Last week, I made an off-the-cuff remark about Southampton fans on Twitter taking a break during the january transfer window.
If there’s one thing that we need to have learned from the tumultuous summer transfer window, is that we need to take everything that’s shared on social media with a massive pinch of salt.
The to-ing and fro-ing is already beginning on there – and feelings are clearly raw. With our head of recruitment having handed in his notice last week, the more panicky fans amongst us are already starting to fear a January exodus.
This is not going to happen.
The reasons behind this are very clear:
1. We are doing very well in the league at the moment, and with that in mind, the players will want to stick around and at least see out the remainder of the season. Nathaniel Clyne, Morgan Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez are all going to be linked with clubs over the next two months – but why would they want to leave at this stage of the season?I am not for one moment suggesting that these players will be staying at the club out of any loyalty to Southampton FC, or the fans – it’s a simple case of hedging your bets.
I think that, in our heart of hearts, we know that Morgan Schneiderlin will probably be leaving us this summer. He wants Champions League football, and if we do not qualify for that (which we probably won’t), he will be looking to leave.After seven years with us, who would begrudge him that?
But the simple reality is that the big business is rarely done in the January transfer window. It is a market for the desperate (Andy Carroll, Fernando Torres). It is saved for the summer.If we do ship out players, it will be ones that we do not need, or do not fit in with the future plans of the squad. I would pop Jack Cork, Emmanuel Mayuka and Paulo Gazzaniga into that bracket.
Cork may raise a few eyebrows amongst you, but look at it this way: he hasn’t signed a contract extension yet, Harrison Reed is coming on in leaps and bounds, and Cork wants to play every week. I can see him joining Palace, Leicester or even re-joining Burnley at a push in January.
2. We have a manager that the players believe in.
Ronald Koeman was, in short, an inspired appointment by Les Reed and Ralph Krueger. He is a great man manager with a firm-but-fair disciplinarian streak.
His reputation as a player at the very highest level, as well as his record in previous roles, means that he has generated a degree of respect from players previously in thrall to Mauricio Pochettino’s approach.
The players want to play for, and please somebody like Ronald. They like him, and respect him, and that can only be a good thing for the future of the club. He also seems to be a man of principle, which explains why he left Feyenoord at the end of his contract, rather than walking out on them. We are giving him a lot of support at the moment, and he seems to love the way we work, and the project that we are embarking on. If we want to continue to do well, this is the man we should be focussing on keeping.
3. The clubs the players are linked with are not currently performing well. Why would you currently join Liverpool or Spurs? Realistically, the most these teams can aim for is a Europa League spot and a cup run – things that we are currently challenging for.Both Spurs and Liverpool are in a tricky phase at the moment. Their managers are being backed by their respective owners – for now.
But look at Brendan Rodgers in particular. Over the course of his 1st two seasons at Liverpool, he was almost entirely reliant on the form of arguably one of the finest strikers ever to play in the Premier League, Luis Suarez. Besides that, and the capture of Coutinho, his signings have raised a few eyebrows on the terraces. So far this season, his key signings have failed to shine.
Adam Lallana, who we know is an excellent player (through gritted teeth, admittedly), has failed to step up, and has been given limited opportunities to shine. Dejan Lovren has been a flop, as is Ballotelli. Rickie Lambert has been criminally underused.In addition to this, players who performed well last season (Henderson and Coutinho), seem to have stalled this season.
All of this seems to point to the fact that Brendan might not be the perma-tanned, Jose´-esque supremo that he thought he is.
Where to start with Spurs? I don’t want to lay the boot into a club which so many people I know support, but this season they are unarguably reaping the seeds of their bad transfer decisions over the past two years.Simply put – like Liverpool, they sold an irreplaceable player in Gareth Bale, and have replaced him with a multitude of players that do not fit or seem to show any desire to fit in to the squad.
Pochettino was clearly bought in to shape this team of individuals into a squad without spending a king’s ransom on replacements – a tough job for many people. I would suggest that their main order of business in January will be to ship out before they ship in, with the hope that they can rally and consolidate this season. There seems to be a long-term plan at Spurs, which Pochettino may be a part of. That, for me, rules out any big signings in this transfer window. Expect more outs than ins at the lane, on the playing side at least.
So, event with those reasons in mind, it may transpire that from a social media and tabloid perspective, we may still have a tough January.
Journalists like Neil Ashton will always try to stir the pot. The reasoning behind this is simple – tabloids abhor a vacuum, as does Twitter. A lot of tabloid journos will see this information vacuum as an opportunity to gain a few page-views and kick-start a debate. You can’t blame them for this – their careers are reliant on this. But that doesn’t mean that you have to listen to them.
Twitter at it’s very worst (speaking as a social media manager) is an outrage machine. Journalists, for better or worse, know this, and they play to it when it suits them. It keeps the lights on.
But you have a choice. If you don’t like Neil Ashton, mute him. If you don’t like transfer speculation from all of those shady transfer rumour accounts/14 year-old ‘agents’, then block them.
Take control of the #SaintsFC Twitter feed this January. Follow people who you trust, listen to people who you trust (I do recommend listening to Alex Crook – although he doesn’t always report positive stories, he at the very least does seem to give a toss, and engage with the fans. He is honest, and although I have had a pop at him occasionally, I do respect him).
This January will be bumpy in the press – and a lot of people will be trying to destabilise the club via the press. If you don’t like it – try not to read it.
As long as we stick together as fans on Twitter, they can’t break us. Let’s focus on the football this January, and not the speculation.