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Did Charlie Austin Have A Point !
Tuesday, 18th Feb 2020 09:18

Ex Saints player Charlie Austin has generated controversy in the last few days after criticising Saints supporters for not backing the team, this has in turn seen a deluge of tweets slagging him off for his time here, which in itself was very ironic.

Charlie Austin is very outspoken on twitter and his latest outbursts where he has slagged off Saints supporters for their lack of support for the team is not 100% accurate, but he does have a point when it concerns individual players.

I have been saying on this site for a long time that the abuse of our own players is a little over the top at times, I am not talking about constructive criticism, but pure 100% abuse.

It perhaps stretches back to 2014 when several of our big stars left the club, although the rumblings where there prior to that perhaps Gaston Ramirez being the first to start to get abuse rather than criticism due to his failure to justify his then record transfer.

Perhaps it was because some supporters felt jilted and the bile poured out in the summer of 2014, Adam Lallana was the first to feel the vitriol on social media, yes there was some justification for the manner in which he had left the club, but there was no need for the personal abuse he received and continues to receive to this day.

Dejan Lovren was another although in his case it was more deserved, Lovren had played one season, but Lallana had given us good service and stayed at the club at its lowest ebb, yet for some his contribution is wiped from the record books.

The start of the 2014/15 season saw a number of new signings, Sadio Mane & Graziano Pelle being two of them, a sizable minority decided that Pelle was no Ricky Lambert early on and withing 15 minutes of his home debut he was being ironically cheered if he won a header.

Likewise Mane, he was getting stick from the moment he arrived till the moment he left as was Pelle.

Since then the list of players who have been slated by the supporters is almost endless and most have not deserved it to the degrees they have received it.

Let's be clear here I am not talking about general moaning about a players performances or form, I am talking about personal abuse thrown at players not only at matches, but on social media where some of it has been so vitriolic.

Shane Long, Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic, James Ward Prowse, Paulo Gazzaniga, Cedric Soares, Nathan Redmond, James Ward Prowse, Wesley Hoedt, Jannik Vestergaard, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Charlie Austin himself have all come in for personal abuse on social media to a level that is not called for.

Some will say I'm hypocritical on saying this, after all I have been vocal on this site in condemning several of our defenders in the past, Yoshida & Jack Stephens being two, yes I have criticised them, but I have done so citing the evidence on each occasion, I haven't been personal, just pointed out what I have seen as flaws in their game and I would justify my comments by pointing out that we currently have the 2nd worst defence in the Premier League and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

I wanted Yoshida to succeed I supported him in games and reserved my comments for the news stories on this page, I wish him luck at Sampdoria and wherever he goes, if he came back as a coach I would welcome him if he is the right man for the job, for me it is not personal I want our players to succeed whoever they are, I point out when the performances are not of the standards we require, I do not brush over mediocrity and to be blunt the defending against Burnley was mediocre, but my comments have not been personal.

The first irony is that almost all of those players I have named have either flourished for us or succeeded elsewhere after leaving, yet they are still criticised, both Redmond & JWP still get abuse and earlier this season Hojbjerg was attracting some stick, arguably they have been out three best players in the last few months.

The second irony is that Austin's comments and I am not sticking up for him here, I did not find them particularly savoury or indeed called for, provoked just the sort of tweets he was saying Saints fans were out of order for.

"Fantastic from Charlie Austin today. Most forgettable player to play for #SaintsFC in recent years and still manages to make himself less popular than Van Dijk"

This was one of the more printable comments, butto describe him as one of the most forgettable players is unfair on him, his goal on his debut at Manchester United was certainly not forgettable, in fact the extra two points it gained us was the difference between Europa League group stage qualification and going into the knock out stages first.

It was also worth £2 million and given we only paid £3.5 million for him, most of that was repaid with one header, yes Austin did not have a great time at St Mary's, but to give him some credit, we got him cheaply because he was a crock, he was there not for his work rate but to score goals and at roughly a goal every 4 games in the Premier League half of those off the bench he had a better rate than most, his strike rate was better than Manolo Gabbiadini, yet ask many and they will claim that the Italian Striker was a genius.

But I didn't come here to praise Austin in fact the opposite, as I said his comments were ill founded and vulgar, but as a fan base we should look a little bit deeper and ask ourselves whether he has a point.

He didn't need to say it, but he clearly felt aggrieved at the way he was treated by Saints supporters and given he did not receive as much personal abuse as some, at least not until now, if he feels this way how do the others feel and given that some are still at the club that isn't a good scenario.

Why where the likes of Mane and Pelle so keen to get out, indeed why where those who weren't getting stick equally quick to leave, probably because they could see what their friends in the dressing room were going through and did not like it.

