For my money there is no better place for getting a view of a football clubs season than from the barbers chair. The barbers own observations will have been triangulated by a huge number of other perspectives and from over the season and their arguments will well honed through countless conversations on the topic. I’d add that perhaps one of the best barbers in this regard is to be found just over the Itchen bridge in Woolston at Sean’s barbers.
The barbers view is particularly valuable as Saints fans struggle to decide whether this season can be considered as success, or a disappointment. Sean’s view was that the club needs to spend more to compete with the big clubs and that in the absence of this the current position is where the club should expect to be. Puel has, Sean also feels managed players well, particularly Maya Yoshida, who has gone from an error-prone bit-part player to an important team member and occasional captain. Crucially though Puel has provided opportunity to young talent to blossom.
Sean’s points are well considered and I’m in agreement. In the context of the last few seasons perhaps to be in 9th place is a disappointment, but in the wider context of the last decade and given the resources the club has then it’s actually quite good – and that’s not even considering the League Cup final.
One impact of sitting in 9th place with just a few games to go is that the Saints went into the game with Hull with relatively little to play for, neither competing for Europe, nor threatened by relegation. Hull on the other hand were fighting for survival, being just one place and two points above the final relegation spot.
It was therefore unsurprising that Hull seemed the keener side out of the blocks, striking the outside of the post from a free kick early on. They were also as one Saints fan later put it “first in the tackle” throughout, but over the course of the game opportunities for either side were few and far between – the best Saints chance falling to Gabbiadini who blazed wide after being put clean through on goal.
All in all it was a rather poor spectacle with little to excite the Saints fans who were the most subdued I’ve ever seen them at St. Mary’s. They were though finally half-roused when, after a spell of pressure, Maya Yoshida won a penalty in the 89th minute.
There is a scene at the end of the Hitchikers Guide to the galaxy where Marvin the android, on the verge of death, sees God’s final message. The message reads “We apologise for the inconvenience” at which the perennially downbeat Marvin appears to take some consolation “I think… I think I feel good about that.”
If scored the Saints fans would dissipate through the streets surrounding St. Marys with a skip in their stride, the 89 minutes of painfully-dull football they’d witnessed swiftly forgotten.
It was however, the Hull fans who embarked on their long journey home happy as Dusan Tadic saw his well-hit penalty – low into the right corner – spectacularly saved by the Hull ‘keeper Eldin Jakupovic.
This secured a valuable point for the visitors which may, before long, prove crucial. For the Saints fans it simply adds further murkiness to the debate on whether the season can be called a success. Perhaps it’s worth a trip to the barbers.