"You Taught Me Well Oh Master, but now, I am the Bigger Shithouse. Just Watch"
As a fan it’s tempting to only see things from your own club’s point of view but every so often you need to think about things as a whole. Being a Southampton fan, we’ve seen all of the top 3 divisions in the last few seasons and I can categorically say that the season we spent in the Championship was the season I enjoyed most since Markus Liebherr bought the club. If you do well in it, then the Championship is excellent. You do however, have to be doing well because unless you’re a masochist, doing badly is not fun. The Championship when we got relegated in 2005 was not a good time because we were dreadful – but the league as a whole was great. Less prima-Donna players, less diving, shit referees who were genuinely just shit instead of big club dodgy, kids getting thrown into the first XI because teams couldn’t afford to carry a massive squad of experienced pros. Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday – not Monday, Thursday, Sunday 12 noon, Wednesday, nothing for two weeks, Sunday at 4pm because your opponent was in Europe on Thursday.
This brings me on to the Premier League and the problem with it. There are many problems and here’s just one of them – Shithouses. In our promotion season in the Championship, Saints had players like Billy Sharp, Dean Hammond, Richard Chaplow, Jos Hooiveld, Danny Fox, Fraser Richardson, Kelvin Davis – players who were not infested with the ‘Shithouse’ gene. They would still be at Saints today if we hadn’t gone up and ruined it all for them. Great characters, solid characters, decent blokes and above all, not Shithouses. Even in some of the other players like Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte, the Shithouse gene had not risen to the surface and taken over but it was laying dormant beneath the surface. It was only activated by Premier League, international honours and 'super' agents or as most fans prefer to call them, cunts. These agents however, play on the power of the dormant Shithouse gene and convinced their clients that they would be best served by shitting on everyone who had helped them so far and the big clubs would throw loads of money around in their direction. Is it good for your career? Who bastard well cares, think about the money, money, money...
The Premier League is horrible – it needn’t be but it is. It’s just about the Big Clubs and money, that’s it. Not a big revelation there but it’s gone to shit. If for some reason, one of the big clubs had a horrific season and were in danger of relegation, I’m sure that Brand Premier League would kick in and decide not to relegate anyone that year or at least instruct the referees to ‘sort out’ some of the games. No danger of any of that coming to pass though because of the money that the big boys can afford to hawk around compared to the others. I used to kick off whenever the possibility of a European Super League was mentioned because of the effect it would have on the English game but right now I’d love it and in time we’d have English football that somewhat resembled the pre-1992, pre-Sky competition that I grew up with. Yes, we still had the elite and the also-rans but it was much more even.
So, the Big 6 can all fuck off as far as I’m concerned and Sky can pour all their money into that and the top division of English football can get back to a more sustainable, shithouse free environment. The European Super League would soon get very very boring for those involved but domestic football in time, would be a much better experience for the fans. The hardcore don’t care who their own team is playing and I for one, would not care in the slightest if we didn’t play the big clubs every year. Replace Chelsea, Spurs, City, Liverpool, Arsenal and United with Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Fulham, Leeds, Norwich and Derby from the top end of last season’s Championship.
The game as it stands has gone fucking mad. Look at some of the transfer fees this summer – Bournemouth have paid £20 for a Chelsea reserve who has played about 20 Premier League games. He looks decent but on 20 games, is he worth it? No he’s not. I see £50 million for Kyle Walker, a Forrest Gump full back who cannot defend or cross the ball, I see £50 million (possibly) for Gylfi Sigurdsson, a 28 year old ‘good’ player who has already failed once at a big club. ‘Good’ not ‘outstanding ‘. Some could argue that Southampton have played their part in that with the players we’ve sold in the past something has happened recently. Last summer we sold Sadio Mané for £32 million, this summer it would be £60 million plus.
From a perspective of Southampton buying players – it’s simple. We will not be spending more than £20 million on anyone so that rules out virtually everyone in the Premier League, certainly anyone in the top half. Mamadou Sakho, a player Liverpool do not want is valued by them at £30 million and his wages are over £100k a week. That’s the other thing – once a player has been at a big club, especially if he’s been transferred to it, the wages are obscene so that rules us out as well.
The ‘something’ that has happened recently is the TV deal with Sky. I can’t be bothered to look up the amount but it’s obscene. It means that income through the turnstiles now makes up a miniscule percentage of a Premier League club’s turnover which begs the question – Why are ticket prices still so fucking expensive? Anything over £500 a season is expensive to most people so why not cut it right down – halve it. It makes little difference so cut it down, fill the grounds, expand the grounds, grow the fanbase etc.
So, Fuck the Premier League. It’s just about the money, money, money and fuck all about fair play and an even competition. If there was any virtue in it, Liverpool would the sitting there, gnashing their teeth over a transfer ban.
Meanwhile, back in Southampton…
The first pre-season friendly was a virtual training game in Switzerland against St.Gallen which ended 0-0 with not a lot of incident aside from Gabbiadini looking sharp. Virgil didn’t play but I think most accepted the excuse that he hadn’t resumed full contact work yet. The man himself then muddied the waters in the way that players do these days with a cryptic social media bout about ‘great to be fully fit’ which directly contradicted what the club had just said. Hmmm, accidental or shithousery going on?
