Comprehensive Victory ! But Caution Still Required !
Monday, 26th Oct 2020 09:02
The victory over Everton was the most comprehensive in every department since Ralph Hasenhuttl's arrival, but Saints are still a work in progress and although the foundations are solid, the building is not yet complete.
This time a year ago we were waking up to the reality that we had just recorded our worst ever defeat, at that time it was hard to find any plus points from the game aside from the fact that most Saints fans I had spoken to after the game still had belief in Ralph Hasenhuttl, luckily so did the club and although it has not been a smooth 12 months since that debacle, things in general moved in the right direction.
But back then there were those that took to social media to predict doom and gloom, relegation, the collapse of the club and worse, even a month ago after the walloping at home to Spurs made it two defeats in a row and 6 goals conceded in those games, as we went into what was a bottom of the table clash against Burnley the doom merchants were still out.
We won that game and the rest as they say is history and sitting 6th the World looks a better place.
Certainly it does on social media, most Saints fans are pretty sensible, indeed this goes across all teams, they don't take every event from one extreme to another, but some do and just as much as people were predicting doom and gloom as little as a month ago, now some are speaking in terms of challenging for the title !
Whilst it is good to have dreams, ambition is a better thing to have and those ambitions need to be challenging but realistic.
Yes we have the makings of a good side, but it is still the side we had a month ago that conceded 5 against Spurs, 7 of the starting line up against Everton started against Leicester a year ago, yes Ralph has worked hard to rebuild confidence and spirit and in this sense has performed minor miracles, but ultimately we are still a work in progress and we need to keep focused on what the task is, before we start talking about titles there are many steps we need to go up first.
The old adage is one game at a time and that is well worth keeping in mind now.
The real plus point from the win against Everton for me, was that we did it without several key players, aside from Kyle Walker Peters, none of our other three major acquisitions of the summer started the game for various reasons, we also had several other injuries such as Djenepo.
But although that shows the squad has depth, it's depth is not as deep as many and this has ultimately been the downfall of many a club in achieving it's aims.
So to go from hoping we would stay out of the bottom three five short weeks ago to talking of winning the title is not realistic at least not quite yet.
Some will tell me you have to think big, reach for the sky and you might get the stars is a motto that we heard a few years back, but boasting is not ambition, that is not Ralph Hasenhuttl's way, his way has seen us quietly get things done, his boasting will be done when something has been achieved and not before.
Good manager's are like that !
So before we talk about titles there are plenty of little steps to take, firstly to rack up 20 points before Xmas, doesn't sound a lot but 20 points from 14 games going into the Xmas period is about the same points ratio we have today.
Then the next points target is the 30 points that puts you on the cusp of safety from relegation, then when you cross the 40 point mark, you can start to think of top 10 and perhaps the Europa League.
When you get to April is when you start to think about titles, something we haven't experienced much of late.
But there are plenty of teams with the same ambitions as us to force their way into the top 10 and even the top 6, Everton were one of them, they have spent £80 million in the last transfer window and the pundits were saying they would spend that again in January if they were still in with a shout of the title, that is the clout we are up against.
In the meantime we need to do what Lawrie Mcmenemy did in 1983/84 season, quietly put a good side together and let the rest do the talking off the pitch whilst we do it on it come in from the back pack, not be looking over our shoulders.
Everton, Leeds & Villa fans have been very vocal in the past weeks, Leeds win over Villa was salivated over on TV and talk of Leeds getting into Europe bandied about, we barely get a mention for beating Everton, yet we sit with exactly the same number of points this morning.
There is a long way to go in this season and I make no apologies for being cautious, for me nothing has changed yet, one good result does not make us World beaters as much as one bad one didn't automatically relegate us a year ago.
We have to stay focused on our task, we still have the same squad that we had a month ago, there are still the same deficiencies, but Ralph has worked hard on them and they are now better, but they have to get better still.
So let's be cautious but quietly confident, let's leave the boasting to others and I leave you with one thought.
After our 6th game last year St Mary's was ringing to the sound of boasting, Bournemouth who had just won 3-1 where telling us very loudly that they were the kings of the South Coast and that we were going down, they were sitting with an almost identical record to the one we have today, 3 wins, 1 draw, 2 defeats, goal difference of plus 1, the only difference was back then they had scored and conceded one more than us, they were also 6th in the table.
Ironically if we had won that game we would have been the team on 10 points and 6th, would that have made us a better team ? Would we have avoided that defeat against Leicester ? Maybe maybe not, the moral of the story is take nothing for granted, in this Premier League a season can turn over night.
Where are Bournemouth today, we can laugh now at their idle boasting and chanting, it was truly the best night of any Bournemouth fans footballing life, they thought glory was ahead of them and oblivion for us, yet it all went so wrong for them.
The Southampton Way has never been one of idle boasting that we are the bestest team with the bestest fans, we leave that to our friends at the other end of the M27, the Southampton Way has always been one of quiet confidence, knowing who we are, what we want to achieve and then doing it, we walk the walk and leave Pompey to talk the talk, we lost that a few years ago, but it is back now and if we stick to it then we will be successful.
Photo: Action Images
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