I’m sure that we can all be excused for feeling a little bit smug at the moment. After all – who expected Southampton FC to be in this position at this point in the season?
Not the pundits, not even us. What we have seen over the past couple of months is nothing less than a well-managed miracle being worked here on the south coast, under the stewardship of a board, Director of Football and manager who refused to get swept away with the media doom-mongering taking place over the course of the summer.
Not only have we replaced the players that have left, we have bought shrewdly and have managed to strengthen in almost every position. That the return of Jay Rodriguez is being seen as a bonus rather than a necessity is a testament to the players who have stepped in to fill his boots.
Shane Long for me is one of the most industrious strikers we have had at the club since Brett Ormerod. For the record, I don’t think he will ever get into double figures for us – I don’t think that he is a goalscoring forward. But what he will be is a massive pain in the arse for teams playing against him. We need hard-workers in the team, something else for defenders to think about, to drift into attacking positions and drag defences out of shape, to allow players like Pelle, Mane and Tadic to work their magic. We have an embarrassment of riches, but we still need the hard workers to allow them to do their work.
As for Tadic and Pelle? Well, I’ll let their stats do the talking:
The most curious thing about our good form in my opinion is the total lack of magnanimity amongst some fans, and pundits, particularly those of them who support one of the big four clubs.
Their fans sit behind their laptops in Surrey, Dubai, Malaysia and Ohio, writing endless platitudes about how players like Radamel Falcao will come good, how Ballotelli will come good, how *insert expensive foreign import* will come good. They probably sit in your office, discussing their football team as if it is some kind of global commodity, probably terrified of not getting into the Champions League in case another Big Star ™ chooses to spurn them for their ‘second side’, Real Madrid or Barcelona. They picked their football team like they pick their baseball caps – they go for the biggest team, or the one with the nicest colours.
They don’t care about football. I’d probably argue that the global marketing of football has probably done more harm to the game than good. But that’s another blog post for another time. And I will come back to it.
What I am trying to say is that at this moment in time, whilst I’d never argue that Southampton FC are a small club, we are certainly not one of the big fish. And the big fish hate it. Their fans hate it even more.
So when you go into work tomorrow and talk about how well we did at the weekend, just remember that the person who wears the full Liverpool kit to five-a-side, who tells you to ‘wait until May’ (when the footballing gods predict that natural order should be restored) is secretly scared shitless.
And enjoy that.