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On This Day In History - 15th May 2016 A Fight For 5th
Friday, 15th May 2020 09:16

The last day of the Premier League season and we didn't know it then but the end of another era, but we had a lot to play for on the final day, could we step up to the plate against Crystal Palace.

A bright sunny day started with Saints in 7th place and hosting Crystal Palace who themselves had their minds on glory, being due to play the FA Cup Final the following Saturday and as much as most Saints fans didn't want Manchester United to win that one, they knew that our Europa League hopes might well depend on that result going in favour of United.

Saints could finish as high as 5th if they won and West Ham failed to win at mid table stoke with United losing at home to Bournemouth.

But they could also be leapfrogged by Liverpool who were at West Brom, so there was a lot to play for around the Europa League spots on a rare day when both the title and the relegation spots had already been decided and not go down to the final day.

But Palace would not make it easy for Saints and the stats for this game were almost identical, the difference was Saints finishing.

It would be the stroke of half time though before Saints nerves would be settled in a game that had yet to catch alight, Julian Speroni in the Palace goal under pressure from Shane Long could only push a cross as far as Sadio Mane. who calmly hooked the ball home to hand the impetus to the home side, who mostly controlled the rest of the match.

But if we had control in the second half Palace were not given up and it was the hour mark before a second goal came when Graziano Pelle a half time substitute doubled the lead.

But then came a twist, former Saints player Jason Puncheon fired home only 3 minutes later to shake the nerves of the home crowd again.

With 15 minutes to go the game could have gone either way but then Saints got a penalty and Ryan Bertrand restore the two goal cushion.

The victory was sealed with three minutes to go when Steven Davis scored to ensure that Saints would take all three goals.

Now it was to the smart phones to find out how it had all finished elsewhere.

Everyone knew that the actual places would not be confirmed on this day, Man Utd's game against Bournemouth had been called off due to a security scare that subsequently proved a false alarm, so we would have to wait for that one.

The most important result for us was the one at West Ham, in the first half that had not gone well, the Hammers were a goal up after 23 minutes and that was the score at the break, so at that stage we were still in 7th place which if that stayed the same would see us needing United to win the cup so we would get the FA Cup winners Europa League place as we had the previous season.

Things changed on 55 minutes when Stoke equalised, suddenly that roused the Saints crowd who knew that we had suddenly leapfrogged the Hammer, but right to the final whistle we knew that a goal from them would knock us back.

But then as injury time loomed at St Mary's a ripple went through the crowd that turned to cheers, Stoke had got a second and were leading 2-1. We all knew that West Ham had to score 2 goals in what we assumed would be about 7 minutes including injury time.

So as we saw out our game for the three points many were looking at smart phones not the pitch.

The result was confirmed and we knew that we were guaranteed at least sixth place and that mean a Europa League spot and more importantly straight into the group games, we could now wish Palace fans all the best against United the following week.

But we were sitting in 5th place, it all now depended on what would happen in the rescheduled game up at Old Trafford, we were level on points with United with a better goal difference, so only a Cherries win would keep us in 5th.

I suspect that given their supporters manufactured hatred of all things Saints in order to create a local rivalry, they had some fans who were praying for their team to lose against United when the teams met only two days later.

Our main hope was that United would have one eye on the cup final, no such luck they won emphatically, so it was sixth place for us.

Back at St Mary's we were in celebratory mood, the teams did their lap of honour and we applauded, unaware that this would be another summer of turmoil.

We expected Pelle to go, he had said he wanted to finish his career in his homeland where he had never really flourished, we had already signed his replacement in Charlie Austin.

We knew that Wanyama would go to Spurs, those that now claim Saints sell anyone for the right price should recall that we blocked Schneiderlin in 2014 and Wanyama in 2015, both after hissy fits meaning they missed games knuckled down and gave us another season. Wanyama now had a year on his contract left, so we had to sell him or lose him for free in 2017.

But we didn't expect Sadio Mane to leave, he had just had a season much like his first, a late burst at the end disguising long periods where he ran around but didn't score much.

If you asked any Saints fan after this game how much we would get for Mane if we sold him, most would have said about £15 million, a bit more than we paid for him but not much. No one would have predicted Liverpool or a Big Six club would come in, he was just too inconsistent.

But the real blow was Ronald Koeman, we knew Everton were trying to poch him, but the Dutchman had stated that it was not about money for him and that he had never broken a contract, that he would be here next season.

But the Everton offers kept getting bigger and when the offer came that made him something like the 6th highest paid manager in the World, his resolve snapped and he threw his principles out of the window and took the money.

His body language at his first press conference on Merseyside suggested that he already knew he had betrayed his morals and wished he had never agreed to go, Everton fans I have spoken to have always said he never bought into their club and fans in the way he did at Saints.

But life is what it is, the summer of 2016 was turmoil, but 2016/17 was on paper at least one of the top half dozen in our history, 8th place and a Cup final not something that happens to the club that often, but those that on one hand state the club lacks ambition, on the other demand that they be entertained ahead of League placings and cup finals, in modern football unless you are one of the Big Six you can't have both glory and entertainment, Saints might have not fared as well in the last six years as we would all have hoped, but then again neither have Everton who on poaching Koeman their owner made bold claims about what he was going to achieve in the next few years.

A lesson to be learned, it is not about having and spending money it is about spending what you have well.

