It’s been little more than a week since the season ended, and against all odds, we got into Europe. Pages and pages have been written about that, so I won’t bore you with any more chat about that, apart from saying that it’s excellent, A Good Thing, and a huge step in the right direction after the summer we had last year.
Which is what I kind of wanted to talk about. Let’s not beat about the bush – last summer was rubbish if you were a Southampton FC fan.
Not only did you have to put up with losing your best (at the time) players to ‘bigger’ clubs with Champion’s League aspirations, you also had to put up with the ‘fans’ (inverted commas because nine times out of ten they’ve never seen ‘their club’ play home or away) of these clubs crowing on Twitter about how great it was that we were essentially being gutted for the benefit of the top 4 cabal.
I think there’s a bit of a hangover from it this summer, and you’d be forgiven for having more than a hint of trepidation after the last game of the season about what lies ahead in the summer.
Let’s be clear about this, as I have been all season: Morgan Schneiderlin is going to leave Southampton this summer, and it will be painful, because the odds are he’ll be playing (and playing well) against us next season.
But the majority of us knew this. I expect internally, the club knew this too. The chat that he had with Ronald Koeman and Les Reed last summer was probably something along the lines of ‘give it one more season and we’ll let you go’, and after seven years of playing for the club, you can hardly blame him for wanting a change of scenery.
It will be difficult to see, because I think that Morgan is very clear, and very good, at being enigmatic and typically French about these things. He’ll post cryptic messages on social media because, well, he wants to leave, and he wants to alert people to the fact that he wants to leave. His agent is probably telling him to do this too, to make the exit a bit more inevitable, and alert more clubs to his potential availability.
But let’s not forget that he also said a couple of weeks ago that he wants to play in the Champion’s League. That’s not an unfair goal to have as a professional – one who joined us as we were relegated to League One, and has stayed with us since then.
This season, he’s knuckled down and given us his best season in a Southampton shirt. And we should be thankful for that. Now we have to accept that he’s given us the season we wanted him to give us, and let him leave with our best wishes.
Last summer’s transfer window was horrible. And I think that as fans, we still bear the scars of it. The moment any story has been picked up on Twitter by a 14 year-old agent, or a syndicate of shit football blogs, there is a mini meltdown on the #SaintsFC hashtag.
‘For fuck’s sake – now we’re going to lose all of our best players again.’
Yes, we’ll probably lose a couple – I still think Clyne will leave along with Morgan. If Clyne won’t sign (forgive the rhyme) his new contract, then expect this to happen soon, and yes, probably for about £10-15 million – he’s in the last year of his contract, so don’t expect the big bucks. It’s simple economics. The only reason we got good (great) money for our outgoings last season was because they were all on long contracts. Clyne hasn’t got one. We either sell this summer, or lose him for less in January, or lose him for nothing next summer. It’s shit or get off the pot time for Clyne and the club.
But also, let’s not forget that for every Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana, there was a Ryan Bertrand and Sadio Mane. We’ll be getting players in, we’ll be strengthening the squad, and more importantly, we’ll have a manager at the helm all the way through it – somebody who was arguably our best signing last summer.
‘It’s going to be a long summer.’
Yes, it will be – if you read the tabloids. They’re bored – nothing is happening. There is no football. So how does The Sun fill it’s back pages? With transfer rumours, that’s what!
And just think – if you’re nervous now, wait until Neil Ashton starts tweeting!
So let them write these ridiculous stories, and laugh at them. True or not, it’s not going to destroy our club if any of these transfers happen. Look at last season – did we crumble?
We need to get over the sensitivity. The thin skin we developed over the last summer still seems to be there, and we have to do our best to heal it. Nobody else is going to help us.
Enjoy summer, remember that we’re going to be bringing players in, as well as losing them, and try not to have a tantrum when things don’t go our way – which in some cases, they won’t.
There are only two certainties with players and managers – either you’ll get rid of them, or they’ll get a better offer. The sooner we all adjust to that reality, the better. If you want proof of how well a supposedly disastrous transfer window went, just look back to last year.
So buckle down, enjoy your summer, and stay strong Saints fans – all will be well in the end.