NOT the best of starts for Saints and I think in a way, the home defeat goes into what I’ve been saying recently. I think normally, with due respect to them, a club like Brentford would have found it different if 20,000 or more had been willing the opposition on. More often or not there are surprise results because of no crowds.

Having said that, an old friend of mine, Richard Becheley, who is a local builder by trade but passionate supporter who collects memorabilia and regularly comes up with facts and figures, his one this week was only two clubs from the top two divisions have never lost playing away at St Mary’s. One, Rotherham, have never played at the stadium, but the other one was Brentford who on four visits to Saints have drawn two and now won two. He thinks it is something to do with a spell over the club when we play clubs like that.

From Ralph’s point of view, he will be looking not just for a win but goals of course. But to be fair, I think the least Saints deserved at Crystal Palace was a draw. Their goalkeeper on the day pulled off three or four fantastic saves.

Spurs up next

Tottenham is always a big fixture.

There will be even more interest this week because of Mr Gareth Bale. At the time of writing, he is strongly linked with going back to Spurs. If he’s done it by Sunday, he will also be coming back to the club that made him really.

I had long left when he arrived at Saints, but he started off in Bath and attending the academy, as you would call it now, that we had set up down in that area which produced other players such as Jason Dodd. As I’ve said before, once they signed at 14, they couldn’t go to any other club. Bale had apparently been going since he was nine.

I met him on one occasion, when I returned to the club on the board. I visited the training ground. The players had finished having their cups of tea, lots of laughter when I went in and they told me he had just announced he had bought his first car.

I asked him what sort it was and I can’t remember the detail but I said ‘I’ve got one them in my boot!’, which got a bit more laughter. But I would think whatever he’s got now, nobody’s boot would be big enough.

Bearing in mind, recently Dele Alli, who could also be involved in a switch of clubs having been linked with a move away from Tottenham, was quoted somewhere on a website as having a Rolls-Royce, which is worth more than £250,000. Oh dear.

That also reminds me of the two silly players, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood, on their first trip with England to Iceland. Not only were they in the senior squad for the first time, but were given their first international caps, you would think would be in dreamland achieving so much at such young ages. But they still found time to invite two ladies into their hotel rooms. What idiots.

It is a good job for them that at the minute there are no crowds when they play for their clubs anywhere. I am sure they will be getting reminded of where they went wrong. In any event, both coming from the Manchester clubs, they would have been really put in their place by some of the senior managers up there.

Talking of various clubs, I think Aston Villa and Leeds United are two who have achieved so much in the past at the top level and really did not look right to be in the Championship.

But the signs are they are really trying to get back up, with Villa giving their star Jack Grealish a five-year contract on a reported £135,000 per week. A player who is well aware he could basically have gone to any one of the top two or three clubs if he wanted. They also have made a record signing, Ollie Watkins for £28million.

Leeds United will always be remembered for the glory days under the late Don Revie with a team full of fantastic international players. As I’ve said before, I was a regular visitor as a young coach at Sheffield Wednesday up the road. It didn’t seem the same for them not to be playing against the likes of Saints, Man Utd etcetera.

Bale will want to prove his worth

I suppose money is mentioned more often nowadays.

I couldn’t believe it when Gareth Bale had been offered the chance to go to China and the figures mentioned were even as high as £1million per week, which might’ve been a printing error, but even if it was for a month, it wasn’t too bad! But he stayed at Real Madrid, only on £600,000 a week. Poor thing.

It shows how different it is for some of the top players. If it is right the deal coming back to England would be a loan deal for a year, the English club would only be paying half and Madrid apparently thankful for reducing by 50 per cent, because bearing in mind the manager Zinedine Zidane hardly played Gareth last season.

I think basically he is a good lad, who will now want to prove wherever he goes that Zinedine should’ve given him opportunities. It will be interesting if he is at St Mary’s this weekend, hopefully from our point of view he will be in the stand, but I’m sure we will all look forward to seeing him in the Premier League at some stage.