Sports editor Simon Carter on the rumours of Saints being up for sale

Saints owner Katharina Liebherr and chairman Ralph Krueger

Saints owner Katharina Liebherr and chairman Ralph Krueger

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

SOUTHAMPTON FC is surely unique among professional football clubs.

After all, there can’t be many others where the close season is more fascinating than the actual season itself.

Saints have long been described as a soap opera, and the last decade has seen some remarkable storylines with goodies and baddies in almost equal measure.

I give you Rupert Lowe, Michael Wilde, Leon Crouch, Micky Fialka, Michael Wilde, Jim Hone, Nicola Cortese, Marcus Liebherr, Ralph Krueger, Les Reed.

And not a single one of those men have ever kicked a ball for the club!

This summer, though ...

This summer, even by Saints’ phenomenal high standards of intrigue, has been unbelievable.

No, forget that, this whole year has been unbelievable.

The end result of the chairman going, the manager going, and five of last season’s regular team going, is this ...

Ronald Koeman, less than two months after arriving as manager, now needs to produce the mother of all rebuilding jobs before the summer transfer window slams shut at the end of August.

The sale earlier this week of Calum Chambers to Arsenal was the straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of supporters.

Daily Echo: Calum Chambers has penned a 'long-term' contract with Arsenal

Calum Chambers

The fact Saints made no real attempt to keep one of their most promising youngsters, when confronted by a ‘big club’ waving a huge wad of cash, was an unsurprising tipping point for many fans.

The club totally lack ambition.

We’re a laughing stock.

We want our season ticket money back.

Katharina Liebherr must surely be trying to sell the club.

Daily Echo: Newly-appointed Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger says owner Katharina Liebherr, centre, will not sell the club

Saints owner Katharina Liebherr

We can’t believe anything the directors tell us anymore.

Those comments were the general gist of hundreds upon hundreds of postings made to the Echo’s website.

So that is what this summer of total madness has boiled down to ...

... Saints supporters battered into near submission by a succession of player departures, and fearing for their club’s top flight future.

Relegation from the Premier League, followed by administration and relegation from the Championship, surviving near oblivion, starting a third division season on minus 10 points.

They are the factual low points from the last ten years, and fans have not forgotten them.

How can they?

Now they are worried, really worried, that the club might have risen too quickly from the depths of League 1 to the top eight of the Premier League.

They have celebrated along with the likes of Lambert and Lallana as Saints have clambered from 24th place in the third tier to, briefly, the top three of the top flight within five years.

Now Lambert and Lallana have gone.

And so has Shaw.

Daily Echo: Luke Shaw holds off Mike Williamson yesterday.

Luke Shaw in action for Saints last season

So has Lovren. So has Chambers.

Is this the reality Saints fans have now got to get their heads around?

That no sooner has the club produced another gem off its academy, they are gone – snapped up a bigger fish.

But it was ever thus.

Walcott, Bale, Chamberlain. They were the highest profile, but there have been others – Bridge, Surman, Matt Mills, Baird.

How long before a top club come in for Ward-Prowse? Or Matt Targett, even though he hasn’t even played a competitive game for the club yet? Or Sam Gallagher?

They are sensible questions to ask in the current climate.

However, it would be stretching the boundaries of credibility – really stretching them – to suggest, as some have, that Katharina Liebherr and the board are asset stripping prior to selling the club.

Really? If you’re going to sell, you would presumably want the best price possible.

And a successful squad gives you a better chance of getting the best price.

It’s not rocket science.

Six years ago Saints appointed a Dutch manager, as they have done this summer.

Back in 2008, Jan Poortvliet arrived with no decent top level managerial CV to speak of. From the moment he arrived, it was obvious he would be a ‘yes’ man to Lowe.

Daily Echo: Jan Poortvliet

Former Dutch Saints manager Jan Poortvliet

Ronald Koeman is different, and Saints 2014 are different.

Unlike six years ago, the club have not appointed a ‘yes’ man.

Unlike six years ago, they are not basically skint, far from it.

They have already spent £20m on players, which was twice the club’s total income just five short years ago.

They have around £50m left from selling players this summer to reinvest on transfer fees and wages.

We have been told that all the monies will be reinvested, and until the transfer window closes we have to take Saints’ board at face value.

If they spend it, good. That will restore some fans’ lost confidence in them. Ralph Krueger and Les Reed can say what they want, but actions speak louder the words and Saints need to silence their critics by signing quality players.

If they don’t spend all their money received from player sales, they will need to make sure their PR is a damn sight better than it has been ...

Comments (7)

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2:22pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Johnny FP says...

That's better, a bit of reality and balance. Onwards and upwards!
That's better, a bit of reality and balance. Onwards and upwards! Johnny FP
  • Score: 11

2:25pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Norwegian Saint says...

We had a 5 year plan that has now ended, we now look forward to the next five years and I think we are in a great position to build on.

