Saturday, January 24, 2009

23 January 2009: Jan

Jan Poortvliet resigned as Saints boss tonight.

Saints are currently second-bottom of the Championship, having sold all the expensive players (except for Skacel, in whom nobody seems interested), having lost crowd numbers hand-over-fist and having a Chairman who owns less than 6% of the shares. And now they've lost their manager.

No surprise in some ways - he was seen by the fans as a puppet of Chairman Rupert, with Rupes even being rumoured to be picking the teams and attempting to take training. Whatever the truth of those rumours, it's been clear even all the way from Indiana that the players aren't as fit as they should be, nor is there any evidence of patterns of play. You can rely a little on the skill of your best players, but Surman alone isn't going to keep you up and Kelvin Davis can only perform so many brilliant saves in a match. Last season's manager-in-an-impossible-position, Nigel Pearson, managed to do a great deal better partly by having a pattern to the play, a sense of tactics. The word is that there's been little in the way of tactics or even formations the entire season.

There was a "big meeting" on Wednesday when Rupes went down to Staplewood and had a "clear the air" meeting with Jan, the coaches and the players, and afterwards Jan said "oh, ok, we're in a real fight, let's show some passion."

Now he resigned, and seems to be blaming the crowd anger that was displayed towards the end of last week's game. Erm, ok, so why not resign then? Or on Wednesday? Or...

Well, the rumours are that there's more to this than meets the eye. Not sure exactly what, but Leon Crouch (second-largest single shareholder and main anti-Rupert person) was seen hanging around St Mary's today (which is apparently highly unusual), and the rumour of heading into administration during the first week of February refuses to go away. There was some kind of unofficial shareholder meeting tonight I understand, and the Saintsweb forum folks are trying to organise an anti-Rupert march. I haven't fully perused the various discussion threads out there in webland yet tonight - we've been too busy introducing Delia's Sticky Toffee Pudding to some nice Indiana folks - but there's something more going on here than a sudden, random resignation.

One thing is interesting: Rupert has seen ten managers leave when he's been in charge (I think: Souness, Jones, Hoddle, Gray, Strachan, Wigley, Sturrock, 'Arry, then in his second tenure Pearson and now Poortvliet) and none have been "sacked". Whether it's "personal leave", resignations, contracts expiring and not being renewed or just the good old "mutual consent", Rupert has never officially admitted he sacked anyone. (Although Wigley and Sturrock I have no doubt would have words to say about that, were they not bound to non-disclosure agreements). And today he kept that record up. Amazing how he does that.

Of course, in any other business, it would imply everyone leaves because Rupert is a difficult person to work with. Anyway - we'll see what comes up (or in the case of the league table, goes down) and who knows what might happen.

I hear Dick Cheney needs a new job.


Whiskers said...

Ok so the pudding looks good, which should make up for the poor football play.

Anonymous said...

the news that yet another manager had gone on Sunday didn't help my mood much. Administration now means a significant points deduction and if we're relegated anyway that could see us in the bottom division inside 12 months, not a possibility but more of a probability.

I can see both things happening and it seems to me that the board have no credibility. 6 years ago we sat in the Alex in clapham and watched the FA Cup Final, a gritty effort that we didn't win but one of the big days for the club.

A year or so later we sat at st marys to watch saints scramble to a high scoring win against fellow trap door dodgers Norwich.

We went down, something told us that an immediate bounce back up wasn't going to happen and it didn't.something told us that the stadium debt would be a problem, something told us that we'd become a selling club - and we did.

It seems a shame when the club has developed the likes of Walcott Bale Surman that we should be the plodders that we are, this club should be terrifying to play, raw pace, touch and with years ahead of them as a side.

In a few years international sides will be sprinkled with these players who were sold because of gambles that didn't pay off.

Question is, in the premiership each side has a specific distinctly different character, what's ours? What do we do very well? Nothing. Ultimately the thing we lack is just that -character.

I'd forgive them adopting long throws if they'd develop some backbone too