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No Togetherness No Character No Fight
Wednesday, 24th Apr 2024 11:00

Not my words, but those of Southampton manager Russell Martin, who should ask himself the question why two months ago we had all those attributes and now we don't !

Russell Martin said in his post match interviews that we were good for 60 minutes, that we played some amazing build up play, that we were on top at the start of the second half and their second goal game against the run of play.

He clearly was not watching the same game as the rest of the nation, just about the only thing that he said that was correct was that for 10 minutes at the start of the second half and yes the goal did come against the run of play as Leicester clearly sat back, soaked up what was pressure that was not exactly putting them under the cosh and then they picked us off.

He went on to say that yes it was his fault, but only because he had failed to pick Jack Stephens under whom we would never have lost 5-0.

This is just insulting to the fans, it is also insulting to his own players who just two months ago were the tightest defence and highest scoring attack during that 22 game unbeaten run in the Championship.

Against Leicester City Martin was right to say there was no togetherness, no character and no fight, but has he looked at himself and asked why, our poor form is not about "Tippy Tappy Football" as some sneeringly refer to it, indeed in the last three games with Alex McCarthy in goal we have had to temper that as he is not comfortable with his feet.

Football players like things to be simple, if you play well you are in, our back four has been ripped apart for the manager to play his favourite, no one felt safe from that desire, Jan Bednarek came back from helping Poland reach the Euros and was dropped, Ryan Manning was dropped, James Bree dropped and although Taylor Harwood Bellis was not dropped, but he was moved to right back to accommodate the managers favourite.

Indeed Alex McCarthy's return to action was a slap in the face for Joe Lumley, McCarthy had not even been on the bench since October, yet when Gavin Bazunu was injured in the warm up, McCarthy was jumped into a squad he was not even selected for.

This decision is what has ruined the squad's togetherness, they are now uncertain as to what their manager will do next, even top scorer Adam Armstrong finds himself taken off the pitch just when goals are needed and at Cardiff we played three wingers in the final stages.

Russell Martin complains of no togetherness, no character and no fight, well some blunt news for him, he has knocked all of that out of the squad himself.

This is not about Jack Stephens, in truth and i am sure that Jack knows this, he should be part of a squad heading for promotion, he should be slotting in when needed and coming on in the final third of the game and helping close out games.

Instead he finds himself at the centre of why this squad has gone to pot, this is not Jack Stephen's fault in any way shape or form, he is the unwitting pawn in the situation due to Russell Martin's obsession with him.

Let's be clear hear, the buck stops with the manager, a squad should be a reflection of the manager's ethos and once the fight is knocked out of you, it is usually very hard to get it back.

I have been a big defender of Russell Martin over the most part of this season, i was not as big a critic of his possession football tactic as most and I felt he was the man to lead us forward.

Back in October, November, December and January we were a well drilled squad playing for each other, since then it has been disjointed, players such as Ryan Fraser, unplayable during that run are now shadows of their former selves.

This has all come to a head just at the time that we really need to be a squad firing on all four cylinders.

This was a team at Leicester not playing for it's manager, Russell Martin is right there was no fight, he has knocked it out of the side.

So where does Russell Martin go from here ?

That is a big question, there are those that want him gone, they see no way back from what is happening, but I think that is a bit drastic, who would take over for the last two games of the normal season and then potentially three games in the play offs.

Would it fire up the squad anymore than Russell Martin is doing at the moment, perhaps it is better just to stick with the manager and let us see if he can get us back on track, however his comments last night don't suggest that is going to be the case, they will have further alienated members of his squad.

There is certainly a growing discontent in the fan base who are now disillusioned with Martin and I fear that we will have the embarrassment of not only selling out St Mary's but if we get to Wembley not even selling out our allocation, such is the disenchantment amongst the fanbase.

The last two months have knocked the togetherness, character & fight out of the fans as well, but it has to be said that they have stuck with the team, travelling in numbers to all away games and backing the team, they feel let down by the manager.

