Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
New Era Begins At Southampton Football Club
Tuesday, 24th May 2022 10:16

Yes the new owners have been with us for the last four months, but it is only now with the season over they can start to implement their plans for the club, it is a case now of Saints fans sitting back and giving them a chance to show what they can do.

Before I start this article I am going to say one thing, before we start shouting about lack of ambition etc, lets give the new people the chance to show what they have in mind first, back in 2014 there was meltdown after the departure of Nicola Cortese, social media was full of those screaming that the club was finished and certainties for relegation etc, yet the following three years were just about the most successful period since Lawrie McMenemy left in 1985.

The past is in the past it is all about moving forward, over the past 3-4 years the club has been hampered by not only the previous owner Gao unable to get money out of China due to that countries falling out with the West, but also a number of players who had been signed for reasonable transfer fees and were on high wages, but weren't even playing for us, yet we were still paying a fair chunk of their wages.

Now the financial restrictions are lifting, the departure of Fraser Forster sees around £90k a week off the wage bill, add to that Alex McCarthy's contract ending and Harry Lewis leaving and we have got around £150,000 a week off the books in the goalkeeping department, around £7.5 million a year in total not including annual bonus's.

In just the goalkeeping department we have struggled over the past three years, all three were going nowhere due to high wages, so we were stuck with them and had no money to sign a new keeper in terms of wages.

The goalkeeping department will now be revamped, it looks like Alex McCarthy signed a new deal back in the Autumn, God only knows why the club are yet to announce it although it shows up on the list of deals we have paid agents for.

McCarthy will be back on a greatly reduced contract and it is likely that he will be the number two keeper next season with a new man coming into the number one spot.

In defence we are well served for full backs, but it is in the centre that a revamp is needed, Jack Stephens is another like McCarthy who was on a long contract with higher wages than his worth to the club, he too is out of contract this summer and there has been no sign of a new one being offered, he was rumoured back in the Autumn to have signed a new deal but unlike McCarthy it didn't show up on payments made to agents, so we have to assume that one didn't happen.

So what's next for Jack ? this season he started just 9 games for the club in the Premier League, plus another 2 off the bench, the season before it was 17(1) he is a fringe player now, but perhaps he is worth a new deal on far reduced wages as a back up, although I have never thought that he was of Premier league standard, he is a good squad player.

I suspect though that at 28 he is more likely to go to a Championship club.

Jan Bednarek's career at the club looks to be over, seemingly there is an attitude problem judging by Ralph Hasenhuttl's comments after the Manchester City cup tie.

So the first job for the new owners is to back the manager in the transfer market, we need a quality goalkeeper and a quality experienced leader at the back, this doesn't fall in with the club's previous transfer strategy that seemingly was never sign anyone over 27, but Rasmus Ankersen is now calling the shots, he signed Pontius Jansson for Brentford six months short of the central defenders 29th birthday, so there could now be a change of policy.

In midfield it is clear out time, there are at least four players that we need to get off the books, although doing so might be difficult, the likes of Moi Elyounoussi and Moussa Djenepo are not likely to get anything near what we are paying them by leaving so a loan deal might be the best we can do.

Up front we need a new striker, Broja is not the man, six goals was not good enough to look to sign him permanently, a new man in and I would not be too disappointed if Shane Long got a 1 year deal, he is not a player who gives you a lot of minutes on the pitch, but it is a squad game and there isn't a better player to close out the final 10 minutes of a game.

So the new era starts with a clear out, I would see around 6-8 players leaving and a lot of money freed up for wages.

Then it is about what happens next in bringing new blood in, hopefully we are advanced on that, we have been successful in recent years in the transfer market and we now have the benefit of Rasmus Ankerssen's knowledge at Brentford.

Next is the manager, I still back Ralph, I think the issue lies with the coaching staff and not the manager, the Austrian has done a difficult job in difficult circumstances and in the last 12 games has had to deal with a squad with certain players suddenly dipping in form at the same time, perhaps the reason why will emerge in time.

