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Manchester United match nothing more than a reminder of what is in store for Saints
9:20am Tuesday 1st February 2011 in View from the Chapel
THE match with Manchester United did somewhat catch the imagination of many people across town.
Arguably the best team in the world coming to town was always going to attract the attention of the casual supporters.
But the thing is – and perhaps this is me clinging on to past glories – the level of hysteria has left me just a little embarrassed.
Yes, we’re just a League One club these days.
"We’re not famous any more", "Premier League and we.. erm", well you get the idea.
But it was just six years ago that Saints v Manchester United was just another league match.
The manner in which some got all giddy about Fergie’s rabble rocking up at St Mary’s really hammered home how far we’ve fallen.
So, in a roundabout way, they’ve highlighted why the focus must never shift from getting promotion – first this year to the Championship and then on to the top flight.
You see, I can’t help but feel that getting overly excited about playing a team from a higher division is somewhat unbecoming.
One of the more annoying things about playing Manchester United is the chant “You're only here to watch United” – especially when you have to admit that many of the people sitting round you are doing exactly that.
So in a bizarre way, I'm glad that Saints didn't sell out against Man Utd. In fact, more people came to see us play Exeter last year.
I want St Mary’s to be sold out close to capacity because of Saints, like it used to be, not because of the opposition.
To get excited about bigger clubs visiting is the very epitome of being small time.
Southampton Football Club has been built up by too many people over too many years to be allowed to develop a small time mentality.
Of course, it is a fine line between ambition and detachment from reality.
I’ve heard some people talk about the Champions’ League, for instance.
Learning to walk again may be an idea before we try taking on Usain Bolt.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying cup games against true giants of the game, but let’s enjoy them as throwbacks to the way things were - and will hopefully be again - not as awe-struck bystanders.
Play the mental game right and in a few years it’ll just be another league game once again.