Saints finally unveiled their new manager today. Well, I say manager but in fact he's a 'Head Coach'. You know, one of those people that get employed on the quick and aren't generally good enough to be called managers. They're cheaper too! So naturally I'm extremely excited by this unexpected piece of news which nearly caused me to choke on my coffee this morning.
First things first. Nigel Pearson was never in a month of Sundays going to be offered a new contract no matter how much we, the fans (remember us Rupe?) wanted him. Whether it was a matter of Lowe's autocratic nature insisting he appoints his own man (lapdog?), a financial decision or simply a footballing one I don't know. But I think Nigel can walk away with his dignity intact, and I'm sure he won't find it too difficult to find another job working for a better chairman. Thanks Nigel, you deserved better and I'm sure you'll get it somewhere.
Now returning to the grizzly subject of our beloved Saints' future. I find the official spin sickening. A bold new horizon, giving our excellent youth team a chance to shine. I'm all for that, I really am. The youngsters we have genuinely deserve their chance and I look forward to seeing what they can do next season. BUT yet again we have been treated like fools. This whole 'continental' approach being the way forward spiel really annoys me. I mean, it may all very well turn out to be truly inspired and I hope it does. What I don't like is the way it's been spun to make it purely look like a footballing decision. After all, if youth is the future (which it obviously is) then Nigel Pearson would have been the safest pair of hands out there. He already had a relationship with the players and is highly respected at England U21 level. So that argument doesn't really stand up. Could it be to do with money then? Possibly. I've no idea how much NP was being paid before but the club happily admitted that they didn't sack him; his contract simply wasn't renewed. Therefore I assume no negotiations even took place. More likely, in my humble opinion, is that good old stumbling block, pride. Lowe has plenty of that and I can't imagine him inheriting someone else's appointment and backing him to the hilt. So now we have Jan (the man! according to the OS). What's he like then?
I have absolutely no idea! My scant research showed that he managed a club called Stormvogels Telstar until 2005, a small team with a ground capacity of 3,250. Not that it means much in itself, but I don't really see how this makes him the most qualified man for the job. Promises of 'total football', 4-3-3 formations and an attacking mentality sound great don't they? But do we really think we're gonna play neat triangles around physical teams like Watford and Crystal Palace while they stand around admiring our one touch football? A joke surely. Yes, WBA got promoted playing some lovely stuff and I applaud them for it but they're the exception not the rule. Not to mention the fact that Tony Mowbray is as hard as nails and his players were probably scared to return to the dressing room unless they'd picked up three points along with a contender for goal of the month!
I would like to be more positive about this but it's difficult. Youth needs experience to guide it. Players need to believe in what they're doing. Fans need to feel appreciated. Clubs as big as Southampton need to be pushing forward. A common goal needs to be shared. I await next season with excitement but also with a feeling of sickness in my stomach. I dearly want everything to be okay. But it's not.