Photo: Action Images

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saintmark1976 added 10:29 - May 15
Another way of looking at the Koeman brothers departure Nick is from that point on its all been down hill for us. It would have been far better to have paid them what they wanted to stay and build on their undoubted proven ability rather than engage in the subsequent management merry go round that has occurred. The owner may well of saved a couple of million initially but any relatively small saving has been lost many times over since. Some would say it's no more than what was deserved when the the club is owned and managed at the time by people who's knowledge of football was at best minimal and at worst totally non existent.

dirk_doone added 10:36 - May 15
Please stick to the match reports, Nick.

I know you don't like our fans but your comments, like this, about fans' opinions are just ridiculous lies:

"If you asked any Saints fan after this game how much we would get for Mane if we sold him, most would have said about £15 million, a bit more than we paid for him but not much. No one would have predicted Liverpool or a Big Six club would come in, he was just too inconsistent."

In October 2015, we had this thread on the UI:

Sadio Mane 20:55 - Oct 13 with 1491 views
Rumour on one of our boards that he is off to yoonited for £22m in January, have you lads heard anything?

Sadio Mane on 21:21 - Oct 13 with 1441 views

He'd cost a lot more than £22m as well

Sadio Mane on 21:27 - Oct 13 with 1427 views

We'd be mad to sell him now at that price so I can't see that rumour being any more than wishful thinking on United's part. I think he'll be worth more like £80m in a year or two's time and can see him eventually ending up at Real Madrid or Barcelona.

dirk_doone added 10:54 - May 15
You seem to be constantly rewriting history to try to prove that the owners and board of directors are always perfect and the managers, players and fans are always bad.

Koeman would have stayed another year if Les Reed hadn't given him an ultimatum, and as most Premier League managers don't stay at one club for much more than a year, that would have been good.

Les Reed had fallen out with Koeman long before the end of the season. There were already the usual negative PR "leaks" that we got whenever Reed fell out with any player or manager, that Koeman was "lazy" and that he was "neglecting the academy."

dirk_doone added 11:14 - May 15
As for the match itself , I have great memories of it. I and all other Saints fans stayed behind after the game to applaud the players and manager and we left with big smiles on our faces, looking forward to the next season enormously. That 2015/16 season was hugely enjoyable and I just didn't want it to end.

saintmark1976 added 12:49 - May 15
dirk doone, it's surely no coincidence that the management that Nick now so assiduously appears to support by suggesting that they called the Koeman situation correctly, are no longer at the club?

Even our long distance owners finally woke up to the fact that Mr Reed and Mr Kruger perhaps left a lot to be desired?

Still,Nick's unflinching loyalty to the owners, board and management whoever they may be at any point in time, is nothing else if not to be admired I suppose?

SaintNick added 13:06 - May 15
Saintmark if you think the following season when we finished 8th and got to the League Cu final was downhill then the season after that must have made you suicidal.

Koeman was happy to stay until Everton turned his head, should we have paid him the £7 -8 million Everton were willing to pay him ? Only about 6 other clubs were willing to pay that for a manager he dwarfed Pochettino's salary at Spurs.

We couldnt have matched it even if we had wanted too.

You say that the club was owned and managed by people whose knowledge of football was minimal, well most owners have little actual interest in football these days, football knowledge has nothing to do with owners footballing knowledge only their money.

Those running the club weren't doing so badly, by the end of 2017 we had 4 consecutive top 8 finishes something we had never achieved before in our history, i'm not sticking up for the club, im merely pointing out facts.

SaintNick added 13:19 - May 15
Dirk Im sticking to what I saw at the games, you put up a couple of posts from the ugly inside on October 13th, im assuming 2015, at that stage Mane had scored just twice in the Premier League for us and his goal against Liverpool on the 25th October would be his last in the league for just a few days short of five months when he scored against Liverpool.

There weren't many saying he was worth £22 million towards the end of that run.

You contradict yourself a little, on one hand you say that it was common knowledge that Koeman had fallen out with Les Reed long before the end of the season and that there were negative PR leaks with Reed blaming Koeman, but then in the next sentence you say

"As for the match itself , I have great memories of it. I and all other Saints fans stayed behind after the game to applaud the players and manager and we left with big smiles on our faces, looking forward to the next season enormously. "

These are not the words of someone like yourself savvy to what is going on behind the scenes and having seen the PR leaks from Les Reed etc.

I am not unflinchingly loyal to the board or the owners I am just a realist, I dont think that we can just buy our way out of situations, I don't wish for things we dont have and are unlikely to get.

I think changes had to be made with Les Reed going etc, but that doesn't mean that he had not paid a part in getting us to where we were, at some point in football everyone has outstayed their welcome whether that is a player or a manager or a CEO. I praise people were they are due, but I am careful for what I wish for.

zonehead added 13:35 - May 15
Still 7/8 mill for the most important man at the club and look at what it’s cost us, A bargain I’d say

SaintNick added 14:21 - May 15
This issue has never been about Koeman leaving that was always going to happen, it is about replacing him, Claude Puel took us to 8th in the League and a cup final and with the hinderance of one centre half who wanted to get a big pay day elsewhere and Van Dijk getting injured.


saintmark1976 added 14:38 - May 15
So going from having a team finish sixth in the Premier League managed by a man who is now in charge of the Dutch national team to the relegation fighting shambles of the last few seasons is not downhill then Nick? Strange logic if you don't mind me saying.

Should we have paid the money to keep him and his brother? One word answer "yes".

Are you unflinching loyal to the board and the owners? One word answer "yes".

Out of interest, do you know if Mr Koeman has recovered from his heart scare please?


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