Southampton Weekly Rondo: Keep the Faith

With the Southampton Men's team in a rut and optimism around automatic promotion starting to slip away, we're doing something a little different for this Weekly Rondo. There's not many moments in life where a fan can affect their team -- this might be one of them.

Leicester City v Southampton - Premier League
Leicester City v Southampton - Premier League / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Welcome to the 9th edition of the Southampton Weekly Rondo -- where we discuss the past 7 days of the biggest club on the South Coast. We will briefly recap the week, then analyze what happened, and predict how the Saints will move forward. If you enjoy -- we march on next week!

There's no sugarcoating it...February has not been good for the Saints. To recap the comings and goings of Southampton Football Club since our last Weekly Rondo:

West Brom 0 - 2 Southampton (good!)
Southampton 1-2 Hull City (not great!)
Southampton 1-2 Milwall (a real punch to the gonads)

Before we begin the autopsy of the Men's side I'd like to shoutout the Women's team who put together a gutsy comeback win away at Birmingham. The match featured an absolute worldie from Molly Pike, and don't look now but Saints are 1 point off promotion to the WSL with their next game against leaders Sunderland. Every single match is vital now in what is going to end up as a fiendishly tight promotion race.

Speaking of fiendishly tight promotion races, we now have to talk about the Men. Usually in the Weekly Rondo we talk about tactics, transfers, predictions, and everything in between. The malaise around Saints right now calls for something completely different.

There are a select few times in our 70-90 some odd rotations around the sun where a moment is simply perfect, a fleeting instant where you extend yourself, feeling almost weightless, into a kind of nirvana that lasts just a split second, the slides away. You can't plan for these moments, the act of trying to create them takes away their meaning. It is found in the look in your partner's eyes as you present them with a treasured gift, the feeling of a years long travail well accomplished, and the gentle smile of an elderly family member long missed.

We treasure these moments. These moments are what life is all about. And think about it, just for a second...we find these moments in Southampton Football Club. The collective hush as a Saint steps up to a set piece, the heart stopping rush of a goal bound shot in the air, the societal scream of the goal rippling but only due to bulge of the side netting, or the fanatic whistling as added time runs out in a closely contested affair.

All these moments provide us joy, sadness, despair, the gamut of emotions that our Saints can make is feel week in and week out. For years, it was a desert of despair with the occasional oasis of joy. And come this season's start, we felt like Moses on the 1st day of his wanders: nothing but pain ahead.

But then -- the Red Sea parted and hope slunk back in to our collective psyche. Russell Martin and his men strung together 5, 10, 15 straight games undefeated. Surely it was luck? Surely it wouldn't continue? 20 games undefeated. 21 games undefeated. Ok now this is getting ridiculous. 25 games undefeated. Suddenly Southampton fans were ecstatic. The world was our oyster. Nothing could stop us. Our wings were spread and we were flying higher and higher. We could catch Leicester! We could beat Liverpool at Anfield...they'll tire from the Carabao Cup final 3 days before! Russell Martin's barmy army is heading back to the Prem!

But then we got singed. Huddersfield was a warning shot, Bristol a direct hit. We fought off the Albion, but the direct hits kept coming. BAM -- body shot from Hull, BOOM -- right hook right to the nose from Milwall (quite literally in this case). Now Saints are staggering, on the ropes, Leeds and Ipswich circling like carrion birds around teetering prey.

There's not many moments as a sports fan where you can make an impact on your team. Sure, we all think we make an impact. We wear the same unwashed socks to every match because we always win in them (it doesn't work). We yell and scream at opposition keepers hoping to put them off (data says they aren't). All our effort, all our endeavor, 99% of the time is meaningless to the final outcome.

But not this time. This time is the 1%. This Southampton team has already rekindled our waning belief after several tough years. They provided us with a historic spectacle over these past few months. But cracks in the armor are starting to show. Taylor Harwood-Bellis alluded as much in his postgame interview after Milwall: "Some of the noise that's going on has been ridiculous and you've just got to block it out and keep going and keep our circle tight of what really matters". Russell Martin in the past weeks has lamented time and time again of his side's lost me, it looks like the pressure of promotion chasing is taking its toll.

Now its our turn make a difference. It's time to support our lads with everything we've got. Leeds and Ipswich think their in the clear. It's time to turn the pressure on them. Our lads have clearly been feeling the pressure and who can blame them? This is a historic season. The Championship points record is 106 -- it's still possible for 3 teams to surpass that. I can tell you with the utmost certainty, this is a moment where fans will matter. Where the noise matters. Where the noise takes a toll. Every social media platform, every seat at St. Mary's, every away train from Southampton needs to be full, loud, and fully behind our team. Heroes of the South Coast are made from promotion charges. Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Markus Liebherr...and Let's make it count. Up the Saints. 5 points back, 12 to play. Gonna be a hell of a story.

Or least we'll have each other for that as well. See you all at Anfield on Wednesday.