Time to act is now: Roger Moore scores

Last updated : 18 January 2009 By Roger Moore

I've seen it all now. Not content with venting their frustration at the players, Southampton fans are venting their frustration on one another - both verbally and physically. And while we cannot condone violence, their actions (fighting during the defeat to Doncaster Rovers) are understandable and are borne of despair. A despair brought about by the club's position and aimed fairly and squarely at one man - Rupert Lowe.

It is now self-evident that his gamble with unproven Dutch coaching methods and reliance on youth is doomed. The players, while talented, have neither the mental nor physical strength required for the volume and frequency of games, let alone the rigorous demands of a relegation battle. And make no mistake, a battle it is - how ironic then that most of the fight was occurring in the stands.

Neither do the management team have the tactical nous to guide their apprentice charges through the minefield that is the Coca-Cola Championship. Saturday's game highlighted once again an inability to assess and respond accordingly to the weaknesses on the pitch.

We know that width is paramount in this league, yet from the off the decision to play a natural left-footer on the right wing and vice-versa contributed to a congested forward line and crowded box. Crosses were easily dealt with, being delivered not from the bye-line but the apex of the penalty area. Forwards, while willing, rarely received the ball unless with their back to goal and only some spirited dribbling presented real goal-scoring opportunities.

But the midfield was lost from the off, with neither Surman nor Schneiderlin effective in tackling, holding or breaking up play. They appeared to be playing as inside right and left, with no-one in a gaping hole through the centre of the pitch.

Again, this formation and selection contributed to a weakness through the spine of the team that was exploited just a minute after half-time. The resultant gamble on a three-man defence, and introduction of two more twinkle-toed attackers with precious little end-product was, for me, the straw that snapped the camel's back as easily as the spine of our near-invertebrate team.

This move, like that of Rupert Lowe in establishing the Dutch training ethos, was not a considered gamble. It was a desperate bet from a man with nothing left, whose pockets of resolution are empty and whose cupboard of experience is bare.

It is something, as a punter myself, that is all too familiar. Down to your last tenner, enough for your train fare, you risk all in a make-or-break wager to recoup your entire losses. You stare down the favourite and plump for a wild outsider through necessity; the inevitable result? You walk home.

And walking is something that both Lowe and Poortvliet must now focus on.

If Southampton FC is to remain a Championship Club, both the Chairman and Coach must collect what precious chips they have left and vacate the club immediately, for both have been exposed as a busted flush.

And while it is impossible not to have sympathy with the earnest and decent Poortvliet who is a simple symptom of the 'Peter Principle', there can be no such feeling for Lowe, who brought this disastrous result about through the effective sacking of Nigel Pearson.

The coaching and tactical management of the side has been exposed as inadequate time and again this season, while our previous manager sits proudly at the top of the league below us, no doubt too decent to take any satisfaction from swapping places with the club he saved, only to be hounded out of office.

But neither the egotistical Lowe, whose arrogance at the recent AGM rendered him a candidate for the lunatic fringe he once condemned, or the humble but stoic Poortvliet will go of their own volition. So the shareholders must move to remove them both.

And, they must employ forthwith a manager with the experience to utilise the current squad to avoid relegation and then inevitable administration. Perhaps with two weeks of the transfer window remaining, there might even be time to sacrifice some of the more expendable young talent for survival? A dire situation, but needs must.

There is no chance on current form of survival without change.

Fans fighting fans is just the start. Soon the ground will be empty bar all but season ticket holders whose revenue is already spent. And corporate hospitality will be reduced to those who couldn't afford seats at Amir Khan's next bout.

No, the shareholders must act. And now.

Failure to do so can only result in one possible outcome and if the shareholders cannot see this, then they truly are playing with the big blinds.