RUSSELL MARTIN keeps telling Southampton fans they have to endure pain before it gets better… but now they have to turn to morphine at St Mary’s.
Simply put, the Saints are the sick men of the championship.
And even though “Doc Martin” made the correct diagnosis, he struggles to find the cure.
Southampton is starting to look like they need to be taken to the emergency room and if things get any worse they will be sent to intensive care.
It was painful enough being eliminated from the Premier League after hitting rock bottom last season.
Then in the summer a whole host of stars such as James Ward-Prowse, Romeo Lavia and Tino Livramento were surgically removed from the squad to ease financial trauma.
But then there was bleeding NINETEEN Having scored goals after eight games – the worst in the Championship – and suffered four straight defeats, Southampton appear to be in critical condition.
Martin himself wasn’t fully aware of the enormity of the task he took on in July – but he certainly does now.
The Southampton manager is trying to change the entire culture at the club – the way they train, the way they socialize and interact with each other, the way they engage with the fans and of course the way they play.
Martin told me over the week that there is a lot of “scar tissue” at Southampton – more than he ever imagined – and that when a group of players are used to sustained disappointment, it takes more time to repair it.
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It is well known that the atmosphere at Southampton’s training ground is far better than in recent seasons. There’s a lot more energy there – which is no surprise given Martin’s energetic way of doing things.
He always wants his teams to be brave on the ball, not afraid of making mistakes, playing at the front, keeping the ball and scoring goals.
The fact that he couldn’t rely on his new star signing – striker Ross Stewart – due to injury didn’t help with the goal scoring.
And the aspect of “being brave on the ball” is currently doing them serious harm, because when they try to do just that, they often lose the ball in their own third and are punished mercilessly for it.
I haven’t seen another Championship team make as many fundamental errors as the Saints this season… although Norwich narrowly left them behind with their horror show in Plymouth on Saturday.
But it’s all because Martin wants his teams to play like this, and because they’re in the transition phase, they haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.
He needs time and patience to get it right.
But he is now under enormous pressure after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough.
The Southampton board want to return to the Premier League immediately and recent results will worry them.
While Martin wants the players to be brave on the ball, will the club’s boardroom hierarchy be brave and stay loyal to him?
They should give him time because they were the ones who accepted his vision.
When a club like Southampton is in a tailspin, it is important to first ensure that the decline is stopped. They regroup in the championship before looking back up. It is an extremely difficult process that can be difficult for fans of relegated clubs to bear.
If the Saints were to part ways with Martin and destroy everything they wanted for the future, they could be in danger of sinking even further.
Sunderland suffered two consecutive relegations from the Premier League to League One from 2017 to 2018. In October they let go of Simon Grayson before settling on Chris Coleman. They couldn’t stop losing and plunged into the first division, which they then stayed out of for four years.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Martin can lead a club out of the Championship.
So far in his managerial career he has achieved promotion from the second division with MK Dons.
And he certainly looked like he was going to do something exciting in Swansea. With seven wins and two draws in their last nine games, they were just three points short of reaching the Championship play-offs last season.
Given what he did there he should have stayed at the Swans.
Now there is already a risk that he will lose his job with the Saints.
But if they got rid of him now, the Championship’s sick men could be on life support and it might be difficult if they managed to get through.
Giggs would be a given for Salford
RYAN GIGGS has been tipped for a return to management at Salford – the club he co-owns with his Class of 92 classmates.
League Two has not proven to be the cakewalk they had imagined, with the club now in its fifth season in the EFL.
After Gary Neville strangely sacked Graham Alexander in 2000, Paul Scholes tried his hand at interim coach for a few weeks.
And now Giggsy is said to be ready to follow in Neil Wood’s footsteps as Salford sit fourth bottom of the table after five successive defeats.
I was surprised that for the entire time the club has been in the EFL, none of its owners have decided to take on the leadership role.
When you count David Beckham, Giggs, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt among your owners, it’s certainly a given that one of them should lead the team.
If Giggsy takes the job, it would be the most sensible thing they’ve done since being promoted.
Moore is back but sad to see Warnock go
GOOD to see Darren Moore back in Huddersfield management.
The way he was treated by Sheffield Wednesday’s crazy owner Dejphon Chansiri after winning promotion from League One was nothing short of disgraceful.
On Wednesday, fans in Swansea certainly made their feelings known as they chanted against their Thai businessman as they lost 3-0, leaving them bottom of the Championship with just two points from eight games.
But while it’s great to see Moore back in the dugout 25 miles up the road in Huddersfield, we’ll miss Neil Warnock… but have no fear he’ll be back soon.
If anyone thinks the proud Yorkshireman will retire (again) after doing a great job keeping the Terriers in the Championship, they can forget about it.
He’ll show up somewhere later this season…but where?
Maybe Chansiri should get on the fan.
But with Warnock being a childhood Sheffield United fan and a Bramall Lane legend, I think we all know what his answer will be!