Southampton's Npower League One positives.
After the narrow escape from dropping out of football with a possible rebirth in a much lower league, the club has shown a remarkable ability in turning gloom and despondency into a feeling hope and expectation.
Relegation from the Premiership was followed by a failed attempt to win the play-offs in the next season.
Then we dropped out of the Championship and so nearly went under but for the intervention of one Nicola Cortese who brought Markus Liebherr to the party and rescued us.
Our first season in this league saw us fighting to reach the play-offs but our tardy start and the 10 penalty points handed out to us were enough to halt us in that attempt.
We were though able to see our team gradually strengthen as the season progressed and we had the glorious trip to Wembley with more than 40,000 supporters cheering our team to victory.
This season we had much higher hopes and ambitions, nay expectations. Our team had shown enough improvement for us to be thinking of winning the league as we began our fight back.
The fact that we again started slowly didn't help the cause. Neither did the untimely death of our benefactor Markus.Neither we thought did the sacking of our manager.
Seeing AP go and then the way we struggled without a leader gave a lot of us serious cause for concern. Voices began questioning our Chairman and then we saw the arrival of Nigel Adkins.
Nigel came to us after proving himself at this level, and we gradually saw the style of play produced by our team become more open and attacking. With this change came a slow climb towards the top of the table.
As we all know we finally managed to overcome our obstacles and gained the second automatic promotion place. We had to fight hard to keep it with Huddersfield pushing us right until the end of the season.
Next season we will still be expecting to see good things from our team and will be hoping to be up near the top of the table come the end of the season. What though will we have gained from our two years in the third tier of football.
Speaking for myself, we have learned to believe again. We have been to grounds where the crowds have been far less in number than we have at St Mary's. Poorer clubs but each with their will to survive and a hard core of support. Yes some grounds are poor but without money they will remain so.
Many of the clubs that we have faced, have had fans that have been loyal to their clubs, but also friendly to our club's supporters. Several of the clubs we faced raised their game against us as they looked upon us as a major possible scalp.
One thing which surprised me slightly was the standard of play that we faced. For all of our spending we have had to tough it out several times before being able to use our renowned firepower. Buying good players can only work within a team if it pulls together and we saw enough to know that our team did just that.
Our gates have improved over the two seasons and St Mary's has become a much happier place for us to attend. In fact it seems almost to have become as much a stronghold as the Dell had been at times. Winning does help but also the style in which we now play has had a major impact on our gates as well.
The noise level at our home games has improved and I hope it will continue to improve yet further. The feel good factor has remained along with our newly regained faith and trust. We have cheered our team on in a way that many thought we wouldn't see again not so long ago.
We may not have finished first but the season has been a great one, and we achieved our goal of reaching the Championship at the end of it. The five year plan is alive and well.
There has been the odd squabble with one or two clubs who have taken a dislike to us but I feel that our two seasons in League One have in many ways given our club back to us. So I will remember npower League One with fondness as it was here that we learned to love our club in a far more cheery way than had been possible for many a long year.
Part one of our five year plan accomplished and now we head towards part two.
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