On we went to Brentford and a game which was having all proceeds donated to the Grenfell Tower fund. Again there was a statement regarding Virgil but this time the gloves were off – he was refusing to play as not psychologically ready and he wants to move. Here we go up a notch. Virgil is taking it to new levels of pathetic spoilt-brat behaviour and he won’t care. He’s under some sort of spell, cast by a combination of his agents, Liverpool FC, Jurgen Klopp and the media. He’s incapable of resisting, his head has been turned and even though Liverpool have officially bailed out and left him to it, he can’t resist and will do all their dirty work for them. Whilst many a person in all walks of life has been influenced to do bad things by unscrupulous third parties – at the end of the day, the path you take is down to yourself. Liverpool seem bomb-proof from any criticism from anyone that matters so Virgil is willing the take the fall and shit all over the club that pays him incredibly well, made him captain and got him fit again and of course, take a massive dump over the fans. Fans – players like Virgil just think we’re shit on their shoe. They don’t care, they just get new shoes and throw the shitty ones away.
Mauricio Pellegrino passed his first test with flying colours showing calm authority. The boy (as in ‘stupid little boy’) will be training on his own and we only want players who are 100% committed to the cause. Whilst this turn of events was entirely predictable, it’s still a kick in the nuts as Virgil plummets down in everyone’s estimation. To put this into context – the players who handled their moves away from Saints the worst in recent memory are Lovren and Lallana – both to Liverpool which is a massive coincidence I’m sure. Lallana refused to play (he disputes this of course) and Lovren said his head was already in Liverpool. Lovren as far as I know, never refused to train and he was never the captain and he’d only been here a year so actually, in context, Lovren wasn’t that bad and we only give him the most stick because he’s crap and because his missus felt the need for her head to be elsewhere as well. Lallana was as bad as Virgil as he was our captain but even he wasn’t banished to training on his own. So – Virgil’s behaviour is pretty fucking appalling and in all likelihood, the worst of the lot.
So - the Shithouse of Recent Times award goes to: Virgil van Dijk.
Where this leaves us is interesting. I still think we’re miles away from him going to his and his agents only preferred destination of Liverpool. It will be a massive climb down from the board if he goes there having reported them to the Premier League and the fans won’t forgive that unless there’s such a massive deal that it’s a no brainer – I’m talking something like £80 million up front + Sakho + Liverpool pay Sakho’s wages for 2 years + they pay the 10% to Celtic. Liverpool will also be shit scared to trying to make an approach for a player that they have been forced into saying they are ‘no longer interested in’. I was going to say ‘resurrecting their bid’ as opposed to ‘make an approach’ but there’s nothing to resurrect as they haven’t actually done anything yet officially. No bid, no official approach, no anything aside from tapping up behind the scenes and ex-players in the media. Graeme Souness was the latest to chip in and Steve Nicol had his say again. He’d probably forgotten he’d already commented.
The media went into a frenzy of course and I heard Alex Crock on Talkshite. I don’t see much of what Alex Crock writes as he’s blocked me on Twitter but he said one interesting thing that in his opinion – Virgil wasn’t on strike. I realise that this is a legal definition but surely a player who is refusing to play matches when fully fit is on strike and we should therefore be perfectly entitled to not pay the twat for being in breach of contract. It would be interesting to know what the PFA think of this, bearing in mind they are very quick to comment when clubs are hard on players.
Wanker Klopp has been asked a couple of times about it but no one has had the guts to ask him to confirm that he personally met Virgil at some point. Meanwhile, Barcelona have put a bid in for Coutinho and Klopp has been very ‘not for sale and the matter is closed’ about it all. I believe we said that as well Jurgen. So, it appears that no means no but no sometimes means yes. Dangerous values for a bloke to have unless of course, you are a shit, arrogant, hypocritical bloke or a sex offender.
Of course, what I’d love is for Liverpool to put in a bid (this will no doubt be about £30 million), Les Reed to go full mental and slap in the Tapping Up Dossier to the Premier League and force them to sort it out. This dossier would contain pictures of Jurgen Klopp in compromising photgraphs with Adam Lallana and a tub of Nivea. Even if faced with 100% solid gold evidence of rule breaking, the Premier League would do absolutely sweet fuck all.
The Brentford game saw a debut for Jan Bednarek and he looked a bit shaky as we conceded an early goal. After half time, Charlie Austin showed that summer allegations of cheating (at Monopoly) had not dulled his goalscoring edge and he scored twice, once from a hilarious mistake in the defence where one Brentford defender wellied another one instead of the ball and once when he connected sweetly with a left footed strike from McQueen’s pull back. There was still time to snatch a draw as Fraser, complete with new 5 year contract in his pocket, dropped a routine cross into his own net in ‘Under 8 player who has been pressganged into going in goal fashion’. Not good but never mind. I will repeat again, if Virgil leaves then we absolutely have to get a physically dominant centre half to partner either Jack or Maya and of course, we need a new captain – now. It will make absolutely no difference to Virgil and his decision to stay or not. He doesn’t give a shit about us so why not do it now. I don’t think he can carry off the “they stripped me of the captaincy so I want to leave” angle. He'd probably fucking try it though.
Next, the squad are off to France for a training camp and to play a friendly against St.Etienne. Virgil is not with them but he has been spotted in Paris, at Euro Disney. Perhaps he’s signing for Pompey with their new owner and all that and the Disney connection.
I'm off for a lie down in a dark room.