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Watt View - Unpredictability, excitement, dejection and joy: the life of a Saints fan
Sunday, 14th Feb 2021 09:10 by Matt Watts

Matt gives us an insight into the roller coaster feelings of a Saints supporter, something that I am sure we will all be able to relate to over the past few weeks, when The Beatles sang Hey Jude perhaps it was an acronym for Joy, Unpredicatability, Dejection & Excitement.

If anything demonstrates the unpredictability, excitement, dejection and joy football can throw up, the time between my previous Watt View and this column typifies it.

When I last posted at the end of December (https://tui.fansnetwork.co.uk/news/53786/), Saints were heading into a visit from West Ham United who sat a place below them in the Premier League table and I had said many would have expected six points from that fixture and the trip to Fulham.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men actually took just two points and it laid bare the fragility of the squad and I suggested that if Saints stuttered against the Hammers it would further highlight the need to invest in the transfer window to ensure there is sufficient quality to maintain consistency.

But then came Liverpool. A historic moment for the Austrian as the 1-0 victory over Jurgen Klopp’s Red meant Hasenhuttl had defeated the German for the first time in his managerial career. Danny Ings provided a sublime finish which rightly claimed the headlines.

Were Saints now back on track? This was tested at the King Power where Saints slipped to a 2-0 defeat against the Foxes but two FA Cup wins - and two appearances for Fraser Forster between the sticks - followed.

It was a delight to see Saints dispose comfortably of cup holders Arsenal, but the Gunners’ weakened selection paid dividends as they ran out 1-3 winners at St Mary’s in a night which made Hasenhuttl’s side look second best in most departments.

Next up was the VAR debacle at St Mary’s against Aston Villa which saw the dastardly duo of referees Lee Mason and Mike Dean combine for their first glimpse of the spotlight as they conspired to deny a clear penalty and sending off for Villain Matty Cash and a late equaliser for Ings, who was given offside by a millimetre of shirt sleeve.

But worse was to come when Dean took charge of Saints’ trip to Old Trafford and Mason occupied the position of fourth official. I don’t need to delve into the details of that disastrous night as Saints slumped to a 9-0 defeat for the second time in two seasons, however, the scoreline sat at 6-0 when Dean gave a penalty against Jan Bednarek.

Despite Manchester United’s Anthony Martial even, according to Bednarek, stating it was not a foul, Dean proceeded to review the incident on request of the VAR and sent the Polish international off.

The rest is history as far as the results goes, however, Saints subsequently appealed and overturned the red card, vindicating the sense of injustice and how the scoreline might have been avoided. The club then announced they had requested Dean and Mason no longer officiate the club’s matches.

Following further incidents, Mason has since been demoted to fourth official for a period of 10 days while Dean asked to stand down from Premier League fixtures this weekend after receiving abuse and threats after his controversial dismissal of West Ham’s Tomas Soucek.

While Saints have certainly been poorly treated by these officials on a professional level, there is no place in the game for offensive and personal insults, abuse or threats. It is for the authorities to take appropriate action and football fans, while voicing discontent, can do so respectfully. Unfortunately the minority, as is always the case, take it to unacceptable levels.

For me, as Hasenhuttl said himself, the hammering at the hands of United felt vastly different to October 2019 at home to Leicester so the two cannot be compared. It was unfortunately but, for me, that’s all is was.

Saints are not in the depths of despair they were at that point and, despite the 3-2 loss away at Newcastle last weekend, the comprehensive display against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday which booked a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals is evidence of that.

As I drew upon earlier in this piece in reference to my column from the end of December, the slump we have seen is undoubtedly linked to the absentees and lack of investment in the squad. There is only so far the manager’s style of play can be fulfilled without the personnel to do it.

With faces returning from injury and the astute loan signing of Takumi Minamino - what a signing that is by the way, a huge, huge boost - things are already looking in a much better place again and, as I have always maintained, there is never a dull moment under the Austrian’s leadership!

My one point of note is that, given some recent mistakes from the usually solid Alex McCarthy, I would like to see Forster given an opportunity for more game time in the Premier League having recorded four clean sheets in his four appearances this season so far. He has earned it in my opinion.

Well, there we go. A whizz over the past month and a half. I think it summarises, in a nutshell, the life of a Saints fan. Unpredictability, excitement, dejection and joy. We see and feel it all - regularly - but it is our club and we wouldn’t have it any other way would we?

Photo: Action Images

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halftimeorange added 10:03 - Feb 14
A thorough and fair review. Well written.

underweststand added 11:29 - Feb 14
Considering early season performances (with a fully-fit squad), I think we have (about) enough "quality" to show up - given the financial restrictions a club like ourselves has.
Speaking as someone who watched his first game in 1959... I'm well used to the ups and downs of being a Saints fan, and supporting a side who can match the best there is on a good day, and frustrate the h*ll our of us on a bad one.

As ever, we seldom put a good 90 minutes together, and rarely two halves of a season.
The spirit in the club remains, irrespective of management changes, or the playing staff.
Our limitations are purely financial. 60 years ago, we had a Board of local men, who often dipped into their own pockets to help buy players, rather than looking to "asset-strip" a club they were dedicated to. Those days are gone. Now it's only money that talks.

Example; Last summer, Chelsea spent more on players whose "value", exceeds that of the valuation of Southampton Football Club in its entirety, yet we play in the same League (in footballing terms). It's nothing to complain about, but to lovingly accept.

I'd feel more concerned about having an owner who hires, and fires the best managers he can get , because they don't deliver over a period of 38 games.
Management is about " team-building " - not just putting bodies inside shirts, and so I'm happy to persist with Ralph's approach - even if it includes the occasional 0-9 caning.

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Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.

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