Monday, December 05, 2005

5 December 2005: Circus

And just who are the clowns in the whole show?

The fans, most likely. The chant "what the **** is going on?" (to the tune of Cwm Rhondda) resounded around St Mary's on Saturday, not for the first time in Rupert Lowe's tenure as Chairman. While some clubs (Plymouth Argyle, for instance) plod along gently and harmlessly, bouncing between divisions and occasionally finding a genuinely good player (Mariner) or manager (Sturrock) who then gets poached by the big boys, nothing particularly bizarre or weird ever seems to happen there. The strangest thing was when manager Peter Shilton was suspended rather than sacked by nasty old Dan McCauley, but even that was resolved in a couple of days, and never led to the utter confusion of the fans. At Saints, it's a different story.

Chairman Rupert Lowe replaced Dave Jones with Glenn Hoddle because Jones was involved in a court case, and needed time off. Fair enough in principle, but when the case was resolved, do you think Jones got his job back? Of course not. Was he ever going to? No. Hoddle was later poached by Spurs, Rupert taking the roll-over-and-die approach in trying to keep him, and just moaned a bit about how bad it is when football clubs poach the manager of other clubs. (Not that he did that with Sturrock or Redknapp within a couple of years of saying those things, no, not at all). Strachan resigned halfway through a season because he needed a hip replacement which, incidentally, he's never had, and now he's manager of Celtic.

And now this. Harry wanted permission to talk to Pompey, Pompey wanted permission to talk to Harry. Rupert said no, because Harry is our manager. (This only a year after Rupert stated he didn't believe in the post of 'manager' and preferred to have a 'head coach' and a 'director of football' instead, and then appointed a rugby coach to the staff for no apparent reason). So Harry quit (sort of). Although he's still under contract, and hasn't resigned. He says. But he also says he's not coming back to Southampton and he says it's been the worst year of his life. And Rupert says he's as bemused as everyone else by it all, and his job is to respond to events as they happen (Press Conference quote from Saturday night). No Rupert, your job is to provide a little leadership and direction, particularly in times of crisis.

But then there's always been a suspicion Rupert has no clue at all, and has just been winging it all this time. Let's never forget Rupert's classic press conference (only last year, can you believe it?) when he was asked about a possible return of Hoddle as Strachan's replacement, and he stated:

There are always people looking to plant a Klingon blast on the Starship Enterprise. We've got our force shields up, but the Klingons are shooting at us. Every time they land a punch they are sapping our powers. Now we need to adopt the Invisible Shield until we have got the right man in place.

The fans aren't angry, Rupert, we're just confused. The clowns of this circus seem to be Rupert, Harry and the staff at Southampton FC, but considering the number of fans who show up every week and pay over-the-odds prices for Championship ( = division two) football, perhaps the clowns are the fans after all.

What the **** is going on? Who knows.

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