Monday, May 22, 2017

Thank goodness for that.  It`s been a long season for us Saints fans - 53 competitive matches played - and we end up eighth in the Premier League, having had some `interesting` times in the EFL Cup (where we were narrowly beaten by Manchester United in the Wembley Final) and the Europa League, where we hit the highs by beating Inter Milan but hit the lows with something of a whimpering exit.

And now that it`s all over, there is speculation about our French manager, Claude Puel.   Now he has been in charge for this season following the defection of Ronald Koeman to Everton, and Claude has struggled to win over the fans, whose expectations have reached unrealistic proportions.  Each of the last six or seven seasons has seen an improvement from the depths of League One to reaching 6th in the Premier League under Koeman.

When Pochettino left us for Tottenham, we finished eighth that season, the same as this term, so on the face of it there should be little for Claude to be worried about.   Trouble is, whilst we don`t concede many goals, we just don`t score enough - in the last five home games the Saints have failed to score at all - first time that`s happened since 1937, when even I wasn`t born.   And it`s this kind of negativity that suggests that Claude might be off to pastures new.  

I`m not sure I agree with the hue and cry, as it`s not Claude who misses gilt edged chances and it`s not Claude who misses three penalties in the last five games.  But he is a decent and humble man and whilst I think he deserves at least another season in charge, I fear that we might be looking at yet another summertime circus at St. Mary`s.

Looking on the bright side, we have finally seen the departure from Stamford Bridge of John (The LegEnd) Terry - whose choreographed substitution after 26 minutes yesterday to coincide with his shirt number must surely lead to a judicial inquiry;  and I doubt Wayne Bridge, Anton Ferdinand and a host of others, me included, will mourn his departure.  

In other news, my local club, Maidstone United, finished creditably half way up the National League in their first season at that level;  our street`s local hero, Gillingham`s very own Scott ("buzzin` six pack") Wagstaff, sadly missed the excitement of the Gills` narrow escape from relegation, thanks to an Achilles tendon mishap;  other teams I follow saw Forest Green Rovers promoted as the smallest village ever to have a team in the Football League; and Truro City, they of the long heroic journeys, just, but only just, maintained their place in the National League South

I`m looking forward to the cricket - I think - even though Hampshire have just been stuffed by Essex in an innings defeat at Chelmsford.  As Claude might say, "Sacre bleu, mais c`est la vie."  Au revoir mes amis.

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