But we still finished 16th with ease, we didn't fight a relegation battle at any stage and if we had just had a point a game average in the last 12 games we would be touching the top 10 .

I believe the issue that Ralph has had is that he has a coaching staff with no experience and to be blunt would not get a job at any other premier League club, this needs to be addressed and men brought in who can compliment Ralph, watch any other team and the manager is consulting his coaching staff during games, Ralph appears to not trust the likes of Kelvin Davis, Dave Watson and Craig Fleming, none of whom have outfield coaching experience in any of the top 5 divisions.

So not a lot to do for Rasmus Ankerssen and Sport Republic !!!!!

But we as supporters have to give the club a chance to show that they know what is needed and how to deal with it, as I said back in 2014, 2015, 2016 the knives were out on social media, the same old suspects are back in action now, a month ago they were saying we were in a relegation fight, it never happened.

In football the best clubs and managers say very little about what they are going to do next, they only talk about what they have done.

I am not towing the club line here, nor am I blind to the situation, I am just giving a new regime a chance to show what they can do.

It is a case of wait and see this summer, but let us do that, if things do go wrong then we will have plenty of time to moan about it next season, but let us not go into meltdown until we have to, let's see what happens next first.

Photo: Action Images

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

DorsetIan added 11:14 - May 24
For me, there is so much to do that the new owners might as well start at the top. Ralph has had a good run and has managed to keep up in the top flight, but he's got some pretty obvious limitations as a tactician and now feels to me like the natural time to make the change.

geezershoong1 added 11:16 - May 24
Really looking forward to the relagation scrap next season - again.

SaintHarvey27 added 11:28 - May 24
Coaching staff, not premier league standard. When Ralf’s number 2 left then so did any hope of Ralf listening to anybody. Word is Ralf is quite arrogant about his ability.

highfield49 added 11:29 - May 24
I can only hope that the new era begins with Ralph, the head of the serious crimes squad, finding the plot he has lost. Clearly his inept junior detectives, aka the coaching staff, aren't going to be of any assistance in this matter and the local constabulary, aka the players, won't be of much help either because they don't actually know which plot they're trying to locate.
You clearly believe that Ralph is the man for the new era Nick and it's only a matter of the owners sorting out a shuffle of personnel to change our destiny for the better. I'm not convinced.
Whilst the various suggestions you've made for player departures is arguable why on earth would we want to give Long a new contract? If there isn't a younger player already on the books who can't close out a game then I would suggest that Ralph should be ashamed of his player development skills. On that subject, why on earth did we end up playing a central defender at left back against Leicester? We had a reasonable right back in Valery sat on the bench, who could have enabled KWP to play on the left, or trust placed in Small to actually show why he was signed last year.
I've already made it clear, in various posts, that I think Ralph is a very sincere and exceptionally hard working man but I don't see how he can take the club forward to being a team that produces results consistently. It's consistency that takes clubs to the next level not erratic tactics and team selection. Time for the new era to start with a new head coach who can develop players to their potential and not push them into playing a system that doesn't match their skills and ability.

ChrisB added 11:49 - May 24
I agree with your analysis of what’s needed, although the 3 key holes which need filling (coach(es), keeper & CB) are huge ones to fill & very difficult to achieve. It’ll be some feat to get all those right this summer, especially at centre half. If there’s a non-injury prone player as good as Svensson or Van Dijk then maybe we’ll be incredibly lucky & find him!

