Sheffield Wednesday 5 Saints 0

COME ON LADS: Wayne Thomas tries a rallying call, but Youssef Safri can't believe Saints have conceded another goal.

COME ON LADS: Wayne Thomas tries a rallying call, but Youssef Safri can't believe Saints have conceded another goal.

First published in 07-08 Season Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Writer

THIS COULD be a very tense but definitive fortnight in the history of Southampton Football Club.

That's not over dramatising the situation either; some of the decisions that will be taken over this international break will have a major bearing on the future of the club.

Away from the playing side, we should hear whether the Sisu offer for 55 per cent of the club will be accepted or, as seems more likely, rejected.

The fall-out from that decision will be immense.

If it is rejected then there will be questions over where the club go from here to avoid administration.

There will be accusations towards major shareholders and counter claims towards the club's executives.

Its hard to put in to words just how bad a result and a performance this was. The defending was horrific and there was hardly a person associated with it that came out with any credit. There are major questions to be answered at all levels of the club now.

Adam Leitch

There also will be the spectre of a player sale in January and, probably with that, the end of any lingering hope of a promotion campaign this season.

Coupled with that, there are major decisions to be made on the playing side.

It is inevitable after this defeat that George Burley's position will be the point of some debate - not only whether he is still the right man for the job but, in the face of the possible player sales and the turmoil he had had to deal with, whether he wants to continue himself.

Again, the questions must be asked of who could you replace him with in this situation?

If the club are facing player sales in January and possible administration in the future, and with the restrictions which Burley has had to work under, who in their right mind is going to take the job on?

There really is so much at stake: this could be a fortnight that proves to be massive in the club's history.

This is where the seeds will be sown as to whether this is still a Premiership club in waiting or instead an average, middle-of-the-road Championship club like so many others who have descended from the top flight.

What would have been nice would have been to go in to the international break on the back of a victory, or even a good performance.

At Sheffield Wednesday, neither applied.

Burley opened himself up for some blame with one big decision.

On the back of only a second clean sheet of the season against Wolves and a battling display, he opted to leave out right-back Phil Ifil, one of the most consistent players in recent weeks.

In his place was Christian Dailly, re-employed from the centre of midfield due to the return of Youssef Safri.

Burley couldn't have predicted the total carnage that would ensue.

But as a manager there is a fine line between brave decisions and bad ones. And when things go wrong, you will be questioned over your choices.

The first half was a fairly even affair, both sides lacking any real confidence in the final third.

Saints had the best opening when Stern John chested down Andrew Surman's raking cross and fired goalwards only to see his shot saved by Lee Grant.

But on 40 minutes Saints suffered their first defensive lapse when Kelvin Davis, so consistent and impressive this season, suffered a rush of blood.

He slid out straight through Akpo Sodje, who was in no danger of threatening the goal, and a totally needless penalty was conceded. Glenn Whelan stepped up and duly dispatched the spot-kick.

The wheels came off in the most spectacular fashion in the second half as Saints shipped four goals in 14 minutes.

Some of the defending, not just from the back four but across the team, was almost laughable.

On 51 minutes Marcus Tudgay flicked the ball inside to Sodje who was allowed to fire a volley low under Davis.

It was 3-0 six minutes later when Wayne Thomas and Safri both failed to clear a cross and Whelan had time to control and volley home from 20 yards, though it may have taken a slight deflection.

There was another goal on 62 minutes as Andrew Davies was outmuscled by Sodje chasing a long ball and the Owls man lashed home from inside the area.

The misery was complete three minutes later when half of the Saints backline were caught hopelessly out of position and Burton O'Brien made them pay by drilling home a fifth.

Saints created several chances in the final, meaningless, stages of the game but Inigo Idiakez and John both missed absolute sitters.

This was about as low as it gets.

The worrying thing is that the downward spiral of this club has probably not bottomed out yet.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree