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From The Spot - Promotion Again At Last
From The Spot - Promotion Again At Last
Wednesday, 4th May 2011 09:03 by Spot51

Spot takes a look at promotion.


I know the Saints won a promotion or two when I was a kid but they barely

registered in my young mind. The first and only previous one that mattered in my

life as a Scummer was in Spring 1978 (see earlier From the Spot columns).

 

Saints were top flight when I began following them in 1973/74 but were cruelly

relegated by the new fangled “Three up - Three down” rule at the end of that

season. A four year exile in Div 2 followed but at least this included our

wonderful cup exploits of the mid 70s. Then in the spring of 78 we clambered

over Brighton and Spurs to secure second place behind Frank Worthington’s Bolton

Wanderers.

 

Saints became a fixture in the top flight of English football for nigh on 30

years until the horrors of the “Noughties” saw us drop not once, but twice.

It is not my intention to scratch old wounds and debate why all that happened -

or indeed why we are now, at long, long last on the road back. What happened

happened yet if you put 20 Saints fans in a room to debate our club’s recent

history, I guarantee you’d get 20 different versions of the story - and probably

an ugly ruck too. So bollocks to all that stuff. We are where we are - GOING UP.

 

Yet we all know the job is not complete. Personally I still feel “out of pocket”

promotion-wise. I’ve witnessed just two promotions to three relegations FFS!

I want my missing promotion, pretty please, to put my football life back in

balance. Love him or hate him, Nicola Cortese, is a man with a plan and if that

plan comes to fruition within his time parameters then I for one will be

eternally grateful.

 

But I’m getting beyond myself now - we have yet to savour our current promotion.

We have to make sure Walsall don’t wop us 15-0 on Saturday and let the Terrier’s

back in. Next we have to re-establish ourselves as a Championship side.

 

Our last spell in the Championship was largely unenjoyable but even that had

some good moments. We got a shot at the play-offs for the first time in our

history. I’ll make an admission here. I was never very confident we’d succeed

via that route and my feeling of gloom was enhanced when Derby turned us over at  SMS. Our stirring efforts up at their place were thwarted (why is there no away

goals rule in these games FFS?) and from then on it was downwards all the way!

 

But now the Saints are coming back. We can attach our pendulum to a different

fulcrum and must learn how to get out of the Championship via the other door

next time.  The Championship is a decent league, full of decent clubs and the

prospect of doing battle with them excites me. Let us take a look at the likely

make-up of that division next season.

 

Those who are already there include Millwall, Burnley, Hull, Leicester, Ipswich,

Watford, Boro, Bristol City, PORTSMOUTH, Coventry, Barnsley, Derby, Palace,

Donny and very probably Leeds. Coming up with us and Brighton will surely be

Huddersfield via the play-offs. In the Championship playoffs we have Cardiff,

Swansea, Reading and probably Forest. Three of these of course will be

disappointed. Difficult to see how these matches will pan out but, if pushed, I

have a sneaking feeling it could be Reading that go up.

 

Who will come down from the Prem? Frankly I haven’t a clue. With 3 games left

and 9 possible points for the relegation battlers to compete for, a lot of

clubs still have work to do. Stoke and West Brom (10th and 11th) are probably

safe but Newcastle, Villa, Sunderland, Birmingham and Blackburn need a few more

points to ensure safety.

 

Barring uncharacteristic runs of form, it looks like the current bottom four are

most likely to provide the other three Championship sides for 2011-12. West Ham

and Wolves, currently the bottom two, both have 3 potentially winnable games and could perhaps get clear. Wigan still have to go to Villa and Stoke so their home

game with West Ham has massive significance. Blackpool, just one goal better off

than Wigan, must visit Tottenham and Old Trafford. They look stuffed TBF.

 

From an entirely selfish point of view, I’d like to see West Ham stay up. They

may well deserve to be relegated but, of the clubs that could come down, they

look best equipped to bounce straight back - they’ve done it often enough in the

past. So I’m hoping West Ham beat the drop and we are playing Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool next season.

 

As a recently retired gent, I may even consider going to an away game or two

next season. With bigger stadia, I’m hopeful away tickets may be slightly easier

to obtain in the Championship. There are a few grounds I’ve never been to but

mostly we’ll be playing in places I’ve visited before - but not for a long, long

time.

 

There is no doubt Southampton as a club has what it takes to compete in the

Championship. The question we must address this summer is - do we have the

squad? Hold on tight - it is starting to get rather exciting!

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FrenchChris added 09:19 - May 4
Great article, Spot. Again. Well done, Sir.
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jehram added 10:14 - May 4
Spot on

although, from an even more selfish point of view, I'd quite like West Ham to be relegated as it'd be a handy away day for me next season.
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