Benali_Saint added 12:03 - May 24
I would agree with alot of this Nick.
A big summer ahead and one we cannot afford to mess up

landsdownsaint added 12:13 - May 24
RH should be applauded for getting the results we got when needed , I’m notsure we can attract a manager that could guarantee what RH gives us . Iv allways thought the problems run much deeper & the only person that saw that was Cortese , I love Shane Long but we shouldn’t be given him another contract & Jack Stephens gonna find it hard to find a suitor in the championship , it seems to be jobs for the boys at saints which Cortese sussed straight away

DPeps added 12:22 - May 24
It would be easier to say what players we DON'T need:
Don't need RB, LB, CM (unless JWP leaves)

Need significant signings in every other position.

saintmark1976 added 12:23 - May 24
Frankly Nick “ I am not towing the club line here” is blatantly obvious. How could you when much like the rest of us you haven’t the faintest idea what goes on internally at St Mary’s ?

All anybody outside of that inner circle can do is judge what they see with their own eyes and look at the clubs results. That’s why I and many others can’t see a sustainable Premiership future with Ralph and want a fresh start. Quite simply, the evidence suggests that he hasn’t earned another opportunity particularly given his recent suggestion that he wants to retire shortly. This remark alone has made him a dead man walking, a view I suspect is held by most of the current playing staff resulting in our end of season collapse.

By all means ask the new owners to invest more but let’s not give control to Ralph. We need a fresh start not a rehash of the problems which have occurred before.


JoeEgg added 12:41 - May 24
I firmly believe that this Club is capable of much better than a 'safe' 16th place! We were lucky to avoid a relegation scrap and thankful that there were two dreadful sides below us that were already condemned to the Championship from early season.
We appeared to have a squad that Ralph was happy with and with greater depth than previously. I complemented the Club scouts on bringing in some real talent and promise for the future! We ALL identified these promising players and even Saint 'safe 16' Nick was looking forward to a top half finish. There was little damage done to our squad to use as an excuse for the quite appalling final two months of the season which Nick can just dismiss as something that apparently no longer matters - but if you really want this Club to reach the Top half we need to know WHY this total collapse took place and these promising players of ours faded and died on us.
I think we can all agree that the coaching staff fall well short of what is required to bring success to a Premier League side. This situation should be dealt with urgently. Ralph himself may work hard, but he is a man who I think believes in and backs his own judgement, and I am not sure that a strong number 2 would be able to work effectively alongside the existing manager. We dont have a strong leader on the field - I think we all agree about that - and have failed either to find a reliable central defender or a regular goalscorer to replace Danny Ings.
If we understand that the current manager has only given himself until 2024 then maybe this is another reason to be on the look out for a rapid replacement. I have suggested the current Forest manager as an obvious candidate for consideration but lets hope there are others too who could do a great job here! I respect the views of those on this thread that still offer their support for Ralph but I have consistently been of the opinion that the regular total collapses in performance and results that we have suffered are down to him and him alone. So give Ralph another chance if you must but for goodness sake lets see HIM welcome and listen to a number two who understand the Premier League and then work with a totally reconstructed and more talented coaching staff who can look to prevent the same mistakes being made by even our best players week after week on the pitch. Saints fans have been brilliant and so patient again this year - we may disagree somewhat on the solutions or even the causes of our misfortune - but lets stand together and demand from our new owners some decisive and brave action in a real attempt to bring to an end the mediocrity we have been forced to endure this season.

Crispinmumbles added 12:45 - May 24
As usual, you make a lot of good points. The problem is though that players play for their manager. A truly inspirational leader like Fergie or Big Lawrie would have the players so motivated and so nervous of letting them down, that they would never dare walk around the pick like some of ours have during this catestrophic last 12 games. Also, losing 0-9 once is totally unacceptable and should never happy to a team in the same division as you. For it to happen twice is unforgiveable. In deference to the work Ralph has done for the club, I believe that he should be offered an executive position, possibly as a Director of Football, and a new manager, someone young and hungry with new ideas, should be given the job. Look at the work Potter has done at Brighton. No goalscorer, little money yet they finished ninth, only conceded 4 in one game and generally played good positive football.
By comparison, we did very poorly and they are a comparable club. The difference is that their players really worked for Potter, they had pride and they had fight. We didn't with some exceptions, notably JWP, Forster, Salisu & Livra.