Like it or not over the last six years a minority of the fans on social media have created a toxic atmosphere around this football club that is unfair on the majority of our supporters, make that vast majority.

Yes it is prevalent at many clubs these days as the armchair social media fans vent their spleens, but it seems worse here than elsewhere.

It has created an atmosphere at home games that makes it hard for the team to play in and when Austin says that the fans don't get behind the team when it is down he has a point, after all Lawrie McMenemy said the same thing in a different manner back in the 1970's when he said that at Newcastle the fans get behind the team and then the team gives them something to cheer, at Saints the team has to give the fans something and then they get behind them.

This is true, but McMenemy said it in a diplomatic way.

So this is an opportunity for inadvertently Charlie Austin to do something positive, we can either eat ourselves up with hatred as we have been doing for the last six years, or we can use it in a positive way by taking a hard look at ourselves and start to be positive.

We cannot flourish as a club whilst everything about it from the owner down to the tea lady is constant vilified on a daily basis on social media, that does not encourage anyone to do anything, if I was Gao I would not want to put my hand in my pocket given the abuse he gets on social media, it is a circle that has to be broken.

The guys in the Itchen North have started the fight back by encouraging those around them to get behind the team, the rest of us have to follow, that is not happy clapping, it is about wanting your team to succeed, after that you can worry about what else is going on.

I would point out here that despite the slagging he gets on social media there has not been one protest about Gao, not one anti Gao fan has stood outside the stadium and protested and that shows you what social media is doing to the game.

So I am not sticking up for Charlie Austin, I am not sticking up for the players I have mentioned, I am sticking up for Southampton Football Club and the 99% of it's supporters who feel the same way as I do, who want their club to succeed, who do not spent their time on social media calling their own players names and abuse.

Ironically when I saw one of the anti Austin stories listed on line, the next story below was one full of abuse for Jannik Vestergaard's performance against Burnley, again highly ironic.

I am not complaining about people's opinion's here but how they express them in personal insults.

So will we use this situation for the good or will we let it drag us down into the mire, if it is the latter then we might as well give up now as we can never flourish in such a toxic atmosphere, even when good times can be ahead.

I want the atmosphere to be positive again in St Mary's, as it has been in the past, as it was at the Dell in the 70's, 80' and 90's and a little bit of the 00's.

The away support this season has been the best I have known in the top flight for Saints, so it shows that there are those out there who want to move forward and not back, we need to be part of the solution not the problem.

My philosophy is simple, I want Southampton Football Club to succeed, I want every player who pulls on the shirt to succeed, I realise that not all will and that there will be those who are not good enough, I may say that publicly, but I will do so in a constructive way and I still want them to prove me wrong and I still back them to do that.

But we have to look to the future not the past, perhaps in a years time we will look back and thank Charlie Austin for what is perhaps his best contribution to the club, the one that made us all sit up and take note.

Photo: Action Images

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TimSaint added 10:16 - Feb 18
Why were the likes of Mane and Pelle so keen to get out, as you put it ?
Well there were 250,000 reasons every week as to why Pelle left !! His form at Saints had propelled him into the Italian national squad, but when you are offered that much a week at his age, then you have to go and Saints weren't going to offer anything near the Chinese contract.
As for Mane, we (Les?) all too quickly accepted Liverpool's offer and he was off. We should have held out for more and could have got much more for him, or included add ons like goals and Champions League appearances etc.

Players just think about money. Their agents are ruining the game and just get them moved for financial gain and if they happen to win something along the way, then it's a bonus.
Of course they are going to get some abuse, as unfortunately it is the nature of the modern game, not helped at all by social media. It happens at every club - look at Arsenal and Man Utd this season for example. The bottom line is though, that the fans think that as they 'pay the players wages' they are entitled to abuse when things don't go well, but deep down, the players don't really care as they are more motivated by money and don't stay at clubs for so long these days anyway.

