Usually, in Room 433, we put irritating concepts like the away goals rule in the room. Occasionally, some unnecessarily negative fans can wind up in there. Yes, I am looking at you UEFA Nations League sceptics.
Today is a bit different, however, as an entire club is going in Room 433. Now, I have no personal hatred of this club. I am not a closet Pompey fan. In fact, I quite admired this club until relatively recently. However, under the stewardship of a certain Mark Hughes (more on him in a little bit), I have to say that Southampton have become the dullest, most nondescript side maybe in Premier League history.
What is Southampton’s style? I could not tell you. Who is Southampton’s best player? Danny Ings, I guess? What is Southampton’s aim? Probably just to stay up. Therein lies the problem at the Saints – there is just no ambition. Look at the players that have been sold in the last five years. Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama to name but a few. The managers they have lost is pretty depressing too, from Mauricio Pochettino to Ronald Koeman, to even Claude Puel, who seems to get a bad rap from Saints fans despite finishing 8th and delivering a Cup Final.
Southampton have become such a selling club that they have run out of top quality players to sell. The production line that produced the likes of Gareth Bale seems to have halted and the Saints are stuck in the mid-table wilderness.
I could not tell you a single positive thing about this particular Saints side, yet they cannot be accused of being truly woeful either. Fulham, Cardiff, Huddersfield, and Newcastle are all definitely worse than Southampton and it feels as though the south coast side are in the Premier League simply to make up the numbers, which is a sorry state of affairs from the exciting side we witnessed just a few short seasons ago.
Then there is Mark Hughes. What style of manager Hughes is has always confused me. You cannot really stick him in there with the real old school shore up the defence escape experts such as Sam Allardyce or Tony Pulis. Yet, you could hardly call Sparky a truly progressive manager such as Eddie Howe or Marco Silva.
Hughes does not really have a set style and as such his teams tend not to be very good and Southampton simply are just quite poor. There is no style, there seems to be no real aim, and I genuinely cannot sum them up any more than just saying they are ‘meh.’ That is a great shame given what they were just a few seasons ago.
So Mark Hughes’ Southampton are being locked away in Room 433 and hopefully, we will never have to watch them last on Match of the Day ever again.