Benali Says It's About The Right Decisions Not Money !
Wednesday, 29th May 2019 09:39
Francis Benali has spoken about his hopes for Saints going forward but believes it is not about throwing money at the problem but solving it by making the right decisions.
It cannot be denied that making the wrong decision has cropped up far too often in the past couple of seasons and that has resulted in a lack of continuity and merely compounded the problem.
This ultimately cost Les Reed his job in that although he was doing perhaps 80% of it very well in building up the training ground as well as some key signings, in that final 20% where it is about the big decisions such as manager or paying out big money in Saints terms at least, he was getting it wrong.
That is witnessed by a string of managers who were not right for the club, as well as a number of signings who have been poor value for money, Carillo, Boufal and Elyounoussi being just three who cost the club a total of around £56 million.
Since the arrival of Ralph Hasenhuttl though things have changed, there is now a more definite plan going forward and we are sticking to that plan rather than panicking as was seen in January when we gambled that we had a squad to keep us up, rather than throw £20 million on a panic buy that merely depleted the fund available for the summer window when we could get the targets we wanted at the right price.
Francis Benali clearly feels that this is the way forward as evidenced at a recent Virgin Media sponsors event covered by the Daily Echo.
When asked whether the club’s chances of making it into the top-10 depended on the amount of money spent, Benali responded:
“No one is happy to stay at the bottom of the table."
“Everyone wants to be punching as high as we can otherwise it’s pointless doing what we do."
“But there is a reality sometimes of the situation you are in that things are tough, and you just have to fight and scrap as hard as you can.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a case of just throwing money at it. I don’t think that’s the solution."
“Of course, making money available helps, but are we ever going to pay a player a quarter of a million pounds a week?"
“I doubt it and I wouldn’t want to see it in some ways. We’ve seen elsewhere that it isn’t always the right thing to do and it doesn’t always make you successful."
“As much as I’d love to see Southampton in a top-six position, I think that struggle each year is becoming much harder when you are up against the might of Manchester City and sides like that."
“There is a bracket of teams that we fall into who want to finish as high as we can and to take the big boys on in the league and cup competitions.”
Wise words from the Saints legend and he more than most will be well aware of the gap that is widening by the season between the so called Big Six and the rest of the League and although the odd club might appear from time to time with allusions of breaking into the elite, the likes of Everton have proved that paying big money is no guarantee to success.
Indeed in the three seasons since Ronald Koeman was lured to Goodison Park with big bucks being thrown in all directions, Everton have been fairly average and indeed perhaps Saints record in that time is better in that we reached a major cup final.
Five years ago there was barely anything to choose between Everton & Spurs, both were vying to make it a Big Six rather than the Big Five it was, in those five seasons Spurs have made massive progress and Everton have fallen way behind.
So the answer outside the Big Six is not money it is decision making !
“I think we all agree that the last couple of seasons haven’t been what we want it to be and year on year the Premier League seems to get harder to stay with the top sides."
“In some ways, you are almost trying to be the best of the rest. We would all love to be in the top-six or top-four but the reality of that is a different story probably."
“We’ve had a high turnover of players and managers and it would be nice to see some continuity at the club as well."
“We have seen here and at other in the clubs in the past that it helps things. Hopefully, we will see that under Ralph during his time here.”
Again Francis is spot on in clarifying just what the situation is for all bar those Big Six, Saints fans have to set their expectations at a realistic level, perhaps they were skewed in 2016 when we finished sixth and Leicester won the Premier League, but that was not the start of a change in the balance of power, at least not towards the teams outside the elite.
A look at last seasons League table showed that sixth placed club Manchester United, a club in total turmoil were still in the top six with some 9 points to spare from 7th place Wolves, even Chelsea a club that for most of the season were said to be a squad not playing for the manager, finished 3rd that shows how the gap is widening and how a poor year for anyone of that Big Six is still better than the best year for the rest of us, this isn't good for football.
But having spoken of the way it is going to be for Saints in the Premier League Franny is still positive that Saints can move forward and cement their place back in the Top 10 and have exciting seasons in the process.
But it is going to depend on that decision making as well as continuity he has spoken about.
“It’s a very important summer. It’s important for every club now but none more so than ourselves,” continued Benali.
“It’s an opportunity for him [Hasenhuttl] to work with the board and almost mould a squad that is more to his choosing and liking."
“That’s going to be key to going forward next season. Whether we can do all the business he would like to do during the summer will remain to be seen."
“Some things may not be that easy or that quick but it’s a key time in any football club’s stage of the season or non-season."
“I am sure he has thought about what type of player he would like to bring in, maybe not necessarily who exactly, but he will have worked with the squad long enough to know from the current personnel who he would like to keep and who he would be happy to see move on."
“We will only find out who that is when it happens but it’s something that needs to happen I would say. The squad seems quite big and there are a lot of players out on loan.”
So the message for Saints fans is that there is plenty to be positive about at Saints at the moment, but the supporter base needs to patient and accept that some things might not happen, but that doesn't mean that the club didn't try.
I have spent too much time harking on about negative attitudes in the fan base over the past three seasons, whilst there has been some reason for discontent, at times the level of that has been totally out of proportion and this has to change.
With the arrival of Ralph Hasenhuttl along with the departures of both Ralph Krueger and Les Reed it is a clean slate in Southampton FC and supporters have to recognise that and allow the club to move forward without the negativity of the past.
We in the fan base have to give everyone from Gao Jisheng down a chance to prove their intentions and abilities rather than accuse them of misdemeanours not only without a shred of evidence but before they have done them.
If we all kick in the same direction from now on and leave the past behind us then the future can be bright, we can compete for that 7th place and in doing so compete for a cup or two both domestic and European.
This is the way forward for Saints and it can be an exciting one and put us in a prime position for when the inevitable European Super League happens and the Big Six depart and we can conceivably challenge for a domestic title again.
Yes it will be a watered down league, but surely tat is better than the situation we are in now and indeed one that is widening the gap between Big Six and the rest of us.
Photo: Action Images
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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v PNE 3/5/15 by wessex_exile
Although not an avid collector, I recently catalogued my collection of football memorabilia and I have 175 items, mostly programmes, some fanzines, and a few ticket stubs which aren’t accompanied by anything else. I have no idea how many more may have been misplaced during house moves, clear-outs etc., but the collection spans nearly 30 years (the earliest is the programme from our 1990 Boxing Day game against Barnet at Layer Rd), and is almost universally Colchester United related (though not quite all of it). I have decided to try and put this to some use, by choosing one at random prior to each match and writing a short article about the match, maybe the programme, and even any personal recollections I have of the game (notwithstanding enforced enfeeblement due to excessive libation). I will try and do this ahead of each game this season, but my apologies in advance if I don’t quite achieve that.
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