Ralph Krueger Departure ! The Reaction !
Friday, 12th Apr 2019 11:30
The news that Ralph Krueger has left Southampton Football Club after 5 years has come as a shock, here we take a look at the ramifications of his departure.
The first thing that is strange is the timing of the announcement, whilst all appears to be amicable with all parties including Krueger saying nice things, the day before a big game and with our season still far from over in terms of avoiding relegation, it does not make sense to rock the boat at at this time, surely better to wait a week or two when our safety is secured.
It tends to suggest the departure that although abrupt is amicable, there has been speculation of late that Krueger is about to be offered a big job back in Ice Hockey and that could have played a part, perhaps there has been a mutual agreement in place that he could go ahead of his contract ending if that came up.
It should be noted and some could not quite grasp this, that Kreuger was a figurehead CHairman, he was there in a part time capacity to oversee and counsel, not to make everyday decisions, this could have played some part in Gao' s thinking perhaps he wants someone who can be there more often and be more hands on.
Some Saints fans have been quick to jump on Krueger at any opportunity and have asked what is an Ice Hockey coach doing at a football club, the simple answer was that in many respects Krueger was one of the most qualified Chairmen in the Premier League he was not at the club for footballing decisions, but to oversee a sporting business and he had a lot of experience in doing that.
From this point Krueger's term at St Mary's will be seen as one of success, but surely it would have been better to wait till relegation has been avoided to let him leave without the opportunity for some to question him, but there can be no denial, Krueger has outperformed most of his peers in the Premier League in terms of what is a realistic expectation of what Saints can achieve going forward, his biggest problem has always been the ghost of Nicola Cortese forever in the background and the boasting of Champions League football.
Too many fans took these words as a rod to use on Krueger, when you look at his time here most of it has been positive, targets need to be stretching and achievable, Champions League football was very stretching when we returned to the Premier League 7 years ago, the increased dominance of the Big Six financially has made it even more impossible, yet some have chosen to ignore that and think that finishing 4th in the Premier League is an easy task and all it needs is the ambition to do it, idle boasting has never been ambition although some seems to think it was.
Therefore Krueger has always been struggling to put a sense of realism back into the supporter base, recently the tlk behind the scenes has been more about refocusing the future planning and putting in place realistic levels of expectation, that was more about finishing 7th and chasing Europe and a cup final than Champions League, this is stretching in that we have rarely actually done that in our history and achievable in that we have done it more often in the last 5 years that at any time other than the late 70's/ early 80's under Lawrie McMenemy.
One thing it does show though is that Gao is not as remote from the club as many Saints fans have been claiming on social media, ill informed comments have been the order of the day on the internet since Gao arrived, those close to the club know that the owner has been far from passive, he has had his people involved and observing just how the club is run since day one.
It seems now he is flexing his muscles and ready to move the club forward the way he wants to, whether that is a good or bad thing is a different story, certainly Krueger was a voice of reason to him and a good counsel, just who replaces him will be crucial.
For some Saints supporters there will be celebration at this news, they have been sniping at Krueger for five years they have never been quite able to accept the job he has done and where it sits in the history of the club.
Krueger has built some solid foundations from what was basically sand back in 2014, hopefully Gao can now take us forward, perhaps he has the man in mind already to take overfrom Krueger and it will be an appointment that will excite the fans.
But if we look at the teams outside of the top six that have succeeded, money has not been the deciding factor, it has been good management and careful use of that money, that is why we finished 8th and got to a cup final whilst Everton spent money and didn't, why Watford are at Wembley and Wolves aren't.
I have said in every crisis at Saints in the past decade " It is not about what has just happened, it is about what you do next", that is very much the case here, this is perhaps a crucial moment in Saints history as we are trying to make a big change and it is a leap in to the unknown, it is not the devil you know going forward.
Some will welcome this, others will be a little hesitant, we now know Gao intends to be involved in this club a lot more than just as a passive owner, he might not be at every game, but his people are and have been since he took over, hopefully he will look to progress the club through evolution rather than revolution, someone taking over from Krueger who understands how sports clubs work and how sports fans think and you will notice that is using the words sports and not football, we need someone who understands how to run a big business not just a football club.
In recent months Saints have been working hard behind the scenes to change things within the club, some are more visible than others like the departure of Les Reed, the club had been making big strides forward, hopefully that can continue.
Photo: Action Images
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