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9th Or 17th That Is the Story Of Saints Last Two Weeks Of The Season
Thursday, 5th May 2022 10:22

A neutral observer reading Southampton FC social media pages might be confused about just what the last two weeks of the season holds, they will be wonder why a side who could still finish 9th in the League are being touted as relegation candidates by their own supporters.

Football is of course all ifs and buts, if Saints had beaten Crystal Palace then I would be writing this article about a team sitting 10th in the Premier League with a good chance of not only holding that position, but of ending the season in 9th.

I would be writing about how well Ralph Hasenhuttl has done over the past few seasons with a low budget and other outside issues beyond his control.

Of course Saints lost to Palace and we now sit 15th, still only 3 points off of that 10th spot and 4 off Brighton who currently are holding 9th place.

There is still a lot to play for in the final two weeks of the season.

But I don't find myself writing about that, I find myself having to defend Ralph Hasenhuttl against some Saints supporters who have been ranting about how Saints are now in a relegation battle and how the manager should be sacked.

Indeed this has been the story of the last few years, it has been up and down and the moment Ralph Hasenhuttl's side have faltered there have been those with the knives out and ready to draw blood.

I have no problem with people expressing an opinion, but football is about a season not one game, two games or even ten games, it is about where you are at the end of the season.

In many cases the same people shouting about a relegation battle now are the same people who screamed in the summer of 2014, again in the summer of 2015, who harangued Claude Puel who took Saints to 8th and a League Cup final, roughly Saints 8th best season ever, all things being taken into account, and all because he didn't entertain them, either on the pitch or in his press conferences.

The point to make here is judge a season not individual results, a 9-0 drubbing is not pleasurable and hard to defend, but truth is once the season has ended it is just a statistic that affects nothing going forward, would you rather win one game in a season 9-0 but get relegated, or lose one but still finish mid table.

But some have not been able to wait to judge, let's be honest there are only two weeks left, then the opinion would be on the full picture.

Back in 2014, those who ranted about losing Pochettino and not being able to keep several key players had egg on their face a year later after we had finished a place higher.

The same could be said about this year, it is an outside bet, but we could still finish 9th, indeed if we beat Brentford we could be back up to 10th and would then be just about mathematically safe from the relegation battle that we are now in according to some.

The truth is that I think we may finish about 13th and if we do then Ralph Hasenhuttl has done the job to the par for the course, he has done so on just about the lowest transfer budget, hampered over the past three years by the follies of previous transfer mistakes which meant that we were baying high salaries for those not even playing for the club in a season although still on the books.

Back in December 2018 when he took over, the club was in a far worse state that it is now, not just in terms of the squad, but literally everything, if you had said on the day he was appointed that 3 1/2 seasons later Ralph Hasenhuttl was still at the club, we were still in the Premier League and that we had not been involved in a relegation battle since, that we would play at Wembley in an FA Cup semi final and also reach a quarter final, then back in December 2018 no one would have complained.

Of course there are things that haven't been done well, in that time there are plenty of games we should have won, there are plenty that should have been lost but where won, but overall this season like the last three, have evened themselves out.

I'm being a little premature myself here, purely because I have to counter some of those opinions out there on social media, but let's get the final game of the season out of the way and then take stock.

Then I will right where I think we have gone right or wrong and there are many things on both counts, but I will say this, whether it is 9th or 17th that we finish, over the last 3 1/2 years Ralph Hasenhuttl has brought us stability, he has made sure we have performed to exactly where the resources of the club put us, ie somewhere between 12th & 17th.

He has done so in difficult circumstances that virtually no other Premier League club has had to deal with, now as we enter a new era with new owners, he deserves the chance to show us whether with less restrictions financially, he can take us on another step.

Only then will we truly be able to judge Ralph Hasenhuttl !

Photo: Action Images



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TimSaint added 10:42 - May 5
It is a lot more than the last 2 weeks of the season that count.

Saints being Saints have gifted the opposition goals and points throughout the season and the reality is, we should have already been sitting pretty in the top 8/9. Just look at the points lost this season at the likes of Norwich A, Brighton H, McCarthy howlers, FF howlers, Defensive howlers, yet we rarely punish teams in the same way we are punished.

All too often we have thrown games away with errors all over the pitch and the record number of points dropped from winning positions says it all.

This is typical Saints and has been for a good few seasons now.

