Which Direction are Saints Heading
With the sacking of Les Reed last week came the statement from the club, saying there will an overhaul of the football side of Southampton FC, many fans are still asking the question, which direction are the club heading in? The simple truth is I don’t know, but I have my opinion which is here for to read.
After 8 years, suddenly and out the blue we saw Reed dismissed, some fans will say good riddance others will say he didn’t do too badly, until recently, his recruitment and development of players was good. Now I’m not one to sit on the fence, I don’t give Reed much if any credit at all for his recruitment. The local paper says he bought in the likes of Forster, Tadic, VvD, Mane, Lovren, and Clyne and that Reed developed the likes of Shaw, Chambers and Lallana. Well I totally disagree with the paper.
The facts are these, the development of players wasn’t his job at all, and the recruitment of the said players was carried out during the tenure of Head of Recruitment Paul Mitchell, now plying his trade at RB Leipzig in Germany, the fact Reed was his boss is neither here nor there, it was Mitchell who developed the famed Black Box, it was Mitchell who identified the player who would say which player would fit straight in to The Southampton Way, and for its me is no coincidence that things started going wrong when Mitchell decamped St Mary’s for White Hart Lane, the same could be said of Martin Hunter who joined the club shortly after Reed, his responsibility was the development of players in the academy, preparing them from a very young age to play the Southampton Way, Hunter’s job was to get them ready for the first team, which worked with the like of Shaw, JWP, Chambers, but not so much with Lallana he was there or there abouts when Hunter joined.
Again there’s another strange coincidence here in recent years and that is, the reduced number of academy players making it to become first team players, with possibly the exception of JWP, most of our graduates find themselves being loaned out, something Reed himself said wasn’t useful to either the club or the players themselves, mind you that was a few years ago, it was about the same time as Ronald Koeman said we didn’t have the talent in the academy to make into his first team. Oh how we bemoaned the Ginger Judas.
I am firmly in the good riddance to Reed camp, for me Reed blagged a living as football guru at Saints, he blagged people who knew and still don’t know much about football, Les Reed Football guru, nah not for me, it was more like, Les Reed salesman extraordinaire, and I’m glad to see the back of him. All I wonder is, who actually sussed Reed out, simply because whoever it was deserves a drink for me.
Enough of the past, the question remains, where are Saints going? My initial answer is I honestly don’t know, with that statement last week about changing the approach of the playing side, it left more questions than answers.
Personally I cannot see the club giving sole responsibility of football matter to one person again, I believe Mr Gao has more savvy than that, I don’t profess to know his intentions for our club, I have my own opinion, but for now I’m keeping my powder dry on that subject. There has been speculation this week surrounding Stuart Webber the technical director of Norwich coming into St Mary’s.
I believe that Webber would be the perfect fit/fix for Saints, before heading to Norfolk he did the seemingly impossible task of turning around Huddersfield Town, turning them from “Some team up North” to a team ready for the Premier League, having left the Terriers just before their promotion.
Webber’s success at Norwich has marked him out as an outstanding candidate, he is a new breed of football figurehead, bringing with him a continental approach to English.
So why is he the perfect fit for Southampton FC, well back in April 2017, when he went to Norwich they were in an awful state, no direction, languishing in mid table obscurity in the Championship, the Board demanded, not just a change of personnel, they were desperate for a change of culture, correct me if I am wrong but this don’t half sound like Southampton FC right now.
Webber went in, he cleaned house, and funnily enough he managed to bring in more than £80m in transfer fees and substantially slash the wage bill and construct a squad capable of leading the Championship.
Would he come to Southampton FC? My answer is why not? he left Huddersfield whilst they were on the verge of promotion to join Norwich, since joining Norwich he has publicly admitted he did not realise the scale of the job in hand, but the attraction of the Norwich proved too alluring, very similar to Saints, yes they’ve had tough times on and off the park up in Norfolk since he joined, but the progress has been and is now tangible.
Webber has been praised for his youth development, which has earned the Canaries much praise this season, however he has bought so much experienced talent as well with international players such as Tim Krul, Timm Klose, Alex Tettey and Teemu Pukki, they’ve have been blended in with home grown youth and a few borrowed players, if you’re old enough to remember the Dell days under Lawrie McMenemy you’ll know this formula works and works quite well.
If you add all of this and the fact that Webbers recruitment of the odd German manager to English football, with the likes of David Wagner at Huddersfield, and Daniel Farke at Norwich, it seems to me that getting Stuart Webber to Southampton in a total no brainer, in fact I would pay for a limo myself to pick him up.
Well that’s the new Director of Football taken care of, now for the manager, I’m sorry but it’s time to say cheerio to Mark Hughes, personally he wouldn’t have escaped after Man City, but lets be honest he is a friend of that man Les Reed, they both studied on the same coaching course (someone should shoot that course tutor) which is why I believe he survived.
The Watford game reaffirmed my opinion that he should sacked, Charlie can rant all he likes, there is no way that performance was good enough, it’s definitely time for the Finance director to get his calculator out, work out the compensation for Hughes plus his cronies and wave them goodbye.
What about the Fulham and Leicester games? you ask, who will take charge of the team if can’t recruit someone in time? well for me Radhi Jaïdi should be given the reigns for those two games, he knows the club, he knows the players both and old plus he there, you never know he might just get the results we need to raise confidence and get 3 points from a relegation rival.
So exactly where are Saints going? To Norwich first with a cheque big enough to lure Webber away, after that sack Hughes, allow Webber to bring in own man, see how that works, if we don’t things now, we never will, and we all know failure to do the right things at the right time can lead, just look at the near on disaster of last season. As I said before I believe Mr Gao has too much savvy to allow one person total control of the football side of our club, I just hope he enough savvy to wring the changes now, as I’m quite sure he doesn’t want to lose money by allowing Saints relegated playing in the Championship isn’t where the money is, even if the parachute payments are handsome for a few years.