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Saints Need To Follow Anfield Blueprint
Tuesday, 3rd Mar 2020 09:46

Many would say that Saints showed Liverpool the blueprint for their recent success, now they need to follow Liverpool's example in building for the future rather than by knee jerk decisions.

When Markus Liebherr took over at Saints he had his backroom team put together a blueprint that was all about developing players both from the academy and from other clubs whilst maintaining a managerial foundation that was based on continuity rather than sacking a manager on a knee jerk reaction.

Sadly after his death that blueprint was ripped up as both Alan Pardew and Nigel Adkins were sacked without truly getting their feet under the table and then Mauricio Pochettino took the Tottenham money and ran.

We hoped Koeman was the man for the job, but sadly he too sold his soul for silver and since his departure in 2016 Ralph Hasenhuttl is the fourth permanent manager in four years and now the longest serving in that time.

That has not helped anything and Hasenhuttl's task has not been made any easier by the upheavals behind the scenes,.

But it seems that those in charge now have found the original blueprint in a drawer somewhere and are starting to implement it again, the first sign of that was when Hasenhuttl kept his job after the Leicester debacle, it at least showed that Martin Semmens and his board were not people who panic at the first sign of trouble.

Ironically back in 2014 when Liverpool started to raid us, they saw us as a blueprint for their own rebuild, at that time they had failed to win the title since 1990 and hadn't won much else other than that, they had just spectacularly blown the Premier League and spent big in an attempt to try and win it in 2015, but it all went wrong and they started to have a rethink.

Brendan Rodgers left and in came Jurgen Klopp and finally Liverpool had realised that whatever you are trying to achieve in football, if you want lasting success then you have to build foundations.

That meant backing Klopp and this they did despite the fact that Klopp won nothing in his first 3 1/2 seasons in the job, but both the club and supporters kept faith in the German as the man like Liverpool managers in the past like Shankley and Paisley to look to build long term and see it as a project not just a brief spell of success.

Now that is the blueprint Saints need to follow, they need to keep faith with Ralph Hasenhuttl and so do the fans, managers make mistakes and the Austrian has had some criticism on social media for his selections at West Ham, that is the nature of the game, even the top managers pick the wrong team sometimes, we have to see this as a blip not roar into panic mode and melt down.

It might be a little hard for some to see, but we are now looking like we are back on track with our blueprint and we have to be patient.

Saints did not spend in January, but then again nor dis most clubs, what they did was look at the bigger picture, keep our money in the bank for the summer and rebuild properly.

The last two seasons haven't been great, but we have survived them, some of those who were responsible have now gone and new men in, of course it is far from perfect, but we now can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We have to base our success on what we can realistically achieve at any given time not what is a pipe dream, for Liverpool it is the League title and the Champions League, for us it is a top 10 finish and challeging for a cup and European qualification, that is not pie in the sky promises it is realism, if it is titles and glory you are after then you had better join the 20 years season ticket waiting list at Anfield.

So Liverpool kept faith with Klopp and we need to do the same with Ralph Hasenhuttl, he has bought into a project, but he wants to see everyone kicking in the same direction as well, if we want to succeed we like Liverpool have to forget the past and only concentrate on the future, set our sights on what we can achieve not what we can't.

It is about building those foundations when you build a house you don't build the ground floor and then try and put the roof on before you have build the first floor, it is one step at a time and when you have taken each step you move on to the next one.

Markus Liebherr's plan was never for him to pump millions in, it was always to firstly stabilise the club, secondly to get it promoted and thirdly to then sell it on and bring in those who could make the next step.

Gao is part of that process, he is not the man to pump in multi hundreds of millions, but he can help us take another step.

The biggest part of football club's incomes these days is not the Premier League money, if Liverpool win the league and we finish 12th then they only get £22 million more than us, that is nothing in the grans scheme of things .

What matters is a club's ability to fill it's stadium and in doing so attract more sponsorship money, selling replica shirts will bring in some money, but if you are selling shedloads around the World then you will attract more money from shirt sponsorship etc.

We have to build on what we have, no one is saying we have to touch our caps and defer to the big boys, we just have to forget about them and concentrate on what is success for Southampton Football Club, not what any other club is doing.

If we as fans cannot see this then we become just another Championship club reflecting on past glories and what could have and might have been, whilst claiming to be a sleeping giant.

But we cannot afford to drag ourselves down before we have even seen the results, we have to give Gao and this board a chance if only because they haven't failed us yet and there is no other option,those that want a new buyer should reflect that any such buyer wants to buy something good he wants to see that that fanbase that will bring in the income is there and can be a help not a hindrance.

Fans are the lifeblood of football clubs, what makes a club are it's supporters, there has been an air of negativity around St Mary's for too long, we the supporters can help change that, if Gao does us wrong there is plenty of time to moan about it after it has happened, but we don't need to do so before he has.

