2020 The Year Saints Got Their Pride Back
Thursday, 31st Dec 2020 10:11
It might well have been the worst year in World history since the Second World War, but for Southampton Football Club it was the year that they got their pride back after several years of negativity.
As 2010 started, when the 21st century was in it's early teenage years, hope was high at Southampton Football Club, we had a new owner who was looking to rebuild the club and we were starting a journey back up the leagues.
But the death of Markus Liebherr started a period where our then Chairman was boasting of targets that could never be achieved, therefore for some when he left in 2014, the next few years were an anti climax, we were finishing in the top 8 and even reaching a major cup final, but they weren't the Champions League places promised by the previous Chairman.
Message boards and social media went into meltdown every summer as players were sold and accusations thrown that we had no ambition, despite the fact that we now actually had a plan.
This was of course not all the supporters, it was a minority, but a very vocal one, at least on social media and although we were flourishing we were talking ourselves down and convincing ourselves that the club had no ambition, rather than enjoy the ride we had almost convinced ourselves that bad times were around the corner, so when they were, for some it was almost a relief to be proved right.
The arrival of Gao looked promising, but almost as soon as he arrived the worsening situation between China and the West, meant that he could not invest as he had intended.
But behind the scenes we were rebuilding, we were putting together plans and strategies and replacing key personnel.
Of course this was not an easy task and with football clubs even the best plans can be derailed by results on the field, but poor form on the field does not always mean a club is badly run, just as much as good form does not signify that a club is well run, we only have to look at the demise of Pompey so quickly after they won the FA Cup a dozen or so years ago.
Many pundits will put that 9-0 defeat against Leicester as our low point, but the truth was that the real rock bottom was the calendar year of 2018, we started that year on a run of bad form after a reasonable start to the season and then started to drop like a stone, Pellegrino came and went and so did Mark Hughes and as we approached December 2018 it was hard to see how we could stop the rot.
No one had heard of Ralph Hasenhuttl when he arrived, but in a little over two years he has revitalised and rejuvenated the club with his enthusiasm and clear dedication to the job, unlike literally all of his predecessors since Chris Nicholl was sacked in 1991, he was interested in all aspects of the club and not just who was in the first team.
When he arrived it was hard to find a Saints fan on social media and message boards that had any pride in the club, four years of talking ourselves down had left us without any pride, but Hasenhuttl showed us that there was hope and that pride started to come back.
Friday 25th October 2019 was a low point, but truth was few blamed Hasenhuttl, they could now see the bigger picture and that included the Saints owner and board.
Since then we have risen and although we are still a work in progress and in these awful times that progress has been slowed, we are now a club that people are talking about again, the owner might not have been able to pump money into the club, but he hasn't just abandoned it to it's fate, he has put in place those in charge on a day to day basis who have a clear strategy to move forward.
Now we have a manager who has a vision, has ambition, but has realistic ambition and as he puts it a project.
We Saints supporters in turn have warmed to him and what he is doing and for the first time since 2014 we have pride in our club , some have never lost that pride, in fact perhaps most, but the minority on social media have not made it seem that way, day after day reading posts and tweets running down the club and every part of it reduced our morale to zero, but not any more.
We go into 2021 in 9th place. only 4 points behind Manchester United in 2nd and with a realistic chance of a top 6 place.
It will be tough, perhaps too tough for us this season, but slowly but surely we are looking a top 10 side again, there will be set backs, we will lose games, but we must never lose our pride again in our club.
Owners come and go, managers and players come and go, but the club and it's supporters are the one constant, it is about sticking with it during the bad times and not disappearing in the bad times.
The pride is back in Southampton Football Club, let's keep it that way !
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #26 by wessex_exile
Well, after a piss-poor Xmas period so far for the U’s, culminating in the Roots Hall horror show on Boxing Day, let’s hope the U’s have burned off those festive calories and are raring to go. They’ll certainly have to be at their best against a Cheltenham side aiming to force their way into the automatic promotion places. In other news, we now finally have confirmation that there will be a trade deal in place with the EU once Brexit arrives in 2021. It remains to be seen whether it’s a good deal or not, and more to the point, who for, but at least it’s not the economic uncertainty of no-deal.
Letters from Wiltshire #25 by wessex_exile
A little earlier than usual, but as we approach the end of what has been a most difficult year for everyone, I’ll keep the introductory editorial brief, as I’m sure you will all be very busy in the coming days rescuing what you can from this pandemic-ravaged festive period. I simply wish you all peace on earth, goodwill to all (yes, even our South Essex cousins), and here’s to a happy, prosperous and most importantly healthy 2021 for us all.
Letters from Wiltshire #24 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #23 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #22 by wessex_exile
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