A year ago we were desolate when we were getting relegated, this feels worse and surely that is wrong, we are still in the play offs and with a chance of promotion, but it doesn't feel like that.

Many would now say a short term appointment would at least restore team morale and give us a fighting chance in the play offs, I have met very few Saints fans who feel that Russell Martin is the man for the job whether we go up or down.

An outsider would say that this is harsh, after all he has taken us into the play offs and might yet take us to promotion, just what are we expecting, but this is far more complicated than that, it is about how Russell Martin has build the best squad in the division and has thrown it all away.

I'm sorry Russel but no togetherness, no character and no fight! you are completely right, yes the players have to shoulder some of the blame, but they have proved they had that in spades earlier in the season, togetherness, character & fight is what the manager has to build & nurture, he did that and then by his own actions tore it apart !

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SaintPaulVW added 11:04 - Apr 24
So after a record unbeaten run and into the playoffs - sack the manager.

Anyone got Claude Puel on speed dial?

We are a hit and miss side. Look at the Leeds game earlier in the season. Win against the run of form. This group at least deserves their well earned shot at the playoffs.


bartley41 added 11:17 - Apr 24
Sorry but I don't think Russel Martin has the ability to turn thing around.
The players must have now lost their confidence and his man management treatment of Joe Lumley says it all.
Constant team changes and a tippy tappy football does not produce goals, possession means nothing.
As for the play offs, very little chance of beating any of the other teams and getting promoted.
I just fear for the future unless there is a change at the top.

Ifonly added 11:30 - Apr 24
No we didn't have character and fight earlier in the season. What we had was a long unbeaten run where things were going our way. That's not the time to assess character and fight. You only see the real character when things are going against us, as they are now.

And yes, this is to do with tippy tappy football. Our players are only coached one way, to play pretty passes and walk the ball into the net. Sometimes you need the opposite. You need some crunching tackles and aggression. You need to launch the ball long and then fight for it. We will never see that under RM because that's not his way.

JGH added 11:54 - Apr 24
I get that last night was horrific and everyone has a right to be emotional about it but now is not the time for hyperbole around the manager.

We have our flaws but ultimately this is a good side which is there or there about at the points mark of our 2012 promotion year. There is a playoff campaign to look forward to and I'm unclear what the RM bashing is seeking to achieve.

You're an influential voice and trying to get the fanbase opposed to the manager (and like it or not therefore team) at this stage is not productive.

City_boy added 11:59 - Apr 24
If this is what Martin thinks, then he is more deluded than I thought. What bizarre and crazy statements to make after a performance like that. It is well documented my feelings about Jack Stephens, but putting that aside , why did he feel the need to say we would not have lost 5-0 if Jack had played ? That will only divide the squad (and fans) even more ?

He really has lost the plot.

I see BBC have an article saying Swansea are suing over breach of contract. Can we not just give him back ?

Rossm2006 added 12:04 - Apr 24
Agree with JGH

A week is a long time in football, look at Leicester. Lots of articles how no one liked their manager and they were done for. On the other hand we were the best thing since sliced bread again before Cardiff. We got tanked by the best team in the league away from home. Yes, they fell apart, i would think that has something to do with players having one eye on the play offs and recent injuries to colleagues when it went to 2-0. Should we do better, of course. We also took our eye off the ball before the game at anfield for a few weeks so plenty to learn from. It is a young team though.

At the start of the season i dont think too many would have had money on us still being in with a shout of the top two with a week or two of the season left. Lets be honest. After the prior season and the disjointed squad that was left, that woud have been a little optimisitic.

The play offs are a lottery but we have as good a chance as anyone. No one will fancy playing us when we click. We are playing some of the best football for a while, be careful what you wish for. Teams who go up with a hump it and lump it style never tend to fair that well. There is a plan in place.


mushinexile added 12:15 - Apr 24
The loanees dont want to get broken. The club players clearly don't like it here and want to go elsewhere. If they were giving blood for every yard on the pitch in order to grow into next season's premiership players, you would see it. But they don't.

