Fulham secured their win at St. Mary’s with goals from Carlos Vinicius and Aleksandar Mitrovic as they condemned the Saints to the Championship for the first time since 2012 and inflicted even more disappointment on what’s been an awful campaign for the south coast side.
The Saints used to be one of the league’s most exciting sides, playing attractive football and recruiting or producing some of the world’s best players. In fact, it was only a few years ago when Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mane, and Dusan Tadic were all playing at St Mary’s and the future for the club seemed bright.
Concerns were raised about Southampton as far back as the opening day when they were thrashed 4-1 by Tottenham and showed hardly any fight or courage. It was, however, a defeat to Newcastle by the same scoreline that irreversibly damaged Saints’ hopes as the game ended Ralph Hassenutl’s reign and dropped Southampton into the relegation zone where they’d remain for the rest of the season.
But Southampton’s relegation wasn’t caused by a lack of talent, as players like James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia, and Carlos Alcaraz have plenty of quality. It is, however, the sheer lack of fight, passion, or intestinal fortitude which Southampton’s fans have rightly shamed this season, and this was epitomized in their defeat to Fulham.Embed from Getty Images
Sometimes I have to step back and wonder exactly what happened to the tough-tackling, never-say-die English football sides of yesteryear. I vividly remember watching sides who weren’t nearly as talented as the ones today battle tooth-and-nail for trophies, glory, and survival. If you ask me, the game has gone soft and although the players are technically better, they’re mentally weaker than ever.
A lot of this is due to the commercialization of our Premier League and its shift from being a sport to family-friendly entertainment. Players like Tony Adams, Graeme Souness, Roy Keane, and Stuart Pearce are a dying breed now, and their combative style of play would most likely ruffle a few too many feathers of the Premier League top brass.
They are, nevertheless, representative of the kind of characters we need in modern English football. Social media followers are great for players’ already large bank accounts, but they mean nothing if they can’t dig their way out of relegation trouble.
Much like the Titanic which departed the city 111 years ago, Southampton once looked unsinkable but they quickly found themselves in trouble. Rather than making an effort to salvage their ship, however, the players acted like the Titanic’s band, accepting their fate whilst playing a proverbial violin.
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