Monday, August 23, 2004

23 August 2004: Luggy

Paul Sturrock's record at Southampton: Won 5, Drawn 2, Lost 6. Total games: 13.

What's so wrong with that?

Apparantly the problem was nothing to do with his record as manager. Rupert "Very Very" Lowe has said it was due to the media and certain other people undermining the manager for financial reward, and such people should take a long, hard look at themselves.

Asked if Lowe himself should take a long, hard look in the mirror, former Saints boss Lawrie McMenemy stated that he probably already does that, quite a lot.

James Beattie didn't like Sturrock, that is no secret. Nor is it a secret that his agent has been in talks with Aston Villa, which is against league rules given that Southampton had not given permission for talks. For some reason, Rupert doesn't seem worried about that, and I can't quite fathom THAT one. It's also no secret that Sturrock was not Lowe's first choice for the job back in March - but the fans, and half the board, weren't having Glenn Hoddle back. Sturrock was drafted in as a pawn in Lowe's power game, and whether the Beattie situation was catalyst or just convenience, the fact is that Luggy has left.

Southampton are the poorer for this day's work. Not only have they lost a very very good manager who, last season, was the only league manager whose record compared with that of Wenger's and Ranieri's (oh, the comparisons!), but it has also shown that Southampton is a club where the bullies always win. I told Kev on Saturday that I felt Saints were a team with no soul any more, and that the days of Bridgey, Marsden, Strachan and the Cup Final seemed a long time ago. Now I'm struggling to muster any feeling for a team containing (a few) players who don't respect the club or the game, and a chairman who ripped Plymouth Argyle apart back in March just to play a tiny power-game, a game which he has now won, and has thrown away the tool he used to win.

Finally, no, I don't want to see Sturrock back at Home Park. That chapter is closed, and Bobby Williamson must be allowed to get on with his job. Sturrock (and Summerfield) will be back in football, and they will be back soon, whether it is with Bristol City, Sheffield Wednesday or even the Scotland national team. The innocent parties in this will heal and move on.

But something is wrong at Southampton FC, very wrong, and I fear for the club as long as the dark forces of board-room politics and player agents continue to wield the power.

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