JoeEgg added 12:27 - Apr 24
I think Russell Martin's comment about leaving Jack Stephens out was an appalling admission. Apparently RM doesn't read the criticism of his management style (so HE says), believes in Captain Jack, but then leaves him out of one of the biggest games of the season, and then ridiculously claims after the match to have made a mistake! Another one!!
Martin is clearly out of his depth and our current squad is not good enough or comfortable enough with his possession style of play. Martin isn't capable of playing any other way (again his words) and we need a manager better suited to the challenge of getting our players back into the Premier League.
I agree there should be no change for the rest of this season - but it appears that several of our better players will be on their way out of the Club at the end of the season, and it will then be necessary to start again. I would look for Steve Cooper or Graham Potter - and I've been saying this all season so this is not a knee jerk reaction on my part.
Through all this I haven't heard much from Sports Republic. Ultimately they will make the final decision about the manager for next season. What is clear however is that RM is losing the substantial support that he enjoyed from our super loyal fan base. At the end of the day that is the danger signal even Sports Republic cannot afford to ignore.

Block8 added 12:32 - Apr 24
We don't have the best squad in the division and I'm surprised you think we have?
There's all probability that we have the biggest, which is I believe part of the problem. Trying to keep everyone happy has led to changes that were not necessarily tactical but for the spirit of the group. What we do have is far to many wingers, far to few central strikers, or full backs that can defend and no real leaders on the pitch. I'm pretty certain that was what Russel was alluding to, not Jack's footballing ability but his leadership. Not entirely certain that I agree with that but I do know, from being there, that Jack gives his all every time he plays, if only he could keep his concentration!
Into the play offs we go COYR

kingolaf added 12:41 - Apr 24
If we can get Steve Cooper in now, then we should.

Regardless, Martin has to go at the end of the season. I have been saying this for a long time, he is a total fraud of a manager, a complete charlatan.

My only fear is that SR will appoint another idiot with a philosophy.

ItchenNorth added 12:42 - Apr 24
Yes, we all saw last night's performance, and yes we all have concerns about where the season might go, but really..............keep it until the end of the season review.

The player and the manager need us behind them for the last two games and Playoffs, not this pessimistic drivel that fuels fan's collective moaning and negativity. Blimey, thank goodness you aren't a Saints player. I wouldn't want you in my team when the going gets tough !

stmichael added 12:56 - Apr 24
Lots of personal opinions and very few facts.
Clearly suggesting that RM should be replaced , Jack Stephen’s is to blame for all our problems and if we hadn’t dropped Bernard Manning we would be 146 games unbeaten in all
Time for some reasonable adult thinking and planning for what is still a great opportunity to be promoted.
Dividing the fan base is not going to help.

sandywelsh added 13:01 - Apr 24
Russell Martin has lost the plot he needs to go at the end of the season! If by a miracle we were to go up with his style of management we would be lambs to the slaughter. I would like to see Mark Robins replace him in the Summer.

Jesus_02 added 13:16 - Apr 24
Understandably people are upset. However its worth accepting that our ability to fold like a paper bag did not start with Russel Martin.

We lost 5-0 to the team that will win the division with players they have acquired by breaching FFP even though they probably have the most finances in the division.

They have a better squad, a better manager and played with a freedom of a team that was already promoted.

Our League position and our points total is a fare reflection of what we might have expected having been relegated in last position by 6 points.

Time to get out of the bed change the sheets and look forward to a trip to Wembley

Jesus_02 added 13:16 - Apr 24
Understandably people are upset. However its worth accepting that our ability to fold like a paper bag did not start with Russel Martin.

We lost 5-0 to the team that will win the division with players they have acquired by breaching FFP even though they probably have the most finances in the division.

