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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.
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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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