‘It’s always nice to give new bloggers a platform to start on, and we here at georgeweahscousin.com are always open to anyone who wants to have their say be it as a one off or a regular thing, so don’t hesitate to contact us. To that end we are pleased to give a debut to Josh Richards…. Enjoy!’ Chris
“ I told you so.”
A phrase I heard a lot when the final whistle sounded shortly after 14:30pm on Saturday 15th August. The outcry of emotions from a section of Southampton Fans was at the time, in my opinion completely justified.
Everton were a team that had finished four places and thirteen points below Saints in the previous season. They were a team that had laboured to a draw in their opening match against newly promoted Watford, and a team that had one new addition in their ranks, the much criticized; Tom Cleverley. Once you add in the fact that Everton have a miserable record on the South Coast then you can understand the confidence and the almost arrogance among Saint fans that we should be “beating” Everton at home.
However, football has the tendency to “tear up the script”. Everton came to the fortress St. Mary’s and produced a dominant away performance and came away with a deserved 3-0 victory.
What followed and what I saw after, especially on social media, mainly twitter was a real sense of anger from the fans directed at the club. Anger at not spending the money we have generated, anger at the signings we have made, anger for letting our best players go. I’m ashamed to admit it but I was one of those fans. In the aftermath of the Everton defeat I tweeted:
“ Break the bank to get Virgil in”
I was angry at how our rock solid defence had easily shipped 3 goals, I was angry at how Saints had been smashed at home. Like a large section of fans I had also been less than impressed by the new signings.
On the 12th of August I tweeted:
“ After all the class midfielders we have been linked with… sorry but i’m a bit negative”
This was in reference to Saints signing Oriol Romeu.
I was in complete agreement with many other fans, that our summer spending and our recruitment hadn’t altered the fact that our squad is no stronger than it was at the end of last season.
The focus of my anger was purely that I perceived Saints to be going backwards. After making such a stellar start last season, I was frustrated at how things at Saints were looking now.
But seriously, How Naive was I being, and how desperate did I sound?
Six years ago, on August 18th 2009 Southampton FC had just lost 1-0 to Swindon at the County Ground, which made it a less than impressive start to life in League One. Yet here I am, with Saints on the cusp on reaching the group stages of the Europa League and as an established Premier League club and I am complaining.
Every Fan has the right to get annoyed at losing our best players and while we will always want to get one over on Liverpool and Spurs for the obvious reasons, they are simply bigger clubs than us. Toby Alderwerird is a prime example of this, he chose Spurs because they are a bigger club, and anyone thinking that Spurs are not a step up from Saints is frankly delusional. Our own incredible success over the last 12 months has made us as fans believe that we should be going toe to toe with these clubs and here I think is where the problem lies.
The success over the last 6 years has heightened expectations, and fans want to immediate improvement. Our unbelievable season last time out has fans wanting instant rewards and to finish even higher again. However, lets not forget where we have come from and lets not forget that our business plan has got us this far.
I realised I had been acting much the ‘fickle’ fan. How do I have the right to question Southampton FC? A club that with an astute business plan and model that has taken us from League One football in 2009 to flirting with the Champions League in 2015. How can I question the club when it had £90 million worth of players ripped out of it last Summer and yet still managed to overcome the odds and finish in 7th. The rise has been remarkable and the business model has been immaculate. Yes, i was getting annoyed at the other clubs making “big signings” Firstly Swansea signed Ayew, Palace picked up Cabaye and then Stoke brought in Shaqiri, but this is not in Southampton’s Business model and this is not how we do things. I had let my frustration and negativeness cloud my judgement over Southampton’s transfer policy.
How many clubs have over-invested in the last 8-10 years in search of the holy grail of Champions League football and failed? How many clubs have run out of money and had all their assets stripped?
How do you really think the fans feel down at the other end of the M27?
Did their business model work? I seem to remember them chucking money at “big” players in a scatter gun approach to instant improvement.
Should Saints really abandon their principles just because of a bad start?
I, like any fan hate the fact we sell our best players, I also hate any game in which Southampton lose, I also getting frustrated when things aren’t going well, but these are knee jerk reactions, reactions because I care but ultimately born out of frustration than logic. I need to have an open mind and put things into perspective.
Do I think the squad is stronger than last season? Do I think we have a better starting 11?
The answer to both is no, but the fact is that Southampton and more importantly Ronald Koeman has earned the right not to be questioned.
Southampton’s clever strategic method has got us to where we are today. We have a well respected manager and a talented squad full of internationals. We should not be moaning, we should be embracing the fantastic challenge we have to face this season safe in the knowledge that Southampton Football club is well looked after.
Lets not forget where Southampton have came from and what we stand for. We should be flattered by the interest from the bigger clubs, it is a statement of how far we have come and it is testament of the great work that Southampton continue to do.
If memory serves me well, we saved the best two transfers of last season to the last day of the window.
I am really looking forward to the rest of the season for Southampton, and hopefully being able to say…
‘I told you so.’