Saints Are Like Brexit ! No One Truly Understands The Issues
Wednesday, 30th Oct 2019 10:52
Saints supporters are understandably up in arms at the moment, but few actually know what they are up in arms about, a little reminiscent of the situation with Brexit at the moment.
Brexit has been several years of squabbling with both sides of the fence putting out mis information and claiming that they know the truth.
Parallels can be drawn with the situation at St Mary's although the one undeniable truth here is that our infighting and misinformation, meltdowns and bedwetting has been going on a lot longer than the Brexit debate.
Since our defeat against Leicester City the internet has been awash with indignant comments about why Friday night happened and most people know the exact reason why it has, but the problem is that know one truly knows and in the main we are only regurgitating rumours.
Those rumours range from Katharina Liebherr suing Gao for breach of promise down to Danny Ings calling Ralph Hasenhuttl names in the dressing room at half time on Friday.
So far those two rumours have not been substantiated and neither have most that fit in between.
The basis for many Saints fans discontent seems rooted back in Markus Liebherr's takeover, sadly Markus died early, but a utopian vision of just what he intended for Saints is now set in many Saints fans minds and that seems to be he intended to spend most of his fortune making Saints a top club.
The real truth is from the start Markus stated that his plan was to invest in the club initially to enable it to get on it's feet but then it should be self sufficient, he was never going to throw money at transfers, strict budgets were set and where initially adhered too.
When Markus died the then Chairman Nicola Cortese started to reveal his five year plan, in many respects it was simple, promotion to the Premier League and then challenge for the Champions League, what wasn't so simple was how that was going to be funded and although on the pitch the club prospered, off it it was in disarray with little income other than from the Premier League, money wasted on transfers and an owner who was being refused access to the thing she owned, the club.
But this set the benchmark for everything that has gone on since, ambition is often touted, "Cortese had ambition" but ambition is only good if you can realistically achieve it, over the last twenty years there have been plenty of clubs who had that ambition to be a top four Premier League club, look at Leeds, look at Newcastle even Everton, they have spent mega money, they have done no better than us.
So the summer of 2014 was the first summer of meltdown and it's been a regular event ever since, Cortese's ambition is always brought up and everyone since's lack of it cited.
She has been variously touted as saviour and villain, the truth is that she stepped in and rescued her Father's legacy, she could easily have walked away in 2013/14 and let Saints go under, but she didn't, she took control and steered it in the right direction, wrote off some of her families loans and injected new capital.
She refused to sell to any charlatan and still has a 20% shareholding, for a woman who had no real interest in Saints prior to her Father's death, she has stayed true to his legacy and how he wanted Saints to be run. Markus never intended for his family to be owners for evermore.
He is now much maligned, but few actually can give a reason other than he has failed to throw multi millions of his own money into buying players, but then again let's not a little thing like most owners don't do that sort of thing and if they do it is always a loan that at some point needs to be repaid as Pompey found out.
When he came he did not promise revolution, he clearly stated that he planned to run the club in a similar way to Markus, it needed to be self sufficient, Gao's plan seems to be on building the brand and in doing so building up income, this is a long way forward and we will never be able to command the support of the Big Six, but it is a good long term plan, as Everton & Newcastle have both shown in the past five years, parting a fool from his money is no guarantee of success.
Gao is not the perfect Chairman, but neither is he the worst in the Premier League, he wants stability and that is good, he does not interfere so that is good, he is an easy target and people throw accusations about his failure to attend games, but China is a 15 hour flight, he cannot just jump on a plane and in two hours be at St Mary's as Markus could, for Gao it is a three day trip and the attendant jet lag etc.
So far Gao has done no wrong, yes the people he is employing might have, but as the owner he has not promised us anything he cannot deliver, he has spoken of his vision for the club and how he is going to achieve it, in China there is little social media, in his culture he only needs to say things once, not constantly repeat it.
The enraged fans on social media rant about how he is selling players to get moeny out of the club, the two years since he has been here hasn't seen that happen as the accounts show.
Only time will show if he becomes a good or bad owner, but we have to give him the benefit of the doubt, those that demand Gao go do not understand how football works n the 21st century, it is no longer about asking Guy Askham a local accountant to stand down, Gao owns the club, if he steps back then two things happen, either he sells it and there isn't exactly a lot of people clamouring to own Premier league clubs at the moment, or he just stops being involved.
If he does that then he is just merely a shareholder, Gao will be funding Saints, he will be underwriting things like transfers till Premier League money tranches come in etc, if he stops doing that then we will see happen what happened at Pompey when Gaydamak pulled the plug.
Gao is the major shareholder and de facto owner, but he is under no obligation to do anything other than sit back and hope he can sell his shares at a profit.
Demanding Gao go is not only naive, but dangerous, the Chinese hold great stock in what they call "Face" if Gao feels all this criticism is losing him face then we could be in big trouble because as major shareholder he could effectively wind us up by selling the assets.
He hasn't shown any inclination to go down this way so why try and push him.
He is always dismissed as "That Ice Hockey Coach" but he wasn't here for ice hockey, he was here to run in Americanism a Sports Franchise, he was well qualified to do that and indeed having been a professional sports coach he also understood how sports fans think and how clubs should be run, forget the ice hockey Krueger was a businessman first a coach second, in this respect he was the person best qualified to be a Chairman of a Premier League club, but few saw past the ice hockey, few actually knew what the role of Chairman was as this in the past has been blurred by both Lowe & Cortese being both CEO & Chairman and so despite presiding over the most consistent period in Saints history in terms of League position, Krueger is derided by many.