So in conclusion we like Liverpool have to bite our tongues and sit tight, success won't come overnight, but it can come over time with the right blueprint in place, Liverpool management and fans kept faith with Jurgen Klopp even when it looked like he would be just another in the long list of failed Liverpool managers since 1990, but now he is on the verge of joining an elite band of those who have won both the title and the Champions League/ European cup, that list is not a very long one, but bigger than managers who have won trophies for Saints, perhaps Ralph is destined to be only the second.

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underweststand added 10:16 - Mar 3
Good topic Nick.
Those fans who criticise Mr.Gao for not investing in the club should also recall that after Marcus Liebherr (thankfully) saved the club, he didn't make big investments either.
That was left to Cortese who , whilst (at first) refusing to invest £1 million in (one) Rickie Lambert, later went out and borrowed huge sums of foreign money to fund the catastrophic signings of Ramirez and Osvaldo. "Investments " that set the club back almost £50 million, at a time when our previous record signings had been; a humble £7 for (Jay Rod) and the £12 million (for Long).

The likelihood of Mr.Gao putting in more millions is unlikley, as with many other companies he has certainly taken " a knock" after the Corona effect on Chinese industry.

Those clubs with "Billionaire owners" spend huge amounts on players as though they were spending yesterday's coffee maoney. It will surely ). despite declaring a recent annual loss of ..£111 million. After all " it's only money" to them.

Every season around a dozen clubs start by .. just hoping for survival , the rest is just PR, whilst the "big five..or is it six? " spend money like water whilst we, like the other dozen, just hope to get good deals at reasonable fees, and look for the next Bale, or VvD and vainly hope they will want to stay for a few years more. Sad...but true.


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underweststand added 10:19 - Mar 3
Oops ...the text (above) ran away from me . The £111 million loss was Everton's last year.
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Block8 added 10:28 - Mar 3
Good piece Nick and absolutely spot on. Whilst we need to be patient and see what comes out part in the rebuild is right here & now! Good positive support, while still being able to criticise is essential and that starts with us the supporters, so let's have plenty of noise every game, positive only please!
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highfield49 added 12:12 - Mar 3
I understand what you're saying Nick but all is not right with the blueprint if Danso, Adams and KWP are part of the plan yet can't even get off the bench?
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1970 added 12:25 - Mar 3
I wouldn't want to follow Liverpool anywhere after all we all know the lengths they and there fans are willing to go to in the name of success,
having dreams about being the best shouldn't be classed as a pipe dream because at the end of the day if Liverpool were to lose mane and van djyk where would they be, well i'll tell you, not winners,
if we had a footballing plan and some ambition to keep these players and build a team around them we would be considerably better off just like Leicester,
meanwhile I bet the guy that sanctioned the purchase of vestergaard is still working at our club
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saintmark1976 added 12:46 - Mar 3
" negativity around St Mary's for far too long, we the supporters can change that". What, whilst being unable to buy a shirt at the start of the season, not getting a season ticket delivered on time and being unable to get a ticket for away games due to the club not taking their full entitlement. Not forgetting of course the latest fiasco of losing the services of two experienced international defenders and replacing both with a Spurs loanee who most of us can see has no chance of being up to the rigorous of the Premiership at full back,due to his lack of physical stature.

With respect to your view Nick ( with which I profoundly disagree) it's the club's job to treat us better than they recently have. Perhaps then your suggestion would have a little merit.


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legod7 added 13:30 - Mar 3
I have always thought of Saints as a small club who are doing a lot better than some others.Because what have we actually achieved in 130 years. One FA Cup win and finished 2nd in the old First Division in the 80s.Couldn’t even get out of the Europa League group stages 2 seasons in a row.That’s it. It’s not been pretty in the last 3 seasons but we are better off than a lot of other clubs. Leeds , Derby, Notts Forest, WBA , Blackburn,, Bolton, Pompey and Sunderland etc. have won a lot more than us over the years. I wonder how their fans must feel about the way their clubs are run. After all none of them are in the Premier League. Us fans must stick behind our team even with the current owners whether we like them here or not.
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steve73 added 15:15 - Mar 3
In what should we follow their blueprint? You don't really say. Other than not firing our manager when things are difficult, which is a given anyway. I don't have a problem with your fondness of Liverpool, we all have a second team (mine's Brentford lol) but this is a nonsense article. There are many more suitable blueprints we could follow, clubs of similar stature to ours who just do things better. Leicester being the obvious one. Even Burnley. But using Liverpool as an example makes no sense at all, especially to a saints supporter. They're a superb team, no doubt, but I don't think their business model has any relevance at all to a club such as ours. Obviously the usual sheep will agree and pat you on the back but really you're just saying we should copy them because they're successful. While also stating many reasons why we can't.
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halftimeorange added 17:34 - Mar 3
It's only the continued loyalty of fans like myself in the face of disappointing performances on the pitch and in the boardroom over the past three seasons (including this one) that provides any home atmosphere at St Marys. The air of negativity on the terraces has festered as a result of disjointed selections and lacklustre second halves where we consistently throw any advantage away by conceding soft goals. We don't seem to be moving forwards, the board fails to communicate and some of our obviously talented players look beaten before they start. Ralph remains upbeat but, why is it that his is the only voice we ever hear. Much of our problem is the lack of a statement of intent from on high.
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BoondockSaint added 19:22 - Mar 3
I have to hand it to you Nick, you are a Wind-Up Merchant Extraordinaire!

