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HALLOWEEN COMES EARLY FOR SAINTS!

Life would be boring if it was too easy.

Football would become dull if your team won every weekend.

And what would be the point of supporting your club if it didn’t test your patience every now and then.

But Friday night was something else – something that no fan deserves to be put through – as Southampton suffered an early Halloween horror show on the South Coast.

It’s difficult to know where to start with a result like that; the whole evening felt like a social experiment that was testing Saints supporters on how much they loved their club – and a fair amount passed.

Now that everyone’s had some time for it to sink in, I’m going to take a closer look at what on earth went so drastically wrong and where the club goes from here.

The game kicked off in dreadful conditions; a storm was heading the way of St Mary’s. But that was nothing compared to the metaphorical storm that was set to take place on the pitch.

The clock had barely reached 10 minutes before Saints imploded in front of our eyes. Ben Chilwell gave the visitors the lead after he finished the rebound from an initial Angus Gunn save but it was about to get a whole lot worse.

The Video Assistant Referee was looking at a previous incident involving Ryan Bertrand and the left-back was adjudged to have produced a high tackle on Ayoze Perez and was shown the red card.

I must admit that VAR worked perfectly, even if it went against Saints, by identifying something that the on-field referee missed and the whole situation was helped by showing the challenge on the big screen.  

Playing with 10 men normally means that you try and make it difficult for the other team to score, but Saints, and in particular the defence, made it far too easy.

It was difficult to watch as a Saints supporter with the Foxes tearing through the defence at will and already 5-0 up before half-time.

Individual errors, a lack of effort and concentration, poor organisation and next to no confidence all contributed to this unforgivable capitulation.

The visitors were 7-0 up with over half an hour left and there were times when I feared that Leicester would be the first side to reach double figures in the Premier League, and it wouldn’t have flattered them.

A Jamie Vardy penalty with the last kick of the game made it nine to equal the biggest winning margin in the Premier League and the outright biggest away win.

Southampton have a habit of breaking Premier league records: from Sadio Mane’s blistering hat-trick against Aston Villa to Shane Long scoring after just seven seconds, but this one was for all the wrong reasons.

Since this humiliation, blame has been apportioned to virtually all aspects of the club with numerous fans now questioning Ralph Hasenhuttl and suggesting that his time is almost up.

Since Ronald Koeman’s departure, Saints have had four completely different managers in Claude Puel, Mark Hughes, Mauricio Pellegrino and now Hasenhuttl with none of them having been able to arrest the slide.

There must come a point where you stop blaming the man in charge and look at what he has at his disposal, and why none of the managers can succeed.

Out of those four, the Austrian appears to be the one that has the most promise of a long-term future and you get the feeling that this could just be right man, wrong time for Hasenhuttl.

None of us really knew what impact Danny Rohl, Hasenhuttl’s assistant last season, leaving for Bayern Munich in the summer would have on the squad.

Perhaps it speaks volumes that a club of Bayern’s stature were after Rohl’s services in a performance analyst coaching role and that he may have been the brains behind the operation during the successful spell last campaign.

This is all just speculation however, and none of us can really know what was going on behind the scenes – despite some rumours that Rohl headed the training sessions and tactical decision-making last season.

This isn’t me suggesting that Hasenhuttl isn’t up for the job – quite the opposite – but the fact that this well-oiled machine at RB Leipzig and during their start at Saints was broken up can’t have helped.

The noises coming out of the club suggests that they are sticking by the Austrian head coach and that an overhaul of the playing squad is more likely.

This makes the most sense for me as it appears that no one can seem to get a tune out of this set of players, and that a complete reset is needed to re-find our identity and for fans to fall back in love with Saints.

This may even need a relegation for this to happen and for the club to try and emulate the likes of Aston Villa who were atrocious when they got relegated but who have now won back the fans with this new team.

Of course, people will point to the likes of Sunderland to suggest that this doesn’t always work and that things could get worse, but none of us can predict the future.

There are also likely to be fans who don’t trust the owner Gao Jisheng to provide the necessary funds that will be needed to turn this around.

And it’s clear to see why; Saints have one of the lowest net spend figures in the division and the impact of that is starting to catch up with them.

The recruitment has also been poor with the sales of Virgil Van Dijk and previous players that were offloaded before him not invested wisely and has led to big names on big wages out on loan at other clubs.

The last time I saw a team defend like that was also at St Mary’s and was almost five years to the day of Friday’s mauling – Sunderland’s 8-0 defeat to a vastly different Saints side.

And there are a few parallels between this Southampton team and the Sunderland one that eventually plummeted into the Championship and then League One.

The Sunderland philosophy was to start the season badly, sack their manager, a new man comes in and does just enough to survive and repeat – sound familiar?

There were also half-empty stadiums at home games, boos ringing around the ground and of course they played in red and white.

The hope is that we don’t go the same way and that it’s not too late for the club to make significant changes at the top that translate into better performances and a clearer long-term plan.

There are already reports that the club are looking to appoint a director of football to replace Ross Wilson who left for Rangers but we will have to wait on that one.

Not only have we gone backwards but the league as a whole seems to have moved forward, as demonstrated by Leicester City’s qualities this season.

I looked at each position a bit closer and thought to myself – how many of our players would get into Bournemouth’s team?

Ryan Bertrand when he’s on form? Jan Bednarek for Steve Cook? Nathan Redmond, but for which Cherries attacker? And then I’m really clutching at straws.

I thought I’d end on a positive – and there aren’t many to choose from. If I couldn’t feel proud of the team, I felt proud of the many fans who stuck it out there in the pouring rain and stayed until the bitter end while singing their hearts out.

And one last thing – to the 13-year old whose first Saints match was that 9-0 drubbing: welcome to the family!

Photo credit: Matt Watson

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