‘It’s always great when we have guest contributors on gwc.com, and especially so when it is someone as respected as Ben Stanfield. Here he has a rallying cry for everyone associated with the club after a difficult week! Over to you Ben!’ – Chris
Many of us never chose to be Saints fans. For the majority, it was already chosen for us before we could even put one step in front of the other. It was in our blood. The red blood cells and the white blood cells. Circulating all our bodies in a proud, striped formation.
Sure some decide, once they can walk, that they’d prefer to sit in an armchair and ‘support’ a team who play on TV each week, spend vast sums of money on any player they like and who often retain Premier League trophy after Premier League trophy. But that’s the easy option.
Being a Saints fan – and always remaining a Saints fan – is about a number of things. It’s certainly not about the easy option.
It’s about being able to successfully manage the emotional rollercoaster that you will sit on every week.
It’s about not getting too carried away when you win a game. It’s about not getting too despondent when you lose a game.
Its appreciating that, however well the Club are doing during a particular season, you simply won’t have a right to win every single game you play. You will definitely lose some. Unfortunately.
Its appreciating that, when it comes to managers, the Club aren’t a ‘hire them, fire them’ organisation. Managers will always get the time they deserve to try and deliver the best they can.
Its appreciating that, whether we like it or not, players will be sold. Players who can, and will, demand far higher wages from the top Clubs in Europe, compared to that which we will ever likely be able to offer.
It’s about appreciating the positive achievements that are made, and not purely focusing on the negatives.
It’s about appreciating that every season will throw up different challenges. Challenges that will test both you and your support.
But it’s certainly not just about us as fans. The Club have their own responsibilities as well.
They have a responsibility to inspire the next generations of fan.
They have a responsibility to make that next generation of fan want to visit St. Mary’s week in, week out.
They have a responsibility to make that next generation of fan want to wear their Saints shirt in public, with pride.
The Club have a responsibility to show the commitment to deliver as many of the hopes and expectations that fans have.
To employ staff, both on and off the pitch, who want to entertain. Who want to embrace ‘The Southampton Way’.
They also have a responsibility to achieve as much of the above whilst managing themselves, and their finances, astutely and accurately.
They most definitely have a responsibility to make sure that that next generation of fan doesn’t take the easy, armchair, option mentioned above.
But it’s not just about the Club. Or the fans. It’s about the manager too.
The manager has a duty to get results.
The manager has a duty to motivate and inspire his players.
The manager has a duty to adapt formations. Tactics. Personnel.
The manager has a duty to inspire the next generation of fans as well. To play a brand of football that is expected of Southampton. By pressing. By being exciting. By being fast-paced. By ultimately being rewarding.
But it’s not just about the manager. Or the Club. Or the fans. It’s about the players too.
As long as they are employed by Southampton Football Club, the players have a duty to put on that red and white shirt and give everything they have. Every week.
They have to be able to adapt to any formation/tactic any manager asks of them.
They have to each shoulder their own responsibility. Whether it’s being the first to take a shot. Make a tackle. Win a header. They should always have that mentality to want to be the first to do something. Not the last.
They have a duty to entertain. To inspire. To motivate. Both each other and their fans.
They have a duty to sign autographs. To have photographs taken. To smile.
They have a duty to remember that they have the best job in the world and, in many of our completely bias red and white opinions, the opportunity to play for the best team in the world.
If, as a fan, a Club, a manager and a player you can appreciate, cope with and deliver all of the above then that’s the true test of being a Saint!
Anyone can take the easy option. But not just anyone can be a Saint.