The Championship is a place of constant highs and lows, where fans travel all around the country to see their team lose their shape, form, and often dignity one week, then perform with sheer pride and ruthlessness the next. However would we want it any other way? Southampton have been fortunate enough to come out of the foggy last few months with something to show for it, battling with Championship favourites West Ham for the much desired top spot.
This mini-battle has been as fascinating as the league itself, with neither team seeming to want to push on from the other. Yet with teams from 12th to 3rd all within encroaching in on the top two, it appears The Saints will need to work hard in the crucial upcoming games if they are surprise all pre-season predictions and gain promotion to the top flight of English football once more.
With my University flatmate a devoted, and often annoying, Southampton supporter, I have no choice but to keep track of their progress. Yet to my surprise the grace and flair they have shown throughout this season so far has been compelling to say the least, with very few people begrudging them the position they have found themselves in. Adam ‘better than Messi’ Lallana has excited fans with ‘Premier League quality’ playmaking, and Rickie Lambert appears to have filled the void that Grant Holt left when leaving the Championship, by showing off his brute force and prolific finishing to elevate Southampton to the dizzy position they find themselves in.
However it is of course a team game, and the squad depth appears to have been a major component to such success. This, combined with solid financial backing, has allowed Southampton to keep their best players, as well as their ‘reserve’ or ‘squad’ players on the payroll, ensuring they are ready for anything that is thrown at them. With the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and David Connolly, both excellent Championship players, used in the rotation system, it appears the squad has enough quality to rotate and still comfortably win games, the sign of an ambitious and successful team.
In a relatively quiet transfer window, arguably the biggest coup in the Championship was the signing of Doncaster Rovers top scorer, and all round top bloke, Billy Sharp. It appeared that Sharp, 25, was due to remain at Doncaster for the foreseeable future, however Nigel Adkins swooped in to take his former Scunthorpe colleague down south, leaving Doncaster destined for the drop but the Saints showing what a dog eat dog world it is in the Championship.
Do Southampton fans care? Not really. Worries over coming games, future success and future purchases are the items on the agenda in the Saints camp, leaving the potential sucker punch to Doncaster’s relegation battle a distant memory.