9th Or 17th That Is the Story Of Saints Last Two Weeks Of The Season
Thursday, 5th May 2022 10:22
A neutral observer reading Southampton FC social media pages might be confused about just what the last two weeks of the season holds, they will be wonder why a side who could still finish 9th in the League are being touted as relegation candidates by their own supporters.
Football is of course all ifs and buts, if Saints had beaten Crystal Palace then I would be writing this article about a team sitting 10th in the Premier League with a good chance of not only holding that position, but of ending the season in 9th.
I would be writing about how well Ralph Hasenhuttl has done over the past few seasons with a low budget and other outside issues beyond his control.
Of course Saints lost to Palace and we now sit 15th, still only 3 points off of that 10th spot and 4 off Brighton who currently are holding 9th place.
There is still a lot to play for in the final two weeks of the season.
But I don't find myself writing about that, I find myself having to defend Ralph Hasenhuttl against some Saints supporters who have been ranting about how Saints are now in a relegation battle and how the manager should be sacked.
Indeed this has been the story of the last few years, it has been up and down and the moment Ralph Hasenhuttl's side have faltered there have been those with the knives out and ready to draw blood.
I have no problem with people expressing an opinion, but football is about a season not one game, two games or even ten games, it is about where you are at the end of the season.
In many cases the same people shouting about a relegation battle now are the same people who screamed in the summer of 2014, again in the summer of 2015, who harangued Claude Puel who took Saints to 8th and a League Cup final, roughly Saints 8th best season ever, all things being taken into account, and all because he didn't entertain them, either on the pitch or in his press conferences.
The point to make here is judge a season not individual results, a 9-0 drubbing is not pleasurable and hard to defend, but truth is once the season has ended it is just a statistic that affects nothing going forward, would you rather win one game in a season 9-0 but get relegated, or lose one but still finish mid table.
But some have not been able to wait to judge, let's be honest there are only two weeks left, then the opinion would be on the full picture.
Back in 2014, those who ranted about losing Pochettino and not being able to keep several key players had egg on their face a year later after we had finished a place higher.
The same could be said about this year, it is an outside bet, but we could still finish 9th, indeed if we beat Brentford we could be back up to 10th and would then be just about mathematically safe from the relegation battle that we are now in according to some.
The truth is that I think we may finish about 13th and if we do then Ralph Hasenhuttl has done the job to the par for the course, he has done so on just about the lowest transfer budget, hampered over the past three years by the follies of previous transfer mistakes which meant that we were baying high salaries for those not even playing for the club in a season although still on the books.
Back in December 2018 when he took over, the club was in a far worse state that it is now, not just in terms of the squad, but literally everything, if you had said on the day he was appointed that 3 1/2 seasons later Ralph Hasenhuttl was still at the club, we were still in the Premier League and that we had not been involved in a relegation battle since, that we would play at Wembley in an FA Cup semi final and also reach a quarter final, then back in December 2018 no one would have complained.
Of course there are things that haven't been done well, in that time there are plenty of games we should have won, there are plenty that should have been lost but where won, but overall this season like the last three, have evened themselves out.
I'm being a little premature myself here, purely because I have to counter some of those opinions out there on social media, but let's get the final game of the season out of the way and then take stock.
Then I will right where I think we have gone right or wrong and there are many things on both counts, but I will say this, whether it is 9th or 17th that we finish, over the last 3 1/2 years Ralph Hasenhuttl has brought us stability, he has made sure we have performed to exactly where the resources of the club put us, ie somewhere between 12th & 17th.
He has done so in difficult circumstances that virtually no other Premier League club has had to deal with, now as we enter a new era with new owners, he deserves the chance to show us whether with less restrictions financially, he can take us on another step.
Only then will we truly be able to judge Ralph Hasenhuttl !
Photo: Action Images
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