IWOZTHERE added 12:54 - May 24
What nonsense..... Nothing has yet happened to indicate that a new era has started or the old era has ended! The club is on a 'downer' and needs a 'mission statement' to lift the supporters, players, and make us more attractive to quality targets.
We know diddly squat about the owners' intentions on spending.... We've just made hopeful assumptions.
If transfer money is made available, it won't be enough to transform a squad numbering only 5 or 6 of definite quality (2 of whom are aging) and a couple of hopefuls in Salisu and Lyanco?
We need at least two in crucial positions (attacking mid. and striker) who alone will stretch our resources, and an Evans/Cahill/ Fonte type to sort out our young CBs.
Then there's the back-ups..... Walcott, Redmond, Ely, Djen, Diallo..... Not good enough!

onetowatch added 12:56 - May 24
Sorry Nick, with your emphasis on looking forward, you've , intentionally, swept far too much of what has happened under the carpet. Even with the departure of Ings this season, it was broadly accepted that overall, we had a stronger squad than last year - you commented on that many times yourself!! Our last 6/7 weeks, our final points tally, our final position, do not reflect a stronger squad. The buck stops with RH. His limitations are not going to see us move forward. A change is not wanted, but very much needed....

SonicBoom added 13:21 - May 24
I wish I had enough time and money to simply write off whole swathes of the season as "it doesn't matter now".
These games are expensive and as we were "safe" we could just accept the utter dross on offer. I guess there are two types of fan. Those that will follow the club regardless. It is in their blood and they enjoy any good times more as they are there in the bad. somehow travelling miles in the rain to watch us capitulate is a badge of honour.
Then there are fans who don't expect to win the league but at least want to see some sort of entertainment for the amount of money they spend. Is this unreasonable?

This season we crawled over the line with defeat after defeat. It's not good enough to say that it's done now and we should be glad the season is over. Those games cost a fortune and we have the right to ask for more than we got.

MytchettSaint added 13:25 - May 24
I think a complete reset is needed. Including and starting with Ralph. The majority of fans now appear to have lost faith and patience with him. I don’t agree with waisting another summer transfer window on him. No point giving him until October and then if it’s still not going well, binning him off then.

As for some of the dead wood in the team. How long have Djenepo and Mo got left on their contracts? Is the Stephens renewal a done deal?
McCarthy…for this reason alone, Ralph should go. He clearly rates him. For the life of me, I don’t see what I’m missing here. I’m not alone either. But it looks like we’re stuck with him and Ralph.

WestSussexSaint added 13:48 - May 24
Having just read the season review article on The Athletic, it seams to me that most of the comments and reaction are weighted significantly by the final couple of months of the season. I don’t know whether this is because it is freshest in the memory or it is easier to pick holes in poor performances, either way I don’t think calls for a “complete reset” take account of some decent positives this season.

The policy to sign emerging talent from top clubs where their path to first team football is blocked saw the signings of Liveramento and Broja. You can argue that Broja was a mixed success but to criticise him for not being the next Danny Ings is harsh for someone still developing.

There were plenty of good results, away at Spurs was probably the pick from enjoyment perspective, but the draws against Man City and Man Utd were equally important. Given the set up for those games was very much down to Ralph, credit where credit is due.

So I agree that the club hierarchy must do a full review starting now. I would expect nothing less every off season but especially with the new owners. Sure there are plenty of areas that can be identified for improvement. How much of that can be delivered this summer will be determined by the level of investment needed and available. But I also expect that review to be thorough and BALANCED and not throw the bath water out with the baby.

ItchenNorth added 13:57 - May 24
Please stop banging on about Social Media as if it is an entirely different entity to this website. It's bigger in scale, of course, but this site is just a microcosm of the same beast. Everyone has a view and on TOI views are wide as well. We are all Saints fans.

