Sunday, April 24, 2005

24 April 2005: Down

Historically, Southampton Football Club have been bigger than their local rival, Portsmouth. In the top division every year since the mid-1970's (a statistic matched only by Liverpool, Man U, Arsenal and Everton), Saints have a bigger stadium, better training facilities, a better youth system and, of course, 'arry an' Jim.

But Pompey won this afternoon's match 4-1, utterly humiliating a very poor Saints team whose first half display (when all the goals were conceded) was at least as bad as last week's capitulation against Villa. Saints have played like a team of zombies, as they have for much of the season, and since 'arry got Manager of the Month for March Saints have lost four out of five and in those five have conceded fourteen goals.

It's embarrassing as much as anything. Player for player, Saints should be at least the match of Pompey, even given the lack of Michael Svennson, Marian Pahars and Peter Crouch today. But it wasn't even a contest. As I sat here watching the game with both Rob and the duck, we decided it was simply shameful, a passionless display from a team with no soul. I commented back in August how Saints seemed to have changed so much since the heady days of Bridgey, Marsden, Strachan and the Cup Final. Just last season Saints were fourth at Christmas and had competed, albeit briefly, in the UEFA Cup. Now Delap, Bernard, Telfer and captain Claus are taking us down to play in the brown and fizzy league, and none of them seem to care.

Maybe that's the problem.

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