Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas cheer lost on dark day for Saints fans

Christmas cheer was very much lacking at St Mary’s yesterday afternoon, as a bumper crowd was treated to an abject Saints display that sees them enter Christmas just a point away from relegation. The 2-0 reverse came against fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest in a game Saints really had to win. Coming hot on the heels of defeats away to Crystal Palace and Burnley, Saints fans made their feelings known at the final whistle, directing boos and taunts at the uninspired, limp performance that seemed to sum up a season that now has relegation written all over it.

Crystal Palace 3 - Saints 0
Burnley 3 – Saints 2
Saints 0 – Forest 2

After a lot of early optimism at the attractive football on display, fans seem to have wholly fallen out of love with the new Dutch regime. A series of three defeats may not be devastating, but the performances have not shown any progress and the team seems to be going backwards rather than forwards. Saints were humiliated by Palace, and again in the first eleven minutes at Burnley, when all three goals were conceded. Poortvliet may point to the second half comeback as progress, but a team that can only play when three goals behind is not going to thrive at this level.

The Forest game was dire. After a bright start, Saints ran out of ideas and their complete lack of penetration and imagination in the final third was embarrassing to behold. The performances of David McGoldrick and Jason Euell deserve special mention for being especially woeful and neither of these players demonstrated any of the stomach or fight required for a tough relegation encounter. It was a testament to their sheer appallingness that the great donkey (otherwise known as Bradley Wright-Phillips) was cheered on to the field in the second half. He again proved himself to be lacking in just about all the qualities required to be a half-decent footballer.

The Forest goals came either side of half time and the only surprise was the quality of the second. The side was thoroughly unexceptional and yet we repeatedly failed to break them down on our own patch. Jan must surely realise that his pretty brand of football is not suited to home matches where teams will come and set up shop. Our lack of firepower can be explained by all our quality forwards being out on loan; it isn’t rocket science. Lowe’s experiment is proving woefully misguided and relegation now looks likely.

The Dutch Revolution isn’t working. Changes must be made if Saints are to preserve their Championship status, but the financial situation at the club prevents that. If yesterday is anything to go by the future of the club looks bleak indeed; given the state of our finances, relegation will come hand in hand with the merry prospect of administration. In more ways than one, this is a low moment for Saints fans.

How’s that for some Christmas cheer?

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