Did Charlie Austin Have A Point !
Tuesday, 18th Feb 2020 09:18
Ex Saints player Charlie Austin has generated controversy in the last few days after criticising Saints supporters for not backing the team, this has in turn seen a deluge of tweets slagging him off for his time here, which in itself was very ironic.
Charlie Austin is very outspoken on twitter and his latest outbursts where he has slagged off Saints supporters for their lack of support for the team is not 100% accurate, but he does have a point when it concerns individual players.
I have been saying on this site for a long time that the abuse of our own players is a little over the top at times, I am not talking about constructive criticism, but pure 100% abuse.
It perhaps stretches back to 2014 when several of our big stars left the club, although the rumblings where there prior to that perhaps Gaston Ramirez being the first to start to get abuse rather than criticism due to his failure to justify his then record transfer.
Perhaps it was because some supporters felt jilted and the bile poured out in the summer of 2014, Adam Lallana was the first to feel the vitriol on social media, yes there was some justification for the manner in which he had left the club, but there was no need for the personal abuse he received and continues to receive to this day.
Dejan Lovren was another although in his case it was more deserved, Lovren had played one season, but Lallana had given us good service and stayed at the club at its lowest ebb, yet for some his contribution is wiped from the record books.
The start of the 2014/15 season saw a number of new signings, Sadio Mane & Graziano Pelle being two of them, a sizable minority decided that Pelle was no Ricky Lambert early on and withing 15 minutes of his home debut he was being ironically cheered if he won a header.
Likewise Mane, he was getting stick from the moment he arrived till the moment he left as was Pelle.
Since then the list of players who have been slated by the supporters is almost endless and most have not deserved it to the degrees they have received it.
Let's be clear here I am not talking about general moaning about a players performances or form, I am talking about personal abuse thrown at players not only at matches, but on social media where some of it has been so vitriolic.
Shane Long, Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic, James Ward Prowse, Paulo Gazzaniga, Cedric Soares, Nathan Redmond, James Ward Prowse, Wesley Hoedt, Jannik Vestergaard, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Charlie Austin himself have all come in for personal abuse on social media to a level that is not called for.
Some will say I'm hypocritical on saying this, after all I have been vocal on this site in condemning several of our defenders in the past, Yoshida & Jack Stephens being two, yes I have criticised them, but I have done so citing the evidence on each occasion, I haven't been personal, just pointed out what I have seen as flaws in their game and I would justify my comments by pointing out that we currently have the 2nd worst defence in the Premier League and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I wanted Yoshida to succeed I supported him in games and reserved my comments for the news stories on this page, I wish him luck at Sampdoria and wherever he goes, if he came back as a coach I would welcome him if he is the right man for the job, for me it is not personal I want our players to succeed whoever they are, I point out when the performances are not of the standards we require, I do not brush over mediocrity and to be blunt the defending against Burnley was mediocre, but my comments have not been personal.
The first irony is that almost all of those players I have named have either flourished for us or succeeded elsewhere after leaving, yet they are still criticised, both Redmond & JWP still get abuse and earlier this season Hojbjerg was attracting some stick, arguably they have been out three best players in the last few months.
The second irony is that Austin's comments and I am not sticking up for him here, I did not find them particularly savoury or indeed called for, provoked just the sort of tweets he was saying Saints fans were out of order for.
"Fantastic from Charlie Austin today. Most forgettable player to play for #SaintsFC in recent years and still manages to make himself less popular than Van Dijk"
This was one of the more printable comments, butto describe him as one of the most forgettable players is unfair on him, his goal on his debut at Manchester United was certainly not forgettable, in fact the extra two points it gained us was the difference between Europa League group stage qualification and going into the knock out stages first.
It was also worth £2 million and given we only paid £3.5 million for him, most of that was repaid with one header, yes Austin did not have a great time at St Mary's, but to give him some credit, we got him cheaply because he was a crock, he was there not for his work rate but to score goals and at roughly a goal every 4 games in the Premier League half of those off the bench he had a better rate than most, his strike rate was better than Manolo Gabbiadini, yet ask many and they will claim that the Italian Striker was a genius.
But I didn't come here to praise Austin in fact the opposite, as I said his comments were ill founded and vulgar, but as a fan base we should look a little bit deeper and ask ourselves whether he has a point.
He didn't need to say it, but he clearly felt aggrieved at the way he was treated by Saints supporters and given he did not receive as much personal abuse as some, at least not until now, if he feels this way how do the others feel and given that some are still at the club that isn't a good scenario.
Why where the likes of Mane and Pelle so keen to get out, indeed why where those who weren't getting stick equally quick to leave, probably because they could see what their friends in the dressing room were going through and did not like it.
Like it or not over the last six years a minority of the fans on social media have created a toxic atmosphere around this football club that is unfair on the majority of our supporters, make that vast majority.
Yes it is prevalent at many clubs these days as the armchair social media fans vent their spleens, but it seems worse here than elsewhere.
It has created an atmosphere at home games that makes it hard for the team to play in and when Austin says that the fans don't get behind the team when it is down he has a point, after all Lawrie McMenemy said the same thing in a different manner back in the 1970's when he said that at Newcastle the fans get behind the team and then the team gives them something to cheer, at Saints the team has to give the fans something and then they get behind them.
This is true, but McMenemy said it in a diplomatic way.
So this is an opportunity for inadvertently Charlie Austin to do something positive, we can either eat ourselves up with hatred as we have been doing for the last six years, or we can use it in a positive way by taking a hard look at ourselves and start to be positive.
We cannot flourish as a club whilst everything about it from the owner down to the tea lady is constant vilified on a daily basis on social media, that does not encourage anyone to do anything, if I was Gao I would not want to put my hand in my pocket given the abuse he gets on social media, it is a circle that has to be broken.
The guys in the Itchen North have started the fight back by encouraging those around them to get behind the team, the rest of us have to follow, that is not happy clapping, it is about wanting your team to succeed, after that you can worry about what else is going on.
I would point out here that despite the slagging he gets on social media there has not been one protest about Gao, not one anti Gao fan has stood outside the stadium and protested and that shows you what social media is doing to the game.
So I am not sticking up for Charlie Austin, I am not sticking up for the players I have mentioned, I am sticking up for Southampton Football Club and the 99% of it's supporters who feel the same way as I do, who want their club to succeed, who do not spent their time on social media calling their own players names and abuse.
Ironically when I saw one of the anti Austin stories listed on line, the next story below was one full of abuse for Jannik Vestergaard's performance against Burnley, again highly ironic.
I am not complaining about people's opinion's here but how they express them in personal insults.
So will we use this situation for the good or will we let it drag us down into the mire, if it is the latter then we might as well give up now as we can never flourish in such a toxic atmosphere, even when good times can be ahead.
I want the atmosphere to be positive again in St Mary's, as it has been in the past, as it was at the Dell in the 70's, 80' and 90's and a little bit of the 00's.
The away support this season has been the best I have known in the top flight for Saints, so it shows that there are those out there who want to move forward and not back, we need to be part of the solution not the problem.
My philosophy is simple, I want Southampton Football Club to succeed, I want every player who pulls on the shirt to succeed, I realise that not all will and that there will be those who are not good enough, I may say that publicly, but I will do so in a constructive way and I still want them to prove me wrong and I still back them to do that.
But we have to look to the future not the past, perhaps in a years time we will look back and thank Charlie Austin for what is perhaps his best contribution to the club, the one that made us all sit up and take note.
Photo: Action Images
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