“Not again”, says the typical Saints fan exasperated by the comments that our football director has enquired about recently. We, as Southampton fans, endure heartache each and every year. We continue to persevere, losing a little bit of our identity with each of our stars being sold.
Surely not this year, surely this is the time that we turn over a new leaf! We all know the story. It is the same fairy tale that we will tell our children and they will tell their children. But where do those words hurt the most? We learn to love each and every player with a dose of reluctant hesitance in case the worst happens. That is exactly how we have approached Mr. Les Reed’s latest comments.
“These players are not for sale” he says about our captain and defensive star. Saints captain, Virgil van Dijk, is one of the most highly sought after players throughout the entirety of the Premier League. I have not seen hype about a player who has missed an entire season preceding the window in a long time. The towering Dutchman is described by many as one of the best in the world. He is our captain. Our captain that signed a 6-year deal last season.
This is a business. We love this business with everything we have, but at the end of the day, the financial greed overtakes the emotional attachment. It is no secret that van Dijk is ready for his next challenge in his career. We as fans, at the least, understand that he deserves the best. That is why we hesitate to support him going to Liverpool. He could step into the lineup of any club in the world and you can quote me on that.
So where exactly do we go with the comments that Les Reed has given us? Is it finally time to take him at his word? Well, that could lead to more heartache. We have endured plenty of that, so the easy thing to do is assume he is lying. But where are we, as a club, when we can’t even experience the happy times without the sense that something bad is lurking in the background?
Think about that, all of our personal achievements and excitements are counteracted with the potential of it all dissipating before our very-eyes. How do we earn their trust back? When is enough, enough? We, as fans, need to take a step forward with our psychological excellence rather than our emotional aptitude. Watch the football with your heart, and treat the business with your mind.
What exactly hurts the most regarding the van Dijk saga? Is it that the link is with Liverpool? Is it that he signed a deal recently and wants to leave? Is it that our board is letting us down again? Odds are, there is a pinpointed reasoning behind your distaste of what is happening. Emotionally, you will not let it go even if you want to. I see many people stating “He just needs to go”. We all know you don’t want him to go, you are just allowing your emotional attachment to overtake your true thoughtfulness.
We are Southampton Football Club. We are not van Dijk Football Club. I want more than anything for him to stay, but no matter what I want to support my club. We got 8th place and a cup final without arguably the best defender in the world and a manager that made going to football games like paying for a glorified nap.
Southampton are a club built-off sustainability. I feel as though we are turning the corner of retaining excellence and beyond. If Virgil stays, he will spearhead the success that we endure this next season. He will be a pivotal component of the excitement that will be obtained throughout this next season. If not, he will miss out on one hell of a ride. Regardless, we will find ourselves at the cornerstone of yet another successful season, and do it with that continued reluctant optimism that our board has instilled in our minds and hearts.