So Koeman left because he "sold his soul", not that the Saints sold the "soul of the team" ( see Lambert, Lallana, and Clyne) ?...All to the same team that finished just 2 points above us on the table (2014-2015)? But when that didn't help them enough (see Lovern), and they actually finished 3 points and 2 places below the Saints (2015-2016), Les Reed and the Saints decided they could do more and then sold them Mane and Van Dijk and the rest is history.

If, as you suggest, Saints follow the "Anfield Way" to build their team, one would think all they have to do is find an really good team stupid enough to sell Saints every single one of their talented players.

However, if you delve deeper into the "Anfield Way" you find the real reason for their success-an owner who knows what he's doing in the sports world and knows money talks.

He bought the Red Sox and within 2 years they won the championship after a wait of over 100 years! How? Spending money. Buying up as many talented players as he could from teams that couldn't compete financially,. The result was 2-fold, he strengthened his team, and just as importantly, kept those players away from the few teams that could compete on the field and in the board room, especially the Yankees.

Henry is worth 2.7 billion dolllars.
Gao Jisheng and Katharina Liebherr are worth a combined 4 billion.

If you want the Saints to follow the "Anfield Way" Nick, you are going to need a new owner.

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davidargyll added 20:17 - Mar 3
I think you have got it right Nick. Liverpool are a good blueprint especially when you look at some of the talent they’ve brought through over the last couple of years,Trent Alexander-Arnold for example. And those who think that changing the owner is the answer just have not got a clue. Yes the Liverpool owners threw in a lot of money and of course that’s hugely helped them achieve success, but look at all those clubs that haven’t: Stoke and Fulham to name but two. And then look at Burnley doing very nicely thank you on a shoestring.
Everybody is blindsided by the maxim about success and the wage bill being umbilically linked. Top clubs, probably, but lesser ones? I think the jury is well and truly out on that one.
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zonehead added 21:02 - Mar 3
Keep the manager whatever happens, and Ralph stop experimenting and beat Newcastle first I’m still looking down! Oh and keep McCarthy in goal I fear Gunn may get a recall he’s too erratic and scares me!
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SaintPaulVW added 22:31 - Mar 3
But the Liverpool blueprint has active involved owners who have invested outside money in both the squad and the ground.
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SanMarco added 23:00 - Mar 3
Didn't really understand all the blueprint stuff. Buy cheap and sell dear was our philosophy and it worked pretty well for a short while because the replacements were as good as or better than those departing. As soon as too many duds came in through the in door we headed down the league. We either need new owners with deep pockets and a desire to spend or we need to return to signing better players. Not sure if that's a blueprint, if it is I don't see how it is Liverpool's.
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underweststand added 18:02 - Mar 4
A lot of people seem to have missed ..davidargyll's ... message (above), at least judgíng by the showing of his minus count, but what he writes is truer than many think.

How is it NOT possible to hold LIverpool up as a "model of success" ?. Lots of people rush to praise them, although to be fair, whilst they have been excellent in the last year there is no real competition against them this season from ; Man City or Tottenham . NO Arsenal revival (post Wenger) and the once great Man .Utd are a mere shadow of the "Fergie" days .
Whilst the " big money clubs" spend £100 million a season , it's down to "the rest" of us to try and buy in new players at a reasonable price, and at a salary we can afford and hope we can find a new Bale, or VvD to boost the squad and build a new side.
In truth , it's all down to the generational switch that eventually comes to every club. Liverpool survived their post Gerrard/ Carragher/ Courtino period and found good replacements (in no small measure to robbing Saints) but they too have found themselves good young players in Robertson and Alexande-Arnold and bought themselves excellent players like Firmino, Salah and Mane. The rest as they say... etc, etc.

No ..there is no secret formula.. except a good manager with a footballing brain, some personality and the right attitude to his team and the club. We maybe on the way there, but whilst we have too much "deadwood " on the books , we must look towards a period of stability in what is still ..one of the youngest squads in the Prem.

Now we have "lost" Davis, Cedric and Yoshida, and in the next season (or two) perhaps even PEH, and one or two others. Some will say that Long and Bertrand are " past it " and that maybe true, but it's also a lot of experience disappearing in a short time.

The "Liverpool phenomena " is no secret formula and whilst they may pick up their first League title in 30 years , in previous seasons it was City's turn ..and Leicester's . ..and a while before them Chelsea and in what seems like an age ago ..even Man Utd.
Good managers?..YES ...but having the right players, at the right time and getting some "friendly decisions" from referees (in the pre VAR days). It remains to see who will eventually replace Mane, Salah and VvD in the Liverpool side in a year of two ...and just " how special" Moaninho will be at Spurs.

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NewburySaint added 12:32 - Mar 5
Who’s panicking-have I missed something?!
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