oldeastterrace added 10:39 - Feb 18
Saints Fans being critical of their own players is nothing new. When i first started going as a kid I can remember fans giving Hugh Fisher stick. The only period i can't recall the fans having a scapegoat was late seventies early eighties, i certainly cant recall one during that period, Lawrie McMenemy had everybody eating out of his hands during that time (fans and media) and The fans believed everything he said, so If he signed someone everybody automatically thought he was a good signing. The next Saints player who the fans used to knock on a regular basis was Steve Baker, in the mid to late eighties. Since then we have always had a player we like to knock EVEN Francis Benali had a group of fans who used to get on his back when he was trying to establish himself in the 1st team, since then there has been Ian Dowie, Paul Moody,, David Lee, all from the Branfoot era, Glenn Cockerill even got some stick in his final season or two when some fans were saying his legs have gone, they conveniently forgot that he was one of our best players for the previous six or seven years! i can remember Graham Potter (The now Brighton manager) getting stick when Souness signed him then Lee Todd who Dave Jones signed, he used to get some terrible stick. The difference is nowadays is fans can put things on social media for everybody to see, whereas 15-20 years ago it was abuse from the terraces that were probably forgotten until the next game, when the same old knockers would be shouting the same old things. I too can recall people knocking Mane and Pelle which used to baffle me. We all have opinions and i sometimes express mine on here but some of the stuff i see on twitter is out of order. Not just criticism of saints players but criticism by football fans in general. It's a much more cynical world nowadays.I agree with Nick in an ideal world we want everybody behind the side and encouraging them. If you have someone criticising you and telling you that you're crap at your job, would you find it motivating? The other side of the coin is that these players are earning fortunes and they should be critisised if they don't play well. I can understand that up to a point BUT personal abuse on social media is not helpful, these guys are still human beings with feelings.

wibbersda added 10:46 - Feb 18
There is so much anger out there, for many different reasons and people are using this to spout more negativity. It is up to the Good people in the crowd to pull these ranting idiots. I have seen kids copying their Dads with their anger, it is not edifying and people need to shame them into calming down. Support for 90minutes, complain after the whistle if you must.

simmo400 added 11:48 - Feb 18
I always moan when a player cant shoot or head on target is after all what they do all day most mornings for years. As the games go on most get fed up with players who arnt cutting whats the problem ? Its up to them to improve themselves and the team not the crowd. The crowd will help them if they see improvement and effort. That's all we want for our £35 per game oh to be entertained on occasion would help also.

ssxsaint added 12:02 - Feb 18
Spot on Nick.

underweststand added 12:07 - Feb 18
I don't get to every match ..and even fewer away, but fortunately can watch almost all games online whenever I can't see games "live".
The one thing that has always been apparant is that even when we play in 50-60,000 capacity stadiums those couple of thousand faithful Saints fans who travel to away games, let themselves be heard - win, lose or draw and the effects microphones around the ground pick up their cheering, singing and are often heard above the "home fans".
Well done to all those faithful away followers.

So onto Charlie Austin's comments. We didn't buy Charlie for his eloquent langauge, his diplomacy or rhetoric (and even if he didn't always deliveron the pitch) he DAJFU on many important occasions, and could hardly be considerd a bad buy for only £4 million.
He might have chosen better language to convey his message, but like many others I can hardly argue with the main point of his arguement.

As someone who supported Saints over several decades at The Dell, (where the majority of the crowd were standing), we allways cheered, sang WTSGMI and encouraged the team in good games and bad (AND whatever weather).

Former Saints players smiled when they called our fans "the 12th man " and we often had some of the best home stats. in whatever league we were playing in.
In former days, away wins were so rare, they were often celebrated with street parties
but's the away form that is keeping us above the drop zone, whilst (sadly) going to St.Mary's is often akin a visit to the cemetary.

..and so Charlie - " bad choice of vocabulary, but absolutely rirght in content ".

bstokesaint added 12:43 - Feb 18
It’s not fair just to blame the supporters, but more the modern game. I’d agree social media is often vile and gives a voice to idiots, who are better off not being heard. I left Twitter when I starting panicking that it was a representation of the people of this country. It’s a dark prospect and I have to say I’m glad I’m not a kid again growing up with all the hate and anger.

The main problem though is the massive wedge of cash that continues to increase and separates those who have to make sacrifices to afford a season ticket and those who struggle to spend what they earn! You can see why resentment exists and it’s not unique to Southampton FC. I still think that Saints’ poor home form is more to do with how the team sets up then the moaners around the ground.

As for Charlie he did a job for us, but clearly wasn’t suited to our style of play. The high press was not really his game! He’s also another footballer who thrives off being controversial, whilst at the same time not being particularly bright. It’s a bad combination for someone in the public eye. He might do well to avoid social media too!

bstokesaint added 13:06 - Feb 18
Nick, as for possibly offending Gao and giving him reasons not to dip into his pockets, I don’t think we will ever witness this.

Colburn added 14:07 - Feb 18
Why are you taking any notice of this arrogant tosser..? Charlie Austin is a waste of space. His goalscoring wasn't great when you take away his penalties. This is an idiot who had a reputation of going out raving rather than looking after his body when at Swindon, hence his career was nothing like it should have been, how dumb.. What a waste, but that's Charlie. The biggest clown to ever play for saints and the nastiest in the dressing room. Can't even get a starting position at a championship club.. But he has bleached hair to make him look edgy so he must be a cool guy.... Can't even believe you are writing this Nick, Mr Negativity.. Can't you find something positive to write about or are you still pining for Wesley?

