LAWRIE MCMENEMY couldn't bear to watch game that sent Saints hurtling out of the top flight.

Instead, the club's most successful manager spent yesterday afternoon with autistic children - part of his many fund-raising activities in the area.

"There was a big screen showing the match at the nearby Rose Bowl," said McMenemy, "but it would be have been torture to watch so I headed back home.

"Not being involved with the club anymore, I prefer to stay in the background.

"It doesn't mean I still don't care passionately about them.

"I'm devastated to see it come to this.

"When I got home I checked on the half-time scores and it was still looking hopeful so I went out and watered the garden with a hosepipe.

"My mind was elsewhere though and I think I sprayed everything in sight, maybe even the cat!"

McMenemy knows what Harry Redknapp is going through.

Saints were relegated in his first season at helm, but he brought them back within three years then carried them onward into Europe.

"I said before the game that next to the 1976 Cup final and finishing second in the league, this was the biggest game in the club's history," added McMenemy.

"I knew what Harry was going through and I wanted to ring him in the morning but decided I against it.

"The last time I telephone him was on the morning of the Pompey game!

"We football people are a superstitious lot.

"When I heard we had lost to Manchester United, I knew we were down.

"I didn't even check on the other scores.

"And knowing we were relegated sent my mind flooding back to the early days at The Dell when, having fought out way back, we went on to enjoy the glory days and lay down the strong foundations which helped us to survive for so long.

"To see us finish bottom is devastating to all who fought that cause and surely embarrassing to others who couldn't see it coming.

"I don't blame Harry Redknapp at all.

"He came in too late with too many players who had too little to offer and wretched away record stretching back over a year.

"The warning signs were there to see for quite a long time - painfully obvious to football people but not to others.

"Presumably even the most thick-skinned and arrogant will realise this now.

"Unfortunately it's too late to do anything about it."