MATTHEW LE TISSIER did more than any other player to head off relegation crises in the nervous nineties.

Without him, though, Saints took the plunge yesterday and the crestfallen Channel Islander admitted: "I never thought I would see this day."

Le Tiss, now an accomplished analyist with Sky TV said: "We hung on by our finger tips when we played at The Dell but when e moved to a bigger stadium at St Mary's I thought we would put those days behind us.

"With a new stadium and better finances I thought we would get stronger and for two seasons it looked like we were.

"But now relegation has come out of the blue, and like everyone else connected with the club I'm hugely disappointed.

"The one player we've missed more than any is Michael Svensson, who was the key defensive organiser. That has definitely been a problem area.

Le Tissier, pictured above, was worshipped by the fans, and he, in turn, paid them a huge compliment. "They have given the players magnificent support. Now the team must give them what they deserve - a Premier football team again.

"The atmosphere at St Mary's has been a bit special lately but this was on a different level.

"Sir Alex Ferguson was not doing anyone any favours with his Manchester United line up and without Peter Crouch, who was always going to be a big miss, Saints didn't attack with enough width or get enough bodies into the box. There was no real aerial threat.

"Van Nistlerooy's goal coincided with West Brom taking the lead and it took the wind right out of our sails. From that moment there were a lot of tired legs out there.

"It was a crucial game, but the problems went back much further than this - particularly to those games where we conceded late goals.

"Going down is not the end of the world and although the Championship is one of the toughest divisions to bounce back from, having these fantastic fans behind them is a good start."