Here is another piece, by guest contributor Simon Hall. Chris.
Patience is a virtue
There is an inescapable truth that comes with Southampton’s return to the Premier League: next season. We are going to lose matches, and we are going to be losing with far more regularity than we have been used to in the last three seasons. This is a truth that will be difficult for many to accept, such has been the gradient of our rise through the lower leagues of English football.
Throughout the 2012/2013 season we must remember that a 17th place finish would constitute a successful campaign for Southampton FC. Of course we all hope for something rather more impressive and to surprise a few doubters along the way but survival must surely be Nigel Adkins’ mission. With this in mind, it is worth noting that QPR lost an incredible 21 matches on their way to 17th last season. Even West Brom, who finished in the top half, succumbed to 17 defeats through the 2011/2012 campaign.
These stats simply prove the point that the Premier League is a uniquely difficult place to thrive and that Saints will undoubtedly lose many games next season, even if the team exceeds expectations. Importantly, when we lose these games the reaction must not be ‘Adkins out’, ‘that Scouser doesn’t have the experience to manage a Premier League outfit’ and such like. In Adkins, I firmly believe we have an exceptionally talented manager, one who has done more than enough to warrant a fair and extended shot at the Premier League. But in order to succeed he will need support and stability embedded within the entire club, even if his team is losing matches frequently.
Ultimately, much of this boils down to the enigma that is loyalty in football. For me, loyalty must start with the fans, particularly at a club like Southampton. If we as supporters display faith and patience in Nigel Adkins and his team (especially through the likely difficult times next season) then we earn the right to expect a degree of loyalty in return when the ‘bigger’ clubs come calling.
But why are fans’ faith, patience and loyalty particularly important for Saints? Well, because the club has set itself the admirable aim of sourcing half of its first team players from the its own academy in future. Our young stars need to be shown that they will be given a fair viewing by fans and, more importantly, the time to develop and succeed in the first team. Perhaps then fans’ patience will be rewarded and we can all start to dream of even bigger and better things.