I agree, a new no 1 keeper is desperately needed. It has been for 3 or 4 years now. Midfield needs a clear out as you identified and up top; Broja will be a top class player, but Saints are not the team (currently) where he could shine, given the frailties of performance from the squad throughout this season. I'd still be targeting young talent though in all / most positions.

Role on August and the start of the next season. COYR.

Farlow added 14:35 - May 24
A lack of ambition would be a new deal for Shane Long.

DellBoyWally added 15:11 - May 24
There are a couple of weak spots in the side! But for the rest we need people who can show them what to do. Yes we need a keeper but, in front, we have a back 4 that can be PL standard. People mocked Nick for suggesting we got Gary Cahill but look at the facts. He spent a year with Palace who, in 21/21, scored 40 conceded 65 giving GD of -25 (Saints for 47 against 68 and -21) The season just gone CP scored 50 conceded 46 and GD +4. Saints scored 43 (so only 4 less without Ings!) and conceded 67 and GD -24!! Cahill went to Bournemouth who gained automatic promotion! That has to be more than coincidence or luck!
Our defence is good enough; we need someone who can show them how to do it. 3 ex goalkeepers, an alalyst and a striker aren't the right ones!! (Stuart Pearce is free after leaving WHU!!!!)
In midfield there are players with potential. Diallo has talent and class but 60 minutes a month doesn't help his development. Nor do 3 exgoalkeepers, an analyst and a striker. Similarly Tella. At present he is developing into a blind alley charlie with no end product. Must be talking to Redmond and Walcott too much!!
Up front - people say it'd cost too much to get a top striker. But every season non-star and non-international strikers move for peanuts but who can put the ball in the net thing at the end. What's it called? Oh yeah GOAL!!
So we need a goal keeper and a striker. We don't need Stephens, Redmond, Walcott, Djenepo, Elyounoussi, etc.. Even Badnarek can go. Fans would scream and shout and talk of no ambition if we sold JWP but somebody explain to me what he has contributed over the last 10 or 12 games. Dreadful corners, wasted feee kicks, moderate contribution in midfield. Where is the passion, shouting and screaming at other players; the things an on-field captain are supposed to do? I can see Lyanco developing into that man, much as we had from previous center halves going back to Stuart Willams (I recall being behind the Milton Road goal with SW yelling "Dennis, f**king pick him up"!!!)
We need a defensive coach/coordinator/player-coach. We need a midfield coach/coordinator/player-coach
There are a number of young backups coming through in several positions who, with the right coaching from the above, will become PL standard.
The basis of a decent team is there, we don't need to spend fortunes on players. Get the backroom staff correct and the existing playing staff can do the job.
I'd like to see Livra move to (and coached in) right midfield; Stuey playing his best position as a roaming No 10, CheA and/or AdamA playing off an experienced CF.
A new (mostly untried from most of the suggestions) manager would have the same problems facing Ralph without the backroom shakeup.
So as I see it not all is not doom and gloom. It is just typical of many Saints supporters that they have to be able to moan or they aren't happy. They'd prefer we lost so they can whinge rather than have success!!
After 65 years watching Saints (It feels longer!!!) I've been there, seen that (I'd have the replica t-shirt if they were cheaper!!)
If Ralph is going in 2024 then bring in his potential successor now along with proper coaches.
Onwards and upwards (to 14th next year LoLLoLLoLLoLLoL)


halftimeorange added 15:18 - May 24
By giving up the ghost after they perceived we were safe, both players and Ralph cost us £13.2M - as we would've received £26.4M for the 9th place we were looking at rather than £13.2M for finishing 15th. Who amongst us is satisfied with that? Who at the club can be satisfied with that?

bryanK added 15:53 - May 24
In March 1959 my Dad took me to watch Saints at the Dell only to see them lose 6-0 to Brentford,
My Dad decided enough was enough and stopped going to support his team. I cracked on and Ted Bates had a real clear out and with the introduction of new signings and we were promoted to the second division in 1959/60.
The message to Ralph is get it right in the summer or you are history.
Looking back we are generally a loyal bounce but the crap are team is turning out is not acceptable. Nick this moderate position you adopt reminds of a liberal with a long beard and opened toe sandles Please grow a pair and get off the very high fence you sit on.

