23rd April 2011. St. George’s day.
Southampton travelled to the Withdean Stadium to face League One’s already crowned champions Brighton & Hove Albion.
A win would put them in second place and put the pressure on Huddersfield Town who weren’t playing. A tall order for Nigel Adkins side who were under intense pressure themselves to gain promotion.
Adkins’ entered the Withdean to a chorus of abuse after comments he made about Brighton having to ‘keep up’ with Southampton. This was the biggest game of the season.
Ashley Barnes put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half time. Saints created a flurry of chances in the final 10 minutes but to no avail. They’d lost 1-0. A Jose Fonte header at the death ruled out for a foul in the box the closest they came to snatching a point.
Despite overcoming Hartlepool United at home in the next game, Saints were drained of confidence and went down at Brentford. Main rivals for automatic promotion Huddersfield Town kept on winning, they even succeed where Saints failed, beating Brighton 2-3 at the Withdean to leapfrog us into second place. Saints win their game in hand at Plymouth but go into the final day needing to beat Walsall and hope that the Terriers lose at home to Brentford. Saints see off their Midlands rivals, but Huddersfield secure a thrilling 4-4 draw sealing automatic promotion. Saints face the lottery of the playoffs.
Saints face local ‘rivals’ Bournemouth in their semi-final and overcome them after extra time in the second leg at St. Mary’s to setup a final with Peterborough United at Old Trafford. Saints fail their final test and lose the playoff final on penalties. Jonathan Forte missing the decisive spot kick.
10th June 2011. Nigel Adkins and his backroom staff are relieved of their duties with immediate effect.
16th June 2011. The club release a statement from Katherina Liebherr announcing that as of today the club is for sale.
1st July 2011. Southampton Football Club is bought by a consortium of local businessmen. They talk of consolidation and rebuilding. Nicola Cortese is relieved of his duties as chairman.
4th July 2011. Rickie Lambert is sold to Brighton & Hove Albion for £1.2 million.
6th July 2011. Jose Fonte is sold to Crystal Palace for £850k.
9th July 2011. Adam Lallana and Lee Barnard are sold to Leicester City for a combined £2.8 million.
11th July 2011. Jason Dodd is appointed first team manager.
2011/12 League One.
As the new owners look to settle the club and clear what they call a ‘difficult financial situation’ they ensure fans that they have every confidence in the current squad and will be hoping for another promotion push.
Saints open the season at home to Bury and lineup like so:- Davis, Richardson, Seaborne, Martin, Dickson, Guly, Hammond (c), Schneiderlin, Chaplow, Connolly, Forte.
They secure a 1-1 draw and start the campaign with three consecutive ties. Dodd’s side look like the summer upheaval hasn’t effected them too much and they go on an unbeaten run in the league that lasts 19 games and takes them to the end of November. Although they are yet to be beaten they still trail Charlton Athletic by five points having drawn a lot of those games.
Saints suffer their first defeats of the season away at leaders Charlton and then at home to Bournemouth before getting back on track going into the January transfer window.
11th January 2012. Top scorer Guly do Prado is sold against his wishes to Birmingham City for £700k.
18th January 2012. Morgan Schneiderlin is sold to Reading for £1.5 million.
20th January 2012. Southampton announce the double signing of Matt Ritchie from Swindon Town and Tyrone Barnett from Crawley Town for undisclosed fees.
Saints find their form again despite supporter unrest given the transfer dealings of the club in January. The club’s owners move to reassure the fans that no business was done without the best interest of the club at heart.
With eight games to go, Saints are still within three points of automatic promotion, sadly those eight games would see them have their worst run of the season, losing four and eventually finishing 4th, twelve points adrift of 2nd placed Sheffield Wednesday.
Saints overcome Milton Keynes Dons in the playoff semi finals before facing Sheffield United in the final at Wembley. The game ends 0-0 after extra time and goes to penalties. With the scores at 7-7, the captain Dean Hammond steps up knowing if he scores Saints are back in the Championship.
To be continued…