The ShirleyMush View - Saints Go Native
Thursday, 24th Feb 2011 16:49 by ShirleyMush
ShirleyMush returns with his thoughts on the Hartlepool game
There has been much talk recently of Saints’ “glory” years under Lawrie McMenemy. I travelled to the Hartlepool game with a mate who had grown up watching the Saints teams of the early 1980s. I have often felt that this generation of supporters were rather spoilt by the quality of the football they witnessed during this period, as I can only imagine how exhilarating it must have been to see Kevin Keegan et al playing champagne football at The Dell. As a result of having missed all that, I am perhaps a little more tolerant of the mediocrity served up most weeks by the current Saints team. Sometimes I’m even grateful for having missed the McMenemy era. After all, if I’d seen the likes of Alan Ball and Steve Williams in Saints shirts, I might find it hard to stomach Dean Hammond too.
Hammond pretty much personified the grim fare served up in the north east on Tuesday night. Gritty, full of heart, but depressingly and frustratingly short of quality. Make no mistake, this was a game that did League 1 no favours from a marketing perspective. There was little in the way of atmosphere to compensate for the shortage of class, and the few “diamonds in the rough” that were on display failed to sparkle. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked jaded, Adam Lallana off the pace, and there were some desperate passages of play.
Just as it is hard to gauge whether this represented a point gained or two dropped, it is also difficult to judge whether Saints’ honest if rather toothless performance is indicative of progress or inertia. We have lost these games in the recent past. Defeats at Carlisle and Tranmere were huge blows to our promotion chances. Since the latter result, we are unbeaten in the league, but another trend has developed- in each fixture, Saints have tended to play at somewhere near the level of the opposition. A slick if ultimately fruitless exhibition of passing football against Manchester United was followed by a self-destructive capitulation at kamikaze Peterborough and a clueless display at home to an inept Carlisle team who at the time couldn’t win a raffle. At Victoria Park, Saints again took on the characteristics of their opponents- full of endeavour, but lacking in flair.
The team seem to be experiencing a personality crisis. Nigel Adkins displeasure about the players’ inability to play a quick passing game has been made increasingly public, but the suspicion remains that Adkins may not be the football purist he’d have us believe. His constant tinkering with the starting XI, as well as seeming to be counter-productive, also suggests that the game plan may alter from match to match too- something which would go some way to explaining the almost schizophrenic inconsistency of the team’s performances. It is, of course, difficult for Adkins. He inherited a relatively talented squad but also a high level of expectation, and is under pressure he probably hasn’t experienced before. Furthermore, like most managers arriving at a new club, he has felt the need to experiment in order to establish his strongest team. With a comparatively large squad, the agony of choice has come into the equation, and Adkins has been further hampered by injuries to key players. The experimentation has led to Saints exhibiting the symptoms of a patient with bipolar disorder- periods of intense creativity interspersed with spells of depression and despair.
Of course, we as supporters are largely powerless in all of this. We are the doting girlfriend of the manic depressive musician, helplessly watching as they spiral out of control, vicariously experiencing both the dizzy thrill of their highs and the anger and embarrassment of their lows. Sometimes they do things that are so reckless and stupid that we feel like giving up on them, but mostly we cling on in the hope that one day they’ll make another great artistic statement. Some recording artists don’t make a decent record for decades. Saints were at their creative peak between 1976 and 1985, before enjoying a brief return to form in 2003. Until they rediscover their muse, we’ll just have to encourage them as they produce lesser works.
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 30 bloggers
Matches of Yesteryear Special - U's v Bradford City 30/12/61 by wessex_exile
This one is a special for the Matches of Yesteryear series, as we step slightly outside the original concept of blogs related to my football memorabilia collection. I am delighted that our very own pwrightsknees approached me with an absolutely fantastic idea just before Christmas, and an idea that really deserves this specific slot in our football calendar. It is also particularly appropriate given the terrible coincidence that Martyn King sadly passed on Christmas Day, the all-time record league goal-scorer for the U’s with 130 goals (1959-64).
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Lincoln 27/10/18 by wessex_exile
Firstly, my apologies that this is a bit later than usual – it’s been a pretty hectic week at work, and by the time I got home last night, I was ready for a few beers and not a lot more. As we approach a vital double-header at home for the U’s promotion challenge, and on 12 games unbeaten, we come right up to date with an equally vital home game from last season.
Matches of Yesteryear - Cheltenham v U's 22/2/03 by wessex_exile
The U’s travel to the Globe Arena tomorrow, aiming at the very least to keep the unbeaten run going – though in truth after three somewhat disappointing draws against Exeter, Crawley and Stevenage, surely nothing less than three points is acceptable? Ahead of this trip, the Matches of Yesteryear random number generator has chosen a match which for me has a particularly bitter-sweet poignancy.
Manager interviews: Graham Barrow 1996-1999 by fitzochris
One name in Rochdale’s modern history that seems to be knocked more than most is that of Graham Barrow.
Matches of Yesteryear - Newport v U's 14/1/17 by wessex_exile
Ahead of tomorrow’s match at Stevenage, the Matches of Yesteryear random match selector has chosen one with some familiar faces in, one or two of whom we will see tomorrow, and one we probably won’t.
[ Vote here ]