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No Man's Land

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It's been so long since I could look at the Premier League table and see Saints in absolute, complete mid-table obscurity. Six points adrift from eighth and four points ahead of tenth it really doesn't get lonelier then this, recent form notwithstanding I also am not too concerned about us sinking too far down the table, it really has been a very difficult run of fixtures and the extra-ordinary results at home against the bigger clubs that we experienced last year simply cannot be something to base your season on in our current position.

So, we find ourselves too far away from the very top to make an immediate impact and four victories away from essential safety with 18 games to play. It's a very eerie feeling compared to the roller-coaster of the last 9 seasons. There has always been a definitive goal at the end of those years to keep us on the edge of our seats. In order, they are:

04/05 - Survive in the Premier League (Not achieved)
05/06 - Survive in the Championship (Achieved with a late run of form)
06/07 - Get Promotion (Sneaked into the play-offs and failed on Penalties at Pride Park)
07/08 - Survive in the Championship (Achieved on the final day)
08/09 - Survive! (Relegated but the club's futured secured.)
09/10 - Rebuild (Johnstone's Paint Trophy won)
10/11 - Get Promoted from League 1 (Achieved at the death despite a poor start)
11/12 - Promotion from the Championship (Achieved contrary to many expectations)
12/13 - Survive in the Premier League (Achieved with a reasonable margin of safety despite a poor run of form at the start and end of the season)

Now, while a late season push for European football may be within possibility there is very little we can achieve in the league, so as a fan I look to the more romantic side of English football, to the F.A. Cup. A home tie against Championship contenders Burnley this Saturday will be tricky, there is a lot to like about Burnley including their Southampton fan strike partnership of Sam Vokes and Danny Ings yet as professionals i'm sure they will spare no quarter come 3pm on the 4th January.

The cup is though our only hope this year for something to really get the blood flowing, it has been nearly eleven years since our appearance in the cup final, it remains an incredible memory. I can only hope that the club do take it seriously, Rickie Lambert said in a recent interview that he see's this year as his best chance to actually win it, this implies that there may be a sense inside the club that we should prioritise a trophy over ultimate league position. This would however be contradictory to some impressions we have had of our chairman in the past, especially given rumours that he was infuriated by Alan Pardew's focus on the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at the apparent expense of League 1 promotion four short years ago.

With the possibility of no obvious gains to be had from the league though we must surely be looking at the cups as a target, a cup run will be a glorious experience to compliment the relatively underwhelming possibilities in our week to week competition. If we should happen to lose to Burnley we must face the possibility that our season could effectively be over while we tread water ahead of the 14/15 campaign. That kind of no-man's land sounds dreadfully dull to me... another possible example of how spoilt we as Saints fans have been in recent years maybe?

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Updated 04-01-2014 at 02:07 AM by Colinjb

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