Block8 added 16:10 - May 24
None of us currently know what the new owners have in mind, other than the fact they are not in it to lose money, and that may still include Ralph although I assume he is safe.
I would suspect that our transfer policy will change very little and that we will need to move players out to enable incoming signings. Although this may prove to be problematic given that most of them will need to be traded downwards thus generating little income.
My biggest worry (apart from Romeu moving on) is that we will not learn from where we have gone wrong, both on and off the pitch!
Whilst I applaud the success of Livramento, Simeu and Small, what does that say about our academy, once a real jewel in our crown, remember these guys closed Brentford's as a cost effective move!
Will we continue to sign wingers and try to turn them into number 10's, or do something radical like sign a number 10 and play to his strengths
We clearly need a reliable central defender, although it is a fact that our two main CB's are 1 & 2 in most interceptions this season, doesn't that mean they have been over exposed most often? Lyanco is certainly not the answer, he reminds me of Mark Dennis in recklessness but without the ability!
We also need to employ a very good goalkeeper, central midfielder and striker and maybe shrink the squad enough to allow a couple of our youngsters to progress?
And finally adopt a system that enhances the ability of the people playing within it, not shackle them with strange and confidence sapping selections, tactics or both!

wessexman added 16:36 - May 24
I am at a loss to explain how the club actually allowed the manager/team to descend into such a dreadful rabble. Don't forget, we did exactly the same last year. Ralph must take his fair share of the blame....but, the players seem to escape blame. We are talking about highly paid players who simply downed tools, TWICE! The negative stats should make any professional player feel ashamed but are they? They simply trot out the same platitudes after yet another dismal display and move on. Semmers and co have a huge task on their hands. One thing is very clear, much of the same is not an option and will lead to disaster.

underweststand added 17:13 - May 24
Keeping Long, Walcott and Romeu for Auld Lang Syne isn't the right way to run the club. Players who are still first-choice when past 30 are very rare, and even Stuart Armstrong has something to prove - if he gets properly fit again. Jack Stephens has long been an inconsistent stop-gap at CB, but without the likes of finding another Fonte or a VvD, he might have to stay on - if we can't find an experienced replacement.
Salisu goes from Man of the match to Scapegoat of the week every other game, and Lyanco rarely plays with the same CB when he is selected. JWP tops the stats nearly every match, but needs to find another good partner before Romeu's time is finally up.

Our full backs KWP and Perraud look great going forward, but they are supposed to be defenders, and are frequently caught out of position, and a fit Livramento should be in an attacking MF role and not struggling against world-class wingers every match.

Lastly ....strikers (!) ouch. For a beginner Broja had a great " half season" before he was sussed out by opponents, and he is never " a lone striker ". His partnerships with Ché Adams and Adam Armstrong came to nothing, and sadly even Ché's tough, hard running style produces little more than Shane Long. Oh how I long for another Lambert, or Pelle.

With Smallbone, Diallo and Tella regularly on the bench we need to see if they can cut it and produce the goods, or will simply become another set of " also-rans" before they drop a couple of divisions in a year, or two. Either way, we need some impressive signings who will command a starting spot in August, and not be labelled as "one for the future " .
We have an Academy " supposedly " producing them.

I_would added 17:50 - May 24
The majority want rid of Ralph so why would the Club want to keep him against the fans wishes? If Ralph does stay, best to get a relegation ins bet on because we could be doomed after half a doz games is he "presses on".

You need to login in order to post your comments

Blogs 31 bloggers

When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile

Southampton Polls

About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© FansNetwork 2022