Let's hope that the new owners have a good clear out this summer and recruit some quality, rather than buying youngsters with potential and hoping they come good.
4

SaintNick added 10:49 - May 5
If you read the article I clearly say it is about the whole season and not just individual games, if we won the last three games and finished 9th that would be a great achievment, but there would be plenty pointing out all those poor games and saying we could have finished 4th if we hadn't made a mistake all season
0

felly1 added 11:25 - May 5
Agree with this totally. We've got a decent manager for a club of our stature.
Most neutrals find it crazy that there are Saints fans who can't see this.
It's not Ralph's fault that he's had a tiny budget to work with and as you say, if we were to go back to the dark days of Mark Hughes and see forward to now, we'd all be happy.
There will always be fans that want constant managerial change every time the team goes through a bad patch, it happens at every club.
Yes we've had two embarrassing thrashings.. Yes we've had some terrible runs of form and yes I get it that eventually all managers will leave or get the bullet.
Ralph deserves another season and hopefully the chance to spend some money on decent recruitment in the summer. If we are in the bottom 3 by Xmas, yes he may have to go.
If we are not, then no one will realistically do any better. Have Everton or Villa for example with their huge budgets improved because they've sacked loads managers?..
It's about being realistic and realising that a manager is not a wizard with a wand who can turn crap players into Ronaldo. At times under Ralph we play exciting swashbuckling football and win a load of games and it's brilliant.. Its just simply not sustainable with the talent pool at his disposal unfortunately.
Id rather this than Sean Dyche or a fat Sam playing the percentage game football as I fall to sleep in my seat.
1

TimSaint added 11:59 - May 5
Of course our finishing position is defined over the full season, not what we do in the last 3 games, or even the last 10 games.
The thing is though, everyone can see that the team is on the beach and has been for pretty much 2 months.
Even before the Villa game our defence / keeper was the gift that kept on giving and our strikers failed to take the majority of their chances - which has been demonstrated by the points we have dropped from winning positions.

There are some serious coaching, tactical, concentration and motivational issues at the club and until these are addressed, we will continue to be where we are - between 12th and 17th.

Perhaps the new owners will allow RH to have a good clear out of the deadwood (again) this summer and sign a few of the players he wants - players that can come in a make a difference straight away, as opposed to buying potential and hoping they come good (so we can sell them !!).
0

SanMarco added 15:52 - May 5
The Ralph debate is surely all about our expectation for the Saints. I think we need to be more consistent next season. Level out the sharp ups and downs and eliminate the fiascos like Chelsea.

As for relegation - 40pts might be enough, but I could see Burnley getting there and Everton too. Leeds need 7 pts from 4 games to get above us - unlikely but not impossible. If Ralph wants us to love him again he could start by beating Brentford...
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Kingsland34 added 16:25 - May 5
How can we have faith in a manager who seems unable to manage the reasonable resources he has with any consistency of progress. It is embarrassing and unacceptable for Ralph to blame, and link, our recent poor form on the alleged downturn of form of a 20 year old loan player. What next? is it Tino's fault for getting injured or that Romeu is getting older. Ready made excuses for next season?
0

stmichael added 16:42 - May 5
We are in a relegation battle and if we lose at Brentford that will quickly become very apparent especially with Liverpool up next.
As for the budget and this nett spend nonsense it is a misleading statistic. We have spent the vast majority of what we have received the problem is it has not been spent well.
Liverpool's nett spend is less than Everton's and Villarreal won the Europa League and reached the Champions League semi final having spent less than Saints.
Its how you spend it and we have been poor at that too.
2

YosemiteSaint added 02:47 - May 6
I hate to say it, because Ralph's enthusiasm is infectious and his candor is refreshing. But he's had three years at Saints, and it's fair to say that we're not going to see anything different from him. If we're OK with bouncing around mid-table with the occasional purple streak amidst primarily mediocre results, he's probably a good guy to have at the helm. My sense of him is that he's a great manager for blooding youngsters, but that he's a lousy tactician who surely drives seasoned veterans crazy.

Having supported Saints for over thirty and who knows how many managers years now, I deeply appreciate the stability Ralph's given us. But its flipside is a predictability that's just, well, getting old.
-1

YosemiteSaint added 17:46 - May 7
I think now this post's title has to be changed to "9th Or 18th That Is the Story Of Saints Last Two Weeks Of The Season."
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