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Don't feel down - far better to go up at St. Mary's
ANY Saints fans or players disappointed by last night’s West Ham victory shouldn’t be ...
... going up under your own steam, in front of a packed house at St Mary’s, is so much better!
There were no doubt plenty of Saints supporters who found themselves in a quandary before kick-off at the King Power Stadium.
Of course they wanted to see their team promoted as soon as possible.
But, surely, they were thinking they would prefer it to happen at St Mary’s in front of their own eyes on Saturday.
Surely they would want to be part of those sacred ‘I was there’ memories that happen so rarely for the majority of football supporters.
It’s time to be positive and bullish about Saints’ chances, not negative.
A West Ham draw or defeat last night would have meant no chance of a nailbiting finale in front of a sold out St Mary’s with an outpouring of raw emotion when the final whistle from the referee was sounded.
No scenes of jubilation as Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Kelvin Davis embraced in wild celebration in the middle of the pitch before being mobbed by overwhelmed fans spilling onto the playing surface.
No huge party in the city the night it was confirmed, the culmination of a day to live long in the memory, when disparate people came together in a common joy.
Instead, there would have been a few smiles broken in the peace and quiet of living rooms before bed with work for most the following morning.
Of course West Ham’s win prolongs the nervousness for a few more days.
But for the sake of the club it’s time to be upbeat, look forward to a win and reflect what a shame if it had happened with Saints not playing and instead sealing their promotion on the back of another team’s failure.
That just wouldn’t seem like a fitting end to a terrific season.
Remember that Saints are still in second place, remember that one win, at home to a relegated side, and they are in the Premier League.
Remember all the times they have pulled it out of the bag this season.
Remember where they are in the table.
Ultimately, securing the promotion prize is what this great adventure called the Championship is all about.
And what better way to do than in front of your own fans?
There are 24 teams who stand at the start line in August. Each and every one has dreams and ambitions, and in this division about half of them think promotion is a realistic goal.
Only three will make it over the finishing line to stand on the podium tasting success, though.
For Saints it has felt like a long season, so why not go the whole distance?
There have been far more ups than downs, but even for the fans the pressure of being at the top from pretty much start to finish has been draining.
You would probably consider that the kindest way to get out of this league is to do what Reading have done – start poorly, lower expectations and then storm through the pack.
Saints, as is their want, have done things a harder way.
They have been in the top two all season with the rest aiming for them.
Wow, that is hard on the players and the manager and all credit to them for coming through it thus far.
When every team is gunning for you, when you are always the side to whom other teams want to raise their game to prove something, that is the hard way.
The key for Saints has been getting results at the right time.
If they were to have dropped down into the play-off positions then it would have had a massive psychological impact.
Who knows whether they would have fully recovered from it?
As it is, they have always found a way to keep themselves in the top two.
Only one more game to keep it that way.
Look forward to the celebrations.
Don’t fear the worst.