Colburn added 14:10 - Feb 18
And it's OK for you to target individuals in our defence is it? Jack Stephens has, through much adversity, improved no end and you still slag him off. Hypocrisy springs to mind..

Colburn added 14:26 - Feb 18
20 goals in 80 appearances, half from the penalty spot, possibly the most over rated striker to play for us and disruptive force in the club, so we got rid as soon as possible and he is still bleating about us..? He's obviously not got over being kicked out of our wonderful club which has fans who are NO worse than any other club when it comes to criticism. Thanks for being a useless lump of bitchiness Mr Charlie by name.. Enjoy the cold bench again this weekend in your lower league..

Block8 added 14:34 - Feb 18
Good piece Nick although, with the exception of Vestegard, Jack Stephens has had far more abuse than most. It is pretty obvious from your reports that you are not one of his biggest fans!
However back to the discussion, the irony on a vast amount of the vitriol on social media is that it comes from the TV fans, people who perhaps attend one or no games a season. Plastics, as they are so eloquently addressed, who love to spout off about their latest target for hate and many of them alternate due to performances of individuals they don't like.
There is little the genuine fans can do about this but we could certainly be more vocal in a positive way. It can be difficult sometimes though when it is obvious that we are struggling to find some creativity to break down a defence that sits deep. We lack creativity and it is frustrating to watch.
The problem with the fans is that our most vocal fans are either side of the away fans.
This leads to chants & singing being disjointed and sporadic, it's pretty noisy at away games when we are all together.
Think we must be the only team in the Prem with half our END full of away fans??
I thought the club were looking at this positively but it seems to have died a death.
Nick is anything happening on this issue?

EvertonSaint added 15:17 - Feb 18
One of the biggest problems about the atmosphere at St Marys is the way the Saints fans have to be seated with the opposition, or in the case of the FA Cup game against Spurs.....pushed out completely. Until SFC wake up and realise that we haven't had a very noisy end since the 'Cycle Shed' at the Dell.

How many other Premier League clubs treat there 'Noisy End' with so much disrespect as SFC? Until SFC wake up and realise we haven't had a full Saints End since the 'Cycle Shed" at The Dell then the atmosphere will always suffer. For far too long we have had to endure Saints 'Choir" being pushed around for far too long. GIVE US OUR STADIUM BACK

EvertonSaint added 15:19 - Feb 18
One of the biggest problems about the atmosphere at St Marys is the way the Saints fans have to be seated with the opposition, or in the case of the FA Cup game against Spurs.....pushed out completely.

How many other Premier League clubs treat there 'Noisy End' with so much disrespect as SFC? Until SFC wake up and realise we haven't had a full Saints End since the 'Cycle Shed" at The Dell then the atmosphere will always suffer. For far too long we have had to endure Saints 'Choir" being pushed around for far too long. GIVE US OUR STADIUM BACK

schatfield added 16:41 - Feb 18
Austins comments were that the fans are shite and only sing when we score a goal, never when our team is struggling and need a boost (then St Marys is a library). Aside from our away support, which is amazing, he is spot on I would say

Colburn added 17:23 - Feb 18
Schatfield, we can all cherry pick moments and times when the fans lose some enthusiasm for the team, it happens at all clubs. So I don't see how any Saints fan can agree that his statement is a fair reflection of our support. The real irony is that this is a player who has allegedly been quick to slag off his team mates and now has a dig at the fans. Maybe the article should have focused on his lack of class rather than finding windows to agree with him. You'll be pleased to know this is the last post I will make on this forum as I've had enough of hypocrisy and articles either designed to trigger or satisfy your biases. We all have our different opinions but I can't see the togetherness a club and its fans need coming from too many divisive negative articles which I feel this forum now produces too often. All the best to everyone. Cheers.

felly1 added 18:20 - Feb 18
Since the beginning of the 2016/17 season to today our home form is played 68, won 18. That represents 1 home win every 2 months.
The fans have had the enthusiasm drained from them through these stark statistics.
You goto the St Mary's expecting to lose or at least expect it to be a desperate struggle to hold on to an occasional victory.
These are the facts and this is no fault of the fans... Don't you think we want to cheer and sing and be happy??
The abuse of certain players goes on at all clubs through all the leagues and has always happened. Everyone know this.

NewburySaint added 15:18 - Feb 19
Aahhh dear old Charlie strikes again-I was hoping we’d heard the last of him once we got shot of!
I’ve posted comments on him before on here having encountered him on a night out in Newbury or Hungerford on many occasions but let’s just say he is the most unprofessional professional I have ever had the displeasure to meet or read about-even Charlie himself will admit to you he doesn’t care about playing, just the dollar that comes with it.

I do agree with your article in principle though Nick, just please don’t give up any more of your hard work in articles on this prima Donna!

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