and those for the Kingsland just as bad, there seemed to be no visible sign of anyone telling people where to go or where to queue and with possibly 70% of the crowd either not having been to the stadium much or not at all this was a recipe for chaos.
Ironically I walked to the turnstile I usually use and it had three queue, at one end there was a queue going back 50 metres towards the chapel and a similar length queue at the other end going back to the foot bridge, but the queue in the middle only had around 20 people in it so we joined that one.
There seemed to be one steward on duty for the queues and he was not really organising things and getting people into the smaller queue.
So my personal experience was not too bad, but for others it was awful and I know many people have said as much on social media with stories of missing the first 15 minutes of the game and the first three goals.
The club will say that it was due to a bit percentage of the crowd turning up late and they may have a point, but there seemed to be far less people on the walk to the stadium than a usual Saints game at that time before kick off, those at the front of the queue when I go there must have arrived in good time to get in but in the end got in with minutes to spare.
Whatever the excuses the stewarding outside the stadium seemed to be none existent, perhaps it wasn't but that was my experience of it, add to that a fair proportion of the crowd seemed to be attending their first football match and perhaps this slowed things up a lot as well.
I did have to laugh at the woman in front of me who enthusiastically waved her free England flag during the national anthem and then leaped out her seat when Kosovo scored as she was completely unaware of which team was which.
In the ground the stewards seemed a lot more organised and there can be no real complaints here, they had to be alert because there were Kosovan supporters everywhere, if there were 2,000 in the official away section then there were just as many dotted around the stadium as was shown when they all decided to turn on their mobile phone lights.
Match Gallery: 8 photos
Thankfully there appeared to be no trouble, possibly because the bulk of the crowd would have been more at home at a Kylie Minogue concert (Other pop superstars are available) than a football match and the dynamics of where I was sat where more in line with that than a football match, I would wonder whether a game at Wembley attracting a much bigger ratio of football fans would have seen trouble.
On the pitch we had an entertaining game with some appalling defending from both sides, suggesting that England have a number of players who can showboat when playing lesser opposition, but when we reach the finals of tournaments and play more established sides they are not truly up to it.
There were too many players making mistakes and passing straight to the opposition, ironically like Saints we seemed to lack leadership on the pitch and for that matter off it, given the individual errors on the pitch and a 5-1 lead at half time, you would have thought that Gareth Southgate would have brought on a sub or two when Kosovo got the game back to 5-3 after 55 minutes , things needed to be changed, but it would be virtually half an hour before he made two late changes.
The problem seems to be that Southgate is relying too much on wonderkids from big clubs and not enough on those that have the pedigree at both Premier League and indeed International level.
These kids can bully teams like Kosovo, as they are used to playing in their club sides along with genuinely talented foreign players, but can't live with decent teams when we meet them and they don't have the experienced players alongside them to steer them through.
Kosovo were a poor standard side, but they never gave up and played with enthusiasm, this could have been a record victory for England, it should have been given that Southgate kept his team unchanged for so long so there can be no excuses we took our foot off the gas, we should have had three goals in the second half with two bad missed chances and Kanes Penalty miss alone could have made it 8.
All in all though it was the type of match that you can watch on your local park on a Sunday morning , but that doesn't bode well for our chances in Euro 2020.
Photo: Action Images
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