Can Southampton Repeat Last Season's Late Form And Win The FA Cup !
Tuesday, 6th Apr 2021 10:09
Although it was a little delayed, Saints last 9 League games proved to be a late surge that too them from slight lingering thoughts of relegation to the brink of a top 9 finish, can we repeat that form again and perhaps make it our best season ever.
I keep repeating this, but in all my years of supporting Saints and indeed way beyond that, there haven't been that many seasons where we have gone into April with a chance of actually winning something.
That is why when it does come along we should embrace it as we don't know when it will happen again.
Three seasons ago a large proportion of our supporter base declined to go to Wembley as they felt only negativity towards the club, it wasn't that we didn't have the supporter base to fill our allocation, we proved that back in 2010 when we took over 50,000 to Wembley in what is a minor competition.
But in 2018 we took only a little over half of that as many fans had almost convinced themselves that there was nothing good about the club, the hardcore still went as they saw it as what it was, a one off game that could have gone any way and turned an awful season around into a great one.
That mindset continued on until the arrival of Ralph Hassenhuttl and although he still has some doubters he has gone a long way into turning this club around, of course there will be blips as we have just seen with that appalling run, but there were mitigating circumstances and we now seem to be back on track.
Sunday's game against Burnley saw start the day in an almost identical position as we were last summer with 9 games left to go in the Premier League, although of course the lockdown meant we were in June and not March. But 14th place with 34 points was just a single point better off than we were when we started the game at the weekend.
The more cynical will say that we haven't progressed in a year, but that is rubbish, the terrible run has meant that we have gone back to square one in many respects in the League, but as a squad we have improved immensely with three excellent permanent signings last summer and two good loan deals, we are still work in progress, but we have moved forward.
This has been shown by our progress in the FA Cup and we now stand only 90 minutes away from an FA Cup Final, something that has only happened four times in our history and if you want to be pedantic only twice in the last 119 years.
So this is an event not to be sniffed at, some may sit back as they did in 2018 and moan about the Owner, the Manager and individual players, but the truth is that reaching an FA Cup semi Final itself has only previously happened 12 times in Club's history, the first 6 between 1898 & 1927 and the last 6 between 1963 & 2018 and now lets home it is 13th time lucky.
This shows how rare these things are and when we reach one we should grasp the importance of the occasion, especially seeing that these days a real shot at glory is a rare thing.
So can we repeat our late surge of last year and this time go two games more and win the FA Cup.
OK I'm going into dream territory here, but this is my point, what is the point in supporting a football club unless you have dreams and the hope of those dreams coming true !
I support Saints not for the 95% of the time when we are like most club's these days sat in the middle of a league with nothing to play for, but for those times when we can actually see glory ahead of us and are within touching distance.
That is why I could not understand why so many could not be bothered going to Wembley three years ago when twice the number had clamoured for tickets to see the Johnstones Paint Pot Trophy final.
So the next two weeks for me will not be about negativity, I will not be harking on about Nathan Redmond being atrocious or whether Ralph has a plan B, I will be looking forward to an FA Cup semi final and one that we have a chance of winning, perhaps we will lose, but that is nothing new and it is better to get to an FA Cup semi final and lose than not get there at all. It is even better to get to one we can't go to than not at all !
But perhaps we will win and suddenly be the focus for every football fan in the country for a while, perhaps we will remember the Dan N'Lundulu goal that set us on the way against Shrewsbury, perhaps the enthusiasm and excitement will return to those that have lost it and perhaps come May we will have hopes and dreams and songs to sing !
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!
Letters from Wiltshire #42 by wessex_exile
Well, these sure are strange times at Colchester United, particularly for a club (nor a Chairman) not usually associated with the ‘managerial revolving door’ approach. With results not matching expectations or even minimum requirements, and a brief spell after being appointed Interim Head Coach, Wayne Brown has been released to return to the Jammers, for whenever their pandemic-interrupted football restarts. In comes not one, or two, but three new ‘appointments’. Hayden Mullins steps up as Head Coach to the end of the season, Joe Dunne apparently comes back to the U’s in a sort of unofficial coaching/ team-spirit sort of role, and exceptionally experienced lower-league former Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale arrives to provide Hayden with advice and support – crikey!
Letters from Wiltshire #41 by wessex_exile
This afternoon the U’s take on Bradford City in a bid to gather sufficient points to stay clear of the bottom two. It’ll be a tough gig though, even if (as I suspect) Bradford City have left it a bit too late to challenge the play-off spots. They were on a decent run of form, that is until defeats at Newport, Carlisle, Scunthorpe and a goalless draw at home to Oldham put paid to any lingering promotion hopes. For us, it’s simple, to stay out of the bottom two, for all intents and purposes we only need to gain half (or more) of the points that Grimsby or Southend do. Sounds easy, just wish I felt more confident we will…
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