They have a better squad, a better manager and played with a freedom of a team that was already promoted.

Our League position and our points total is a fare reflection of what we might have expected having been relegated in last position by 6 points.

Time to get out of the bed change the sheets and look forward to a trip to Wembley

landsdownsaint added 13:22 - Apr 24
I feel sorry for RM atm , somethings are more important than football

Centurion added 13:40 - Apr 24
At the end of the day I anticipated a mid table finish. Therefore relatively happy with a play off finish whatever happens next.

LordDZLucan added 13:47 - Apr 24
Russell Martin’s comments were made as a reflection on what had just happened against Leicester and shouldn’t be taken in a wider context. Whilst we have had the highest scoring attack for most of the season we certainly haven’t had the tightest defence. The defence has been an accident waiting to happen all season and on occasions has been found out. Last night was one of those occasions. Hopefully in the playoffs we can refind our attacking mojo to compensate for the defensive issues. That was how we were getting results earlier on in the season.

WoolstonSaint2 added 13:49 - Apr 24
I have never been so infuriated watching Saints this season. Our tactics are awful, 65-70% possession and no shot on target- what is the point of this? When you play a competitive sport, you play to WIN. Last night was another complete embarrassment for our entire city on live TV. I am not buying another ticket until we change the way we play. Had enough now. I don't care whether we are 4th, 12th or 20th, but we always give every game a good go. That is the Southampton Way, not this current garbage.

IanRC added 13:56 - Apr 24
Frankly, the women’s season is about to finish and Marianne Spacey-Cale would probably do a better job than Martin in the playoffs. Any fool could see that balls over the top and speedy players were the answer but one speed Martin insists on playing out slowly.

SanMarco added 15:12 - Apr 24
I think the JS comment was a dig at the fans, most of whom he knows he has lost.

I doubt RM will be with us next season but sacking him now would be idiotic. Promotion then RM off to Brighton and a proper manager replacing him would be the ideal - but when did we ever get that?

I don't think we should get too personal about all this. RM has done exactly what it says on the tin that SR brought in. Those fans that feel 4th is an over-achievement will wonder what all the fuss is about!!

My fear is that SR have an appalling record over managerial appointments so to assume the next one will be more suitable may be over-optimistic..


PezzaSaint added 20:38 - Apr 24
I find RM’s press conferences rather bizarre at the best of times, but after the defeat last night bizarre is replaced with ridiculous! What on earth is he doing in saying we wouldn’t have lost 5-0 with JS in the team. It was nonsensical! He picks the teams!

I have a tendency to agree with those who say he’s lost the plot.


Boris1977 added 17:28 - Apr 25
Sports Republic hold entire responsibility for their transfer policy ahead of our last season in the premiership by buying/loaning in a load of youngsters rather than buying fewer but more focused personnel where they were genuinely required (GK, CB x 1 at least a a half decent striker). They stuck with poor Ralph into the new season and then rushed into appointing the Welsh loony. They then panic bought a world class midfielder and massive striker neither of who was given a chance. We were relegated as bottom club in a weak premiership. Then they haggle over £1m compensation for a average manager (based on his stats at his two previous clubs). Rather they again failed to strengthen in the vital areas again, got rid of our better players, including a proven championship striker, and bought an injured striker for 10m, who has played 10 mins of football all season. Sports Republic are a bunch of hedge fund managers making low stake investment in the hope of getting a higher return. A successful football club cannot be run on that basis. While they are the owners we'll keep getting spreadsheet managers but rarely will they be given funds to buy quality players to fulfil the style of football RM plays. RM will always be a championship manager because of his stubbornness. Decent managers will do whatever ever they need to win matches - even if that means dropping a so called philosophy and winning ugly.

I wonder where we'd be if alongside the man city loannee we bought in a seasoned CB and kept Tella this team would have done under RMs style of play?

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