Again like Krueger, Reed's position in the club was criticised on social media, but how he rebuilt Staplewood, changed everything from the diet & sports science to the way the squad trained and ate should not be underrated and if you think a financial advisor from Switzerland came up with all that then you have no grasp.
Reed was at the core of everything football wise at Saints, but he was not a likeable personality he was an easy target as he was not a people person, trouble is having put everything in place, he took his eye off the ball and as much as he did a lot of good work and let's remember he came in 2010 when the club was still recovering from administration and needed to revamp everything and had a virtually non existent youth set up, he got complacent and made wrong decisions.
After the appointment of both Pochettino & Koeman he started to get it wrong, he picked the wrong me for the job and we fell into a rut of panic buying and failing to deal with the problem areas of the team.
From this point of view Reed has to bare a heavy responsibility for our demise, but equally we are still a long way forward than when he arrived, so we do owe him a lot for his role in building up the club.
So those are the major players, I am not saying all are blameless, indeed each have made mistakes that have contributed to our current situation, but it is the sum total of the situation that has lead us to where we are not just the individuals involved.
The concern here is that none have any actual experience running a football club, I am not going to go into it in any depth, but they are experienced and successful at running companies but not football clubs, on a plus side they seem to have realised that and are trying to bring in a director of football and quickly.
I think they are honourable men, they just don't have the knowledge for the task, they have to get it and fast, surround themselves with people who know how to run a football club as a business, Ralph Krueger knew exactly how to do that.
I like Ralph Krueger and his contribution cannot be overlooked, however he has been dealt a poor hand in the staff he has to assist him, which I will cover next, the departure of Danny Rohl was a big factor, not because Rohl ran the show, but because he was Ralph's foil, his counsellor to bounce ideas off every great manager has one, Rohl does not seem to be replaced.
Current Coaching Staff.
The hope is that when the manager goes then only three people leave and the foundation stays in place, of course this doesn't always works as the anager may poach good coaches.
But we have taken our foot off the gas here, we have appointed too many men with no experience and that is now coming home to roost, I said this a couple of weeks ago and now the stories are coming out.
Kelvin Davis is a good club man, but two years ago he was a club ambassador, not involved in the coaching side at any level, now he is a Premier League coach, he does not have the experience and does not command the respect in the dressing room, he should be working with the under 18's in the stage of his coaching development he is at, no insult to a loyal club servant, but he is being rewarded beyond his abilities and experience and in the long run it will do him no good.
Likewise Dave Watson, a respected goalkeeping coach who in the summer seems to have decided he wants to scrap his current career and be a full blown coach, again he has not got the experience or ability
Craig Fleming has paid his dues, but not at this level, a couple of years ago he rose from U18 coach to U23 and then up to the first team, this has been too meteoric, he too hasn't the respect or experience needed.
In short if you look at any Premier League coaching staff it will have balance, the manager will have an assistant and then a head coach who runs the training, after that there will be those working their way up the ladder and learning from those higher up.
We don't have that at present, press reports suggest that the training is lacking substance and is not enjoyable, the coaching staff do not seem to be helping Ralph, Danny Rohl would be constantly talking to him during a match, Ralph does not seem to have anyone he trusts to kick over ideas and tactics with, this has to change.
But we are not buying as badly as some would have you believe, at least in most areas, but we have neglected one and this is causing us all our problems, I moaned in January 2017 that we did not sign anyone to replace Jose Fonte and then the injury to VVD cost us the EFL Cup, we made a mistake in that transfer window and we have repeated that mistake in every window since.
I am not going to harp on too much, but in the centre back positions we have signed too much like for like, all what used to be termed first knock centre half,s can get stuck in but are not ball players, Bednarek is the best of the bunch but even he like Vestergaard and Yoshida is not a leader, not a natural ball player and this is why we are so vunerable at the back, Jack Stephens is a ball player, but he is not a reader of the game and his passing is not great.
So I would say that overall we still have a decent foundation, however we lack leadership in the boardroom, on the training ground and on the pitch, if we solve these problems we will have no issues and can continue to progress.
But we cannot progress if we are fighting against ourselves all the time, like Brexit nothing will ever change and improve, whatever your feelings you have to get behind the club, this is what we have in common and we presumably all want the same thing. Tis in not happy clapping this is reality about what football is in the 21st century.
We have to quantify what success is with small steps, some moaned that last night's 3-1 defeat at Man City was appalling with all the attendant gripes, but the truth is that it was a step in the right direction, most teams get stuffed at Manchester City we have usually been one of them, we only have a single draw to our name at the Etihad since we won there in April 2004.
So it wasn't pretty to watch but we grew into the game and regained some confidence.
This is what we now have to do, the defensive problems still remain and can't be tackled till January, but we can fight till then and get some results, the games against Everton & Watford are crucial, we need the fans onside for those, I do not slate anyone for walking out early against Leicester a protest needed to be made, but for the crucial games the crowd needs to stick with the side whatever way the game is going.
Perhaps some feel now is the time for protest, over the past 30 years I have been at the forefront of a few myself, but now is the time for a younger age group to step up to the plate, but you need to know what you are protesting about to quote Marlon Brando in the iconic 1950's film The Wild One
"what are you rebelling against?" What've you got?
It might seem like it sometimes, but like Brexit the mis information, the rumours the social media trolls all need to be ploughed through and then we can find out what the real issues are!
Photo: Action Images
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