It struck me how the central theme to NBC’s documentary on Southampton Football Club was clearly how positive the staff and players think. There is no bitterness towards those who have left with everyone just focusing on the future and rising above any negativity that may surround them in the press. We as the fans should take this onboard.
The summer of 2014 was a rough one but let’s be honest the club has had far more difficult situations to over come and has survived. We lost a manager and some players and before that at the beginning of the year a chairman who played a pivotal role in Saints getting back into the Premier League. But through all of this every message coming out of the club (ignoring some personal expressions by the odd player) felt calm as they looked towards the future. The fact is we will never really know just what happened behind those closed doors beyond piecing together a few interviews from those who left. That summer feels so far away now I think we can start to forgive and forget.
So I’d like to propose some 2015 resolutions for Saints fans:
But wait, before some of you read this, get angry and skip straight to the comments or Twitter to have a go at me read the final paragraph, take a deep breath and then come back to my points…
1) Drop the anti Pochettino chant.
Yeah it was funny the first few times but we should face the fact that Mauricio played a central role into getting us to where we are today and has never said anything negative about the club. It was tough to see him leave in those circumstances but he does deserve some respect. Also Koeman has expressed how he didn’t like the way Saints fans treated Poch at the Spurs v Saints match so why should we not show the same respect our new and fantastic manager has shown? I’d rather we showed Ronald why he should renew his contract in three years rather than leave him thinking Saints fans may turn on him as well.
Update: as an idea why not change the lyrics to the names of those who have come or are coming through the academy? Would be a super positive way to show the clubs strength.
Gallagher, Reed and Ward-Prowse
Isgrove, Targett and McQueen
Turnball, Stephens and Mugabi
The Saints go marching on on on!
We could then update this every year with the latest names.
2) Stop booing ex-players.
When Chambers touched the ball at the Arsenal match and the boos rung out it was sad to hear. Why on earth we would want to create a hostile environment for players that came through our academy and first team is beyond me. Yes some of the players perhaps didn’t handle leaving the club very well but we should be the bigger party and show them why they should have stayed by welcoming them in the same way we did Walcott and The Ox. When Lallana takes to the field against us we should give him the applause he deserves for playing such an important role in getting us back to the league we belong in.
The fact is football is a business and a career for the staff and players. If someone is offering them what they believe is a new challenge (with more money of course – a topic of debate for another day) then they are likely to take it. We as fans should respect this no matter how our initial emotion based knee-jerk reaction feels. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but important to stay grounded and realistic.
Also do you really want to create a hostile environment where an ex-player who because they came through our academy is likely very skilled, will want to use this skill to prove a point and score against us? I don’t.
It is very likely that other players will leave this summer. I hope we can keep all of them but we all know how the football world works. Let’s not start a negative trend of throwing insults at every ex-Saints player who has decided to move on. We should thank them, wish them well and welcome them back on their return. Plus when a player leaves it gives our academy and scouting set up a chance to show once again why they’re the best in the world.
3) Create more positive songs.
We have a good nack for creating anti ex-players and managers songs, let’s put that effort into more positive songs about our current players and team.
4) More controversially and probably less likely…lets tone down the amount of abuse Pompey gets.
It is a very sad state Portsmouth found themselves in and I’d far rather we want South Coast football to thrive rather than see our derby opponents go out of business. Imagine if Brighton, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton all got into the Premier League and challenged the London and Northern clubs? It would certainly help encourage top players to move down here.
Friendly rivalry is one thing but the weird bitter vitriol that some fans aim at Pompey is beyond me. Once upon a time Saints and Pompey fans would support each other.
I’d also love to see an annual Summer South Coast Youth Cup where the under 21s for the Seagulls, Cherries, Pompey and Saints face off against each other. Wouldn’t that be great? What an excellent way that could be to help grow South Coast football. Get it streamed live on YouTube and hosted at St Mary’s stadium with free tickets to under 16 year old fans of each team. Also no segregation of fans, everyone in it together enjoying the sport just like in Cricket and Rugby.
We’re in a very new situation for the Saints and one that we all hope will last and be built on for years to come. We all want to see this be the way the club pushes forward every season from now on and we as the fans should start to rise above the negativity that we may have towards some individuals. We should applaud our rivals and give those who helped us reach these new heights the respect they arguably deserve, no matter how controversially they may have left. I hope we can start to be even more positive than we already are and make players and football staff want to come to our club and stay because of the great way we treat everyone.
Yeah I know this won’t be a popular post with some people, but I hope it gets my point across. Now please don’t think I am having a go at our fans, far from it. We have some of the best in the league and show fantastic support for a team that has had a difficult few years. We’re now seeing the rewards of great support for a great organisation. I feel we should start showing the world even more why Southampton is a club they will want to support.
Staying positive through the most difficult and dark moments creates an even stronger foundation to build.
Whatever happens – #WeMarchOn