In a brand new feature, we're delighted to present our very first Total Saints Opinion.
TSO will help showcase the thoughts and views from our global Total Saints patrons and partners.
This initial offering comes courtesy of Alistair Downs, a US-based Saints fan and dedicated TSP patron.
"I recently listened to an interview with our old friend Brett Ormerod – his insights into the ‘buzz’ in the Saints dressing room during the relegation season of 2005 was a stark reminder of the brutal reality of a Football Club in terminal decline; player factions, rifts, toxic atmospheres and low moral – yet I can still remember Jason Dodd telling us that the lads were “all together and ready to fight for the shirt” etc.
The fact is that us fans will always be shielded from such realities by the Club itself and perhaps rightly so – the old adage of the sausage factory probably rings true to Football Clubs. I suppose, if we got to know the half of it, we’d likely be regularly appalled!
That said, the noise coming out of the Saints squad right now does seem to fit with the general consensus among fans that the (immediate) future is positive for the team.
Contract extensions, England call-ups and swift business in the transfer market are a welcome contrast to the last few summers where we have been somewhat hanging on for last minute deals that, in hindsight, were either a complete waste of time (Kevin Danso) or an utter financial disaster (Guido Carillo, Wesley Hoedt, Mario Lemina etc. - you get the point!)
From the outside looking in, it does feel as though the Club has gotten back onto firmer ground with regards to recruitment and management of outgoings. The fact we have sold our previous Captain, with minimal disruption, bears this out. It will be an interesting side-show this season to watch how Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg fairs under Jose Mourinho, who is doing all he can to big him up to the Spurs fans as a ‘major coup.’
Another reason to feel optimistic is that the list of ‘unknowns’ coming into this season is practically zero compared to 12 months ago:
Does the manager know his preferred line-up and system? Yes!
Will the new signings fit into that system? Yes!
Can our current defence hold it’s own until the new signings bed in? Yes!
Can our strikers stay fit all season and be consistent? EMPHATICALLY YES!
It’s nice to be heading into the season with most questions answered and a feeling of ‘at least we know what we are going to get’ – which I believe will be a team that can compete in every game that they play.
Past seasons presented a number of fixtures that appeared to be write-offs before a ball had been kicked, but that is something that our post-lockdown form APPEARS to have since put to bed (apart from Arsenal - but that’s almost a given with Saints!).
I must admit, all of this optimism is far removed from my general state of being and so inevitably I end with a word of caution.
Whenever Saints have approached such levels of ‘stability’ or ‘certainty’, under the likes of Strachan or Koeman for example, a car crash in our fortunes has never been far away - be it triggered through changes in the boardroom, loss of star players or managers etc.
For now at least, ahead of the new season kicking off, lets enjoy 2 weeks of unabashed enthusiasm for the Saints. We’ve all earned that, haven’t we?
5.45pm on Saturday September 12th will tell us a lot about the reality of that 'buzz'.....and how long it may remain!"
Written by Alistair Downs
Uploaded by Ben Stanfield
(Photo by Matt Watson, Southampton Football Club)