I have been frustrated with the actions of some players and the club but as a true supporter I will back everyone that pulls on the badge... I might slate them now and again (hurts when we lose)... but I will still support the team.

The players so far have moved to Champions league (Liv & Ars) or Champion contenders (ManU) I can't see why we would let anybody go to the Spuds and assist a team in our "mini league"

I wrote last week that a lot of clubs like Villa backed their players when rumours flew... but with Saints... nothing, no backing of our players, no making them feel wanted. This annoyed me until two days ago when Ralph (eventually) turned up and made a statement of intent. If Morgan leaves I will definately have lost faith in Ralph and Les but for now we have lost 5 great team players and a good manager but replaced with 3 good players and a great manager. I think Ronald, after time, will be a breath of fresh air (also with a plan B)

We might just be taking a step back (or even holding firm) for a season or two and rebuild. I am optimistically looking forward to this season starting with giving Liverhampton "one hellll of a beating!"

Saints... guaranteed ups and downs but what a great life supporting them!
We had a 5 year plan that has now ended, we now look forward to the next five years and I think we are in a great position to build on. I have been frustrated with the actions of some players and the club but as a true supporter I will back everyone that pulls on the badge... I might slate them now and again (hurts when we lose)... but I will still support the team. The players so far have moved to Champions league (Liv & Ars) or Champion contenders (ManU) I can't see why we would let anybody go to the Spuds and assist a team in our "mini league" I wrote last week that a lot of clubs like Villa backed their players when rumours flew... but with Saints... nothing, no backing of our players, no making them feel wanted. This annoyed me until two days ago when Ralph (eventually) turned up and made a statement of intent. If Morgan leaves I will definately have lost faith in Ralph and Les but for now we have lost 5 great team players and a good manager but replaced with 3 good players and a great manager. I think Ronald, after time, will be a breath of fresh air (also with a plan B) We might just be taking a step back (or even holding firm) for a season or two and rebuild. I am optimistically looking forward to this season starting with giving Liverhampton "one hellll of a beating!" Saints... guaranteed ups and downs but what a great life supporting them! Norwegian Saint
  • Score: 18

2:27pm Thu 31 Jul 14

jls217 says...

This is just like a mishmash of postings on the forum. Although not quite as well thought through. Please DE what was the purpose of this article?
This is just like a mishmash of postings on the forum. Although not quite as well thought through. Please DE what was the purpose of this article? jls217
  • Score: -3

4:01pm Thu 31 Jul 14

bwiiian says...

Southampton through and through. Whatever happens, I support them. I loved playing in league one and the Championship. Premiership, nah, bit predictable.
Southampton through and through. Whatever happens, I support them. I loved playing in league one and the Championship. Premiership, nah, bit predictable. bwiiian
  • Score: 4

4:46pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Bordeaux says...

Don't start commenting on the business pages Simon! To get the best price for any going concern you sell the top assets individually then you sell the shell for whatever you can get. 1st year business at Southampton tech would have taught you this .

While I'm having a go at your economics I'll have a quick go at your journalistic style too. This piece, while interesting, should be in four or five paragraphs. Starting a new paragraph for every sentence doesn't give it "clout" like you think — it gives it a childish cadence which undermines the gravity of the content, in precisely opposition to the effect. you're looking for.
Don't start commenting on the business pages Simon! To get the best price for any going concern you sell the top assets individually then you sell the shell for whatever you can get. 1st year business at Southampton tech would have taught you this . While I'm having a go at your economics I'll have a quick go at your journalistic style too. This piece, while interesting, should be in four or five paragraphs. Starting a new paragraph for every sentence doesn't give it "clout" like you think — it gives it a childish cadence which undermines the gravity of the content, in precisely opposition to the effect. you're looking for. Bordeaux
  • Score: 6

7:39pm Thu 31 Jul 14

thinklikealocal says...

jls217 wrote:
This is just like a mishmash of postings on the forum. Although not quite as well thought through. Please DE what was the purpose of this article?
I absolutely agree. Amongst a jumble of completely rubbish journalism from the DE this is right up there with the best.... Or should I say worst....
[quote][p][bold]jls217[/bold] wrote: This is just like a mishmash of postings on the forum. Although not quite as well thought through. Please DE what was the purpose of this article?[/p][/quote]I absolutely agree. Amongst a jumble of completely rubbish journalism from the DE this is right up there with the best.... Or should I say worst.... thinklikealocal
  • Score: -2

7:35am Mon 4 Aug 14

NC Fan4Life says...

The fans feelings WILL be heard on Saturday's last testing warm up game, the board know it, so expect at least two signings before then.
If there are none, OR they are not considered of a good enough quality then the fans will let the board (especially Les) have it with two barrels !!
The fans feelings WILL be heard on Saturday's last testing warm up game, the board know it, so expect at least two signings before then. If there are none, OR they are not considered of a good enough quality then the fans will let the board (especially Les) have it with two barrels !! NC Fan4Life
  • Score: 1

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