Unbelievably, almost (it's not really sinking in) - today's results mean that Southampton have been relegated from the premiership. Our ever present status in England's top football league is now no more. We certainly didn't play well enough to stay up today - indeed, all season if I'm honest. We haven't done enough at times when it couldn't be seen how massive a win, or a late equaliser might have been. This late surge has been just that: too late, and it's time I think for some changes to be made. 2 years ago: FA Cup Finalists. Today: officially the worst team in the Premier League this season.
Couldn't believe it, really: at half time Norwich were losing, Palace were losing, and Pompey weren't losing to the bottom placed team. We were on a point - we were safe. I said to Matt - it's the last 45 minutes of the season and it's all come down to it. Then Palace equalised and went in front, Pompey rolled over right on cue, Norwich died a death, and we went behind and just couldn't break through. Then in the last 10 minutes we had 4 half chances, including one which Crouch, or anyone taller than Camara, wouldn't have headed onto the fucking bar. A draw wouldn't have been enough as it turned out, and the last 5 minutes were heartbreaking. Our fans couldn't muster the motivation to cheer for a goal which still would have left us needing another anyway. Going out of the EPL bottom though, when 45 minutes earlier we were 17th, really isn't fair and I don't think there's many, bar Pompey fans, who could say otherwise. We've certainly not been the worst team this season.
For next season - we won't be incredibly ruined financially, I'll grant you that, Lowe. (In fact, you could argue that Lowe has spent SEASONS preparing us for relegation. That's forward planning for you). I feel a bit sorry for RL, I get the feeling that Lowe is the unfortunate figurehead of a rather nasty board, for want of a better word. He takes the brunt for things which are not entirely his own doing. I don't think he should go immediately, give him (like we should have given Sturrock) til Christmas to see what he pulls out.
In other areas, we've got a fantastic youth set up, and providing we can keep a stable hold in the Championship for one season, it could prove to be a transitional year for Saints, and see a new younger team emerge the year after to challenge for promotion again. Player wise, I'm resigned to losing Phillips, and/or Crouch, Camara and Bernard won't stay, Le Saux I think will now retire. If anyone like Newcastle, Spurs, Boro or Everton have got any sense, they'll be itching to tak Prutton away too. He really is EPL quality. Niemi has pledged to stay, but we could do with £5/6m - Paul Smith is more than a capable Championship keeper, and would go from strength to strength playng regularly. (Even now, there's whispers of England call ups with his name, albeit probably stemming from our own fans).
Not only will some of our players be bought, but I think now is the time for a clear out. Anders and Tessem are off to Sweden, Nilsson will probably be too. Parhars should stay, he'd thrive in the Championship. Kenton, Van Damme, Baird and Michael Svensson - that's where our defence should now lie. Jacobsson, sorry but you've not been cutting it, and Lundekvam, your time is almost up too. The manager? Honestly can't see him staying. In other circumstances you'd be crazy to let a manager like Harry go, but if he wants to then it's probably for the best - for both him and Southampton.
The one positive I can take from today is that, before now, I haven't always been sure myself where I stood personally with Southampton. A fan; yes, obviously, a supporter; most certainly, but did I really love this club? The scratching of my now hoarse throat, the sickening feeling right in the pit of my stomach, and the urge to switch off the lights, cover my eyes and let tears seep out, tells me that I do. And that's just a little thing that makes me a bit happier.
Southampton: we'll be back soon.