Manchester United 3, Southampton 6 in what I think was 1996. The game which will be forever remembered as the one in which Sir Alex Ferguson famously binned the ghastly grey strip during half time at The Dell.
It had some bit of an impact as the three scores they did register came after the resumption. Though the regular red jerseys could hardly have been blamed when the got stuffed 5-0 by their closest challengers at the time, Newcastle United.
However, that is not the reason for what you are now reading. Rather, it’s a reflection on the Southampton team of that era. Specifically, how the managed to punch above their weight for an extraordinary length of time.
Backboned, as they were then, by players such as Francis Benali, Marian Pahars, Matt Le Tissier and Ian Dowie. Since those heady days, mind you, the game has changed seismically. As has Southampton’s role therein.
Though the following is a horrible label to become affixed to any unit, The Saints have, in more recent years, become a selling club. To peruse some of the talent flipped by the coastal club is akin to dissecting the lineups for an NBA All Star game.
Virgil Van Dijk, Gareth Bale, Sadio Maine, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Glenn Johnson and Dusan Tadic have all left St Mary’s Stadium for supposedly greener pastures.
They were for some, it wasn’t a universal success though. By any means. Something possibly best underlined by the fact that – and the following is meant in no disrespect to those clad in red and white – Walcott, for example, ended up back there.
What has changed drastically, and not for the better, is that players are far more entitled and self obsessed than was the case back then. For instance, seldom if ever do you see a player like Le Tissier (or Gary Neville) who played their entire senior career with one club.
Moreover, what’s even more of a rarity now is to see those in charge of football clubs – many who haven’t a bull’s notion about the game – having the common sense, decency and cajones to realise that changing the manager is like putting a plaster on open heart surgery. As useful as milk producing organs on a bull!
Be that as it may, the Brains Trust on the south coast saw fit to defenestrate with the services of Ralf Hassenhuttl after his erstwhile charges were beaten 3-1 at home by the most improved and most in form team in the Premiership – Newcastle United.
What those in control of Southampton need to realise, though, is that removing Ralf won’t change their current reality. Pep Guardiola is the coach in world football presently, but even he can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, never mind anybody else.